South London DJ, producer, and broadcaster Charles Vaughan presents ‘Gotta Keep On The Move’ with a deadly disco remix, and a further re-tweak by Pangaea Disco & Swung Out Records frontman Theon Bower. As a DJ Charles Vaughan has toured with Worldwide FM’s Tina Edwards, and played on Boiler Room supporting Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy. He’s caught the eyes and the ears of those in the know with his high energy sets, his eclecticism and dexterous skill, and his broad ranging release output spanning hot Brazilian edits to breakbeat.
This track is as 1975 as it is 2022, as ready for a towering sound system as it is in your earbuds on the bus. ‘Got To Keep On The Move’ is a timeless cut deep rooted in the New York disco scene. This souped-up, modern reimagination giving every element of Sound Experience’s original its space and time to shine. For ten minutes, it’s soaring vocals will light up your night or your day, as the euphoria builds throughout.
On the flip producer, DJ, and avid crate digger Theon Bower turns the original into a foot stomping, four on the floor effort that parks the groove firmly at its core. It’s restrained and it’s pumping, it’s the perfect contrast to the A side with its more psychedelic journey.
Please introduce yourself to our readers Charles.
Hello there! My name is Charles Craigen Vaughan – I’m a DJ, producer, writer and all round music guy with far FAR too much energy!
Tell us where you are from and where you’re based?
Originally I’m from a little countryside village outside of Bristol – think of Hot Fuzz’s Sandford, halve the size of it, remove all the shops and add a lot more scrumpy. I moved to South East London around 7 years ago and fell in love with the area; I’ve been here ever since!
Where are you today and what are you up to?
Sadly, I’ve been shaking off an intense illness which took away my only free time on the weekend as well as making me miss DJ Harvey closing Gala festival with my track – just my luck. So now I’m working late into the night to catch up before I go away for a much- needed blissful festival weekend in Wales. Can’t be having too much free time with an EP to release!
How long have you been working in music? What are the different roles that you’ve had?
I’ve been freelancing in the industry since I left Goldsmiths in 2018 and it’s safe to say I’ve done nearly every role under the sun since then. A few highlights include being a label assistant to Pete Buckenham’s legendary On the Corner Records, founding and running the Juno’s video production department and engineering the Funktion One powered sound at E1 during my time as a techie.
When did you start to DJ? Where were the first gigs that you played?
It’s a funny story actually… When I was 13 my school had a little disco as a way of introducing us to the senior school. For music, they got two 6th form rugby lads DJing on a little USB controller – it wasn’t quite Roni Size but it did the trick. At the time I’d just got my first taste of electronic music thanks to a mate gifting me Pendulum’s ‘Jungle Gold’ mix CD. So when one of the lads dropped Chase & Status’ ‘No Problem’, I decided that if they could do it, so could I and promptly bought the cheapest DJ controller that Argos had to offer.
Then when I came to Goldsmiths, I started playing some more legitimate (and less Drum & Bass focussed) DJ gigs. I ran a Jazz collective that hosted nights at the Amersham Arms for years and through that, started DJing Jazz around Peckham with a show on Balamii. I was lucky enough to have my first DJ residency at The NINES – an amazing establishment that sadly closed a few years ago. The night was called Birdland Kissal; an inspiring fusion of the kissatens of Japan and the iconic Birdland jazz club in New York.
What is the most recent gig that you’ve played at and how was it?
So glad you asked as it’s a great one! I co-run a beautiful little party called OOX alongside 5 other lovely friends. It’s a disco laden community affair that we host at Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston. Recently we were lucky enough to bring the crew up to Liverpool where the incredible Melodic Distraction Radio team hosted us in their new bar/cafe space. I’ve been running my radio show on the station for two years now and they’ve always been such an incredible team to work with… sadly I don’t get to visit that often so this was a rare treat! It was honestly such a blast bringing the crew on a colossal one date tour – a brilliant excuse for a weekend getaway with a TON of amazing music. Not a bad recent gig if I do say so myself…
What kind of vibe should we expect in a Charles Vaughan Set?
Energy. I think that’s often the word my mates use to describe my sets despite the variation in genres I may focus on. I do enjoy my chillout stuff – I used to have a hybrid ambient DJ act with reel to reel tape decks! But truly, my heart yearns to play the most energetic and ecstatic music I can get my hands on!
Can you tell us one of your all-time favourite records?
These questions are always so hard to answer, how can I just pick one? What first came to mind was Joyce’s ‘Feminina’. First discovered through Jeremy Underground and MCDE’s b2b at Dimensions festival, this record has really never left my side. It comes with me to nearly every gig I play but it’s also on my turntable at home often. I think that’s a good sign of a truly great record – music that you’re as keen to drop in the club as you are to play whilst lounging on a Sunday evening.
Joyce has one of the most spectacular voices I’ve ever heard – no exaggeration. The composition in this album is breathtaking too. The paths each song takes are so mesmerising yet distinctly Joyce. It’s a really transportative album. Words don’t do it justice – just make sure there’s space to dance when Aldeia De Ogum comes on!
Who are the artists who inspire the music that you make?
I have quite a varied creative palette of influences I like to refer to over a few different genres. I never want to settle on just one sound! Floating Points has always been an absolute go to for all elements of production. He has such a detailed ear and a real depth of control over the sound he produces – whether it’s creating serene ambience to visceral breakbeat to the warmest disco edits. I could honestly write essays on his production (I actually did a bit for my dissertation to be fair).
Within disco, funk and soul more specifically – The Reflex has really inspired me, particularly in his creative approach. By focussing on reworking and rearranging the already amazing content he’s able to get so much out of these remixes. It sounds so classic and so modern – you can spot his productions from a mile off. For this release, and a few other of my remixes, I’ve taken the same approach, focussing my energy on making the most of the original parts.
