Mr. C about current lifestyle, the pandemic impact on the nightlife, meditation and positive thinking as the roots of his success, new music and much more as well
Richard West mostly known under his artistic moniker Mr.C is one of the people who pushed the boundaries of nightlife and was responsible for the development of English rave culture at the end of the ‘80s and still keeping it’s true spirit with the release of up-to-date techno and house music and his fantastic parties.
Richard started his way in showbiz at the age of 16 as a rapper and went on to become resident MC of the legendary London club Camden Palace. It was at 16 that he picked the Mr.C alias. Soon his attention was captured by the burgeoning rave scene and he recorded his first house track “Page 67” in 1987 under the name Myster-E. From that moment he started to get increasingly interested in new electronic dance music and DJing and soon became one of the important figures of the acid house boom that was labelled by English ravers as The Second Summer of Love in 1988. The name of this cultural splash showed the direct link of the rave movement to the first Summer of Love of the end of the ‘60s with having much in common in terms of emerging new musical forms, enthusiastically discovering of new psychoactive substances and big gatherings of dancing young people that shared an interest in these kind of things.
Richard started to play DJ sets at most of the important legal and illegal English raves at the end of the ‘80s. At the beginning of the ‘90s he became a real pop star after joining the band The Shamen and taking part in their most commercially successful and well-known album “Boss Drum” which included the smash hit “Ebeneezer Goode”. The Shamen played an essential role in pushing acid house from an underground subcultural genre into the mainstream and hit charts.
In 1995 Richard opened his own nightclub The End which turned out to be one of the best venues in London responsible for popularizing underground electronic music. The End had worked for 13 years full of colorful moments. During this period Richard also developed a successful career as a recording artist with a bunch of great releases under Mr. C alias as well as Killer Loop. He is considered to be one of the inventors of a new musical style tech house, a fusion of house and techno. After The End closed its doors in January 2009 Richard continued to throw big events, under the brand Superfreq, which is also a name of his record label, in London popup warehouse venues and different exclusive places all over the world.
Nowadays Richard resides in L.A. and continues his successful DJ tours all over the globe and produces new music as well. Like a well-rounded person he doesn’t limit his life interests only with music, he also teaches meditation for almost a decade now and is making his first steps as an actor.
We had a lucky chance to talk with Richard about his new music, the pandemic’s impact on his lifestyle and club culture, meditation and positive thinking as the roots of his success and other interesting things.
Interview: Dmitry Tolkunov
Hi Richard! Thank you very much for finding time for making this interview happen. First of all, it would be great to know what’s happening in your musical world—any noticeable releases of you & other artists coming out soon on Superfreq, maybe some plans for remixes or releases for other labels?
My Radical Inclusion remix package is out now. I’m delighted with my own remix on that as well as those done by Noel Jackson, Radio Rental, J. Gabriel, Chuffing Buffy, and In.Phrequent.
My Wonkytonk single with Radio Rental called Wonk is out in about five weeks’ time and in July my Spell EP with Noel Jackson as East LA Tek is out. I’m also working on my follow up Mr.C EP; remixes for J. Gabriel; Chuffing Buffy for Superfreq, Ian Taylor for rEJECT mUSIC; another for my friends Joel Brittain and Miss C aka Chloe Sinclair, who’s now one of our Superfreq residents and promoter. We’re releasing a new EP on Superfreq every three weeks or so. Already this year we’ve had great releases from Lee Reynolds; Memo Rex, Ilario Liburni; Igor Vicente and Chords of Stockholm. J. Gabriel; Chuffing Buffy is the next release, then Wonkytonk, Ne.Hau, East LA Tek, David Scuba; Lubelski; Noel Jackson. Go to superfreq.org to hear all our releases.
How do you fill most of your time these days? Did this strange pandemic situation that we are going through change your lifestyle?
I’ve been keeping very busy and yes, it has changed my lifestyle. I’ve been doing lots of live DJ streams. I’ve also set up a brand-new music podcast streaming website freqstream.com; with Noel Jackson. We’re releasing my Techno Tuesday live stream as a weekly podcast, which is 95% unreleased music. I want to keep it that way to highlight all the great new music I’m getting. The labels releasing music through this crisis period really need all the support they can get so I’m happy to do that. I’m releasing the podcast from each stream two weeks after the stream is live. This makes the live stream special for those joining in; encourages people to come back and listen to the streams before they’re released, which are recordings of my live streams.
