Spontaneous body music with Dan Tyler from Idjut Boys

Dan Tyler was there at the convoluted vortex of House music, a time before the boundaries that would later cordon off large sections of the same music into distinct factions. At a time where elements of dub, funk, disco and even pop music were merging with the harsh machine sounds of Acid House, Tyler and co-conspirator, Conrad McDonnell come to the fore as Idjut Boys.

Consorting with a nefarious sort, the likes of which included DJ Harvey, Idjut Boys and Tyler contributed to a scene at the height of its popularity, but struck out on an individual trajectory that has seen them weave their esoteric strain of influences, from dub to pop music through 4-4 club music for the last thirty years.

From those first records on their U-Star Records label, released back in the nineties to their last full-length “Versions” on Smalltown Supersound, the Idjut Boys have been a unique force on the House music circuit. Channelling diverse, and obscure musical sources through an analogue mixing desk, the Idjut Boys approach their music, informed by the eclectic musical palette of their record collections and extensive combined experience as DJs.

They’ve had a remarkable impact on Norwegian DJs and tastemakers, ever since Olle Abstract first brought the DJ duo over to Skansen back in the nineties. Their diverse pursuits in the booth and their nerdy appreciation for music is something that has resonated through the generations on the Norwegian DJ circuit, making Tyler and McDonnell household names amongst those with an sincere appreciation for music.

Dan Tyler’s connection with Norway extends even deeper today with a recent move to Oslo, where he’s effortlessly integrated into the DJ community, playing alongside Todd Terje at Villa and establishing his own night at Ingensteds.

He’ll be joining Daniel Gude in the booth this Thursday for another edition of Retro, giving us the impetus to reach out to the Idjut Boy and ask some burning questions about his recent move to Norway, why Rune Lindbæk is hoarding part of his record collection, and what lies ahead for the Idjut Boys in this Q&A, “answered in order and spontaneously.”

You’ve recently moved to Oslo. What brought you over to the city for good?

I came as I met a nice Norwegian lady and we made some children together! …that really doesn’t sound right does it! So I guess I should leave that as my answer… (besides England is about to be run by a over spoilt, self motivated moron and friends so I am happy not to be there as they march blindfolded over the cliff edge). I lived in London for most of my adult life where the volume and the accelerator are on ten, so here feels like a nicer rhythm. Nice for kids too.

And Conrad is still in London. What does this mean for Idjut Boys and your music?

Yep Conrad’s in London, we are going between each others’ places, and trying to get that happening regularly, we can exchange files and collaborate that way, but we always worked analog with a mixing desk and effects, we enjoy the random events and stuff that happens that way that you never get mixing in a computer…both have their merits but the former is definitely an integral part of our musical chaos theory!

How has it affected the way you and Conrad work, and have you noticed a change in the music as a result?

We are doing stuff now, so we’ll see how that works, but the intention  is to mix it together at either of our houses or to run off to a hut with a car full of fun machines and knob turning devices and channel  some electric current.

What are you currently working on or finishing up as Idjut Boys?

We just did a Salsoul records mix cd for Japan, I think there’s a twelve of edits coming from that at some point… right now a remix of the lovely and rather dope Mr Bjørn Torske for Smalltown Supersound here.

The last LP was Versions and that was in 2015. Any plans on another album?

An LP yes… but right now we trying to make some 12’s… club music, things you can play in a club to cause spontaneous body movement or clear a dance floor quickly…

You have quite a legacy over here, and Idjut Boys have a history with Oslo, going back to the Skansen years. What first brought you out here?

Yes Skansen was very fun, lovely Olle Abstract used to bring us a lot and then the dream team of Pal Strangefruit and his royal highness Princess Thomas and with our great friend Rune Lindbaek at the super-fun Nomaden… we had some fantastic times here, also came a fair bit with our friend Kevin McKay of Glasgow underground.  We practiced the art of the savage hangover here… fond memories of coming direct from America to Tromso wearing a Jean Jacket and Converse in 10 inches of welcoming snow…we travelled extensively and Norway was always fun.

What kept bringing you and Conrad back, and working with Norwegian factions like Smalltown Supersound?

We met Joakim from Smalltown Supersound through Rune, I believe. It was great fit for us, a very good person and an absolutely open book musically. We hope to do more together.

And why do you think Idjut Boys’ music and your DJ sets resonate with Oslo audiences?

