Rory Phillips cut his DJing teeth as a resident at Erol Alkan’s legendary Trash nights at London’s iconic (but now sadly closed) End nightclub. He’s a man with a keen eye for obscure talent, a crate digger of the highest order. And after some sterling remix work for the likes of the Units, Yacht and Telepathe, he’s now released his first solo tune, “Solar Breakfast” – available now at Juno Download. The telephone-wielding DJ spoke to Juno Plus about his first solo productions, Scrabble and learning to love the cowbell.
Whereabouts are you from?
I’m originally from the West Midlands but have been living in London for the last 10 years.
How did you get into DJing & where did you first start playing out?
I first started DJing when I was studying and living in Newport in South Wales around 12 years ago, mainly because I didn’t rate the music in the clubs at the time, so I started my own night. A couple of years later I moved to London and became friends with Erol Alkan. We swapped a lot of music back and forth and when Trash moved to The End he asked me to host one of the rooms.
And then you moved on to Durrr, right?
I’ve been a Durrr resident since it started three years ago and doing a headline slot at a weekly night really makes you have to think about your sets and plan ahead to keep them fresh. In that respect it had an enormous influence on how I played everywhere else.
What has been your best DJing experience?
Onzieme in Osaka and Optimo in Glasgow were two of my favourites but the best of all was the final Durrr at The End. Simultaneously awe-inspiring and heart breaking.
Who were your early musical influences?
When I was really young I had a strange thing for AOR rock like Dire Straits, moving on through Stock Aitken & Waterman pop – I think that’s where I learnt to love the cowbell. Then I was into hip-hop and indie in my early teens. In my late teens I started buying vinyl and really diversifying my tastes, especially as it was really easy to get cheap post-punk, garage rock and high energy records around that time, a lot of which I still play now.
What inspired you to take the transition from DJing to production?
I can’t remember how or when exactly but although it seems like the default DJ career path, to me it seemed like a natural progression. I’ve been collecting analogue gear and making music for a long time both on my own and in bands, but remixes are a great way of putting those nascent ideas into motion and really learn how to use the studio.
How is the solo production coming along?
My first original release is out now on the In Flagranti presents: Electric Fling EP, which came out a couple of weeks ago. Other than that, I’ve got hard drives full of little sketches of ideas for tracks that usually ended up unfinished due to having a remix deadline, I’m now trying to do less remixes and finally finish them
If you could take your record bag and DJ at any club, in any era, where would you go and why?
I’d love to have played a minimal synth set at The Blitz, looking at their charts from the time they have a lot of songs that are close to my heart.
You have remixed some interesting bands, how do you choose them?
Some are friends, some I’m a fan of and will get in touch with, and some will get in touch with me. It was especially an honour to be asked to remix Units as Digital Stimulation is one of my favourite albums ever.
What do you do in your spare time?
What does the next 12 months hold in store for Rory Phillips?
Hopefully DJing in new places and some old favourites, more Durrr parties (starting with our annual Not New Years Eve party on December 29th), tracking down a copy of the Jellies 7″, an original release or two… who knows?