If you had to define the sound of Charles Vaughan, what words would you use to describe it?
Eclectic for one – I definitely seem to cycle between sounds and timbres every 6 to 9 months. My last EP consisted of deep house, breakbeat and cyclical ambience… I often will do 2-3 tracks in one genre area and then be like – you know what? I fancy trying to make something entirely different. I guess that’s the ADHD in me…
I’d say a lot of my tracks revolve around tension and release too – perhaps a little too much. I’m a sucker for deep long builds where you take simple ideas and layer them up to build tension until you have this ecstatic moment of release! That’s the absolute best feeling. Getting everything fine tuned perfectly to work together towards that moment… Now I say this out loud, maybe it’s just that I like big drops.
What can you tell us about the original artist on your new release?
To be honest, not a lot! That’s on purpose as well… I have a tendency to (very fairly) remix and edit much more well known tracks by artists I adore, which is a great way to make sure you’re passionate about what you’re making. But I really wanted to challenge myself to become obsessed with reworking an unknown track from a group I have no personal connection with – concentrating fully on the music.
Sound Experience aren’t the biggest band in the world really… They sadly only recorded two albums and fell into relative obscurity. They’re most likely heard as samples in some pretty great records; ‘9/11 Is A Joke’ by Public Enemy, ‘Paid In Full’ by Eric B & Rakim and more. But, if you do happen to find a hidden gem from this band, you can be sure it’s going to be a full throttle funk affair.
When did you first discover this record? What is it you love about it?
I actually found it whilst digging for some unknown gems to rework… I was browsing through all these slightly forgotten tracks that had full multitrack stems and suddenly came across this – it was a real lightbulb moment. My best work is when I have these instant lightbulb moments. I’ll immediately know exactly how the record will sound – I can sonify the entire experience in a moment. This was one of those moments.
What resonated the most was the vocals and strings – they just soar so high in the mix, it’s such a beautiful compositional element. It’s that soaring sound that’s come to define so much euphoric disco and soul and this was just begging to be amplified. Plus, there was 8 minutes of instrumental jamming! Plenty of amazing licks and moments between the band to explore… It was really the perfect starting point.
What did you do on your rework? How did you enhance the original?
I always start with the arrangement otherwise I can get bogged down in the tiny details of the sound and that can kill a track right at the start because you lose sight of the bigger picture. That, and there were a lot of parts to sift through too.
I started slowly, bar by bar, rearranging all of the parts – experimenting with different instrumentation, how the different sections could interact and most importantly – cutting the fluff. With tracks like this, you often have a full band all jamming away at any one moment… and not all of it is golden so it’s good to identify what ideas are the strongest and structure the arrangement around that.
Once that’s done (and that takes a ton of time when you’re doing a 10 minute rework) it’s time to start producing all of the parts. The quality of the stem recordings were… less than ideal at times, so there was a lot to clean up. I wanted the sound to feel modern and full. It needed to cut through when I played it out – but I didn’t want to take this too far and make it overly polished or too bright. There’s a balance to strike – big shout out to Nick Powell who mixed and mastered the record. He’s an absolute genius and really helped me hone the sound of this record. Plus, I always send him pages and pages of notes and he never complains!
Tell us about the remixer on this release? What other stuff has he done?
Theon Bower – what a lovely lad. We met when he was the artist liaison at Brixton Jamm for one of my bookings and we hit it off straight away. We ended up doing a quick (rather drunk) b2b at another Jamm night and he offered to let me use his studio for working on this track. Once I’d finished it, I desperately wanted to have some contrasting remixes to help fill out the record and he came to mind straight away.
He’s been smashing it at the moment launching his own label Swung Out Records. He’s put out some cracking tracks and I’ve got a ton of respect for anyone that starts up their own imprint – it’s a tough role, especially in today’s climate. Plus, he’s part of the team behind Pangea Disco. Those lot know how to put on a good party! So it’s safe to say he knows what he’s doing on stage as well as in the studio.
When he sent over the initial drafts, I was really surprised by the direction he’d taken it… I thought he was going to go in a lot harder and create something way more pumping. But it made total sense – it’s just such a groover, just like my remix, just like the original – it’s got that Theon energy to it! Some amazing bass work in there too… I recommend listening at sunset for the best experience.
Where should we listen to your new EP and what should we be drinking?
You can listen to it on Spotify, Soundcloud, other streaming platforms too as well as supporting it on Bandcamp! Sadly there are no physical copies BUT we will be selling an exclusive accompanying 32 page zine at Love Vinyl in lieu of vinyl – we’re running a launch party there on Saturday 18th!
What drink should you have? What a great question. Part of me wants to cop out and say that you should have your personal favourite drink, as the record is about self love and growth, but we can do better than that… It has to be champagne on ice. We deserve the finest things when we get to boogie to the finest of grooves; and this is truly a champagne groove.
What else have you got coming up in 2022?
Hopefully getting some rest after this release is done… just kidding.
I’ve got a wild 10 minute euphoric remix of Natasha Beddingfield coming up as part of my little ‘GUILTY PLEASURES REDEFINED’ series on Bandcamp. I’ve got some live dates at Brixton Jamm supporting Dr Packer and Craig Charles so they’ll be an absolute blast. We’ll also be putting on the OOX monthly parties again once Autumn comes this way. Hopefully I’ll also be making time for bouldering also which is my other passion. But mainly, I want to make some time to dance myself – I want to feel the energy of the dancefloor once more. It’s what inspires me the most and I’ve no doubt it’ll set me off on another wonderful journey of musical creation…