Tunes FM – Glasgow’s Premier Pirate Radio Station

The lost tapes from Glasgow’s premier pirate radio station have been found in Jack’s mum’s loft and have been ripped to mp3 so they could be released as a podcast every Tuesday. Twelve tapes in all were found in the loft. It all started so well until Jack got in some legal battles with Clyde 102.5 over certain frequency modulations and the lawful ability to broadcast Makina, hardcore and bouncy tunes to the Glaswegian masses.

As technology moved forward the broadcasts became more problematic as shout-outs and voicemails started to overtake the music and Jack couldn’t cope with the changes. It got worse as Jack was let down over several live events he was meant to headline at Archaos. The event ‘Dark Matter’ was a success – which made things even worse.

Jack’s luck seemed to change as he managed to get a two-page spread in Times Out, but an old nemesis, Joe, was the reporter so, Jack packed his bags and moved to London for a change of scene. That never really worked out either and Jack was back in Glasgow after a few days, before eventually settling down, becoming the most zen pirate radio DJ in Scotland.

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Times Out Article

For all its cascading melodies and pumpin’ tendencies, Makina was formed with an air of silliness to it. Pete from Pollok’s anthems took us to outer space with a ‘boing’ and MC Scribble mocked everything from music industry absurdity to acid house.

Jack Shaw’s seminal 2012 Bouncing Rave mixtape gave us the Glasgow-themed, Madonna-sampling hardcore Wikiwikiwikipedia from Paris Trillton and the raw energy of his Argyll Market Hat Stand remixes set a new tone in underground Scottish hardstyle. White label vinyls were available on postal order, each containing a veritable smorgasbord of ideas, from A. Thornton’s TV Themes In Makina Minor, to DJ Salinger’s uplifting choir boy breakbeat mix of his 1980 release The Lennon Catcher. There was even room for Cruise’s mini mix of Oprah Spnifrey’s There A Car. Jack shaped hardcore from 2012 onwards.

Yet this ethos gradually became lost in a haze of Kappa, Soundhaus hopefuls and human billboards for JD Sports and Victor Morris, the city’s literal blade merchant. A shift back to dance music’s brilliant, banging, hardstyle days needed to happen.

Shaw’s 2018 release We Go Here (WGH) tried. It reflected a meeting of a disjointed mind and isolation, an 18 track microcosm of Glaswegian cuts, self-described as “medieval visions of the future, breakcore, Terminator 2 on acid, with the industrial psychology of Castlemilk.”

“I was so lonely, so sad and felt so abandoned in the loft. Like Charlene and animals I hunted company and tended to fall in love too easily.” Jack tried to explain how WGH came to be. “It is so boring flying solo, and if I wasn’t able to laugh at myself, none of us would get along.”

On the eve of Here We Go’s (HWG’s) Glasgow wide release, Loft Record’s first statement in over 16 years, simply stated, “music today seems strange because the world itself is becoming strange and this fast-changing world feels increasingly like a different place,”. The Chin Stroke Records crew of WAGS and Weaver, who have been dismantling dance music’s status quo since their beginnings in 2013, were not amused.

They gave Geroge Moshington, MC Draft Excluder and the majestic Flute Drop from Graham David their full releases before anyone had heard of The South Western Social Club and Big Shaw’s scratching masterclasses. Alongside these understated EPs, Edgar’s final release Staying In should never be dismissed as an in-joke. “What is music the soundtrack to?” was Edgar’s final question to people before never coming out again. “The answer is not memes – it’s your dad’s Volvo, proxy wars, simulation, it’s happily stepping over the homeless to drink pints of Tennentsi in Archaos.” Unsurprisingly, most of the scene’s early adopters agreed that the homeless were a pain in hole when entering clubs. “Gear” (single word) was the most common answer as part of Chin Stroke’s 2016’s cutomer service survey.

