Behind the scenes with Hot Buttered Soul

Meet the funky genius behind Hot Buttered Soul

Mike Shawe-1-Influencers-Nitleife

In our INLFUENCERS series, we meet the good souls working hard behind the scenes to make Bristol’s nightlife scene so beautiful. This month, we speak to Hot Buttered Soul ‘collector- selector’, Mike Shawe.

In a nutshell, what is Hot Buttered Soul?
Hot Buttered Soul is an underground night pulling on the sound of lesser-known 70s and 80s cuts through to the present day, encompassing a diverse selection of new edits, embracing the sounds of afro and gospel through to more electronic-based disco and house – and even the odd techno tune. If you come to one of our nights you can expect to hear an eclectic mix of tunes with one or two surprises thrown in.

Can you run us through a quick history of your DJ career, culminating in the Hot Buttered Soul nights?
I grew up in a family that loved to play records – Philly soul, disco and funk. My dad was a jazz head, which also had a big influence on my taste. My nightlife roots are in the St Pauls ‘blues’ parties and basement jams of the mid-80s, and my residency at Sanborn’s club on Prince Street with one of my mentors, Paul Morrissey.

B.A.D. Radio, Bristol’s first pirate station, had a big influence on my early career, where I did a weekly soul and rare groove show alongside people like DJ Lynx, Deli G, The Soul Twins – far too many to mention.

B.A.D. Radio, Bristol’s first pirate station, had a big influence on my early career, where I did a weekly soul and rare groove show alongside people like DJ Lynx, Deli G, The Soul Twins

The idea behind HBS came from the desire to recreate the underground vibe of those early soul, boogie and rare groove nights of the 80s with an emphasis on the rarer and unknown tracks that many people may not have been exposed to. HBS started out about nine years ago at The Park Bar on The Triangle in Clifton, moving on to The Bank, The Gallimaufry, The Big Chill Bar, The Love Inn, Oslo Soul Weekender, Liverpool Disco Festival… Basically wherever the vibe took me.

I currently hold down a busy monthly residency at The Plough Inn alongside good friends Soulworks and promote Hot Buttered Soul’s own events at various venues, booking guest DJs that excite and inspire me. What was it that made you start the whole thing? To unearth the musical gems of my past and combine them with the new productions of today. There’s some amazing music being produced now that borrows heavily from the music of my youth. To play both the old and new creates a diverse sound that appeals to people who experienced it first time around, through to young audiences who just love what they hear.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Working my day job on the railway, listening to new releases and hunting down old tunes, misspending hours on social media, planning future events and promoting current ones, chilling with my family – my partner Rachel and daughter Nevina – or training for my black belt in Lan Gar Kung Fu.

You’re often described as a DJ and record collector – what separates the two?
Anyone can collect vinyl, but, with the risk of sounding cocky, you need a good ear to seek out and find great music. Understanding how to work a dance floor and crowd are the key to success when DJing. Programming is paramount, good mixing is the icing on the cake, and dropping the right tune at the right time can literally take the roof off!

Mike Shawe-1-Influencers-Nitleife

What is the best thing about your job?
Playing the music I love is never a chore.

Worst thing?
When the bouncer calls time and the lights come up!

Do you have a pinnacle, career-highlight moment?
Highlight was probably being the resident DJ at Lakota during the halcyon days of house in the 90s, playing to insane crowds every weekend alongside some of the worlds finest DJs.

Low point – getting totally wasted after free-pouring tequila at a wig party, then drunkenly tripping over behind the decks. I proceeded to crash out in a broom cupboard, only to wake up after the club had closed, freezing cold, minus my wig, to the sound of the cleaner hoovering the dance floor… my record boxes nowhere to be seen. True.

What can people expect at a Hot Buttered Soul night?
Party people, positive energy, friendly vibes, fantastic music and a hot and sweaty packed dance floor all night long.

What do you make of the so-called disco revival over the last few years?
Musical genres are cyclical, so it was only a matter of time before it happened. But it’s a good thing and has given recognition to artists that may have been forgotten. It’s also sparked a lot of creativity with hundreds of fresh new edits and musical productions that pay homage to the past but also with an eye on the future, which is pretty much the ethos of HBS.

Be in it for the love of the music – it’s as simple as that.

Collaborations seem to be an important element of Hot Buttered Soul nights – why is that?
Playing alongside fellow DJs brings a plethora of fresh music, different styles and personality to the night. For me, it’s a shared experience, swapping musical tips, hot new records, rare finds, and watching how other DJs work a dance floor. I am constantly inspired by others and am always learning.

Can you give a word of advice to people wanting to follow a similar path?

Be true to yourself and your own particular style. Practice and hone your craft. Be in it for the love of the music – it’s as simple as that. What gives you the drive to keep doing it each day? A pure and simple passion for the music I love – wanting to share it with others, the friendships, buying new records (the next one is always the best), the good times and smiling faces on the dance floor all make every second I’ve invested worthwhile.

HOT BUTTERED SOUL LIVE: 15 April – Hot Buttered Soul x Soulworks (every third Saturday), The Plough Inn, 29 April – Hot Buttered Soul with Hustle, The Love Inn

Hot Buttered Soul // // photography by Martin Thompson: TheFaceCollective

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