‘A cathartic ceremony’ El Confidencial
DJ / Vocalist of the direct action group Fun-da-mental hits the decks with an explosive energy rarely seen behind the mixer. Infectious ritual incantations, bass heavy electronica, traditional music from all about talkin’ blues among the jungle of a dancehall. An orgy of genres grind it on the dance-floor. Spoken word, comedy, market sounds, radio broadcasts from Algeria or street bands of Jaipur will come to the session.
D. WattsRiot is the DJ name of Dave Watts, a Londoner who moved to Toronto, Canada, in the early ‘70’s. Through his high-school friends and tuning into radio stations from upstate NY he discovered raw soul, funk and the beginnings of rap and hip hop.
This meant Saturday mornings would be spent at ‘Disco Sounds’ record shop downtown hearing the latest waxed arrivals via turntables connected to a Macintosh amp and Cerwin-Vega ‘Earthquaker’ speakers. Bliss!
This yearning for sound found a base at college and community radio, presenting the ‘Well Up & Bubble’ program at CKLN.
Returning to London in 1986 he found the city breathing heavily with musical expression from every pore and pavement.
A request to interview a band signed to Virgin Records led to a job at the label’s office in Ladbroke Grove, the postcode to many creative efforts known worldwide. Typically the first job was packing records into boxes, and those boxes onto pallets. He established relationships with musicians such as Bad Brains, Iggy Pop, Ben Harper, Ice-T, 23 Skidoo, Les Negresses Vertes, Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Following one of his first performances as a DJ in London, Aki Nawaz, from the then recently-born Nation Records introduced himself with some vinyl and disappeared. He later reappeared as founder of Fun-da-mental, a group that Dave had seen live several times. Witnessing the energetic delivery of the performance and feeling in time with what he heard, seeing the potential Dave brought them to attention of Virgin’s A&R Dept. Unknowingly the band were soon to invite him to fill the DJ role.
Years of recording samples from films, documentaries, live radio broadcasts, telephone conversations etc, making loops on cassette, came to use beyond mixtapes.
He joined Fun-da-mental and two days later stepped onstage with them at a ‘Whirly Gig’ event in Shoreditch, London.
The bands reputation on the streets and in the media was gaining traction, MTV added the ‘Countryman’ video which was filmed in Pakistan, to a high-rotation slot, beaming pro-First World, anti-colonial perspective into homes around the globe.
Upon the eve of a UK tour, the two MC’s suddenly departed, leaving Aki and Dave to not only produce the music but to take up vocal duties, while finally recruited two new MC’s, Mushtaq and Hot Dog Dennis.
The four proceed to deliver Fun-da-mental’s first album, Seize The Time, named after the book Seize the Time: The Story of The Black Panthers and Huey P. Newton by activist Bobby Seale, the co-founder of The Black Panther Party.
The band’s political unapologetic stance was embraced where it mattered locally and internationally, taking them to perform in South Africa two months after Mandela and the A.N.C. ascended to power. They performed for refugees in Sarajevo, opened their ears to the stories of the Maori in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Aborigines in Australia.
With the ever shifting political landscape under their feet, the band continued producing provacative albums & EP’s, Erotic Terrorism, All is War, There Shall Be Love, Why America Will Go To Hell, The Last Gospel.
Dotted throughout this period Dave collaborated with the System 7 / Sabrettes-led project ‘Repetitive Beats’, Algerian crooner Rachid Taha and from Italy, Almamegretta, Belgian metal-funk combo Crumb. A live collaboration with Serbia’s experimental rock band Neočekivana Sila Koja Se Iznenada Pojavljuje (which roughly translates as The Unexpected Force That Suddenly Appears and Solves the Thing) took place in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
Now based at FDM HQ, Nation Records, Dave began a DJ partnership with the label’s A&R Man, Rich McLean aka DJ Overhaul. They became Dub Sessions regulars at Disgraceland, alongside The Orb, Nina Walsh, Digidub, Andrew Weatherall. The Nation World Service as the project was titled, entered the studio, producing ‘Skaning For Jallunder’, released via Nation and a remix of ‘Terra Mae’for Fourth World (Airto Moreira & Flora Purim) released on Melt2000.
Fun-da-mental were invited to perform at Womad in Las Palmas, which lead to Dave residing in the Canary Islands. From this base, he returned to the radio waves with his ‘Ear Conditioning’ program, carried by radio stations in Tenerife and Sarajevo.
‘One of the top five performances at Womad Las Palmas 2008.’ La Gaceta de Canarias
Became Resident DJ at Txola, La Laguna, Tenerife, and performed at most of the festivals of note in the region, Womad Las Palmas, Womad Fuerteventura, Eolica, Aquaviva, Ciudad de la Musica,
A DJ slot at Clandestino Festival in Gothenborg, Sweden led to Dave becoming Co-curator of the festival for nine years up to 2016. Programming the likes of The Bug, King Midas Sound, Gonjasufi, Adrian Sherwood, Kode9 + The Spaceape, Leila, Gonzo and Mark Ernestus’ Ragga Ragga Force, among others.
He is currently working in the same capacity with Keroxen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which takes place inside a converted oil refinery tank.
In 2014 his KingLMan project debuted with the single ‘Vultures’ Bazaar’. The dub ethos of space around the rhythm takes the lead around the Motown-esque vocals of reggae singer Earl Sixteen.
The second single produced ‘7MWM / We Want More’, features the voice of Kiki Hitomi (Waq Waq Kingdom/King Midas Sound) and Nick Page (Dub Colossus) on bass duty. The video, shot by Harjinder Grewal was premiered by FACT Magazine.
A long-digesting album will see the light in 2020, with the working title, ‘Monkey Will Pay For Porn’.
“It’s not only about music for escaping the blue-collar-no-dollar blues, information is a valuable weapon.”
"One of the most visionary and aware dj sets we have ever heard and seen." Clubspotting
"Una de las cinco mejores actuaciones en el Womad de Las Palmas". La Gaceta de Canarias