Jack’s label mates, Johnny Popper, DJ Crooky R.D and MC M. Ramsey distorted the idea of what a musical format could be, releasing their ‘record’ as an illustrated storybook with no audible music. “We received a violent reaction from many Bebo users to our assertion that music can be more than just audio,” they said, adding rather scathingly, of how the happy hardercore EP was welcomed by the city’s young teams, “it’s always important to remember that there are reactionary bams lurking everywhere.”

For the mask wearing duo, Bus Replacements, making people laugh is an artform. “It’s important for us to balance the familiar vs unfamiliar or the funny vs straight,” they said. Founding member, Angus McAdolph’s, Cyber Crime Pays (Adidas 4 stripe mix) was popularised largely by Times Out critic Joe as a new dawn in Glasgow gabber. Spotify described how the streaming service “pushed musicians to create monotonous music in vast quantities for peak chart success,”. Harboured through a love of Cher, Soundcloud pages with 5 followers (think Commupence’s Blue Bag’ Blogspot) these social lepers congregate in Facebook’s biggest secret donk group, ‘AFF MA NUT. This “banging music” as Jamsie Forest (the godfather of donk music) describes “mutated from a post-industrial fallout” of repetitive line-ups and “the same shitty Makina.”

“Half Horse / Half Hammer was a reinvigoration of the anti-establishment values of donk music,”  Forest remembers. “It was a nonchalant attitude to what’s considered socially acceptable in club culture – like how you dress or how seriously you’re supposed to take dancing in a room staring at someone playing tunes.”

“There’s definitely been a donk music uprising over the past few years,” Forrest wrote to me in 2019, and for all our dissection, the success of donk may be something altogether simpler. “The question is, are you going to be the one skulking around the party trying to turn over the tune saying “this is shit”, or are you going to be having a mint time bouncing off the walls?”

“Who even knows what’s fake and what’s Makina these days?” asks Jack, sipping on a tea, eating some pancakes. “The brutal button mashing has its roots in Riddrie.” Barlinnie, to be clear.

Like it, loathe it, ironic or otherwise, Shaw’’s latest EP HWG has already popped up in DJ sets from Mike and Dave to Ogilvie Maurice’s of late. Times Out can only speculate that many of the same people dancing to MC Lumpy’s ‘Mario 2 was Poor’ last week were just a few years ago slating Charlene’s Sister for spinning MC Lockback in her ’divisive’ Boiler Room set, filmed in the Darnley McDonald’s. 

Self-Administered Beatdown reading the draft Brexit Agreement over Gaskethead’s 240 bpm Convection Rod has become a staple in the living rooms of wee guys. However, Shaw’s spoken word diary updates, laid bare against a backdrop of new-wave Spanish Makina, is out of reach for many people – described as ‘much too cleverer’. Jack continued, “My mission is to figure out what I can wrap around it to make it more palatable, like butter on pancakes, so I can play the material that messes with people,” he explains. “Without the Bonkers’ tracks, this crazy material wouldn’t hold together in a DJ set – it’s part carrot-and-stick, part Stockholm syndrome.”

The big man brings new context to records you’ve heard hundreds of times. In is mum’s kitchen, or loft, he sits with a collection of free remixes, Alice Deejay’s Better Off Alone is morphed into a pitched-down, beat-less symphony of gabber chest punches, and DJ Johnny Jhonstone’s Down, Down, Down is diluted to its most euphoric moments, a truly electric river of sound.

“There’s a dividing line for a generation who grew up with The Smiths on TOTP when that cripplingly depressive music was allowed. I stepped foot into Archaos understanding what a club was meant to be.” Jack eventually indicates a more personal meaning behind his latest remixes. “Rather than framing the song as something ironic, I faced the emotions like Morrisey, from The Cure, typically does with such verve.”

These ‘emotions’ are evident  in the  spiritual awakening remix of DJ Stompy’s Space Bar, but most notably in Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over. The penultimate track of HWG is a tour de France – the subtle critique on consumerism and artistic monotony can be found in the only lyrics on any of Shaw’s releases, but I won’t spoil them for you.

Jack’s final words as I leave his mother’s kitchen, “‘Bouncing About is out next week. Fuck off.”

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Tunes FM - Glasgow's Premier Pirate Radio Station