Sydney nightlife then & now: Phil Smart & Mark Dynamix talk two decades of club culture
September 9th 2016
- Motorik :: Phil Smart and Mark Dynamix Interview 19.08.16
- Mark Dynamix :: Guestmix for Motorik
“It’s really important to remember all the stuff that Sydney’s been through, despite the lockouts … Sydney’s scene is still kicking and doing great things.”
The last time Mark Dynamix and Phil Smart were together on the radio was in 1996. With two decades to catch up on, the two legendary Australian DJs caught up for Motorik on FBi Click, delving into stories Smart’s extensive international career.
Kicking off in San Francisco back in ’91, Smart fell in love with the city during a big weekend on the club circuit. San Fran ticked all the boxes: good vibe, good music, good people. It was here that Smart was influenced by early English rave, acid house, Chicago classics and West Coast breaks. These formative sounds would lead him to create some of the most innovative dance music in Australia’s history.
“That trip changed everything for me.”
These two DJs forged the way for Sydney’s early rave scene: Smart creating a name for himself through the Tweekin’ club nights, and Dynamix through his extensive Ministry Of Sound releases. Both continue to DJ around Sydney, most recently joining forces for a Jack The House party focused exclusively on music from 1988 – 1992.
Reflecting on how the scene has developed over the years, Dynamix and Smart commented on the present state of live music in Sydney.
“When I started to plug back in to Sydney about 4 years ago… I was really impressed by the way the scene was going,” Phil said. “There was a lot more collaboration between promoters, which was amazing… And that continues to this day. And I think this lockout thing has brought even more solidarity.”
“It’s important to remember from those days, in like ’96: (we were) struggling and fighting, kicking and screaming to get a decent sound system in a club. We’d always work hard to get the best sound (at our parties), but when you were in regular clubs, it was some half-arsed sound system. They’d spent $20,000 on the bar but skimped on the sound system.
“But now… when I played at SASH early on at the Abercrombie, they had Funktion-One on the terrace. And it was like – this is fantastic! Proper sound, punters who know what’s up. They’ve got access to podcasts of what got played in Germany last week, the tempo’s slowed down, they’re into quality music. So for me, the last 4 or 5 years that I’ve been playing again in Sydney have been great.”
Both DJs commended Sydney’s resilience in response to the lockout laws, with Dynamix saying:
“People in Sydney are pulling together, trying to make the best of a (sometimes) bad situation.”
Smart’s political views have a more active focus. “I, like others in our community who think similarly about freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of consciousness, feel that we’re being backed into a corner, further and further. We’re having our rights and privileges taken away, our privacy. And with all the stuff that’s happening in the world, one of the big things that I get stuck on is that there’s not enough political music being made.”
Seeking to change this, Smart has recently started a musical activism project called Thoughtmaker. The first release features the words of Charles Eisenstein, author of books including ‘Sacred Economics’ and ‘The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible’.
“I decided a while ago that if I was going to make music, I would make music that makes a difference,” he explained.
Reflecting on his longevity in the dance music scene, Smart said it was all about patience: “If you want to have longevity in this industry, for me particularly, you have to pace yourself.”
Listen to the full interview above, plus a historic rave mix from Mark Dynamix while you’re in that early ’90s mood.
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