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The Underground Sounds of Australia

Author: Jo Vraca
Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Paul Oakenfold (November 200): "You know, years ago when I came there, I really liked Australia and I was going to live there for six months of the year. I like the people, the climate, the food, the wine. You've got vast amounts of land, you've got space. London's extremely stressful, it's a rat race. 90% of people who live in London, survive London, they don't live it… Melbourne's the capitol of dance music for me and I like Sydney because there are restaurants, hotels; it's suited to the kind of business that I do."

So suited in fact that Paul Oakenfold has taken four of Australia's most respected DJs turned producers - Mark James (collaborating with Pee Wee and Highland's Marc Edwards), Pee Wee Ferris, Sean Quinn, Kasey Taylor - to create the first in the Perfecto series 'The Underground Sounds of…' which has since turned its steely hand to America.

Melbourne DJ/producer/promoter Mark James became involved with the project last November during Oakenfold's Perfecto tour. "It came about over a few drinks really with Paul and a couple of other guys sitting around," recalls Mark. "Paul said it would be a good idea to promote Australian dance music. Hence the Underground Sounds of Australia. We met a couple of times overseas, just fleeting moments but obviously I organised the Perfecto tour the last time around. It went really well and he was really pleased with the way it all transpired.

"He hadn't been here for about five or six years and was amazed at how we'd progressed in that time. He was impressed by the music that we were playing and all the stuff we were doing, he's heard a lot of the tracks that I've done and Sean and Kasey have had an Our House single on Perfecto, 'Floorspace'. He's known Pee Wee for quite some time and he said, 'you guys should all get together and do it.' He seems to think that Melbourne and Sydney are really close to what's happening overseas and he really wants to let everyone know about it and try and push what we're doing overseas. It's about time that someone did that for Australia and he's the man to do it, if there's anybody."

While dance music can still profess to be 'underground' in some circles, you would probably not be remiss if you wondered what Oakenfold was on about when he called this lot of producers 'underground'. "It's a silly word," laughs Mark. "I think it's more of a UK thing anyway because we're probably still underground as far as the UK goes. It's still a very new and underground scene. There's the fine line between underground and commercial when rock promoters start moving in. It's hard for me to say, it's really a punter's thing at the end of the day, what they perceive. When we get to the stage when we think it's gone 'overground' and the Michael Gudinskis of the world, rock promoters start moving in, that's when we start thinking 'mmmm'".

But that's another story… Another time…

Oakenfold considers them collaborators, but in Mark's eyes, the fraternity featured on the first of Perfecto's 'Underground Sounds' series is composed of four friends.

Pee Wee Ferris
As Mark James puts it, "there's more to Peewee than meets the eye. As far as a producer goes, you can't find better in this country." Pee Wee began his studio career in 1987, producing Collette (!) and Bass Culture as well as remixing for Boom Crash Opera, Noiseworks and Kate Ceberano and, more recently, Infusion. He's toured with the Big Day Out, has just mixed one side of Ministry of Sound's latest offering, Dance Nation, along with GT and for three years running, Pee Wee has made it into DJ Magazine's Top 100 DJs.

Mark James
Mark is best known as the founder of Future Entertainment, one of Australia's most influential promoters of such events as SummaDayze, Two Tribes and Gatecrasher. He has been DJing for the better part of two decades and as a producer, he has worked with Hybrid's Mike Truman under the collaborative alias of James and Truman. Their single, 'Hear Me' was released last y