For podcast number 24 we bring it down a notch to bring you the slo-mo groove of the underground. 40 Thieves is a San Francisco based dance music collective consisting of Corey Black, Layne Fox and Jay WIlliams (aka Jaswho?) who has been creating their magic since 2005. You might know know their remake of the obscure 70’s disco classic by Hot Chocolate, ‘Don’t Turn It Off (feat. Qzen), which was named #2 in 2009’s track of the year by DJHistory.com, and also landed at the top of Beatport’s best of the decade in 2010. Their musical output can range from psychedelic disco and blues to proto-house, acid and beyond, but regardless of the genre, a 40 Thieves track is always embedded with enough funk, groove and sex appeal to keep the most stubborn dancefloor moving along. We were lucky enough to secure a rare mix from Layne Fox who, under his new moniker Musik Nonstop, will represent the Thieves’ on his debut Mexican tour (and if you’re Down Under, don’t forget to catch Corey Black on his debut Australian tour later this month). Don’t play too loud: This mix will induce involuntary dancing to anyone within a mile radius of it…
Balance Selections Q+A
Lake Worth, FL
Musik Nonstop, 40 Thieves
Labels affiliated with:
Leng, Permanent Vacation, Rong
My current releases:
Musik Nonstop – No Runnin’ Away feat. Sunny B [Magic Feet] Larry Gus, NP – Complete (Musik Nonstop Remix) [DFA] Dubmasters – Secret Service (Musik Nonstop Remix) [Cosmica] 40 Thieves – Take Me I’m Yours feat. Nina Lares [Roam]
What music did you listen to as a child?
Growing up in South FL wasn’t always the best place in terms of radio selection and the type of stuff your parents listened to. Fortunately my dad was and still is a huge music lover and I was exposed to The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Springsteen, etc. He had a huge vinyl collection and when CDs came out he wanted to re-buy everything. Then he’d transfer hundreds of those to cassette so he could listen in his car! So I was definitely influenced watching all of this and it’s likely that my own addiction music collecting started there in a way. My mother played piano and I took lessons for a few years when I was really young, like 7 or something. I still remember my teacher Scott’s reaction when I picked “eye of the tiger” to learn as my recital song and told him I wanted to use my mini Casio for the lead parts, haha. Still love that jam.
My sister and I both had those plastic suitcase record players as a small child and collected 45”s like the Disney Electric Lights Parade, Madonna, Rick Springfield, anything with a massive hook to it. I somehow actually convinced my parents to drive to a Miami Beach electronics convention and buy me a dj mixer for $20 when I was 12. I collected freestyle, electro, hip hop and dance-pop 12” until I graduated high school and reached college, then basically quit DJing to concentrate on more important things like girls!
When was the first time that you realized that you liked electronic music?
Everything I was into as a child was produced on drum machines and synths and sampled heavily so I never thought about it like that except I just knew I preferred that sound to “traditional” bands. The first time any underground dance music rocked my world was in college during a Halloween block party there was this lanky nerdy fella playing acid jazz blended with hip hop instrumentals and I was like WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?!?! I let my friends walk on and just stood there watching the rest of the night. Turns out that guy was Sean Ferguson and he played regularly in town, so we quickly became really good friends. Sean introduced me to Simon Semrani who was a legendary club owner on the East Coast at the time and he also eventually got me my first residencies playing with him. If it weren’t for Sean on that day I doubt I ever would have gotten back into DJing. As for House, my first lightbulb experience was at WMC circa ’97 or ’98 when I ate my first pill at a Yellow Orange party and danced my ass off to Tony Humphries for several hours. All that was thanks to another college-era friend and mentor, David Greif. So yeah up north a bit in Gainesville it was definitely an epicenter for good music and awesome people in the late 90’s. I credit that experience to heavily shaping everything that followed musically in my life.
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
First real club experience was at The Edge in Fort Lauderdale when I was 17. One of us had a fake ID and the rest of us would transfer his stamp onto our hands and basically sneak in. The music was industrial and the only song I still remember is Skatenigs “Chemical Imbalance” because every time the DJ played it the entire place would just go totally berserk. I loved that energy and hadn’t formed any real opinions on music style at that point so it was just all fun. I miss those days now that I think about it. A sort of ignorant is bliss type thing I suppose. It’s ironic because I recently relocated back to South FL after 16 years and I’m DJing a lot for the guys that currently own what used to be the old Edge.
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
That’s a tough one! I’m inspired my so many things and people it’s really hard to confine to a few. Anyone who takes their job seriously and does things for the right reasons, no matter if they are a box mover, a doctor or a mom totally inspires me. Demonstrations of love inspire me to no end. Really good Funk inspires me. Moving to SF I met quite literally an endless number of people who provided hands-on inspiration and gave me some of my first chances to get involved.
People like Corey Black and Ben Cook from Rong were such a support. Ben introduced me to Paul Mudd Murphy who was another artist on Rong at the time. He was making music I just could not believe and is possibly the nicest human you will ever meet. Pretty much everything we do today as 40 Thieves goes to Paul first for Leng. DJ’s like Harvey, Foolish Felix, Jeno/Thomas/Garth/Markie (aka Wicked), Spun, Travis TK Disco, Solar, David Harness and Corey Black completely blow my mind. Monty Luke, Mike Bee, JP Soul. I could go on forever.
