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Josh Kay (Global, Phoenicia) Interview


The main purpose of this site isn’t to rehash info about all the well known oldschool artists out there, but to shine some light on quality lesser known artists / scenes. It’s with that in mind that I hit up Josh Kay of the Texas breakbeat hardcore act Global with some interview questions. Yes, I said Texas. It turns out there was a big rave scene there in the early 90’s, and several of the only US-based breakbeat hardcore records circa 92-93 seem to be have been released from there: NASA PROJECT, GLOBAL, all the METROPOLIS remix records, etc. Josh later went on to move to Florida and, along with his friend Romulo, found the groups Soul Oddity (Astralwerks) and Phoenecia (Warp, Schematic), plus the label Schematic Records.
If anyone reading this was a part of that scene and wants to fill us in with more info, feel free to leave a coment below

How did you meet Robert Vaughn and when did you two start doing tunes together?

We met at Oak Lawn Records, where Rob worked at the time.
I was in college in Denton, TX. and I used to frequent the few record stores that sold electronic music.
To this day I have never met as natural a DJ (all the turntablists I’ve met included) as Rob. He had the most diverse record collection and a photographic memory for records. I would borrow a crate at a time from him and sample & listen to them. I learned half of what I know about music from him. We hit it off and started making tracks right away. I had and EPS 16+ and a few other synths, but nothing crazy. The first day Rob came to my house he brought a 303, 808, 101, and a 909.
I think we had our first record done in 3 weeks. Rob was the resident DJ at every decent club in Dallas. He ruled the place. At the time I think we was spinning 5 nights a week to probably 1000-2000 people a night. It was full on rave hysteria in Dallas back then. Bands that came to Dallas would typically get the shock of their lives.

How did you first find uk hardcore/rave? How did early uk records make it to Texas?

If you went to a club in the late 80’s/early 90’s in Dallas, you were likely to hear every style of music made with a drum machine. It was really a mixed bag, and somehow it all blended together effortlessly. The record stores I mentioned were few, but very influential, and much more than stores. Oak law had their own label which specialized in re-issues. Eventually Rob and I started another label with Oak Lawn’s owner, Ray Cooper, called Space Records.
There was also Metropolis Records, besides being a record store, they released the Metropolis Remix Series.
Then there was Bills Records (great article here ). Bills was a massive store housed in an old bowling alley. I don’t know where they got their records, but they had like 4 copies of everything, and 2 of them were usually sealed. no matter how rare it was, whether it was Mayday’s Nude Photo with the banned cover, or the KLF 1987 album. Dallas was definitely the place to be for me. All the music you could ever want to hear, DJ’s with amazing taste in music, and great venues where you could play whatever you wanted.

Who started and ran Excel records? Any idea why the label only put out 2 releases?

His name was Luke, and he had a few partners. They were actually into cooler music than what they released.

Global did a remix for Psychotropic – were you directly in touch w/ them, or was this set up through the label (which was based out of Texas?) What UK acts if any were you in touch with back then?

No, it was all set up by Metropolis. They secured the rights to release and remix the song (I hope) and they asked us to do it. I think we got $200 for it. My second reality check, the first being our first royalty statement from Excel Records (really).

Psychotropic – Goodtime / Hardtime (Good and Hard Global Remix)

Who was the primary person responsible for the Metropolis Remix series?

I didn’t know the folks at Metroplis too well, though they were just down the street from Oak Lawn. I think they guy’s name was Marty? Scotty (DJ Redeye) should back me up on all of this, he was actually paying attention back then 🙂

Acen – Close Your Eyes (Metropolis Mix By Robert Vaughn)


Global – Rock Steady

I’ve heard that there was either a nightclub or at least a club night also named
Metropolis, were these two connected w/ the remix records?

I think you’re referring to Metronome, Grace Jone’s club. It was the first (and remains the coolest night club) I’d ever been to. I was 15, my big sister snuck me in. That experience changed my life forever. I’m not a nightclub person, nor have I ever been. I go to clubs for the music or to play my own. It’s always been that way. I’d much rather go into nature to bug out. These days I absolutely dread most clubs, especially the ones in Miami. They are hellish, horrible smelling places, full of dark energy. But Metronome and a hand full of other places were brilliant experiences for me. The right place at the right time with the right music and the right people can be heaven on earth.

