"We both believe in the same things, good people,
good parties, good music. Acid house, basically."
Idealists, hedonists, prophets, call them what you
will, but Layo & Bushwacka!'s love affair with music
started as teenagers under 1988's strobe lights and
its led the both of them through techno, breakbeat,
electro, dub and electronica, emerging blinking into
the light a decade later with a sound that fuses all
their influences and channelling them into 2002's most
anticipated dance floor album.
It's the same outlaw spirit of eclecticism that still
informs their five hour DJs sets, whether at their spiritual
home in London's The End, or on a beach in Brazil or
a state of the art superclub in Ibiza or Argentina.
Layo seamlessly segueing cutting edge sounds, while
Bushwacka! tears the arse out of the crossfade, turning
nondescript breakbeat battle weapons into a compulsive
collage of beats and breaks. The same spirit that took
the "for the fans" thousand-copy only 12"
'Black Label - Untitled' into a global club anthem.
Renamed 'Love Story' - with the title given to it by
the fans in Argentina who sit down rather than dance
through the track as a mark of respect for its majesty.
"I thought that track was a bit cheesy initially,"
muses the ever-analytical Layo. "Of course now
everyone loves it, I've warmed to it a bit." And
you can't get much more acid house than the legal minefield
that is Bushwacka!'s much bootlegged remix of Michael
Jackson's 'Billie Jean' - surely the biggest bootleg
mix in a year that was inundated with white label remixes
of dubious legality. If only, as Matthew shrugs, he'd
done the bootlegs himself, as everyone assumes.
Layo and Bushwhacka! have come a long way from the
teenager who frequented Clink Street's infamous acid
parties and the kid who dropped classical music to hang
out on the hardcore scene: two motor-mouthed refugees
from the underground enjoying their position as new
leaders of clubland's cutting edge. Layo & Bushwacka!
have both served their time supporting British underground
music when no-one wanted to know. Layo opening The End,
a purpose-built club dedicated to breaking new music
to the right people. Matthew jacking in a lucrative
career as a rave circuit DJ when the moody music had
gone too far for him, both taking the emergent strains
of techno, tech-house, electro and breakbeat and forcing
them together with the blues, classical and film soundtracks
of the last hundred years to create the dance floor
sound of the new century.
Matthew 'Bushwacka!' Benjamin has always been into
music: as a schoolboy in Ladbroke Grove, West London,
he was playing percussion in the London School Symphony
Orchestra." I played the Royal Festival Hall, the
Barbican. We toured Italy when I was 13. It was a magical
time of my life." It was 1988, and hooked on hip-hop
and DJing, his life was about to take a sharp left turn.
"In August '88 I went to a Rat Pack warehouse party.
I left there at 11 o'clock the next morning and come
home to an angry mum." Handing out flyers by night
and working in Harrods by day, he began working for
the Rat Pack. By 1989's summer of orbital rave he was
DJing for them, as well as on London's legendary 'Radio
Rental' pirate station Sunrise FM.
Graduating from a studio engineering course, Matthew
- now widely held in awe by other producers for his
crisp beats and heavyweight production techniques -
went to work at Mr C's new studio "making cups
of tea 80 hours a week". The Shamen front man had
ploughed his pop earnings back into the studio, and
he was also planning on opening a club with another
young protege of his: "That's where I met Layo,"
Matthew remembers. "About the same time as the
End idea was coming about."
Layo Paskin had a different upbringing in a liberal
North London household: the son of an architect and
a writer, he was putting on funk parties at sixteen
while working at weekends in Camden Market. "When
I was 17," he recalls, "I went to my first
acid house party, and straight away I was blown away
by this thing." From then on he too was immersed in
underground dance and within a couple of years he was
throwing warehouse parties with Mr C. "We found
this site for a party," he explains, "and
that became The End." The End was designed by his
father, and became Layo's life... taking in nights from
future superstars like Fatboy Slim and Roni Size it
quickly became the leading underground music club in
the capital and one of the most influential dance clubs
By the time Layo and Bushwacka! started working together
it was the mid-90s and dance music was changing. The
hardcore scene that Matthew had been such an integral
part of was already shifting into drum & bass, while
new hybrids - that would later be termed tech-house
and breakbeat - were emerging out of clubs like The
End. Matthew had started his own Plank records, and
was making and playing what he terms "good quality
music to go out and dance to."
In 1998 Layo and Bushwacka! released their first album
'Low Life' on End Recordings, the label that had begun
life the day The End opened. A deceptively smooth collection
that mashed together electro, techno, underground house
and old skool breakbeat, but stretched into delta blues
and dub reggae for inspiration, for a trippy down-tempo
atmospheric breakbeat sound. It was rather brilliant.
They also started DJing together more often - first
at the End's Subterrain nights, later across the country
and beyond. They make a good combination: Matthew tearing
his crossfade through anonymous tech tunes and electro
breaks Layo taking a more considered approach to playing
Their second album 'Night Works' took their blueprint
onto a bigger, broader canvas. All the elements we loved
about 'Low Life' and singles like the breakbeat blues
of 'Deep South' were still there - the adherence to
low end theory bass lines, but this time they came wrapped
in a comfort blanket of synapse-tweaking soft chords.
Once again edited and tweaked into a non-stop collage
that lulls you into a false sense of security at home,
where you can't feel the monster bass lines these tracks
unleash over a club sound system.
Following on from the success of Night Works (and the
many reincarnations of Love Story) the 'Gentleman and
the Mental Man' (©Jockey Slut) kept their hardcore
fans happy by taking their music live with acclaimed
appearances at Homelands, Creamfields and Glastonbury.
More importantly though they have re-focused on what
they do best by starting a monthly club night (at the
End, where else?) where they are the only DJs. Billed
as Layo & Bushwacka! - All Night Long this residency
enabled the duo to take their sets to a new level, combining
both The End and its sister bar AKA under the guidance
of the pair for seven, eight hours at a time. 'All Night
Long' is now firmly established as base camp for Layo
& Bushwacka! - the place where they can stretch out,
experiment and road test new styles and sounds - within
the confines of a homecoming party of friends and family.
The duo are now using that 'All Night Long' base as
a springboard for further adventures.
First up is their debut mix album. A 2 CD affair, the
album combines all the elements of their sound - be
it hip-hop, electro, breaks, deep house, early acid,
funk, soul, technoŠ.whatever. Just as with their End
residency the duo stretch out across a set combining
up to the minute finds, forgotten classics, reworks
of their own productions and exclusive L&B! edits of
party favourites (check their rework of Sly & The Family
Stone's 'Dance To The Music').
To coincide with the album Layo & Bushwacka! take the
'All Night Long' sets from The End out across the globe,
taking in world renowned parties such as Pressure at
The Arches in Glasgow, The Boutique in Brighton, Shine
in Belfast, We Love...at Space in Ibiza and on out to
underground strongholds in Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires,
Moscow, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam....
"The music industry is an industry where the
best business people do the best and the most creative
people don't," reflects Layo, "that's life
I suppose. But I'm hungry for that creativity. I'd like
to be really good at what I do, rather than hugely successful.
You need to be able to look yourself in the eye and
say the route you're taking is a good route, be proud
of what you do, and on the other hand also enjoy it.
I'll be much more happy if this album had good reviews,
rather than sell a million copies. Similarly I don't
care about playing the biggest clubs when I can be playing
the best parties. All of this, all of what we do, it's
all about having something we can visit in a few years
and be really proud of."