Sharing your stage name with a female deity, particularly when you’re a male, takes some stones. In the case of the legendary DJ-producer born Gavin King, however, it can be justified. Since emerging on the UK underground in the late ‘80s the man known simply as Aphrodite has seen and done it all. From rave and acid house to hardcore, jungle, drum and bass and beyond, King’s been on the forefront. Now after releasing what seems like hundreds of recordings, this pillar of the dance community is still standing strong, and like all great sagas, it started humbly enough.
“I used to run a club night call Aphrodite many years ago without a DJ name at the time,” King explains in his energetic British drawl. “As I was booked more and more the name somehow stuck.” As the scene has expanded to where it is in 2012 the “scandal and illegal activities” of his era may be somewhat lacking King is as passionate and productive as ever.
Aphro will be bringing the madness to that Melbourne dance Mecca – Brown Alley –making his return to our shores after his last whirlwind visit two years ago. “I always enjoy coming to Australia, great people, great country, great parties,” he says with obvious reverence. “Being a Brit, Oz can be a home from home when travelling. I haven't been so often the last few years due to being such a hands-on dad, but now is the time.” If you believe the doomsday sayers predicting an apocalypse, now certainly seems the like right time for some insanity. Here’s hoping the venue has reinforcements for what is to come. “Once at a club on the first floor in Canberra the ceiling of the shop below broke up because of the crowd dancing too vigorously.” When he’s not overseeing destruction or “chasing a six foot kangaroo for a photo of it” the prolific DJ delivers some of the most intense live sets you are likely to be part of. Telling Aussie fans to expect “lots of beats and bass that you have to dance to”, he always has surprises in store for his fans. “I play a mixture of new, unreleased, VIP, well known and classic tunes, all mixed up. There is always a part of a set that any junglists or drum and bass heads can really enjoy.” He also has his own massive catalogue of anthems to draw from including Bad Ass, King Of The Beats and countless others. Making the shows even more unique he adds a unique twist to his signature tunes. “I include quite a few of the tunes that people know me for but in ways that don't make them sound like you heard them before.” Continuing the expansive genre-crossing tradition of his past, King always mixes things up bringing in elements of dirty house, dubstep, raga, hip hop and more. When speaking about his homeland and his formative days, particularly the vaunted ‘Summer of Love’ in 1988, King is clearly proud of the scene and his contributions. “The early days of jungle were massive, it was the biggest music scene for a time. Since then the music has become more embedded in the UK culture so it always goes down well. I still always think of the drum and bass area as being the most exciting at a festival.” It’s easy to look back now in retrospect at the immensity of what was happening in the UK before dance music exploded on a global scale however even the pioneers like Aphrodite didn’t realise the impact they were having. “Making music has always been about making a record that I can include in a DJ set and compares in a good way to whatever else is being released. When it goes well it’s great but you never realise a particular track is special until it's still being played years later.” Even the impact of a surefire classic like the aforementioned King Of The Beats, which went to be featured in video games Rollcage and SSX Tricky, didn’t fully dawn on him until after the fact. At the time it was business as usual; no special ingredients were required. “I just have to have the time available and patience to make it in the studio. There's always ideas, but never enough time to see them through to a finished track.” Lucky for us, and the scene as a whole, this one made it. The Aphrodite Recordings head reveals that he’s back in the lab cooking up more treats for those that can’t get enough. “I am working on several remixes, some new tracks. These should all come out during the year. Artful Dodger, Biga Ranx and Plastiic Jesus are some of the remix projects. I'm also working with a few vocalists currently as well.”
The energy created by his tracks and the electricity King felt in the wild west days remains. As dance continues to extend its reach to foreign lands King believes the UK remains as vital as ever. “It's always a solid scene in the UK. The UK loves bass music so drum and bass and jungle can always rock the crowds.” Europe as a whole he says is receptive to a variety of styles and genres whenever he hits the stage. The heads in Burn City are sure to greet him with the same rapturous reaction he is treated to on dance floors across the world.
BY ANDREW 'HAZARD' HICKEY
Aphrodite [UK] plays Brown Alley on Friday March 16.