Any idea what the reason was for all the domestic edits (instead of, say, direct track reissues or megamixes)? Were the remixes / edits licensed, or was this a way for them to get around having to license the tracks?

Not too sure. It was very popular back then, (Razormaid remix service was also huge back then).
DJ’s really loved them, I mean if you loved a track and were almost playing it to death and then you found an extended version with all these crazy edits and you busted it out first, well then it was worth the money, and they were pricey.
I think they were licensed, but I think it was way cheaper to do it that way, and you could essentially re-sell the song with a cheap remix by some nobodies. If the song is good, you can’t really ruin it doing a remix of the stereo master (we never got parts, stems or samples).

Some of these records don’t list the individual artist, are there any ones that you helped with which you weren’t credited for?

Yep plenty.
There was a guy named Wayne we knew who had his own remix service (don’t remember the name). He had the first ProTools system (called Sound Tools back then) I’d ever seen. I used a computer then but only a tracker for sequencing (I used Voyetra Sequencer Plus Gold). Anyway, we (Rob and myself as Global, and Scotty and Arnold as N.A.S.A. Project) would do remixes for him, and in exchange he would help us with our song order, minor mastering, and on a few occasions he put together backup live show DATS with all of our songs nicely mixed together, but you know, only for backup :). Hey, Altern-8 got away with it.

I heard a GLOBAL release was supposed to come out on Moving Shadow at one point,
is that true? If so, how come it never saw the light of day? Is that the EP which eventually
came out on Excel, or was it a different release?

Interesting. We met the Moving Shadow guys (who recorded as 2 Bad Mice) in New York at the New Music Seminar in ’92. They were well into what we were doing but we never had any dealings with them. Rob and I almost signed with Suburban Bass, they were the hottest shit back then and we were completely floored that they wanted to work with us.Their recording contract was just too exclusive and binding, we felt we wanted a bit more freedom. I suppose we took a bit too long dwelling on the legal issues that they felt dissed and lost interest. The single they wanted to release never came out but it was a classic in Dallas. When we played it out people knew and loved it so well, it practically started riots.
Looking back, we definitely should have done it but I never lost too much sleep over it.

What were the most influential records you ever heard/bought/stumbled upon?
Aphex Twin – Analogue Bubble Bath 3 and Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Aphex taught so many of us that there was more we could do with music than we ever thought. There is something new under the sun. He is the supreme musical genius of our generation.

Morton Subotnik – Sidewinder
I bought it by accident, it was inside the record jacket of a Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band record (they were amazing in their own right). One of many happy accidents. I never heard music so unapologetically electronic and so formless, so unconcerned with the laws of music. Techno was the exact opposite, everything was so tied to the beat. It taught me alot.

KLF Chill Out
I was going to college in Texas at the time, way out in the country. Chillout was based on a roadtrip though Texas and to most of my friends it was just too close to home, and a bit boring. They all wanted more KLF techno, for me it was revolutionary. It changed my approach to music forever.

Space – Space
I bought a rare pressing of this at Bills. What a gorgeous record. Find it, steal it, pawn your turntable for it. It’s still a masterpiece.

808 State – Newbuild, Ninety & Utd State 90
They taught me everything good I learned about music at the time. Music was so original back then, as it usually is before an era or a style has a name, but they were flying miles above making real, original, complex, and beautiful music.

Various – Relics – A Transmat Compilation
An amazing collection of otherworldly Detroit classics. This album is proof that they did it first and did it best. No ego or pretense, just beautiful & forward-thinking music.

There are so many more but I’ll stop there, this is just a small list of records that kept me mystified by music.
15 years later and I’m still trying to figure out how they did it.

17 Replies to “Josh Kay (Global, Phoenicia) Interview”

  1. yeah, thanks Pete (& Josh Kay as well of course)! totally fascinating piece of rave history…especially interesting to me as a fellow American…

    quite surprising that Dallas of all places had a big rave scene…just that I’ve been there & you’d never guess…tho hey…

  2. Thanks for this – I’ve never heard these tunes, and they are great! Cool interview, too, I had no idea Dallas was a rave hotbed back in the early 90’s.

