Words By: Beverly Stoll
After developing his DJ career, holding residencies at cherished nightclubs throughout the UK such as, Hacienda, Paradise Factory, Garlands, and Ministry of Sound; Cheets realized that radio is the perfect outlet to discover new artists and share fresh music that doesn’t get play in the clubs or on the airwaves. Cheets ideals of electronic music and his mission for Global Dance Session is an inspiration, as he broadcasts house and tech-house tracks based on quality and without a corporate agenda.
It’s encouraging to know that the spirit of EDM is thriving through this syndicated radio show. Global Dance Session is not in the industry to solely make money, only to share this incredible music that makes us feel so alive. Electronic Dance Magazine had an uplifting interview with Cheets, learning about his experiences in the music business, and his dreams to develop Global Dance Session for all electronic music enthusiasts.
To hear some of the finest house and tech-house in the industry, follow Global Dance Session today.
How and when did you get started with electronic music?
I actually got my first set of decks when I was 17. I was into ‘Old school Hip-Hop’ as we now refer to it. I was heavily into Main Source, Brand Nubian and UK acts like Hijack and Manchester talent, MC Buzz B and Ruthless Rap Assassins. A local DJ “Stu Allen,” had a Hip-Hop show called Buss-Dis on the local radio station I used to follow religiously. When the ‘electro’ series kicked off, he got a second show focusing on early house named, “House Nation,” after the monumental musical cornerstone of the very same name. I was instantly drawn to this sound, lots of energy and far better to break too. This lead me to the early Garage Sound, real garage – ‘Larry Levan’ style, having grown up listening to a lot of Motown and northern soul, I was particularly moved by that early sound and for me it was all about ‘Morel Inc’, ‘Sounds of Blackness’, ‘Ten City’, ‘CeCe Rogers’ and ‘Steve Silk Hurley’ remixes for quite some time.
As soon as I was old enough, maybe a couple of years before, I was going to the ‘Hacienda’ every week I could, studying under the gospel of ‘Graeme Park’ and ‘Mick Pickering’. I had a life changing moment dancing on a bass bin, watching Parky’s head bouncing around the DJ booth as the bass-line from Stonebridge’s ‘Robin S – Show Me Love’ dropped, a wave of screams and cheers, sheer excitement erupted across the dance floor and I felt a rush that resonated from the souls of my feet to the top of my head. That was it, I was addicted! I went on to harass my way into DJ slots at local clubs ‘Mantos’ and ‘Paradise Factory’, ‘Garlands’ in Liverpool, eventually the ‘Hacienda’ and years later I actually got to work with Parky and Stoney. I suppose I didn’t know when to stop. Gig wise, I’ve been very blessed over the years as I’ve played all over Russia, most of the major Cities of South America, United States, Canada and a lot of Europe. I’ve managed to get clubs like Ministry (London & World Tours), Space (Ibiza), Sullivan Rooms (NYC) and a handful of other legendary clubs under my belt.
Whilst DJing around Manchester in the beginning I realized radio was something that would allow me to extend my passion to a ‘day job’ or a ‘real job’ as my parents used to say. I pushed for a job to the point of annoyance with the local radio station where I worked my way in as a researcher, and then I was Tech-Op doing live broadcasts and assisting presenters with production elements and research until I managed to earn myself a position on the production team as a programmer and producer. From there, I was head-hunted to help ‘Ministry of Sound’ develop their international radio output and a London radio license they were going for at the time. So, I took the leap to London, that’s a big leap for a Northern lad.
The last few years it’s been all focus on ‘Global Dance Session’ and more recently my own productions and remixes.
What inspired you to start your radio show, Global Dance Session?
After a long time at Ministry of Sound, I started to feel I had learnt all I could from the Ministry machine and realized I was settling into the corporate side of the business and losing my focus on the passion, the music that had got me there. I really appreciated my time there; I made some of my best friends, people with a shared passion, and I learnt a whole world of business knowledge, but I had itchy feet and wanted to do my own thing, unrestricted with the business / corporate side of the industry.
So, I left Ministry of Sound and started ‘Global Dance Session’, calling on some good friends with very large profiles to share their passion and get involved. Those early idols of mine – Graeme Park, Stonebridge, Morales and more all stepped up and the ball was rolling. It was real hard at first as I wasn’t allowed to approach any of the networks I had built up with the amazing radio team at Ministry of Sound. ‘Adam R’ who is really the unsung hero of Global Dance Session was just a guy I used to chat to online back then, he was a fan of one of the shows I use to present live on the Ministry web-radio station. He came to me and asked if he could help get ‘Global Dance Session’ aired on FM in Australia, he had us hooked up in no time and simply came back and said ‘Where next?’ We now air in 50 countries on FM, 7 satellite fleets and the show depends heavily on the pair of us giving up our time to source the talent and provide the affiliate network with high quality credible content.
The show has never made a penny, we provide everything ourselves; servers, SoundCloud accounts, time, and most importantly our passion for the music and the need to share it. Adam and myself have never actually met but we communicate online constantly working the show, getting it out there.
How would you describe your radio show for those who are new to our music culture?