I also do my Class of 88 live stream every Friday, which is music from 1986-1992. I’m completely staying away from the commercial hits from that period; focusing instead on the tracks that created the Acid House Revolution making this a specialist look at the roots of our music and Rave Culture much to the delight of train spotters and chin strokers alike. The Class of 88 podcast will be bi-monthly where I chose my favourite retro tracks and mix a two hour set from them & also feature special guest DJs from the 80s doing podcasts
I’m also about to start a new monthly live stream; podcast called Mr. C’s Magnificent 7, which will be more like a radio show. I’ll be presenting and reviewing my favourite seven tracks from a whole month of Techno Tuesday streams. Again, this is to help support the great artists and labels that have turned me on over the previous month.
Next is FreqStream’s weekly guest DJ podcast called Mr.C Loves. I’m asking my favourite DJs in the world to submit podcasts. It’s not only about how much I like the DJ’s music but also how much I love each of these DJs as Souls. Of course, I’ll be having many huge names do these, but I’ll also be giving one podcast a month to local DJs who are unknown to the world. Not just producers either but proper local DJs who I’ve come across on my travels. I’m starting off with the DJ I learned from and who was my own guru so the first podcast will be Mr.C Love Eddie Richards. After that comes Carl Cox, Murf, Clive Henry, Art Department, Tara Brooks, Steve Bug and Colin Dale. I have a whole list of amazing DJs who have agreed to join in who I’ll start to announce in the coming weeks.
Lastly is the Superfreq Spotlight. For this I’m getting Superfreq recording artists to make me a podcast, which I’ll be releasing a week or two before their new EP/Single releases. Therefore we have podcasts from J. Gabriel and Chuffing Buffy kicking things off followed by my Wonkytonk partner Radio Rental, then Ne.Nau, then Noel Jackson for our East LA Tek release, followed by my other Superfreq partner David Scuba for his release with Lubelski.
On top of this I’m doing guided meditations as live streams every day, still doing A&R work on the Superfreq label and keeping very busy.
What are your general feelings and thoughts about this whole coronavirus situation, and how does it all look in L.A. where you are situated now?
This whole pandemic sucks. It’s just horrible how so many people are losing their family and friends. I lost one of my best friends and my wife lost her uncle too. Then there’s so many people losing their jobs who are now struggling. It’s just awful. Here in L.A. people are following the social distancing guidelines. California set up restrictions early and the people of L.A. have been behaving very well so the pandemic has been handled very well here. Therefore, it looked better than in New York, where they’re having lots of deaths.
It’s understandable that the pandemic will have a significant impact on the club industry.
Do you think it can be possible that we will soon see such mutant post-pandemic forms of clubbing like dance floors with strict conformity of social distance?
I don’t see any clubbing happening any time soon here in America or in Europe. Clubbing and social distancing is not possible as we dance together. I think once we’ve flattened the curve and have very few cases we can start by limiting events to no more than 100 people. Then as the situation improves change that to 250, then maybe 500. Once we have the vaccine and people are taking it, then we can have events for 1,000 people and then back to normal.
One of the things that you have started to do on a regular basis during quarantine days are your online live streams of guiding meditation classes. Can you please tell us a bit about how this idea came to you and what is the goal?
I’ve been teaching meditation and been a life coach for almost a decade now. Due to the crisis, so many people are on lockdown in their homes and it’s making people crazy. Also, people losing work, friends and family is driving people crazy too and this is also leading to more domestic violence. I started to do these guided meditations to help people as meditation helps to remove worry, fear, anxiety and stress. It makes people more compassionate and caring, so in times like this it is my duty to share this information; techniques to help our fellow humans. The goal is to help people to be able to deal with the stresses of this pandemic a little better.
Does the meditation practice take a big place in your life? Can you please tell me a bit about how you came across it?
