Interview: Rocky (X-Press 2)


Rocky has been a key part of the London house music underground for over 20 years and continues to set dance floors alight with both his DJ prowess and of course some of the finest house tracks created from X-Press 2. We caught up with him ahead of his headline appearance for True South on 23 March, the brand new party from the irrepressible Tim Sheridan.

Plain and Simple – Last year you released your first album as a duo ‘The House Of X-Press 2’, where you collaborated with some amazing vocalists, something we have seen time and again from X-Press 2 with amazing success. When working with vocalists, do you have the tracks structured and ready and allow the vocalist to work over the top of what is already in place, or does the sound of the track itself develop and change while working with said artists.

Rocky – We normally have a backing track that we then send to the vocalist. Sometimes we’ll work with the vocalist on the track together, or do it remotely if they’re based abroad for instance. Once we get a vocal back, we then spend more time finishing off. This can be anything from a day or 2 up to a few weeks as was the case with Lazy. You want to get everything exact and perfect, as you don’t want to let your collaborators down.

P&S – You have had a long relation with both Junior Boys Own and Skint and bar the odd track and remix, almost all of your productions have been released via these great labels. Can you highlight why this is.

Rocky – Simply because they are/were both brilliant labels and allowed us to just do what we wanted. We were always given free reign.

P&S – Last year you celebrated 20 years since the creation of the amazing Muzik Xpress, although you and Diesel have been DJing even longer than this. This your first release on Junior Boys Own, is still a track that gets worked in the clubs two decades on. This must be a surprise for you and do you still have it in the bag for your own DJ sets?

Rocky – Yes of course we still play it. As you say, it still works 2 decades on. We can play it to a club full of older punters then the next night to a room of 20 somethings and get an equal response both times. When we made the record, we had a conversation along the lines of, ‘wouldn’t it be great to make a track that we can still play in a year’s time?’ Now here we are 20 years later still talking about it.

P&S – It seems some of the new breed of producers are reverting back to early house sounds and beats. Do you see this as inevitable as with any genre of music? when a sound can go full circle and take inspiration from the past greats.

Rocky – Yes I think it is the natural way of things. It’s just a continuation of what we did when we started out. We were inspired by old disco records and new sounds from Chicago, New York and Europe. We just took these sounds and tried to do our own version, but in doing so, made something new. So the way I see it now is that the new producers are just following the lineage.

P&S – On a personal level, is there any highlight as a DJ that stands out about above anything else (other than the prospect of playing at Jamm)?

Rocky – There are 100s!! Any time we’ve played in Japan. Glastonbury. The live gigs we did. “A Night With” last year. Riffraff Middlesbrough. Travelling the world and playing to 1000s of dancers.

P&S – You will be alongside Frank Tope, Tim Sheridan and Colin Dale at the launch of True South on 23 March and makes for an exciting prospect. Have you had experiences with these guys in the past?

Rocky – Yes I have. Lovely chaps all 3.

P&S – Finally, a questions just for me, how was it working with Alison Limerick??

Rocky – Alison was lovely. She came down and recorded her vocal with me in the studio. She has so much energy and a fabulous voice. The sort of person that you’re glad to be around.

True South takes place at Brixton Jamm on Saturday 23 March with Rock alongside Tim Sheridan, Frank Tope, Colin Dale and more. For more information check out the full listing on P&S HERE

Also check out a great archive interview on P&S with Tim Sheridan HERE