  3. There was a club named Metropolis in Portland Maine but im pretty sure that wasn’t until a few years after this came out.. They did have a bunch of great old school headliners up there.

  4. I remember Josh from about that time period in the early 90’s. We used to be close friends and hung out at clubs like Aqua Lounge. I also used to get hooked up at Guitar Center when he worked there. He was a real cool guy when I knew him back then, but I moved away and he did too, and regretfully, lost touch with each other. I am proud of all of his well deserved success and think he is a very talented musician. Much respect!

  5. Thanks for this interview and for the respect to the Dallas scene. For those wanting to see more of what was happening then they can go to jeffk.net, and click the Edgeclub94 link in the 3rd para. This will bring-up the playlists from ’91-’96. Most of the Hardcore etc. started around 12-1 am, with the stuff before then being mostly HiNRG and such. Peace!

  6. Wow! Great interview!

    Those were the days! I lived through those days and they were amazing. This article helped to bring back some of those memories. I still find myself looking for lost tracks or my fave DJs from then on the internet. That is how I stumbled upon this gem!

    For those who didn’t know Dallas had a scene, wow it was wondrous, too bad it couldn’t last! I first went to the aqua lounge when I was 15 and that is when it all started, so much love for the music.

    Thank you for this interview!

  7. Fantastic stuff. The Global/NASA Project stuff was really cool because it was actually coming out of Dallas. It completely legitimized the Dallas scene.

    Also, the Global track that Josh spoke about was called “Join Hands”.
    It was debuted on Jeff K’s Edge Club 94 show in Dallas.

    Great stuff

    Robert

  8. I lived in Dallas during these times! They were without a doubt the best time of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of connection with music or the people that were into the music like I did during those times.(and believe me I’ve traveled extensively trying to find that kind of sincere and humbling, passionate vibe only to sorely disappointed) From listening to 94.5-Metroplis when I was too young to get into clubs,to the Hazy Days parties, seeing Global and NASA Project perform to my first rave on Hall St watching +8 Richie Hawtin…it was definitely a great time to love music and to be innocent with passion for it. These are memories I cherish!! Thanks for the article! Brought back some wonderful memories! 🙂

  9. Hi there. Great article. Can someone please put a link to the Space – Space album Kay refers to? I cannot find it on discogs or allmusic.com and having little luck elsewhere.

  10. Psychtropic’s Goodtime b/w Hardtime was originally released as two tracks by 02 records out of the UK. I had a label with partner Cade Adams called essential records and we bought the rights to the two tracks for $3,500. We asked Rob Vaughan of Global to do a remix for either of the tracks and he and Josh Kay combined the two tracks and came up with Goodtime/Hardtime (Global Good and Hard remix). We were so happy with what they came up with. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well as it still sounds great today. I think they are both super talented guys. Just for the record $200 was what they asked for so that is what we paid them. The quality of the work was excellent and any major label would have paid thousands.
    Ronnie Bruno (Dallas, Texas April 2012)

  11. I had friends in Dallas at the time. Lizard Lounge mix on the radio every Saturday night was what was up! I moved to Chicago in ’92 and was perplexed by the lack on hardcore/breakbeat vibes. Good times!

  12. I still dont think i have completely came down from that shit!!!!!!!!!!! I loved the raves at dallas music complex (until the fire marshalls would come shut us down!)…..definately sad to live in the world today, when u compare it to the Love and Unity the MUSIC filled our spirits with……where did the vibe goto??? i love some of the music now, but the people nowadays suck…….
    SINCERELY,
    HIGH AND DEPRESSED IN THE METROPLEXXX

  13. OH YEAH……ALMOST FORGOT…

    TO: .JOSH KAY,
    tone capsule was my #1 all-time favorite album, its totally amazing and I wish you would make another album…..SOUL ODDITY IS THE SHIT!!

    HIT ME UP ON MY EMAIL

    ALIENDAVID420@GMAIL.COM,

    I’D LOVE TO COLLABORATE WITH YOU ON SOME FRESH TRACKS!!!

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