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Cheeky Little Monkey DJ Jody Osman - hard house interview

4th of April 2007 - interview copyright of Frenzy

Back in 2000 and 2001 there was one name on the lips of Bournemouth hard house clubbers, and that was Jody Osman. Resident for Cheeky Little Monkey at the time, he was the man that provided the soundtrack for many a wasted weekend at Bournemouth's Showbar on the Pier. He was also the favourite DJ for many of the big names in the scene today. Here he tells us about his memories of being signed to Tidy Trax, sketchy tours to Ireland, and how he's looking forward to coming back down to see us all on the 13th of April for our charity gig.

1. You’re renowned in Bournemouth for your residency with the now defunct hard house club, Cheeky Little Monkey. During those heady days it’s fair to say the promotion was one of the leading hard house clubnights in the UK. What are your abiding memories from those mad times?

Bournemouth didn’t have any decent hard house clubs so we started Cheeky as we wanted somewhere to go on a Friday night! We just thought, f**k this, let's book all our favourite DJs and throw a party every week.

Jody Osman DJ'ing as a house DJ in London
Jody Osman DJ'ing as a house DJ in London

It was amazing how successful it became in such a short space of time. After even only a few weeks the night was getting in all the magazine listings and we were getting recognition up and down the country... we had a great time and enjoyed every minute. I’ll never forget the familiar faces at the front of the dance floor, or the 'blow the roof off' reaction we used to get every week for that last tune...

2. Tell us a little bit about how did you originally got into DJ’ing. Was it always a passion of yours?

I’ve been DJ'ing on and off for the last 15 years or so. I didn’t necessarily set out to be a DJ. I blagged my first set at a local nightclub whilst drunk and before I could even beat match... it went off and I got a taste for it.

I find it difficult to match the highs of a few years back where I was playing to crowds of over 2000 and it was a profession rather than just a hobby. Whilst my life has now moved on from that and it’s not such a key part of it, I do still get itchy fingers whenever I’m out and not playing!

3. What’s the strangest or oddest gig you’ve ever had? I remember the trip to Ireland we had being quite off the wall!

Ha ha, that was an odd gig... We hired a minibus and had a whole group of us headed over to Ireland for a night held in what felt like a local pub! Some guys were fighting at the front and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. I remember another gig on the Isle of Wight topping it though. We certainly met some right characters over there! It took us 2 days to get home and had feared that we were never going to make it back to the mainland!

One of those sketchy tour nights on the Isle of Wight
One of those sketchy tour nights on the Isle of Wight

4. I remember a time when you were added to the Tidy Trax roster as one of their new DJs and were off all over the globe (eg South Africa) representing them on their tour nights at the same time Eddie Halliwell was signed to the label. However, this seemed to quite short-lived... what happened with that and do you have any regrets about your time in the hard house scene?

Eddie joined just after me, in fact, may have replaced me on the roster!! Seeing what he has gone on to you do get the odd pang whenever you hear his name on Radio 1 and think, what if? I had a few fantastic gigs with them and really got a taste of the high flying DJ lifestyle...

However, I was losing touch with the scene, the people in it and the music… I felt very uncomfortable about that as my life was dependent on it and while I’d given up everything for it, I wasn’t prepared for the commitment needed to make it to the top.

It’s probably a difficult one for all the clubbers out there to understand as DJ'ing probably seems like a dream job… I imagine it being a bit like if I heard a footballer giving up playing because they’d had enough of it, you think, what the hell? What I’d give for that opportunity!!! But there are other things in life and I decided to take a different direction and I’m glad it did. I returned to University to finish my degree and have since made a successful career for myself in the marketing industry. I still DJ, but the important factor for me is because I want to, not because I have to.

5. Back in 1999 to 2002 (which I think of as the peak hard house time) which of the DJs and producers did you particularly look up to and admire, if any?

I admired all the Trade residents as to me they set the standard in terms of technical ability and musical style. Particularly the way each of their styles complimented each other building the night from funky to hard; from Malcolm Duffy and Alan Thompson to Steve Thomas and Pete Wardman. What a line-up! Unfortunately I never saw Tony de Vit play, but that would have been icing on the cake.

Fergie also made a big impact on me when he came down to one of our first nights, that was when we were struggling to get numbers through the door but he was so supportive and this helped us keep going, he even wore a Cheeky T-shirt out for the rest of the weekend! He also told me a story about how Tony de Vit wouldn’t allow him to touch the record deck when mixing, it stuck in my mind and after locking myself in room and practicing solidly for a fortnight, I was mixing just using pitch control… I haven’t touched a record since! This made a massive difference to my mixing ability and style and gave me so much more confidence playing out

Jody Osman supporting the Tidy Boys for the Cheeky NYE in 2000

6. During your hard house days you managed to have a few vinyl releases out there on Mohawk Records and 12 Inch Thumpers just to name a couple. Have you managed to do any production since then on the housier side of things or is this something you’d like to get back into?

It was a great buzz to hear my debut tune played out for first time by Anne Savage at Sundissential and then to get one of my tracks remixed by Andy Farley. Fortunately, I was lucky to work with some great producers; Paul King & Mik Cree in particular. I’ve not been back in a studio for a while but I do have a couple of hard house belters that never saw light of day which are great for dropping into sets as know one knows what they are... and an interesting house track I made a while back with Paul King that we may do something with one day!

7. You’re now a London boy, and seem to be hitting the house scene. Tell us a little more about where you’ve been playing out since we last saw you and the general clubbing vibe up in the big smoke?

I’ve always loved house music and throughout my DJ'ing career tried to keep that uplifting element to everything I play. When I first got into hard house, it was exactly that; house that was a little harder. But then it started losing that element and becoming a little diluted. A low point for me was seeing one of my records on ebay described as ‘happy / scouse house’! That was it for me.

I moved to London at about the same time where I met few ex-hard house DJs who felt the same and we started putting on a few house nights that managed to recreate the same atmosphere you would get in harder nights. Since then I’ve been regularly playing at some great clubs, the likes of Turnmills, Pacha, Egg & the Cross. Quite often the clubs will go on through the night and into early hours where you move on to another club, and then another...

The crowd at Cheeky Little Monkey welcoming another Jody set
The crowd at Cheeky Little Monkey welcoming another Jody set

I’ve got a couple of great residencies at big London house nights which have really taken off although I’m not playing as regularly these days as I now have a few other commitments in life, in particular, my baby daughter.

8. This gig will be your first hard house gig since you last played for Frenzy a couple of years ago I believe. Do you think it’s something you could make a regular thing of or have you moved on now?

I’ve been getting a little nostalgic about returning to Bournemouth and I must admit, I’m really looking forward to spinning some hard house tunes again. That said, reading a recent notice board about your event certainly made me feel my age... ‘Jody Osman used to be big in Bournemouth back in the day, probably before your time!’

Maybe it’s time to hang up the headphones after all?

9. The Frenzy gig you’re playing for is a night in aid of a local charity, raising money for a childrens’ ward. We’re hoping that some of our clubbers will come suitably dressed in the doctors and nurses theme. If you were going to a fancy dress party who would you go as any why?

Some of you Bournemouth residents may recall the giant Gorilla costume we used to take it in turns to dress up in and run riot amongst the local nightlife with, giving out bananas to random clubbers. Always popular, although not quite so with so of the local nightclub bouncers! Perhaps we could re-hire it, although maybe a Silverback Gorilla may be more appropriate these days!

Jody will next be playing for Frenzy alongside Kym Ayres on the 13th of April at the Empire Club in Bournemouth so please check our latest events for full details.