Real Gone Kid is the current project name of UK DJ/ Producer Simon Huxtable. A child of 80s pop, the name arose from the famous Deacon Blue song of the same name, and captures for him, the most exciting time in his musical development. Always the clubber first, Simon’s journey with house music began in 1991, from then on he became heavily influenced by house music, especially the progressive house played by his all-time musical heroes, Sasha & John Digweed. Simon has DJed for many big organisations, and hosted an internet podcast ExposureUK, which sought to find amazing new DJs and give them a platform on which to launch their careers.
Production wise, he has a few tracks awaiting labels; his first release, a remix for Melbourne based singer/songwriter eM quickly became her top 3 best-selling track on Beatport in 2012, and it looks very much like 2013 is shaping up to be much busier.
Simon started out was an indie kid, who liked Nirvana, Britpop and Bob Dylan, but something was missing, and he was still looking for that ultimate musical release. Then he heard Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea and his world changed…
Simon was still at high school and couldn’t afford turntables, so he would record music from the radio and make pause tapes of his favourite tracks. He got his first set of decks in the winter of 1997. They were Soundlab DLP 32s; belt drive and a nightmare to mix on. He practiced religiously for 18 months, giving away mix tapes and getting his friends to let him DJ their house parties, then gigs started coming along with residencies at some local bars.
The residencies, glamorous as they sound, were in chain pubs which wanted a ‘happy upbeat party sound’, that didn’t always sit right with Simon. He wanted to showcase the amazing music he was finding and educate the public away from the dull 90s pop they were being drip fed.
That meant he had to learn to build the night from deep vocal house tracks to peak time records over 3 or 4 hour sets, slotting in tracks which excited him, while at the same time, keeping the crowds and the bar managers happy. Playing these extended sets also taught him valuable lessons about how to warm up a crowd, read their reactions and how to take them on a musical journey without playing hit after hit.
Around this time House music was beginning to morph into the different genres we hear today, so in a nights programming, he had to incorporate all styles of music, even some RnB for the hen parties. The music at the time which most influenced his sound today was probably Speed Garage which was made famous by Armand Van Helden and UK artists like Serious Danger, RIP, and Sol Brothers. It seemed to naturally follow on from the original breaks and bass sounds of early UK hardcore that had drawn him into dance music in the first place.The great thing about speed garage was it appealed to both sexes. The boys could skank to the heavy bass, and the girls could sing the words. For Simon, in a pub setting, this was a slam dunk!
Around 9pm when the pub got busy, he could really let rip with these tracks to hype the crowd before they left for the nearby clubs an hour or so later. After a few years of these gigs, Simon felt ready to play night clubs with a much darker underground vibe. He had developed a taste for the darker music his heroes were playing at that time. This music had an overall feeling of melancholy and introspection, which appealed to his inner indie kid, fraught with self-doubt and resentment. This was around 2000, trance had had its day in the sun and club land wanted to get back to the drum led sounds of tribal house. Simon was captivated by this sound, and still works tribal elements into his productions and DJ sets now.
In about 2002 , Simon began using a program called eJay 3, it was really basic, but he quickly learned how to arrange tracks and work with layers to create a cohesive whole. After a long break in production, due to increasing work demands, he moved onto Ableton having heard Sasha was using it. He liked its user friendliness and the way you can quickly sketch an idea in a matter of minutes. With no musical heritage or formal music training, Simon had no idea about MIDI, or writing music, so he made bootlegs, and after locking himself away to really learn Ableton inside and out he got noticed by some well known producers and artists who liked his take on the progressive sound. Networking and building relationships with some of these folks has led on to his first release, eM – You Don’t Know (RGK Reinterpretation). Fortunately, the paying public agreed, and he made the record labels top 10 sales on Beatport, and the artists’ top 3. Pretty good for the first go!
As we head into 2013, the records which are getting him fired up are much deeper than before, as a DJ, what inspires him is passion and emotion in music. Simon still love to find records where he is scratching my head and wondering how they did that melody or transition. This of course propels him back to the studio to find out. Currently he really into producers like Le Frenk, Bekoto and Kay-D, who are leading the way with intelligent, forward thinking beats, and this has really influenced how he constructs and write tracks.
What was your first ever record?
Arrghh! its was huh, lets say,a bit embarrassing! a Chas n Dave 7inch, I can’t remember the name now, hahaha. It was quickly followed up by The Simpsons Sing the Blues LP. I would play it non stop on my mums record player downstairs, in the end I annoyed her so much I had the take the player out to the kitchen and shut the door! …and so began the long winding journey of doing my mothers head in with my music!
Who were your Heroes and Influences growing up?
Musically there were and still are loads, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, Sasha & Digweed are my main ones. Personally, I admire Sigmund Freud, Issac Asimov, many professional athletes and my little brother (don’t tell him!) …oh. wait…
Which came first DJing or Producing?
DJing came first. I used to make pause tapes before I was able to buy some decks, I made the jump to producing in 2001/2 and at that time I was using a cheap program called eJay3 just to see if I had any talent for it.
Whats the story behind this mix?
As this is my first mix for This is Progressive, I wanted to create something to highlight my musical journey so far. I’ve tried to include some older tracks, some classics, some newer joints and weave together this story of where I came from and where I would like the RGK project to go.
Whats the home studio set up like?
Now its VERY basic. I’ve just finished university, where I was retraining to be a nurse, so I had to sell a lot of my gear off to move into halls etc. I just recently bought a Novation Itch for making mix tapes,and thats working out pretty well, its my first time going totally digital, so Im still learning that. Even after 15 years, I still find there are loads of things to learn. For producing I use Ableton. I’ve yet to buy any toys to go with it, so I create all my MIDI loops ‘in the box’ which has worked for me up to now. I do have plans to extend my studio, get speakers,a keyboard and sound proof my room. But thats all in the future…
Any future plans you would like to share?
My time now is taken up with my job, plus A&Ring for TiP, plus trying to find time to finish some original projects to send off. Im manic but I love it!
Whats your take on the Analogue vs Digital debate?
Its not what you play on the crowd enjoys, its the music you sequence. To my mind, as long as the crowd is hyped and excited to receive your music, you could DJ with a tin can and a spoon!
We as an industry need to get away from these types of debates. They are needless and ultimately self destructive. We seem to have forgotten DJing is an ART FORM, and a good DJ can take you places in your mind you never though possible. Too many of these younger DJs rely on the computer or whatever, and forget to have FUN and feel the music. Okay, rant over.
Are there any producers/labels you always go to for new material?
Theres lots of producers that interest me.I love to use their tracks as reference when I find time to make my own. Currently, I’m really feeling Betoko, Le Frenk and Kay-D from the new school, but I can’t go too far away from some of the old legends like Funk DVoid, Kerri Chandler and Charlie May.
What makes them special to you?
They can make the most basic ideas sparkle, and every release is new and different, but ultimately sound like them. Thats a neat trick, to remain consistent but not boring and repetitive. I’m still very much learning the craft. I have no formal training, its all been youtube videos and trial and error, but Im making much better music now than even 6 months ago, and its the aforementioned producers that keep me interested and focused.
Whats your dream DJ gig?
Dark basement club, minimal lighting, great crowd, awesome vibe and no closing time!