Mike Brunt (MikeB, Co-opera)

Mike Brunt, a writer of poetry and music, is one who has seen the progression of audible art throughout the years. He currently resides in Hermosa Beach, USA and many have danced to his skills on the 1's and 2's. I'm excited to have him as our second guest:

Volterock: Which years were you most active as a DJ?
Mike Brunt: 1966 through 1970, 1976 through 1979, 1980 through 1982.

What were some radio stations at the time which progressed electronic music?
Good question, Radio Caroline was always pushing boundaries, Radio Luxembourg before that but for music like Stockhausen and Faust it was the BBC especially when John Peel got going.

What was your DJ name and how have you seen the role of a DJ change over the years?
I was a DJ in the original Northern Soul scene at the Burnley Mecca-Cats Whiskers, my DJ name was MikeB some new me as Mike Brunt. The top line dance clubs at that time, were The Twisted Wheel in Manchester and Wigan Casino. Yes in some ways club DJ'ing has changed immensely, in other ways not much at all.  The music delivery has been the big change, I mean in terms of mixing and scratching in my time it was customary for DJ's to banter a little, between tracks.  The thing that has absolutely not changed is the need to keep people dancing. The other big change, in my view, is the emergence of the DJ as a major star, Paul Oakenfold etc.

Could you explain more about DJs bantering a little between tracks?
Well you were expected to say something, there were few if any long dance tunes so typically you would say who the artist and tune was and try to encourage people to dance, it was tricky though, too much talking and people would start to sit down.

When did you DJ at the Burnley Mecca-Cats Whiskers?
1966 through 1970

What were some popular tracks played there at the time?
Let the good times roll - Bunny Sigler
Billy's Bag - Billy Preston
Going to a go-go - The Miracles
Ain't too proud to beg - Temptations
Midnight hour - Wilson Picket
Open the door to your heart - Darell Banks
Jackie Wilson - Higher and Higher
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels a few tracks of theirs
lot's of Northern Soul

Who were some of the other DJs you played with?
The only one I backed up who was famous at the time was Jimmy Saville from Manchester. 

I read that you were born in the UK. Were you/are you very active there and would you be able to share the similarities and differences between the American and UK "scenes" over the years?
Musically I have been much more active in the USA, largely because of technology more than location. In terms of musical differences between the USA and UK, the 1980's were probably the most different.  US "Hair bands" were never a big deal in the UK and many were considered to be "watered-down" versions of groups like Deep Purple.  In the UK. electronic pop music became very popular, Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, SoftCell even Aha to a certain extent.  There were crossovers both ways but largely speaking the UK and the USA were very different, in the 80's. Reflecting on music over the years, the USA was very influential, in the UK, in the 40's 50's and early 60's then it seems that turned around.

I started out listening to classical music, the first record I owned was Tchaikovsky' s 2nd Piano Concerto. Then I got pulled into Blues, this was in the earlier 60's, Sonny Boy Williamson blew my mind and still does. Jazz blew by me next, and I was blown back by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and a British "jazzer" called John Surman. The 60's progressed and what a time that was. I was in a group and we were experimenting with everything, light, music, volume, extended sets etc, etc; it was an incredible time. I recall being bored by the Beatles but eventually they blew my mind also.

The 70's started out as a let-down for me such bland pap, Disco revitalized that to an extent and Punk blew millions of cobwebs away. In many ways Punk reinforced the vitality of Raw Rock'n'Roll. I was a DJ in the 70's and found a way to play good music that everyone seemed to enjoy.

Next came the 80's and I continued to DJ and was revitalized by the New Romantic Era along with Electronica. Lot's of really good stuff in the 80's and I know I am biased but England was the place to be.

Now the 90's to me were almost as good as the 60's. I was not DJ'ing any more but my Son opened my mind to Euro Dance, Trance, Trip-Hop, Ambient and he was a great DJ in his own right. Yes the 90's were so great and I have so much music from that decade, Massive Attack, ColdCut, DJ Shadow, Ninja Tunes, Unkle etc etc.

So here we are in the 2, 000's, and I'm still fully absorbed in music. I am trying to learn Sitar, have a magical keyboard, a DJX, am considering going out again DJ'ing with MP3 files (I can always wear a bag over my head ;o). More importantly for me I have learned the magic and depth of Spanish Language music and I am starting to appreciate all over again. Nortec Collective out of Tijuana are brilliant, Cafe T'Cuba right back to Pedro Infante, Carlos Gardel, too much to write.

I just love Music, it invigorates and sustains me.

Do you have any of your mixes online?
Yes and our on line mixes are curious, more in the mold of FSOL and The Orb than typical dance music, here are some links...
Mixcloud http://www.mixcloud.com/coopera/
Soundcloud http://soundcloud.com/coopera (some duplication)
Basecamp (our released albums) http://co-opera.bandcamp.com/

Any final words?
I think I said this already but I have always had music in me but never was dextrous enough to play any instrument well, so software was a major assistance to me in acrually making music. Software has enabled so much music to flow from those who may not have the physical dexterity to play traditional instruments, I can relate to that because that is what happened to me. Having been a DJ since the 1960' s and a follower of electronic music since then, Stockhausen, Faust etc, I often yearned to be more active. So I wanted to share, here, that thanks to Reason and Record, myself and my musical partner, Alexandra have created three albums and an EP in the past two years, under the name Co-Opera and inspiration continues to flow thanks to software.

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