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One time proprietor of the infamous Atlas Records shop in Soho, London over a decade ago, Pete Herbert divides his time these days either behind the wheels of steel at clubs and parties around the globe or in the studio working solo or on various musical projects. For Eskimo Recordings in Belgium, Pete has released as Reverso 68 with the Balearic time lord himself Phil Mison releasing recent classics such as Tokyo Disko, Especial and Piece Together. Pete has also recorded as LSB alongside Barcelona’s finest DJ and club terrorist Baby g. In the past few years, Pete teamed up with Tim Paris of Its a Fine Line to record as Challenge, as well as with Dicky Trisco, releasing for his Disco Deviance label and for their co-run label Maxi Discs, specifically focusing on their take of tropical house. More recently Pete records under his own name, and is currently working on his first solo album to be released later this year. Hennessy artistry managed to get Pete just before he boarded his flight from Bali to chat with us about record stores, DJing and aliases before his gig at the Hiltons Q Bar.

What did you think of the hardcore sound that dominated the UK in the early 90s? Were you playing those tunes out when you started DJing?

No, I wasnt a massive fan particularly of that sound back then as far as playing it out went. My first regular gigs were whilst I was at university down on the south coast in the UK, around 92, with fellow students Simon Lee from Faze Action, Mat Anthony who I did the Optimo project with, and Yam Who, Miles Copeland etc. We used to mix it up a bit, so it was a good splattering of funk, dub, disco and jazz-funk. There were some great second hand record shops in the area at that time, so it was a perfect time for getting into it all.

What was it like working with Nic Rapacciolli and warming up for Leftfield’s Europe tour? Were you at the nights where the crowd complained that the music was too loud?

Nik was my partner in the shop, and we also recorded for Hard Hands, Leftfields label as Bushflange around that time. He’d met the Leftfield guys via Zoom Records in Camden where he was buying his tunes, and we became good friends with them. They liked the idea of the shop and ended up helping us financially to get the shop going. Nik played with them live, and I was lucky to get to warm up on a few of the tours, which was incredible. Leftfield toured using Turbo Sound, the forerunner to Funktion One, so yes, those gigs were loud! But they had really amazing quality too, it felt like next level stuff back then. It is true that people complained in Paris that it was too loud.

How did you get involved with running the Daddy Kool record store? What was it notorious for besides the famously rude owner?

I first worked in a shop in Londons Berwick Street, called Rockin Sarahs, which was co-owned by Daddy Kools original moody man. He took over that shop and morphed it all into one, and I convinced him to let me run the basement with all the non-reggae music we had, which was vast! Me and Simon Lee had an unlimited amount of stock coming in every week from the boss, who was buying up record collections from ex DJs in Essex where he lived. There were numerous occasions where irate customers would try and take a pop at the boss, who really knew how to rub people up the wrong way, so ducking a few left hooks was part of the job.

Was your time there in a way responsible for Atlas Records? What kept you going at Atlas considering it must have been getting financially unviable by the year?

Absolutely, thats where I learnt how not to run a record shop, and so with that in mind, we opened Atlas. I was 23 when we opened up, so I think raw enthusiasm, and a healthy dose of naivety carried us a long way! I would never have had the balls to try that in more recent years Im sure. The romanticism and nostalgia that diggers have for vinyl I absolutely associate with, and still do, but I guess times change and its a smaller thing now, and the whole digital music process is a different type of digging. Saturdays in the shop were always a great time, as you would get a great mix of punters, from the weeklong working aficionados to the jet set DJs all mingling as one. Of course, access to the hottest or rarest tunes has to be highest on the agenda of any record shop geek, me included. So my own personal record collection went literally through the roof then.

I’m curious about your Cake and Milk Sunday parties on Batofar. Also, since you’ve played at venues from South America to Australia and everywhere in between, could you pick out three of your top venues?

The Cake and Milk Parties were a great moment in time, from ‘97 onwards for a few years. It was a great time to be partying in Paris, with lots of great people, music and DJs emerging. The Cake and Milk dos actually started on Sunday afternoon on the quayside by the Batofar boat, then carried on inside in the evening, but I’m quite sure a lot of people cracked on until Monday afternoon. Stuart McLellan who I met through the shop when he ran the Pacific Records label, was one of the guys who set those parties up, and I’m actually sat at his table typing this right now in Bali!

Three venues/parties that still stick out for me from my travels, and jaded memory would be my first gig at D-Edge in Sao Paulo with its man-sizes EQ LED display over the whole club; doing a double night weekender recently at MiniMüzikhol, Istanbul with Dicky Trisco, which is like playing in your front room and any of the colossal Goa parties in Madrid. They are at least 10 years old and still going strong, and the nicest team of organisers you could wish to work for.

For someone who has worked under several aliases, do you have switch one part of your system off and on each time or do they just feed into and off each other?
The aliases came about more from working with different people for each individual project, so it would be more about what we would both bring to the table, and see what happened. For sure, the longer you work at trying make some music, you pick up certain techniques, or tricks that you like, and they help give your work a certain sound, or signature, quite often by mistake perhaps.

Did you ever engage with any of the disco-funk influenced music from India?

Yes, indeed, in the shop we used to sell lots over the years, cheeky re-issues of Indian psychedelic jazz/funk and disco through to house/drum&bass stuff. I remember a lot of hype around it in the mid-90s, with lots of club nights springing up that were really into it. The Anokha night at the Blue Note was a real mash up of all things Indian from hip-hop to drum&bass.