DJ Spotlight: Waifs And Strays

Features

By: Sarah Polonsky / August 21, 2014

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing underdog about this club-conquering UK outfit. A background born from a hybrid of club promoting, drum & bass and dubstep production under different monikers inadvertently and inexplicably led to the after-party creation of this house-heavy pair. Known for effortlessly walking the line between house, deep house and tech house, Waifs & Strays first shot to prominence with their 2010 hit 3am, which was quickly snapped up by Matt Tolfrey’s Leftroom imprint. Since then the pair have been taking the dogfight to Ibiza, Croatia and the US. Recently however, two have become one, and we caught up with a reflective Amos to talk Croatia, house, and going it alone.

VIBE: Amos, you and (other duo member) Rich have been going strong as Waifs & Strays since 2010 – You’re now going your own way.

AMOS: Yeah, Rich had a problem with his ears and the doctor told him to take some time off, it wasn’t just tinnitus, it was stress too – the general DJ life of travelling, late nights, not much sleep. The doctor told him to take a few months off, and I think he decided he didn’t really want to come back to the DJ life for while . But… the door’s not completely closed, um, but for the time being I’m operating on a solo front, still as Waifs & Strays. It was a completely amicable decision, and hopefully one day we’ll get back together.

Are you going to continue on the same vein musically?

I think the music was moving on anyway. We decided to go along a more straight house music sound, rather than what’s now termed as deep house – which in my opinion is now something of a misnomer. I think in general the music’s going that way anyway, at the right events you can definitely feel it getting a little harder, a little faster, and that’s fine with me. Ultimately any artist has to go along their course, and keep evolving, but it’s a natural progression and nothing to do with the split. And it’s still going to be house – I’m not going to start make dubstep or anything like that!

You seem to have a real ‘British’ theme to your sound…

I think so. There’s some influences from America in there too. When I started doing this I was inspired by the US scene, people like Derrick Carter, Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry. I think the change happening from my side will end up being a little bit more jacking, which definitely draws from the US. It’s all about what you loved when you first started. Saying that, I never really, started out making a record thinking “right I want this to be a European sounding record” or whatever- you just start out and see how it goes.

You’ve played a String of Croatian dates, what do you make of the Croatian festival explosion?

I think it’s great! It’s really good the country’s kind of embraced it – it’s the perfect country for it you’ve got amazing scenery amazing beaches, quite calm waters which means you can have these great boat parties. It’s not expensive to come to, and who doesn’t like partying in the sun? There isn’t really the infrastructure in Ibiza to have festivals there – it’s so sown up by the big clubs and it’s so dense and concentrated. Whereas, here, you have these resorts that have the hotels and apartments available and the beaches and everything else. This is my second time in Croatia and I have had so much fun – Croatians are lovely, weather’s fantastic, the sites look really good, I’m happy to be here!

Ibiza’s got an international crowd – Croatia feels Brit centric, does that come into mind when you’re programming your set?

It depends on the party really. As you say I play a very UK centric sound, I think if I was playing a Eurocentris sound even in Ibiza I’d probably try to adapt to that. My sets I try to keep varied, accessible, rather than just niche and specialized in one area, i think it’s to do the event – I don’t think “Oh I’m in Croatia, I’m gonna play-” it’s more about the specific location – a boat party at sunset is going to have a ‘sunset moment’ feel to it, in contrast to a sweaty dark club, that’s more where the decision comes from.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2014?

I’m off back to Ibiza in Sept to do Amnesia, which I’m buzzing about – Amnesia terrace has been one of my dreams ever since I first went there many many years ago. I’ve also got a load of releases coming out, an EP with Max Chapman’s Resonance label, I’ve done a remix for Romanthony, Glasgow Underground, another release on Futureboogie and a few things that aren’t totally finalised yet. It’s been a pretty crazy year. 2014 has been pretty good!

Where would you be now if you’d never worked in music?

No idea. Probably something very, very boring!

By: Ally Byers