Airheadz-'Nobody's Really Poked Fun at Eminem Yet' (interview)
Friday, February 23, 2001Former Double Trouble producer turned Airheadz playa Leigh Guest spoke to Mezz this week about the band's Eminem inspired trance 'bootleg' "Stanley (Here I Am)" which is currently being tipped for massive worldwide success. An 'answer' record to Eminem's Stan, the track has reportedly inspired serious legal action, from both Dido and even the BPI (British Phonographic Institute) though the new version appears to be now fully cleared. Leigh, a club DJ since the early 80s, made the track with Andrew Peach his production partner since 1998. He also spoke about his former Double Trouble partner Michael Menson, who was burned to death by racist attackers two years ago.
Mezz: Stanley's described on your press release as another 'cheeky bootleg', it certainly is ; what inspired the idea-
Airheadz: "We've got a little label called Expose Records and the label's manager Dave Thompson went up to to Love Parade in Leeds last year and when he came back, said that the Dreem Team had played Eminem's Stan. It still wasn't released in the UK at that point and he returned saying, 'this record is huge, everybody loves it'. We started there and pulled it apart, because it was quite difficult to make a trance tune starting with a hip-hop track. It took us about a month to get the whole mix together."
Mezz: Are you making lots of bootlegs-
Airheadz: "Nah, ... (laughing). We were looking for a good idea to do one, just with the view of putting out a thousand copies and seeing what happened. When I was younger during my Double Trouble days, though, we often made rare groove bootlegs and DJ mixes of acid house records."
Mezz: How long was it between pressing up the vinyl copies and the Radio 1 DJs getting behind it-
Airheadz: "We gave copies to them but the first person to play it on the radio was Graham Gold. Word gets around very quickly, somebody gave it to Jules, and I understand he was initially unsure, because of its context. When he played it, I think at Cream, and saw everybody singing along to it, he couldn't believe it. That was in November and it picked up momentum from there, becoming the most requested record on Dave Pearce's show. We went to get clearance from Dido and we were declined so we dropped the idea of using the Eminem sample and decided to do it as an 'answer back'. So we kept all the original trance elements and rewrote a vocal melody."
Mezz: Have you had any feedback from the Eminem camp-
Airheadz: "Errm, only that they weren't very happy with the bootleg (laughing). Put it this way, we're making sure the metal detector's always switched on."
Mezz: What do you think of Eminem-
Airheadz: "Well he seems to poke fun at a lot of different people, and nobody's really poked fun at him yet. Maybe this is a cheeky way, which is a less horrible way than he'd do it, with a chainsaw. I wouldn't like to get too drawn on him - we're not even on the same radar. He's controversial, radical and people like him."
Mezz: You started DJing before acid house in the mid 80s, where were you playing-
Airheadz: "I had residencies at various, fairly cheesy London clubs like Jacquelines, L-Equipe in Duke Street and even Tramp (a high society/ businessman club, still running today). I was really young then and was DJing as a means to an end. I was DJing regularly and making money which meant I could build up a studio. That was when I was doing the most bootlegs but at the same time I was putting on warehouse raves in Hackney. So on the one hand I'd be playing in commercial clubs then also spinning hard, house music."
Mezz: Prince used to be a regular at Tramp then, didn't he-
Airheadz: "Yes he was. And George Michael, Prince Albert of Monaco,… Roger Moore (chuckling again), ... I used to get on well with them, they used to buy my mix tapes for when they'd be driving to the South of France in their Lambourghinis. I'd to sell them DJ mix tapes at between £25 and £5 Tags