Stay Up Forever Records

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: The Stay Up Forever label

In 1990, I started the original weekly Needs Must column in Echoes to cover the deluge of house and techno records gushing forth like an incontinent rhino. It was huge, trainspotter-obsessed fun that led to hooking up with countless DJs and producers over the next seven years.

In 1993, as electronic dance music started getting infiltrated by superclubs and greedy DJs (leaving only rare British beacons like Sabres Of Paradise and Soma to get frisky over), 12-inch records started arriving on a label called Stay Up Forever – mad, no-holds-barred belters drenched in squelching 303 mayhem that demanded new ways of describing them, from bison’s gonads to buttock-burning gnu flatulence.

Along with the defiant spirit of the underground acid techno parties flown by founders Julian, Chris and Aaron Liberator, there was humour in those ferocious acid pile-ups, and attitude I recognised from punk. This gloriously unhinged bombardment of roof-raising pube-scorchers never let up in its mission to create maximum destruction at mass warehouse gatherings.

Stay Up Forever soon added associated labels including Cluster, Ripe Analogue Waveforms (RAW) and Smitten. At that time, I enjoyed a parallel career producing Secret Knowledge, Delta Lady and endless remixes, so it was almost pre-ordained I’d record for SUF, starting with a reworking of A+E Dept’s ‘The Rabbit’s Name Was…’ (thanks to my love of rabbits!).

The session took place at The Punishment Farm – the funky, analogue-ruled studio above a Deptford pub – manned by the supernaturally skilled Henry Cullen, aka DAVE The Drummer. Lashing the remix with Stooges samples, Henry and I clicked instantly, going on to release trouser-demolishing acid stormers as Rozzer’s Dog, including ‘The Pusher, The Pimp & The Panther’, ‘World War 303’, ‘Now I Am Going To Repeat That For Those Of You On Drugs’ and ‘Serious Mind Fuck’, along with remixing The Orb, Hardfloor and Jam & Spoon, and forming a disco band with Irvine Welsh. I also collaborated with SUF mainstay Guy “Geezer” McAffer.

After that heady time, the Stay Up Forever Collective mushroomed into the subversive worldwide network that continues today. Label stalwart Sterling Moss documented this remarkable operation’s last 30 years in an exhibition presenting memories, memorabilia, music and Mutoid Waste Company creations in early March, opening with a party at Canning Town’s FOLD club. Check out their websites.

Always harder than the rest, acid techno is one of the biggest dance movements on the planet, yet remains resolutely underground. It’s a real pleasure to be writing about it again three decades later.

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