No idea if our DJ sets do…we play absolutely in the moment, neither of us know what is happening next, nothing planned, just call and response with people, and when that gets going in a fluid way it can be very nice…we’ve been lucky to have some times in a wide spectrum of places and here was one for sure. We also, if allowed, play a pretty open spectrum of music, rooted in some things…. it’s possibly easier to move things around with two people playing because you get to step back and enjoy and observe and then select. We grew up going to clubs and listening to music in an era when things were much less genre specific… one benefit of being old bastards!

Rune Lindbæk mentioned that he had some of your (or maybe it was Conrad’s) record collection at his house in Lillestrøm. How did he end up with your records?

Yep, Rune has 56 large Boxes of my records in his lock up… it will be a voyage of joy to go through them… free record shopping! I shipped them when we were in my partner Linn’s flat without room… it was a fair lot to move, I need to make room for them at home. Thanks for stimulating that thought.

Did you get them back?

No I will fucking get them back! I speak regularly to senior Lindbaek and I’m fairly certain they’ve not been used in a Frisbee championship just yet.

Idjut Boys, it sounds like something an old Jamaican lady might shout at you when you’re acting the fool. I’ve always wanted to know, what’s the story behind the name?

Close…’cha…you rasclat, idjut bwoy!’ Yes, it is derived from inter friend banter; we used to say that to each other regularly for various offences/acts of rank stupidity and abject failure in the pursuit of sensible behaviour.

It started from the DJ booth and a club night, to a label, but what brought you and Conrad together in the first place and what kind of music were you bonding over in the beginning?

We used to go to Tonka with Harvey, Rev, Choci, Markey Mark at the Zap in Brighton and various gatherings… acid house was happening, then Harvey’s club Moist and loads of other things that were going on… so I guess you know all things good…house, disco, pop…we shared a flat, went out far too much and bought way too many records… great times.

We were bonding over constantly pissing our neighbour underneath off with music through the floor. He eventually offered us studio time to cease and desist from playing music… his nice girlfriend used to run into our flat to offer us ‘firm instruction’ and I think his offer was integral to preserving their long term relationship… we were young and stupid as opposed to old and stupid…

Those first records you guys made, there was nothing out there that sounded like that at the time, but I’ve read there was a small dedicated scene with you guys and people like Harvey in London at the time. Why do you think that stuff is still relevant today and outlasted a lot of the more popular stuff from that time?

No idea about any of that…we like certain things there were a lot of people around that knew each other and hung out, which helps. I have no idea if that music is relevant to people now, but age is irrelevant with music to me, I love for example Chicago house still, many of the records are raw and imperfect, but they are human and emotive to me still. The reason they hold up is they were made with a certain spirit and without a book of rules perhaps. All very deep and earnest sounding, but I’m with their church rather than the ‘what’s hip today let’s make some of that, I am a musical Cameleon massiv’… Idjut Boys is a no rules vibration I believe.

How do you think your music has evolved since then?

Let’s see!

What’s the secret for making a successful career in music like yours work for so long?

Random luck, a true love of music and people, and this choice rather than delivering Pizza is how we continue.

 You’ve started a resident night at Ingensteds. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Finn, great guy asked me… I enjoy it, it’s different, as in it’s not a dedicated musical crowd, but nice young people, and they have played good music in there. One of my favourite DJs always is Pal Strangefruit. Brilliant DJ. He plays there. Have you heard of him???

Name sounds familiar…You’ve had club nights in Norway in the past. What are some of the challenges and advantages that you’ve experienced with hosting a club night in Oslo as opposed to London?

I’d like to play everywhere here, but I possibly need to engage in social media and networking and release 14 records a week more than sitting at home playing with machines and attending to my youths entertainment needs!

Do you feel you have to play differently when you play in Oslo and Norway?

Depends where it is and sound… I don’t really play club music if it’s not on a decent system because having done that a few times, the difference is very apparent and fundamentally it sounds left of shit. People generally let you know and dictate that, if you are comfortable then you’ll play with a free spirit.

Lastly, tell us a bit about this upcoming DJ set with Daniel Gude. What are you packing for the night?

I met Daniel when I did a gig at Villa recently with my lovely friend the mighty somewhat musically genius Mr Todd Terjenator… he was ‘security’ asked me a couple of times whether my enthusiastic next door neighbour was being a pain in the ass…I really should have asked him to press the ‘eject button’! … Anyway he told me he had a night, and low and behold he very kindly asked me along.

I don’t remember exactly what I played with Terje, but he said what I played would fit in and I like the idea of what he explained his night is about… it’s a mixture of much of what I’ve played and always play, old and new.

I look forward to it; looks like some great guest have been through. I have no idea what I’ll pack other than too much… some nice music and I trust I will get the ‘eject button’ applied if I offend, confuse or stimulate an uprising…what a great idea, I don’t have many of those…