Host Spotlight: Rotation

Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual.

For this edition, we chat with DJ collective and long-standing residents, Rotation! Specialising in the fields of balearic, disco funk and modern edits, Rotation share a belief that records should be judged by their musical substance over their age or popularity. Made up of Luben, Joe Heath and Desa Basshead, these three avid music collectors hailing from The Wirral have shared their sunshine grooves on Electronic Melody Sessions, Wirral Radio and right here on MDR. Read on to find out more ahead of their Summer Party at Melodic Bar this Saturday, featuring Andy Ash and Rotation DJs!

Hey Rotation! How did you all first get into music?

Luben: I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember. Being the son of a rather eclectic DJ meant that I had the luxury of being surrounded by all types of music, literally walls full of vinyl to listen to (when he wasn’t around). Saturday afternoons as a kid were spent in record shops in Liverpool and occasionally Manchester with my Dad. I took a lot from these times and it definitely helped form my own personal taste in music. I think this still shows in my style of play now, bringing the best music forward from the past and also keeping my finger on the pulse of new music coming through.

Joe: Growing up in the same household as Ben (Luben) and our Dad, I had the best of both worlds. From my Dad I took the more Indie/80s influence and Ben introduced me to the more electronic side of music. I became a radio host doing the talkovers on The Electronic Melody Sessions Radio Show around 2013, which also introduced me to a whole new level of dance music, especially with upcoming new artists & DJs doing guest appearances.

Desa: My older brother had around 200 7″ singles and about 80 LPs in various styles and when he went out I would listen to them. By the time I was 14, I’d started to find my own taste in his music collection and I realised that everything I liked was rooted in Soul Music.

With a long-standing residency on the station, how do you usually plan your radio shows?

All: We started hosting our shows at Melodic Distraction in December 2017 (every 2nd Sunday at the beginning of the month). We usually meet up for a pint the week before and discuss who is going to play the beginning, middle or end sections, then we’d dig tracks appropriate to the time slot (5-7pm). For our solo shows we tend to showcase our own collections, for example Desa only plays vinyl on the radio, so will incorporate reggae, original disco, jazz, intelligent drum & bass or just 45s. Joe may focus more on the indie side of things and Luben a more balearic/house style, all keeping within the Rotation ethos.

What’s been your favourite DJ gig so far? Dream artist to DJ alongside?

Luben: I’ve played alongside a few great DJs, but my favourite was probably Steve Proctor when he played an event we put on at The Basement, a small intimate venue on the Wirral. He played a stunning set and really fit in with what we were trying to do. A great DJ! In terms of artists I’d love to play alongside in the future, it would have to be DJ Harvey. I like to think we have a similar approach towards longplay DJing.

Joe: The most special gig for me was back in 2019 at The Red Cat in Greasby, Wirral. It was a Rotation event with Pooky, John Cecchini and Steve Proctor. It was one of those gigs that didn’t really feel like an event, it was more of a bunch of mates getting together and playing tunes with a few beers on a summer’s day. It will always be something I will hold close to me, when gigs like that happen it’s special. As for a dream artist, I’d have to say Erol Alkan. I was lucky enough to chat with him over lockdown and I can see how much of a crate digger he is. After seeing him playing at 303 a few years back, it reminded me a lot of what we do at Rotation.

Desa: For me it’s probably The Defhouse (The first club on Merseyside to play and promote house music). I also played a 2 hour vinyl warm up set for Nicky Siano at the Baltic Social in 2014, which was pretty special but a set with the late David Mancuso would have been amazing. I saw him live every year from 2008-2013 before he sadly passed away in 2016. Apart from the above, the best DJ I’ve seen live in recent years was DJ Harvey at The Warehouse Project.

What initially made you gravitate towards balearic music? Why do you think it’s important for this to be represented in Liverpool?

Luben: My first experience of DJs playing balearic music was my visits to Ibiza in my mid-late teens, a playlist of genres with the sole purpose of soundtracking your downtime in the daytime sun. I loved that and took a lot from it, but hardly got to do any daytime events in the UK. From 2012 I started putting on the odd day events where I could play the more balearic stuff I had spent years collecting. Around that time Desa was also doing similar events, which eventually led to us forming Rotation. In recent years, with so many quirky outdoor spaces opening around Liverpool such as Constellations and Yard, it seemed natural to try and put our sound into these spaces.

Desa: I have around 20,000 vinyl records in my collection spanning all forms of dance music, from funk, soul, disco, boogie, electro and much more! For me, balearic encompasses all of that, I’m not restricted by any musical styles or genre. For me, DJing is about playing between 5-7 hours with a balearic ethos. In my opinion, the greatest DJs always mixed eras, tempos and styles. I think Liverpool could do with more people adopting that approach to hosting nights.

What can we expect from your event this weekend?

All: We have opted to host the Melodic Bar for 9 hours. We’ll start off slow with a more balearic easygoing soundtrack, before heading towards a more danceable groove, passing through various genres as we go: ambient, balearic, funk, reggae, disco, acid and house. It will be a blend of what we have been doing on our show at Melodic Distraction for the past 5 years, some of it you will know, some of it you won’t but it will all be quality. Andy Ash will also be joining us early in the evening, which we’re very excited about. We’ve followed Andy for many years and have always admired his music. He’s also the artist behind the Character artwork we use on our Rotation merchandise and his work is also part of the Melodic Bar decor! Set times are:

2pm : Rotation DJs

3pm : Joseph Heath

5pm : Desa Basshead

7pm : Andy Ash

9pm : Luben

What else do you have planned for 2022?

All: We’d like to get back to hosting more regular events on the Wirral and Liverpool. We also want to organically grow regular Rotation, we love what the Melodic family have done with the Melodic Bar so hopefully this could be a regular space for us. We’ve also had quite a demand for our Rotation merchandise over the past 9 months, and are close to finishing off our website so we can have all our stuff in one place for people to enjoy.

Rotation’s ‘Day Into Night’ Summer Party kicks off this Saturday, 2pm. Entry is free so just turn up! In the meantime, check out their latest show on MDR below: