How to dig up a rare Beatminerz release: Chubby Grooves / Chopped Herring Records
Chubby Grooves has been steady rocking Manchester’s independent music circles for more than a decade and worked as a DJ for many years. He used to play at the Hacienda club and was resident DJ at the much-celebrated Headfunk night. Chubby runs the Chopped Herring Records label – you’ll find lots of history and fishy sounds here.
No bones about it, this chopped herring is more than a little wacky and out of the ordinary – no wonder he’s mates with MC Paul Barman. He lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn for many years, hung out at D&D Studios(<shazzam>) and hooked up with the Beatminerz. Their unreleased Pandemonium EP with classic 1990s material has just dropped on Chopped Herring.
One more thing: hear his advice on how to snap up some mint condition vinyl online. Oh, and before I forget – here’s what he looks like in his Sunday Best…
(CG: “Actually, it was one of the pictures used for the inside cover of ‘three sinister syllables’…a LAME mexican kids TV star called Chubelo!! when I dropped 3ss I gave stores the original record cover (I had about 50 copies from a massive Latin stash I found in 2001) to put in the vinyl racks to advertise the CD…..shit is silly.”)
Tell us a little bit about your time in Bushwick, Brooklyn: what was it like living there as a Mancunian?
Well, first off, I am not a Mancunian. I moved to Manchester in 1991 and stayed until around 2005. I was one of many people involved in the Manchester music scene of the mid 90s that came from outside of Manchester. Between 2005 and 2009 I was living between London and NYC. Before that I used to go to NYC a couple of times a year to find wax. I used to crash on the sofa of a kid who had lived next door to me in Rusholme (Manchester). He had dual citizenship and had moved to NYC in about 1998. When he moved out to the west coast in 2005 I had to find a new place to stay! I went back out to NYC with a laptop and few contacts.
I stayed at the YMCA in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and looked for a cheap house share situation. Managed to hook up with some cool cats who lived in an (illegal) loft space literally on the border of Ridgewood, Queens and Bushwick, Brooklyn. That was my first experience of that part of NY.
What has New York got in terms of music that Manchester hasn’t, and vice versa?
Manchester and NYC do have many things in common in relation to music. Both have a large West Indian/Caribbean community. ‘Black music’ has always been a major influence on the Manchester music scene; from the Northern Soul movement in the 1970s up to the present day and the same can be said of NYC.
Both cities have many transients that have made them culturally vital music scenes and both have a background in Industry. The key difference for me is that NYC has a strong South/Central American influence. From producers to musicians to BBoys, Hispanics had contributed heavily to the New York music scene the 70s/80s. This adds another dimension for me and something that makes NYC music more colourful and distinctive.
You must have heard a lot of good music in your time living there, which hip hop heads did you hook up with? Any memorable concerts or gigs that stick in your mind?
Connections always began with the vinyl. My first introduction into the New York scene was through selling vinyl. I took the early Chopped Herring Records releases into the stores and did some cold calling. At that time Eclipse (Non Phixion) and Breeze (Juggaknots) worked in Fat Beats. I would hit them up with the Jay Glaze 12s to get them on the racks and sometimes even did some guerilla planting! Breeze gave us our first ‘Chopped Herring section’ in a NYC record store.
I also used to hit up Sound Library (when it was on 1st Ave) to trade and sell UK breaks, library and funk pieces. Then, through the success of ‘Three Sinister Syllables‘ I hooked up with the likes of MC Paul Barman who introduced me to a bunch of cats. Also I met more heads looking for wax in the city. I ran into Evil Dee around 2000 in a thrift store in Queens looking for flava and a load more producers and MCs in ‘The Thing’ in Greenpoint and ‘Beat Street’ in Fulton Mall. Just being there, looking for vinyl and promoting Herring allowed me to get to know more cats on the scene.
How did the Beatminerz release come about, some unreleased gems on Chopped Herring Records? Who pulled the strings and what can you tell us about the record?
As I mentioned above I met Dee in the basement of a thrift store about 10 years ago. I got reintroduced to him and his brother Mr Walt when a New York collector and producer called Nobs told me about them selling their collection. I met Nobs online originally and we became digging buddies.
We would go to flea markets and share record spot info. (By the way he just dropped an album with an MC called Dez that is hella-nice!!). So I started buyin wax and deadstock from Walt. Walt produced and funded the Shadez of Brooklyn projects. They had released 3 singles on his label Pandemonium Wreckords but the rest of the material hadn’t been put out. They recorded that stuff at the time when Walt and Dee (Da Beatminerz) had a room at D&D studios in NYC.
