EE500 – SPECIAL REQUEST
The Electronic Explorations podcast series has become a much loved and influential archive of dance music’s evolution over the last 11 years. Despite starting way before the medium exploded, and years ahead of the online radio explosion, it has remained utterly vital to this day. It is perfectly fitting, then, that the rather monumental 500th episode is taken care of by Paul Woolford, a producer who has been around just as long and is arguably more relevant than ever. He is a meticulous producer whose music is deeply layered, with finely crafted synths, devastating drums and perfect mix downs. From big piano house to vocal classics via twisted techno, he is impossible to pin-down and, frankly, a wilful contrarian.
The Special Request project started out as an ode to the youth of his pirate radio, to the sheer thrill of illicit raving and the raw power of the breakbeat. By now—two albums and countless EPs on Houndstooth and its own eponymous label later—it is about so much more: it is cinematic sound design, striking ambient, futuristic electro and IDM, soulful 2-step and whatever else Woolford fancies, all crafted to a dizzyingly high standard.
And, predictably, it’s the same story with this podcast, which is a storytelling one hour 45 minutes with a number of different chapters. Starting off as an ambient soundtrack with spoken word snippets and space travel motifs, it could be the recording of a cosmic exploration. 20 minutes later, you’re welcomed to the heart of smoky, strobe lit, euphoric dance floor and taken on a breathless trip through all the unadulterated, heart-on-sleeve and sweat-on-brow sounds that make Special Request such an utterly thrilling project.
“I started to work with Rob Booth on bringing the Special Request project to wider attention through signing to Houndstooth in 2013. Along with Rob Butterworth at the label, the three of us forged a clear connection based on mutual respect and a shared passion for spannered tracks of all persuasions.
“During the first conversation I had with Rob Booth in December 2012, I said to him how much I loved and respected the Electronic Explorations podcast series. The depth and detail in this vast archive of mixes is testament to Rob’s tireless and never-ending quest to look under every possible rock and boulder to see what emerges.
“His obvious delight and enthusiasm in the process is as engaging as it is a joy to behold. Once we had the Soul Music album completed, Rob started to ask me for a contribution to EE, to which I always said, “we’ll get around to it”. We released the Belief System album last year and of course Rob was asking me again for the mix. There was always something in the way, which is often how things can be in this game.
“Fast forward to April this year, and Rob called me in Amsterdam and asked me to do EE500. I immediately agreed and said, “three weeks”. Six months later, after driving Rob up the wall with frustration, I managed to find the time last week to make it happen. I had a right doss banging this lot out. I sincerely hope you enjoy the mix as much as I enjoyed putting it together.”