Superstar DJ, producer, broadcaster, tutor, HaÇienda Classical lynchpin and, erm, racing car driver, Graeme Park takes us for a spin through what makes his heart sing. Buckle up!
EARLY MORNING MOUNTAIN BIKING
“Cycling has been a constant throughout my life, it’s something I’ve always done, but I’ve really gone mad on it over the past five or six years, since I gave up drinking really. If I’ve got a crazy weekend with loads of gigs it helps stave off that temptation to go to after-parties, because I know if I did that then I wouldn’t feel like getting up at 5am on a Monday, which is my favourite time to ride. Even if it’s pouring with rain I still do it, at least three times a week. I usually go down by the Mersey, it’s so quiet. I get home after six, wake up the family, take the dog for a walk and it’s still only 8.30am!
“I’ve tried road cycling and I just can’t be getting on with it. I love being off-road, not worrying about buses, traffic or pedestrians. It keeps you fit, of course, but really it’s where I go to clear my head. It’s also where I get my best ideas. Bombing about on my bike, there’s nothing like it. It makes me a lot more productive, helps me get stuff done during the week. It’s where I got the idea for my documentary called ‘Embrace The New’, where I talk to all these artists who are still doing great work into their 50s, people like Shaun Ryder, Johnny Marr, Depeche Mode and Roisin Murphy.
“Anyone who’s been to Haçienda Classical this year will have seen me get down the front, pick up a microphone and sing my heart out. Before I was a DJ, I sang in a few bands in the east Midlands, and I’d forgotten how much fun it was. It all started up again in 2016 during rehearsals for Haçienda Classical. Peter Hook was away one week and when we came to do ‘Blue Monday’, I couldn’t resist singing Hooky’s part to ‘get a level’.
“Then at an outdoor festival in Sunderland, Hooky’s flight got delayed and he was unable to make the show. So the conductor said, ‘Well, you’re gonna have to cover for him’. I thought, ‘Piss off, no way’, but it went so well I ended up singing on half of our shows in 2017. Now I just can’t stop. Even on my mountain bike I just burst into song.
“Eventually it was decided that I needed my own song in the show. We used to play the instrumental ‘Mustafa Dance’ version of ‘Rock The Casbah’ at the Haçienda, so we’ve worked that into the set now. These days I warm up with the singers in the dressing rooms, drinking special tea and taking singing tips. It’s the most amazing buzz. Singing that song at Royal Albert Hall, I mean, come on!”
“I never went to university, I had a place to study Politics and Sociology, but I took a year out and then my DJing career took off, so that was that. Ten years ago I got asked to do some lecturing and took to it like a duck to water. I’m now Senior Lecturer in Creative Media Technology at Wrexham Glyndwr University and LIPA in Liverpool. I love the fact that I’m able to impart my experience and knowledge to a future generation. I mostly teach about working freelance in the creative industries. We cover TV, film, radio, music tech, live sound and broadcast journalism. I get people in from the music industry to talk and share their experience. I go through my little black book and call in favours, so far nobody I’ve asked has said no!
“I also get these kids to shadow technicians at Haçienda Classical shows doing live sound, take them into radio stations I work for, so they get valid experience using state-of-the-art kit and, hopefully, jobs as a result. It’s hard work, but I get a lot of pleasure out of it.”
“I was a racing driver in the 90s. I took the superstar DJing to the extreme logical conclusion. I spent a lot of money on it, but hey, I sat in my overalls and fireproof underwear on the starting grid at Silverstone in a Formula Ferrari Classic.
“I’ve owned 18 Italian cars over the years, Alfa Romeos mostly. They’re the greatest cars. When you’re heading home after a gig at 4am, you don’t want to be in some comfy car that does everything for you, you want to feel involved. They always sound amazing too. As soon as you turn that ignition key, you hear this fizz. I’ve never owned a German car. I don’t get them. They do all the work for you, so boring! They have cup holders! Cars are for driving, not sipping coffee. Whatever I’m doing, I want to be totally immersed. And driving on manual, going through the gears, down winding lanes, listening to amazing music, it’s the perfect end of a great night.”
SCOTTISH LEAGUE FOOTIE
“I have no time for the fancy Dans of the English Premier League. I’m Scottish and have supported Aberdeen my whole life. When we were beating Real Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup, I was there. I was also at the Scottish League Cup Final last year with my son. It’s the fourth final we’ve lost in as many years.
“Our ground, Pittodrie, is always freezing even in the summer, but I love everything about it. Come Saturday afternoon, wherever I am in the world, I tune into Radio Scotland and listen in live. People take the mick out of Scottish footie, but it’s proper, passionate, exciting football. It’s part of my heritage.
“I like to plan my Scottish DJ gigs strategically around the fixture list when I can. Our song is called ‘Stand Free’, which is sung to the tune of ‘Lord Of The Dance’, standing on the terrace, red scarf in my hand, belting that out, surrounded by people from the city I was born in, there’s nothing better!”
‘Graeme Park Presents Long Live House: Volume 01: 1980s’ is out on Warner Music