Producer/Dj wise I’d probably list a lot of the same names anyone would..pioneers like Salsoul Orchestra, Levan, Mancuso, Larry Heard/Mr. Fingers, FK, MAW, etc. Gino Soccio’s productions always stood out to me personally. I think he had a really nice formula for disco and all of his songs just sounds like hits to me. Kraftwerk of course is the blueprint for everything. I saw their show recently and probably teared up a half dozen times, because they are that good. I love all the new stuff too and find it exciting. Guys like Mudd of course, Tornado Wallace, Jaques Renault, Hardway Bros, Red Axes, Todd Terje. Keeping the past alive is critical but pushing on into the future is just as important imo and these guys do both of those things very well.
What was the last album that you downloaded/bought?
There’s a local record store here in Lake Worth that only sells mint or near-mint LPs. They’re really expensive! But I had to buy new super clean copies of Electric Cafe and Wish You Were Here.
What is your current production and DJ set up like?
It changes almost every day. I’ve been working with my girlfriend, Nina Lares on the Musik Nonstop live set. We work mostly in Ableton or on the drum machines for programming or arranging tracks and record mostly outboard synths or live instruments. When I was in SF we had a pretty sweet space with lots of toys. The go-to’s were always the Juno 106, Korg Poly Six and Ensemble, Prophet 8, MS-20, and more recently the Moog SUB-37 which is insane. Separating my studio from working with Corey was a difficult thing and I’m honestly still picking up the pieces from that last year. When I DJ I play records and digital. You’ll hear no discrimination from me if it’s good!
What releases do you have on the horizon?
Coming next from Musik Nonstop is a remix I did for Split Secs for Machine Limited and another remix for my friend Mr. Chinn/Chocolate Star from Gary Davis’ new LP. Presently I’m oscillating between working on the MNS live set, more originals and some new 40 Thieves remixes. Paul asked us to pick anything we wanted from the Claremont 56 catalog to remix for their 10th anniversary box set, and I couldn’t believe The Surveyor was not already picked so we’re definitely on that one. I actually haven’t built up the nerve to start it yet. Also remixing a new talented artist, Ali Kuru for Leng with Corey. Back on the Musik Nonstop side I’ve also been tinkering on a remix of a new Craig Bratley original for Magic Feet. Sounds a bit schizophrenic I know but somehow makes sense in my head :)
Where can we hear you perform?
I’m off to Mexico City for a few days this month including a night at the amazing MN Roy, while Corey will be representing in Australia at the same time. Here in Lake Worth a brand new bar/restaurant opened just up the street for my house and I somehow convinced them to let me take over the music. It’s a really interesting situation because you have this crazy mix of everyday folks in a very non-underground setting and me trying to keep them happy without the typical mix of top 40 and crap you hear everywhere else down here. I knew it would either go down famously or be a total disaster from the start. So far they have not thrown tomatoes and I’ve been asked to do a weekly Sunday brunch where I mostly play funk/disco and fill days between live bands which I also book for them. Elsewhere, the Miami DJs and promoters have been really gracious and welcoming and offered slots at places like Bardot and Electric Pickle where we can get crazy with it. Love Fingers is coming to town in Sept and I think I’m playing w/him. That would be aces.
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
For the Balance mix I just gathered a bunch of the records on the floor closest to me and some recent digital tunes, promos from friends, some free downloads. Whatever I had in my iTunes. It’s a blend of old and new I guess. It was recorded using 2 TTs and 1 CDJ on a rotary Rane mixer. Just picked a first track, smoked a spliff, hit record and went for it. The intro is a song by Paul Horn off his Inside LP which I discovered recently and thought to myself ‘hey this would be a cool intro” so I used it. I messed up the mix pretty bad the first run through so stopped and start again. I wouldn’t normally do that because mistakes are a big part of life and nobody is perfect, but I hear you guys have a big audience and didn’t want to disappoint ;)
Know your history. Dedicate yourself to whoever or whatever you love. Turn off the TV. Turn up the music and don’t turn it off!
1. Paul Horn – Mumtaz Mahal
2. Future Feelings – Find Out (Irregular Disco Workers Remix)
3. Ali Kuru – Causa
4. Mushrooms Project – 16823 (Brennan Green Remix)
5. The Name of Love (James Rod Edit)
6. The Hue – Criss Cross
7. Whitey On The Moon (Druzzi’s Edit)
8. Curses – Practice Makes Perfekt
9. Cehennem Meyhanesi – Red Axes and O. Behr Edit
10. Shriekback – Mistah Linn He Dead (Adrian Sherwood Remix)
11. Baldo – Flirty
12. Jacques Renault – Fromage Á Trois
13. Earl Grey – Sugoi (In Flagranti Remix)
14. Golden Teacher – Silver Chalice
15. FOMO Feat Chaka Khan, Taka Boom & Mark Stevens – House Of Love (SPLIT SECS DUB)
16. Daniele Baldelli – Funk Me Again (Eric Dunks Mix)
17. Bohannon – Let’s Start the Dance III (Instrumental)