A Belfast-centric selection from the Extended Play co-founder.
Timmy “T-Bone” Stewart is a name that’s been synonymous with Irish house and techno over the past twenty years. Starting his career warming up for Carl Cox at legendary club Kelly’s in his home of Northern Ireland, Stewart later held down a residency at David Holmes’ infamous Art College and would go on to found some of Belfast’s best-loved parties – Digital Boogie, Tsunami and Islandhopper.
As a producer, Stewart has released on Manchester’s Paper Recordings and San Diego’s Siesta Records, remixed the likes of Andrew Weatherall and Xpress 2, and had work featured on albums from revered stateside house labels like Strictly Rhythm and Trax.
He’ll be playing at the second ever edition of AVA Festival in Belfast this weekend, an Audio Visual Arts Festival and Conference celebrating electronic music and digital visual arts. There’s a wide range of speakers and artists appearing across the day, with talks from Juan Atkins, Ableton, Dave Haslam and Shanti Celeste, and performances from Bicep, Rødhåd, Optimo, and Gerd Janson.
Ahead of AVA, Timmy Stewart has compiled a list of ten tracks that mean something to him, and Belfast in general. It features cuts from local artists and those that have been crowd favourites in the city’s clubs – press play below, then check out his Boiler Room set from last year’s festival in preparation for this weekend.
1. Newcleus – Jam On It
Rewind to 1985 and as odd as this might sound a lot of Belfast’s suburbs resembled scenes from cult movies like Beat Street and Breakin’ as a vast majority of teens were dressed head to toe in American sportswear, had massive tagged up boom boxes and sections of linoleum flooring adorned certain corners of the pavement. Belfast youth culture was for the best part of a decade heavily influenced by the break dance, electro and hip hop movements in the US, cue at the age of 10 my enduring love affair with electro music officially kicking off. This track and its video montage are perfect signposts for that era.
2. Van Morrison – I’ve Been Working Re-Edit
Van the man is easily one of this cities most famous exports, he sings about places in East Belfast like Cyprus Avenue that I got to hang out in in as a teenager myself and therefore I love the familiarity you get from a lot of the lyrics in his songs. This track is a proper slice of Belfast funk and edits of it can even be played in house sets as it has such a great energy and always goes down well here.
3. Plastikman – Krakpot
The first time David Holmes stepped up to the esteemed Essential Mix series in 1993 was exactly in line with his Sugar Sweet nights in Belfast in the nineties and him being in full-blown techno mode. I remember from the almost worn out TDK tape we carried to after parties him playing this track near the start on there and also that he had used it to open sets with an air raid siren rinsed over it. We were so lucky to get educated at his parties in our teenage years and as a result completely bypassed a glut of commercial dance music that existed, instead getting exposed to a host of great music from Germany and the states in amazing surroundings and at such an impressionable age. Still revered as one of the best clubs Belfast has ever seen, the Art college generation certainly spawned the likes of Calibre, Phil Kieran myself & many more.
4. Frankie Knuckles, Jamie Principle – Baby Wants to Ride – Bubba & T. Bone’s Still Believing Re-Edit
To say that two Belfast lads were buzzing at getting the chance to fiddle with (albeit tentatively) one of the finest pieces of Chicago house music ever made is well an understatement. We were then overjoyed that our edit got selected for the official Trax 20th anniversary digital and vinyl release. We were raised on these great records at the parties in the Art College so it was really ace to respectfully put a little Belfast timestamp on something so classic and important to us. Frankie Knuckles R.I.P
5. Phil Kieran Feat. Bush Tetras – Snakes Crawl (East Village Mix)
I’m a total sucker for New York disco and bands like ESG so I absolutely loved it when Phil dropped this curveball collaboration on the world.
6. Bicep – Snackbar
Bicep are without doubt leading the charge in the new wave of Belfast electronic music and probably the best ambassadors this city could have hoped for as they always embrace opportunities to bring the spotlight to home turf and others involved in the scene here. This peak time banger was even named after a room in Queen’s University union, were Shine hosted a lot of their techno acts and the lads got their initial introduction to nighttime electronics.
7. T.S.O.S. – Over and Over
If there is one place that encapsulates the raw energy of Belfast well it’s the Bunatee Bar during a healthy dose of house and techno. A room also located inside Queen’s University Student Union (a lack of purpose built venues in the city has meant that promoters here have had to use makeshift club spaces) and the night in there that sums this crazy energy up best is Twitch. When thinking on a track to represent the fever point in there, this one instantly came to mind.
8. Extended Play – Made In Belfast
It’s impossible to single out just one track from the artists that we have amassed here via our Extended Play label but this just under five minute video and the tracks used within it kind of encapsulate what we do here and that’s helped develop a scene by supporting and promoting one of the growing collectives within it. Play on!
9. Space Dimension Controller – The Love Quadrant
Easily my all time fav by Jack… if ever there was a record to define cosmic then surely this must be a serious contender? A vocoder space duet debut released on Boxcutter’s (also from here) Kinnego label, this Belfast number has a definite timeless quality to it.
10. Metro Area – Proton Candy
I remember when the Metro Area records came along like a breath of fresh air to house/disco music in the 2000’s and this track in particular really links a lot of the residencies I’ve held in the city as I’m pretty sure I’ve played it at some point in Digital Boogie, Tsunami, Shine, The Stiff Kitten, Yello, B-BBQ, Keep Diggin’ and presently at The Night Institute. I even closed my Boiler Room set with an edit of it at last years debut of the amazing AVA festival, again it’s one of those special tracks to me with a very unique, timeless and heavily played in Belfast feel.
Featured image: Niall Murphy
Timmy Stewart plays AVA Festival, June 4 at T13, Belfast. More info and tickets here.