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Dave Angel: Straight outta Brixton

Back on the straight and narrow after having done some time inside, the Sound Enforcer discusses the music biz, his background and his love of boxing.

Dave Angel is wearing a big smile. He's just blown the minds of several hundred people in a tunnel that looks like an underground bunker in Berlin. More Dave Clarke than Dave Angel you'd think. Except this is the basement of the Isaac Butt, the latest venue in Dublin to take advantage of the continued clubbing craze.

He's smiling but he's still not completely happy. "The sound system was minimal so I didn't get the feedback from the crowd that I like. But you know me, I'm a perfectionist, man." Given that he's spent the last ten minutes shaking the hands of those who wanted to congratulate him, you're left wondering what the hell he does in superclubs.

Angel's a week late. Last week, he missed the last boarding call by five minutes because of roadworks on the way from his Swindon home. He got the early flight today just to ensure he could make it up to those who had missed him. The majority of them came back.

Dave Angel, real name Nicholas Gooden, aka The Sound Enforcer, is straight outta Brixton. Born and raised. Maybe that's why he can relate to the reaction that Mike Tyson got when he visited the underprivileged area. "I'm a boxing freak; I'm glad they left him in. I don't think he raped that girl, but that's another story. Mike Tyson's visit was like Nelson Mandela coming to Brixton. It can only be good for the people there. He was a great fighter, like me he just doesn't like to lose."

Angel's deprived background lead to spells in prison for shoplifting and dealing cannabis. He's a user and because of that "it was only natural to deal it". By 1986 he was a DJ on pirate station Faze 1, along with the likes of Fabio and Grooverider. Even though he's a techno DJ, perhaps this shared background lead to his last album contained elements of drum n' bass.

He refuses to believe d n' b has become too introverted. "I don't think it's gone wrong. It's probably purer than it's ever been. They got rid of the crap and the hangers-on have gone to the new big thing, speed garage."

Within a couple of years of his Faze 1 debut though, his father's death led him into a downward spiral. He was sent down again after one dope bust too many. On his release, the birth of his son changed his psyche and he vowed to sort his life out. "If I wasn't a DJ, I'd be producing or playing an instrument. I was brought up into music." In other words, he would have stayed straight doing something he loves.

There was a jazz album on the stereo before he left. It's an old record by Eddie Jefferson, a be-bop singer who died in May 1979. His background is in jazz and elements of it run through his music. His father was a jazz musician and Angel grew up listening to Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and the like. He admits this background helped him construct songs, but he thinks playing to crowds can be more revealing. "Being a DJ helps, it gives you a factor push. I'm playing tracks and seeing how the crowd responds. The formula is there when I go into the studio. You can't go wrong. You can fool around with the structure but you don't get too advanced for your own good."

So why haven't Irish DJs made more of an international impact? "They aren't making enough music and there's not enough record labels. They need to form an army rather than being single soldiers. They need to be exchanging sounds, forming a movement."

Techno's comeback didn't surprise him but he can't explain why all of a sudden it's everywhere again. "You can't put your finger on it... You can't pinpoint a particular reason why techno's making a comeback."

As for new material, he says he's been working on his new album for a year and three months. He's been collaborating with idols from his youth and claims to be moving in completely different directions.

"I'm a perfectionist, I'll release it when I'm ready to," he says seriously. Dave Angel: Own man, boxing fan, DJ extraodinaire.

by Neil Callanan

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