Anything goes - Interview with Jason Boardman and 25 Years Of Aficionado
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
If ever there was a truism to the statement ‘Selection trumps the mix’ then it belongs to Aficionado. A party built around the ethos of great music first and foremost, no posturing, no influencers, no hype, just selections of the finest order. To mark 25 years since that first party in 1998, hosts Jason Boardman and Moonboots have curated a compilation that captures the Aficionado sound. We spoke to Jason ahead of the album release and a couple of select parties to coincide with this special release and anniversary.
You referred to ‘Aficionado as a reaction to the superclub nonsense’. So when you started did you realise that this reaction would result in a quarter of a century of playing records under the Aficionado banner?
No realisation whatsoever, wasn't even a consideration. I think we were both surprised by people's continuing interest in what we do, it was a very loose thing. We were not big on planning!
Can you remember the conversation or catalyst that sparked that first session?
The catalyst was the music and the desire to be able to play relaxed oddball music and create an atmosphere without any pressure to rock the dance.
At the time the scene had changed somewhat from the experimentation and DIY ethos that flourished with Balearic and acid house a decade or so earlier. How important did you feel it was to keep that spirit alive?
It was important to us, it's more of an attitude than a spirit. We weren't playing popular music, just playing what we liked to listen to at home.
DJing has changed somewhat since you started Aficionado and can often be driven by technology and BPMs rather than digging and selecting. Did that shift concrete your belief in how you play out as DJs?
We’re not that big on the technicals, our approach is programming and selecting, more of a segue, a mood, there's no glitter cannons going off. We play vinyl because that's what we have always done and it is how we source the music we play. Nothing against digital other than it's not very tactile and bad for your eyes.
How exciting has it been for your own musical horizons to expand further thanks to the rise of social media, Discogs, YouTube and Bandcamp?
Bandcamp is a very good discovery channel for new independent music, I like it a lot. Discogs takes the fun out of discovery, it's handy if you really want or need something, but I don't use it much these days; it's also distorted the market and the pricing of vinyl and not for the better! There's nothing like getting dusty fingers and taking a chance on something that looks interesting out in the field.
The Aficionado label appeared a decade or so after starting the parties, was that always the plan or did it just grow organically in line with what you were doing?
Never a plan, just an opportunity that came about, it was great while it lasted, I'm proud of every release.
Are there any plans to revive the label at all?
No, that won't be happening.
There are countless DJ compilations out there but this one soundtracks the perfect afternoon-evening out where it starts mellow before the grooves kick in. Was that a conscientious decision to programme it that way?
The approach was to put together an honest document of what Aficionado is about, that's how it is, that's how we sound. £1 records are just as important as £100 records to us, the programming element is critical to the whole feel of the compilation.
How much debate, and if any argument, went into compiling the album? 25 years of one party is a lot of tunes to take into consideration?
There was a general agreement that certain pieces had to be included; if we could get them. We could have just filled it with oddball obscurities, but that's not what we're really about, it had to be an authentic collection. It's an honest selection, a nice document to put in the library.
There are a couple of new tracks exclusive to the compilation, how did they come about?
Both Martin and James are long standing friends who have played at Aficionado over the years. Martin (J-Walk) made the track especially for the compilation, he knows what we like. James's (Begin) track was an unreleased remix that Moon had been playing for eons and it was a logical step to get it on the compilation..
It’s a remarkably great album with no fillers, you must be rather pleased with how it’s come together?
Thank you, that's nice to hear. Yes, we were very pleased with the whole thing, it's a team effort. It's very important to mention Topsy Von Salkeld's contribution to the cause on the design side, that's a key aspect of Aficionado, the branding is 100% all down to her skill and creativity.
You got another North West legend, John McCready to write the sleeve notes for the album. John must understand what you both set out to do better than most.
John is an old friend and an inspiration (his sets in the Gay Traitor with Dave Rofe pre-date Aficionado and are a great influence on our approach). He's just the funniest, affable and humble human and his knowledge is so vast, a very important figure in the Aficionado story and his accompanying essay for the compilation is brilliant. Hopefully he will be writing more often in the future, we were honoured when he agreed to write the sleeve notes.
You’ve got an all dayer taking place at the magnificent Gold Lion in Todmorden this month on the 19th. What other plans have you got to celebrate the album?
We're actually doing 2 consecutive Sundays, on the 19th November at The Golden Lion, that will be the only opportunity to hear us playing a long set with both of us together this year. We don't do back to back, just step in as and when. Then the following Sunday 26th November at YES in The Pink Room, we felt it was important to do something to commemorate the release in Manchester so we have invited Phil Mison, J-Walk, label heads Brenda Ray and Nev Cottee to join us for a free celebration.
Based on how great volume one sounds, can we expect a follow up?
Let’s see how this one goes first!
Going forward it sounds like you’re going to play things by ear?
No big plans afoot at this time.
How do you both discover new music these days?
Digging, Bandcamp and friend's socials/tips pretty much. It’s important to get in record shops as often as you can, that's where I get introduced to new stuff that I would have missed. Special shouts to SK1 and Piccadilly and big ups to all record shops, thank-you!
Jason Boardman & Moonboots present 25 Years Of Aficionado Discover new digital dance music with Trackhunter
Aficionado - The Golden Lion, Todmorden - 19th November
Aficionado - YES (The Pink Room) Manchester - 26th November