Tomorrow dollop makes a welcome return to Stealth, presenting a bill packed with homegrown talent spinning exciting music; the likes of Rinse FM selector and Fabric mix contributor Oneman and Radio 1 resident Mosca, to name but two, will keep the club packed until sunrise. If one of the fastest selling line ups in the club’s history is anything to go by, one could reasonably come to the conclusion that British underground dance music has never had it so good. Innovation and entertainment sit alongside each other as twin priorities for this crop of forward-thinking young DJs and producers, yet for all the furore surrounding the ‘UK Bass’ scene and its leaders, they undoubtedly bear a debt to one New Jersey native also on Friday’s bill who has been trailblazing for over 20 years. Todd Edwards’ influence can be heard in every skippy hi-hat, every low slung groove and every euphorically chopped vocal making its way into the tunes blaring from the dancefloors, radios and laptops of Britain.
Living in proximity to New York during the early 90’s, it was almost inevitable that Edwards would be influenced by the explosion of House in the city. Indeed, in early releases such as 1992’s ‘Jump’ the influence of Masters at Work and Todd Terry is more than discernable, yet Edwards eventually found fame with an approach that was idiosyncratically and intriguingly different from his heroes. There was a soul and depth to his early productions which was similar to the aforementioned producers, yet most notably it was Mark Kinchen (MK) whom Edwards found himself trying to emulate. Kinchen’s pioneering remix work (‘Push The Feeling On’, ‘Freek’n You’) utilised a technique of chopping up vocal melodies to create entirely new hooks in tracks, a method which Edwards would eventually adapt and evolve to irresistible effect. Whilst to claim that any individual producer was responsible for the birth of an entire genre of music is verging on hyperbole, in Edwards’ case though, his tag as ‘the godfather of garage’ is arguably deserved. Simply listen to recent records by the likes of Disclosure, Joy Orbison, George Fitzgerald or any other number of UK producers and it is impossible to avoid the influence of Edwards.
The soulful elements of his early sound were similar enough to the aforementioned New York producers (who confusingly are often referred to as making ‘Garage House’) and found some favour at home, yet Edwards’ most fervent audience has always been in Britain. In Edwards’ music, selectors like DJ EZ found a middle ground between the groove of house and the frenetic highs of hardcore. This music was fast paced enough for an urban audience but packing enough soul and pop sensibility to make sure that nights weren’t becoming the aggressive sausage fests that Drum & Bass and Jungle raves were. As a scene sprung up in the UK through the mid to late 90’s, Edwards became an obvious reference point for this new music and his techniques formed a blueprint of sorts. Waves of garage in different incarnations have taken hold and then faded away over the interim period, but the influence of Edwards has been enduring.
Prolific for the duration of his career, Edwards has a raft of charting remixes and solo albums to his name. Recent years have seen him in the booth at Fabric and clubs up and down the country, as a generation of producers nearly half his age pay homage to a man reverently referred to as ‘the God’. Famously humble, fearlessly different, Edwards is a strong a role model as exists in the fickle world of electronic music. Don’t let him pass you by.
As excited as anyone to witness Todd’s imminent dollop debut, resident d’lex has given us his personal favourite five productions by the man:
5/ Surkin & Todd Edwards – I Want You Back
4/ Phoenix – If I Ever Feel Better (Todd Edwards Vocal)
3/ Todd Edwards – Wishing I Were Home
2/ Sound of One – As I Am (Todd Edwards Mix)
1/ Daft Punk – Face to Face