The show is a selection of some of the finest House & Tech-house music productions waiting for release, with a special international headliner guest DJ/producer featuring in the 2nd hour every week. We do have huge names feature on the show, be we don’t just focus on the huge obvious names in the Industry, that’s the easy route, we really like to showcase the more underground talent working hard on the scene. We have been working closely with the likes of ‘Sonny Wharton’ and his ‘Whartone’ label, ‘Roland Bartha’ and his ‘Mjuzieek Digital’ label. Those guys are just like us, giving it all for their love of the music with no intention of selling-out, keeping it real with a determination to keep the scene alive at a house-roots level. More recently ‘303 Lovers/Hotfingers’ have become close allies, supporting the show and feeding us talent.
The support we have seen from international DJs and producers in general has been truly moving over the last year or two.
I’d say we are the ‘underdogs done good’ of the radio scene, We can safely say we hit more listeners than most of the ‘Big Name’ shows put together but we don’t advertise in the glossy magazines, we don’t do the ass-kissing award events, we just plough away every week getting the sound of the scene to the ears of all we can with no regard for financial gain. I’d say we are the working DJs radio show, representing the real scene and winning support for it every day.
What were some of your obstacles in developing your show?
Time and funding, we have none! Ha!
To be honest the ‘Global Dance Session’ doesn’t have a corporate mission. It really is about the music, so there’s no final objective we have to reach other than sharing the scene with all, and we pretty much do exactly that. We have a rule that we don’t deal with the politics of the industry, and to be honest if people don’t want to take advantage of the platform GDS provides we just move on to somebody who does, let those artist share their sound in 50 countries on FM that weekend hitting literally millions and millions of appreciative ears.
We are always looking to grow the reach of the show however, we offer archives on our website and have just developed and launched our own apps for iPhone and Android, so the fans can listen whenever and wherever they want. In true Global Dance Session fashion they are free to download.
What makes Global Dance Session significant?
We try to cover it all, we don’t focus on any one super-star, in fact many of the big names who have their own weekly shows still like to provide an exclusive mix for the show, they appreciate being a part of it and we love them for it. We also try not to pigeon hole our sound, that’s my fault; I’m the kind of DJ who would rather drop a track for its own merit and not its genre label. You can hear all from minimal tech to screaming diva vocals on the show. If we think it’s amazing then it’s on the show, we don’t like to categorize.
Again, it comes back to the fact it’s a passion and not a job for me and Adam, we WANT to get the show out, we love it, and I think that’s reflected in the sound and success of the show. The radio stations are always telling us our production values are outstanding and no matter what, the show is ready for them every week, like clockwork, without fail, has been for many years now.
How does Global Dance Session stay competitive?
We do it every week without fail and we keep in varied with our guests. We make sure the show is always available online after its aired on the FM networks. As I mentioned earlier, we now also have free apps for iPhone and Android, so I’d say we are consistent and pretty much as accessible as it can get, you don’t have to pay, you don’t even have to subscribe. We are just there every week with cutting edge sounds and the credible leading names in the scene. Plus, as we are a show and not a station without any corporate restrictions, we have nothing tie us down, if a station has room for us we have time for them. We want the world’s ears to hear what’s going on in the house scene, no bias allowed.
Can you describe the concept of Global Dance Session Live?
As the show has grown to the point of saturation in some territories, we have a lot of fans asking why we don’t tour and how can they hear the guys we feature and I on the show at live events. We are toying with the idea of touring but the big bookers seem to focus on the obvious names that guarantee the ticket sales with the commercial market. We are discussing tours with myself, plus a select few of our close headliner friends who support the show, but it’s yet to happen. We have it out there as a concept and have the talent to do it so we are waiting for a tour to come in. Adam is working hard on it at the moment. I suppose it’s the next natural step for Global Dance Session as a brand. To be honest we could do with a tour agency picking up the Global Dance Session Live idea and running with it, but we have noticed agents today tend to only pick up the brands that have already got the ball rolling and have tours they can skim a percentage off rather than generate a new tour package. I know that’s going to piss off a LOT of agencies but if any want to prove us wrong we will happily let them.
How do you feel about the rise of electronic music within North America?
As a Brit, its’ real hard for me to give an educated opinion on the scene in North America so forgive me if I’m misinformed but I can give you my opinion on it from over here.
It is of course birthplace of it all; maybe some of the kids don’t realize that today.
I do know it’s really hard to break in to the FM radio market in North America, there seems to be a focus on commercial activity above the music. It’s the only place we have offered the show and the stations have asked us to pay them to give them the content, that’s before they have even heard the show, it’s scary how focused they are on cash above content.
You have SiriusXM and the BPM channel that claims to be pushing the scene but looking at their home page today it covers Tiesto, David Guetta and Kelly Rowland, which is what we consider to be pop rather than house/EDM, pop-dance I call it. I hope your guys on the ground over there are getting the chance to air real House over the airwaves. If they are not then they are due a revolution, the talent over there is phenomenal but I get the impression they feel unappreciated by the big media at home and appear to look outside of the United States for recognition and support. North American big media needs to take lead from EDM Magazine!
What are your future plans for Global Dance Session?
We are just going to keep doing what we do, we are never going to sell out and become pop-dance. As mentioned earlier touring the show internationally if the opportunity arises but for now its just ears down every week without fail. We are considering a label, we get a lot of amazing material sent to us that doesn’t always get signed, we’d like to help those guys and get their tracks to the masses.
Do you have anything to say to your devoted fans and to our readers?
We f***in’ love you guys! The messages we get make it all worthwhile. Sometimes we forget how many people we reach and it means a LOT when you guys pop up and say, “Hi” or “Thanks!”