There were only 2 permanent rooms at D&D, one was theirs and the other was inhabited by DJ Premier. Walt hooked me up with Da Dysfunkshunal Familee‘s Crazy DJ Bazarro and Finsta (Finsta Bundy and original member of Black Moon). I released the 2 Dysfunskhunal EP’s with Bazarro and the Shadez of Brooklyn EP with the help of Walt and Dee who owned the masters.
None of this would’ve happened without the help of my man Nobs. Props Son!!
Due to the success of the Dysfunkshunal EPs in 2009 I’ve had hardcore headz come to me with suggestions of other unreleased projects and contact info. So I have a few ILL unknown/little known projects from the 90s to drop.
As with all these pre-order style releases I keep the info undercover right up until the day I drop the pre-order info. So I can’t say ANYTHING!! But I will be concentrating on lost Indy Hip Hip, with attitude and with a good amount of breaks and samples. So look out for some more 90s flava soooooooon.
You are an avid crate digger and ebay bargain-hunter – from personal experience, have you got a few hints of advice on how to snatch up good condition vinyl on the web?
Well, the obvious difference between diggin and scorin wax online is the condition. This is the same as any secondhand buyin; you need to feel/touch the merchandise to know the full picture. There are some ways to reduce the risk though.
Stick to certain reputable sellers. Forums should help when trying to exclude dubious sellers (and even good sellers gone bad). Feedback on Ebay or Discogs will help. Also, developing good relationships with big sellers. If a record isn’t up to the described standard then, if you are tight with a dealer you can return it. You just have to use your head and like with anything, be prepared to take a loss in order to really score over time. It’s a marathon. And, don’t expect perfection; just appreciate it when it comes along!
What was one of your recent vinyl best-buys? Any favourite record shops?
Hmmmm. Was in Florida in January. Found a bunch of stuff from a guy who used to have a radio show up in Buffalo (upstate NY). Was a bunch of original Jamaican pressings from the 70s as well as a load of avant-garde Jazz ish. It got the blood pumpin!
Stores? Not so much anymore. I used to go to NYC specifically to go to ‘The Thing‘. I used to leave that place with 100s of pieces every trip, before it got hot and they hired staff that knew what was up. In the early 2000s before the Random/Indy heat it was amazing. It’s owned by the dude that owns A1 in Manhattan. It was supposed to be stuff that couldn’t sell in A1 but they made NUMEROUS mistakes. So many that I could run my whole business off the back of it for a few years.
Manchester has lots of record shops and always had a good infrastructure for music – you came up in that environment of an emerging independent music network, the Hacienda etc. What was that like? Was it really an endless party as its been portrayed in films / the media?
Well I wouldn’t have set up my own label if it wasn’t for those Manchester years. It was, at many times in modern music history a hot city for music. For American House music (Hacienda) before I arrived and for Hip Hop (Fat City – where I worked for about 5 years) as I got up there. In the 70s for Northern Soul and 80s for Alt/Indie stuff.
It seems tho’ that every time the media got onto it it would die for another 5 years. The media attention always kills the vibe. But also that attention would create a reaction and a deepening commitment from the underground. I guess it depends if you’re concerned with profile or with quality (rebel) music.
Did you ever get annoyed with the hip hop ‘scene’ in England, or do you prefer homegrown sounds?
Yes. Peep the track ‘Homegroan’ on the second vinyl release on Chopped Herring Records, Staunch Liaison EP. I had a lot to say about that subject. Now it’s old news and isn’t such a focus for me. It’s generally very healthy (creatively) to dislike whats going on around you at any given time. It breeds originality – which is vital.
Are you a football fan? If so, who do you support? Any preference for City or United?
I’m an Arsenal fan. Since I was a kid. Growing up in North London you were either Arsenal or (wretch) Spurs. My grandad and cousins were always into the Arsenal. I inherited that from them. The first match I went to was in 1983.
Re: City/United. Well, while I was living in Manchester it was City. But since I got out of town and the big money turned up at City, I hate both equally!! It has been and always will be all about the Arse.
Any last words or shouts?
Props to all the cats that buy Herring wax, DWG and VA cats, Nobs, Da Beatminerz, DJ Bazarro, MC Paul Barman, Chopps Derby, Memory Man and all the heads that don’t take shit too seriously but drop serious shit, ONE GLOVE.