Elliot Eastwick (Salt City Orchestra, Paper Recordings) Interview
When you think of names like Salt City Orchestra, Cine City, Reset and the likes you’ll instantly think legendary Manchester pioneers Paper Recordings. Together the represent the emergence of house music from rave in the early 90’s and the names behind the story go down in folk law – Ben Davis, Pete Jenkinson, Miles Hollway and Elliot Eastwick. A DJ, producer and former resident at The Hacienda, Eastwick was on the first Paper release as Salt City Orchestra with Hollway and Si Bradshaw and gave the label instant appeal thanks to his DJ profile. Something of a prankster, an artist and someone that I’m delighted to be able to ask some burning question of...
Thanks for agreeing to be quizzed Elliot, we should probably begin at the beginning and give readers the story of how you got into DJ’ing, the scene at the time.
Did you see yourself as a DJ or producer more?
DJ I think. That’s how I got started out. At 16. I didn’t produce any music till I was 19. Early start!
You’re Hacienda residency must have been a dream - any great stories from those days?
Crikey. I just felt like I was in the right place. The club was where I spent the days and nights. There were maybe 25 people who worked there during the day. Weirdly my most enduring memory was actually learning to DJ there during the day. Playing to the cleaners. I didn’t have decks at home so Paul Cons gave me the code for the sound system and I took my records into work everyday and learned to mix on my lunch break. If I got it right, the cleaners would do a thumbs up. I really cherish that memory.
You later went to Hard Times in Leeds - highlights of that time?
Yeah. In 93 some mental farmer from Yorkshire got in touch wanting to start a night in Mirfield. He was a Hac regular. Pete from (pre) Paper worked in the Hac office and took the call. He suggested me and Miles so off we went to an old cinema in the middle of nowhere. Can’t remember who the opening night guest was but we really went for it with the US DJs.
Tell us about the infamous 1994 mixtape with Mile Hollway? On cassette only right? (Google it folks)
Oh yeah. Forgot about that. We did a lot of tapes around then. I’ve only heard one recently and was still being critical! Everything was cassette then. We had a few CD ones. One was Seasons Green for Hard Times and we did 2 for Tribal USA
You’re Wiki says you were “ booted off the decks at a Jockey Slut party after he played two Gabba records and Nick Berry's "Every Loser Wins" - or is that urban myth?
Ha. No it’s completely true! Fat boy slim was on after me and threw the Nick Berry record into the crowd!
Do you still DJ out in clubs?
How did Paper Recordings come about?
We had made a record for the Tribal label called ‘Storm’ it sold a lot and we’d enjoyed making it. I think because there was a group of 5 or 6 of us we just collectively thought it would be a fun creative thing we could all muck into. So we did. We’d hoped the first release off the back of Storm would do well for us and it did.
Why the name Paper Recordings?
Ha! I found the A4 paper the other day with all the potential names for the label on we did during a ‘brainstorming session’ (6 pints
In the BP) some of the names are so so so bad.
How did you go about getting that first 12” pressed?
6 of us put £500 in to start the label. No computer. Half the start up cost was deposit on an office and renting a fax machine! We ran out of money and the orders were coming in so we approached Dave Piccioni from Azuli who had a distribution network and was happy to put the money up for a percentage return. Wouldn’t have done it without him to be fair. Lovely bloke.
I’m guessing playing the first Paper 12” - your own - as a DJ was a special moment?
Yeah! It would have been at Hard Times but I don’t remember the first play. People liked it right off the bat.
I used to love getting the promo’s in the paper bags and the ‘pap’ t-shirt was one of only two record label one’s I wore DJ’ing... who came up with all the cool creative ideas for things for the label?
Paul Cleary our designer had great ideas and we trusted everything he suggested, a clever guy. I was very good as an ideas person but shocking at the business side, luckily Pete was great at that!
Every Paper release had part of a sentence on it, that was building into something... what was the story - it’s been on my mind for over 25 years!?
It was absolute bollocks. The intention was to send people on a wild good chase trying to find out what it meant. We did that a lot. Same reason we kept missing out catalogue numbers. Send the hardcore fans looking for releases that didn’t exist. It was early trolling.
What were the highlights of those early Paper Recordings days, partying with Johnny Vegas?
Jesus man. We were so so so drunk. Shocking thinking about it. Out most nights of the week. Daytime meetings in pubs etc. Yeah we loved Johnny! Used to go and see him at open mics before he was famous. We like his little gang.
The scene exploded - Toko, Shaboom... did you feel part of a bigger rise in the music, or was it just a bunch of mates having fun?
Yeah there was a definite notion that something was happening. As soon as it got coined ‘Brit House’ we started looking and Scandavian artists etc to try and move it on.
What was the idea behind having so many alias’s (Cine City, Reset, Paper Music, Wastepaper and more)?
Politics, contracts signed under different monikers, wanting to experiment with different sounds . All a bit daft really as it watered it down in the long run but kept it fresh.
Any tips for people wanting to start a label these days?
By the early 2000’s things were changing, and by 2002 you seemed to have stopped producing - what happened?
I think we got bored. We bought a studio with Merlin from Reset and spent most of the time smoking weed and playing pool and darts. Then like 30 mins on a tune.
What was your production process? (Have an idea, or just get int there and see what came out?) Can you pick or favourite track on the label - yours or someone else?
Me and miles would pick bits, techniques, sounds, ideas out of records we liked and that worked. We liked drama but not cheese. We would take the ideas into Si Brads studio and the 3 of us would work through them all. We had an idea of our sound quite quickly.
My favourite track on the label is Downtime I think. I just love it. We made it in 7 hours straight.
Are you still involved with music production?
I’ve still got gear and my son has his own studio. He’s an electronic musician called Alfie Sky. I did dabble again about 4 years ago but just can’t find the time anymore and it all needs setting up again.
Any tips for producers looking to make scene making music?
Do it with your mates. Talk about who is good at which aspect and play to your strengths where possible. Make a distinct noise and know who you’re making it for.
Paper Recordings came close to going forever, but is still going, although not quite as housey as it was - do you still keep in touch with the other guys?
Yeah I see them at 50ths and we were joking it’ll be funerals next. I have nothing to do with paper as it is now after being resurrected, neither does Miles. I wish them luck though.
More recently you created a Hacienda family tree - was it just a passion project that went viral?
I did it for a Hacienda exhibition I worked on for Urbis in 2008. Originally it filled a 15 foot wall! I scaled it down and made prints. I’m working on a Chicago one at the mo
So many of the those North West house music guys are still involved in music, Ben, Si Brad, Shaboom’s Mark... and these days you’re the breakfast host of Revolution 96.2 - tell us about that?
I’ve always been a massive show off and wanted to get out of DJing and production. Realised I’m quite good at radio accidentally and haven’t looked back. I really love it.
What’s on the cards for the future, art or music projects? Where can people follow you?
No music planned though I think me and Miles jokingly talked about it at Eleanor’s 50th. I’m working ideas for a podcast with Luke Unabomber and Dan Hope at the mo and trying to finish the Chicago House Family Tree