We caught up with Mike Pickering ahead of his appearance at the forthcoming FAC 51 The Hacienda party at Manchester’s Albert Hall on March 24th, where he will be joined by Kerri Chandler, Derrick Carter, Delano Smith and Jon DaSilva.
Here’s what Mike had to say…
What were your earliest musical inspirations?
My very earliest inspirations came from soul labels like Stax and Tamla Motown and singers like Al Green, Marvin Gaye and the like. Then David Bowie came along for me and many other people and then punk was the game changer.
How did you first get into DJ’ing?
I was always the one playing my records at parties but DJ’d for the first time in Rotterdam when I lived in Holland in early 80’s. As I was very good friends with Rob Gretton I came back to open The Hacienda with him but when witnessed Mark Kamins at Danceteria and Larry Levan at Paradise Garage playing, that was it for me.
Who were the artists that made the greatest impression on you in the early days of house music – was there anyone in particular that stood out both in terms of track selection and technique?
The funny thing is that early house wasnt about the identity of the artist. Many of the tracks were largely unknown and it was really about the music rather than the people making it. That kind of celebrity to the scene only came later in the 90’s. In some ways it was similar to punk and was almost anti artist and faceless when it started out.
Did you go over to the states, Chicago or New York, and sample the early days of house culture over there?
Yes I went to both cities. I spent quite a lot of time in New York with Quando Quango in the early 80’s which was a golden era for night life there. It had a massive impression on all of us and was the inspiration for The Hacienda. I visited and DJ’d Chicago but house there was surprisingly not as popular as it was here. It was so underground most people in Chicago were not really aware of it back then.
Tell us about the Hacienda days. What are your top 3 memories from the club?
That’s pretty impossible to do, I was involved from day one to when it first closed in 90 and then for some time after until M People took off. there were very few dull moments
What records best sum up those nights?
Again that’s a hard question as people just want tracks from 88 onwards but it opened in 82. There are too many to quote.
Fast forwarding a bit, ‘Hacienda Classical’ has been a massive success – with more events planned this year. Tell us how the idea came about?
Graeme and I were approached by Fletch and the Manchester Camerata a couple of years ago with the idea. None of us had any clue it would work but we decided to give it a go. I’m glad we did as it’s been a great experience and people havereally enjoyed it.
What do you make of the house music world today, do you find good music harder to come by in the flood of music released each week?
I love electronic music in all types and am really excited by many of the tracks coming out. I have a monthly show on Soho radio and I play all new releases. The same as when I’m out playing too. It’s almost like club music has returned to where we started but has gathered more new influences on the way.
When you play nowadays with FAC 51, do you tend to mix classic tracks that are synonymous with The Hacienda or do you prefer to play modern stuff?
I play a mainly contemporary set although there are a few new takes on old classics. I get asked to play a lot of “classics” nights but it’s really not for me. I honestly find it boring just playing old tracks people have heard hundreds of times. For me, I’ve always felt a DJ should play new music that he thinks the crowd will love.
What can we expect from your set at the Albert Hall at the end of this month?
Hot tracks! I love Derrick Carter and Kerri and think this is going to be a fabulous night all round.
Whilst the event is sure to a be a sell out, some final release tickets are still available here.