I started meditating way back in 1983 when I was 17 years old. My step-father introduced me to meditation after he started practicing. He also got me questioning how the human mind works, so I then got interested in psychology and also the law of attraction. I’ve been practicing meditation and positive thinking my whole adult life. It’s been what helped me to escape a life of crime & being poor. My first record release was a deep house song on which I spoke about meditation and positive thinking. I released this in 1987. It’s called Page 67 by Myster-E on Baad records.
I made this track with Eddie Richards. Meditation and positive thinking have been the root to all of my success, including becoming a well-known rapper and MC in London in my late teens, then becoming a DJ, then a pop star, then a club owner. Honestly I don’t think I’d have been such a success without meditation. This is why I teach meditation and share life tools as we all deserve to have access to this information and knowledge.
Do you think that this meditation practice gives some abilities that you can use in your artistic practices like playing or composing new music?
Absolutely yes. Meditation is a practice used to become One with the Absolute or Consciousness itself. As Humans we are all conscious, just like all animals. However, we have a special; unique ability to be able to be aware that our own Consciousness is connected to the Grand Consciousness. Consciousness has existed forever and will exist forever. Consciousness is, therefore, infinite everlasting. It is everything that has been, everything that is, everything that will ever be in every dimension of the Multiverse. This is why Consciousness is also known as the Absolute, as it is absolutely everything.
When we meditate, the objective is to bring the body and the mind to complete stillness. In fact, this stillness is more than just stillness. When meditating we connect to Nothingness. In this place of nothingness there is nothing. Therefore, there is no space or time as these are things. If there is no place or time, then the past, the present and the future in every dimension of the Multiverse is all in that space of nothingness. Therefore, nothing is everything, the Absolute. This is what we connect to when practicing meditation. You connect to Consciousness itself in this way, it fills you with creativity and ideas. This is amazing for anyone in the arts, film, performance, music etc. as it makes the music-making process more creative and artistic. It also makes playing more of a unified experience.
Besides being a well-known musical producer you are also an experienced promoter with your own club night that has the same name with your label—Superfreq. Do you have some special places where you would like to throw a Superfreq night after the pandemic will be over?
I’ll be happy to start to do small gatherings of only 100 people to start with. Having our inner circle of friends & our community come back together to celebrate life together. This is what Superfreq is about, celebrating life with our friends and people we love.
Superfreq nights started in your London club The End. Do you think that Superfreq nights that you organize nowadays in different parts of the world still carries The End vibe and spirit?
Yes. Superfreq has the same spirit as The End as they both come from the same creative headspace with the same intention, which is love, togetherness, the celebration of life and the progression of quality dance music.
What was the reason for closing such a successful club as The End in 2009 after 13 years of its brilliant story?
When we closed, we had only eight years left on our lease. Three years before that the property was bought by a property developer who wanted to build luxury apartments on the site. He was trying to get us to leave but we said no. Our lease was legal and binding. In July 2008, the new owner gave us an offer that we couldn’t refuse. He said that in January 2009 we will have only eight years left on our lease and that he would give us eight years of profit at our best year to close in January 2009. Of course, this was a great option. Do we work hard for eight more years for this money or do we take that money now? They were not going to renew the lease as they wanted us out so after a few years we’d have to start thinking of an exit strategy. Taking the money at that point was the best option for us.
Did you ever have thoughts about going back to club business and opening a new place?
I have never thought of opening another nightclub. I’ve already been an owner of the best nightclub the world has ever seen. Been there. Seen that. Done that. Time to do other things.
You are known now mostly as a DJ and a musical producer of advanced forms and house music. In the past you’ve been a rapper, a frontman of the famous band The Shamen. Do you ever have thoughts about going back to performing live?
I still do studio performances on new records, but no. I’m now 54 years old, which is way too old to start touring again as a live band. I think I’ll leave that to the younger artists in their 20s and 30s. There will never be a Shamen revival either.
What are the first things you would like to get done and finished after the pandemic is over?
I really miss DJing to crowds of people who have come together to celebrate life to quality house and techno music. I miss it real bad.
Keeping fingers crossed and hoping with you that these times will come back. Thank you very much for the interesting talk.