South London Bass ambassador Neil Keating aka DJ Controlled Weirdness has been rocking the decks and rinsing the rough beats for a few years now. As a young kid the Streetsounds Electro series and early eighties pirate radio stations like LWR started his obsession with nasty electronic music, breakbeats and hard edged funk. Saturday afternoons were spent in Groove records in Soho buying obscure Electro Imports that now go for high sums on Ebay and attending Spats in Oxford street, a Saturday afternoon club where Tim Westwood would play all the new electro/hip hop coming out of the States. This was the start of a lifelong vinyl obsession that still continues to this day. January 1984 and after hearing about Neil’s eclectic record collection he was asked to DJ at a new club called “The House of Dolls” in Farringdon. There he became resident DJ and spun a mixture of electro, industrial, punk and new wave and even some Northern Soul, the start of the DJ bug. At the same time he was also going out to clubs like Delirium, The Mud Clud and Pyramid at Heaven (allegedly the first place to play house music in England in 1985) and also the very first warehouse parties hosted by people like Family Function(Norman Jays sound System) and Soul II Soul. These parties were held in the old abandoned warehouses down by the Thames from London Bridge up to Blackfriars bridge.
Saturday night routine was to meet in the Spice of Life pub in Soho where you got the location of the party and then travel down to the then run down areas near the river where you paid £5 to get in and could dance all night to Funk and Rare Groove. At this time there were no legal all night parties, most West End clubs closed at 2am so these early parties were the start of all night raving.The area where these parties once were are now home to luxury flats but at the time Docklands was yet to happen. Check out the film “The Long Good Friday” for an idea how this area looked then.
Fast forward to 1987 and the start of Acid House and Neil starts a club called Collision in Upper Street, Islington spinning early house and acid and also funk, hip hop and even african tunes by people like Fela Kuti. Through running this club he met the band called Ruff, Ruff and Ready, a South London outfit playing a mixture of punk, ska, funk and hip hop. They asked Neil to DJ with them on several gigs and tours, including one round Ireland with support act Back to the Planet. They were signed by Paul Morley at Island records and he went in the studio with them to add some DJ touches to there debut album.
Unfortunately Island as big record companies are prone to do, lost interest and the album got shelved and the band dissolved. There was one mad gig before they split where they were first on the bill at Spike Island, the legendary Stone Roses event where 25000 scousers and scallies turned out to celebrate the emerging Madchester scene. Neil was one of the dancers on stage as the crowd hurled abuse, batteries and coins. Gary Clail went on afterwards and recieved the same treatment. It was a horrible event and The Stone Roses finished it off with an awful set echoing into the night over a sea of flared trousers.
Neil moved to New York in 1989 and started going out to all the hottest house and acid clubs in the city including parties by Todd Terry and artist Keith Haring.There he met Joel Bevacqua aka DJ Deadly Buda. Joel returned to his hometown Pittsburgh and Neil returned to South London where his sister Stacey had started playing on the popular early rave pirate station Fantasy FM and was running a record stall selling all the latest white labels. Joel decided to hold the first ever rave in Pittsburgh in 1991 and flew Neil over for the party. He brought over all the hottest early breakbeat/rave tunes for the party and they were astounded when nearly 1000 people turned up at a fire station on the edge of the city. This was the first time early jungle/drum and bass was played on the East coast of America. For the next six months they continued to hold some celebrated parties in the Pennsylvania area culminating in a spectacular event down South at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, staged whilst the city whilst on full riot alert after LA had erupted.
Neil eventually returned to London in 1992, a week after the legendary Castlemorton outdoor party where upwards of 50000 people partied and caused the usual tabloid frenzy. Neil started going out to Spiral Tribe parties and jungle hardcore raves. Neil and Stacey then started doing a radio show for the next few years on pirate station Chillin FM, spinning techno on the London airwaves from the tops of high buildings. Through Ruff, Ruff and Ready he had met Phil Conynhgam, a highly accomplished Aussie didgeridoo player who had been making twisted music since the late seventies in various outragous bands in the underground scene in Sydney. Discovering a mutual love of the bizarre and perverted they started collaborating on some music. Phil released an early record on Liberator’s Stay Up Forever label and on the flip there was a hard and nasty Controlled Weirdness mix. The record was a big cult hit,especially on the emerging goa trance scene, some people in Germany were paying up to One Hundred pounds for a copy. This was quite ironic as both Neil and Phil hated this music and loved the harder techno coming out now from places like Detroit as well as having it hardcore rave breakbeats. Neil and Phil formed the infamous Waxhead Perverts for live performance and after one warm up gig at a pub in Deptford they embarked on a tour of Germany. Meeting various crews in Germany alliances were formed and over the next few years there were plenty of mad parties and events including “The Unearthly Bug” parties held in an old Nazi bunker on the outskirts of Kiel in Northern Germany. Neil also did a 3 hour live DJ mastermix on Saturday night on Kiss FM Berlin. Back in London he was also playing at The Dead by Dawn parties, held by Christoph from Praxis as well as Techno clubs like Hardware, Electric Underground and Analogue City.
In 1996 he formed Unearthly records and the first releases were distributed by Spiral Tribes Network 23. Since then he has Dj’ed worldwide from plush clubs to dirty warehouses and has appeared on numerous other imprints including Audio Illusion, Control Tower, Praxis, Zhark, Dirty Needles, Fdb and Still Raven to name a few.