It goes without saying that Toby Tobias has been a long standing figure in the London scene. You may recognise him for his seminal house cuts on labels like Rekids , ESP Institute, Delusions of Grandeur, International Feel, Odori and Quintessentials to name a few. With his new label on the horizon we thought it was a fitting time to get the selector in to mix some cuts from the deep dark bowels of his record collection. You can also catch Toby spinning records around London, most noticeably House Of St. Barnabas in Soho where we host a party with him monthly. For his Phonica mix Toby brings us on a masterclass through various styles of deep house, breaks, euphoric breakdowns, melodic percussions and acid basslines. Almost like a segment from a night out this is a little taste of one of his long all night sets in a dark London club.
Hey Toby, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it?
hey there – thanks a lot for having me – As with all mixes – i try to inject a certain amount of my DNA in the mix – with a few heavy inspiration tracks – FSOL and Bushwacka for example in this one . Its definitely a more clubby approach – aimed at dancefloors – did a couple of more chill mixes recently so it felt time – kind of 2 / 3 am type vibes- -starts on the slightly deeper side of rave / breakbeat and builds from there – had to put a few pacey tracks in – just the way it went organically – also wanted to play a track from my forthcoming label which will arrive eventually ! had a few issues in delivery , from a brand new artist I’ve been working with a lot – Cherrie Bea – this one is a remix from the man Nuron – second track in.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in music?
I grew up in an area in Hampshire – Fleet , near Aldershot – seemed to be a good place to be in the 90s growing up with the rave scene exploding – easy access to London and the west country raves . Growing up there definitely influenced me musically – starting with breakdancing and electro when really young,( mid 80s) I knew a few guys with decks who’d play records while we busted some breaking and popping – bought one cassette – electro Crucial 1 – that started the WHOLE thing off for me I’d say . Later – early 90s – Because Reading , Basingstoke and Aldershot were next door – they all had great clubs , raves and record shops ( Basement records I m looking at you ) – so would be easy to listen to Colin Dale and Favour on Kiss FM in the week and pop over to Reading or occasionally an outing in London to search for tunes that had been furiously scribbled on a a silk cut packet . But as I said – lots of illegal raves happened in these areas and slightly further out west – 2.5 hour drive to Castlemorton . It was around 95 i took a break from the scene and moved into London around 96 and started getting involved in more house music based events – it wasn’t too long that I discovered Swag records – which became my new kind of base – and place where I d gain inspiration and information – ( not forgetting the other Croydon classic – Beanos ).
Can you tell us a bit about how you usually approach recording a mix or a set?
With a DJ recording – Starts very chaotically – I’d say – with a huge pile of tunes – and scribbled ideas – to try and remember some digi tunes to play – eventually gets whittled down to a manageable amount – and then figure out a couple that might go well together – but like to keep it a bit live and exciting – so not TOO planned – but just gotta make sure the mood and flow is right – good to listen to on a run – that’s a good barometer – or maybe an after hours party 🙂 getting ready for a club set is different – just choose wayyyyy more tunes than I need – but so I can be relaxed and know I can do the job in hand – being relaxed and prepared is the key 🙂
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates or do you prefer to buy online?
Yes I love digging in dusty crates still – I can’t see that stopping as I love to find that weird totally off radar little oddities – a nice feeling when you find the right thing – – but really love digging on Bandcamp too and a few other digital platforms.
You’ve been a long time resident at House Of St Barnabas in Soho can you tell us a little bit about that?
Its just been great to have this residency – its a nice gig anyway – function one sound, amazing hidden garden .When it goes well – I always say its like the best house party you’ve ever been too – the music never gets too deep as it only finished at 1 normally ( occasionally 2)- – but have been know to drop a few jungle tunes .Its a nice chilled warm up vibe for first few hours – and then bang – 2 or 3 hours of chaos . But really I cant say enough about how important for me as a DJ its been to have somewhere to constantly play – and test out music .
What do you have up your sleeve for 2022?
First and foremost my label Voice Notes – currently waiting to approve first Test Pressing – which has had a few setbacks – then there will be a VA EP – with some great artists on – and then an album by some old friends – Pyramids of Space – which I am so happy to show you – and have worked so hard compiling the album . Will be distributed by One Eye Witness – so look out for that . Also just finishing a mini LP by myself – I’m not certain where that will end up at this moment in time – and talking with another label about another release . Got a couple of very interesting collabs in the pipeline too – one for my label and a couple of singers on a slightly different tip – will let you know more about that soon . And working on a getting a couple of mini DJ tours together – but in the meantime – look out for a special date in south London on May 27th as well as various other UK gigs – and of course first Friday of every month — with Phonica at House of St Barnabus.
Thanks Toby 🙂