Brighton Rocks #26 : Steve Ellis from Andres Y Xavi

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What’s the best thing about Brighton?
The sea. I love living here because I get to look at the sea every day – I can see it from my bed – how amazing is that! I grew up in north London and seeing the sea was very much restricted to holidays and rare day trips (I came down here for the first time on a Network Day when, as a kid, you could buy a rail ticket anywhere in Network Southeast for £1) but always in summer and mostly when the weather wasn’t too bad. I had no idea then that the sea has so many different faces, so many moods: when it’s rough and dark and full of foreboding it’s a delight to get up close to; when it’s calm and peaceful and blue it’s nice to look at from a distance. I can sit and watch and listen to the waves for hours and our album reflects that a little!

Who are your favourite local bands?
Do St Etienne count? Pete Wiggs lives not too far from me. I love a lot of Steve Mason’s work and he’s a neighbour too and, living where I do I sometimes get to see Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd walking his dogs – always wanted to ask him if he’ll wait for me to run upstairs and bring some Pink Floyd records down for him to sign but suspect that’d go badly. Cassetteboy are from Brighton I think, so are some of Tunng who I really like.
I don’t go out and see as many as I used to – there was a point when it was three or four live gigs down here each week – but I’d still make a point of seeing acts on Tru Thoughts, for example, such as Joe Felix or Alice Russell or Flevans (who’s now on Jalapeno) and Glenn (Fallows, my partner in Andres y Xavi) is in more bands than I can count; I used to go and watch The Impellers a lot. I’ve got a couple of friends in up-and-coming bands that I’ve been to see recently: Hanya and Gene Pool – they’re both going places I reckon.
Probably worth saying that I’m more inclined to go and see DJs playing in low-key environments these days – down by the beach, rather than in a club – the Soft Rocks boys, Balearic Ultras etc and they’re kind of bands, in a way! <Steve got back to us after the initial write up and said that he also wanted to give Steph Goodman and Jon Slade a mention too>

What’s the best venue?
I love the churches for live performance spaces: so many of my favourite concerts here have been in churches (don’t ask me what church is what though!) Some of our intimate spaces, such as the upstairs rooms at The Hope and Ruin and The Prince Albert are great for gigs but I think our bigger concert venues are often a disappointment. The Great Escape is great for finding new places and spaces – I’m a TGE ever-present.

What’s the best rehearsal space / studio?
I’ve no idea! We recorded the album in Worthing. Glenn, my partner in Andres y Xavi, is the man for technical details. I liked his home studio and that seemed to work for him too!

What’s the best club?
Has to be Patterns. I’ve had the pleasure of playing the upstairs there many times and would love to play in the club. Their booking policy is forward-thinking and progressive – it reflects the reputation Brighton earned in the acid house and big beat days for booking up-and-coming talent and supporting local DJs, such as Charles Green, Metola and Glu. It’s a real shame what has happened to the clubs on the seafront – it used to be a mecca for clubbers from across the country – we used to come down from London to go to The Zap and get the milk train home; now it’s full of pulling joints, “VIP” tables (come on kids, if you’re a VIP you don’t pay extra, you get, whatever it is, for free, or better you get paid!), ‘reality tv’ appearances and chart music… it’s as bland and dull and unimaginative as any other town centre. The progression of West Street tat onto the seafront shows that the idiots are winning. We need a new youth culture, to turn things around… I doubt anyone who discovered acid house ever imagined that Ritzy culture could return in such a big way. Don’t get me started on Ibiza! The Green Door Store is a good place to DJ as well – I used to have a residency there and guest at the Go Bang parties every so often; I love the crowds there, they’re always mixed age-wise and far more interested in dancing than those down by the arches.

What’s the best record shop?
I wrote The Secret List a few years ago. It was an independent guide to Brighton’s record shops and sold reasonably well. At that point there were 20+ record shops in Brighton and Hove and nearby – some great, like Rarekind and Monkey Music; some ok, like Resident; and, well, some others, let’s leave that at that! I’d say Rarekind is still my personal favourite for it’s mix of new releases and correctly priced second hand stock, plus Euan there is a genuine music enthusiast and his team are knowledgeable and friendly. Mr Bongos opened just after The Secret List came out (so did Bella Union) and the crew there are taking the Bongo’s legacy to new heights: such incredible stock, brilliant customer service and always fun to hang out in. I can’t separate Rarekind and Bongos – they take most of my money each month.

Where’s the best places to eat?
I’m the wrong person to ask. The only time I’ve taken a photo of my dinner was when I managed to concoct cheese and beans on toast. I’ve had some nice meals down here but I prefer to eat at home if I can. I was pleased to see there is a new Wimpy in Portslade.

What’s the best pub?
When I moved here I bought a guide to Brighton pubs with a foreword from Attila The Stockbroker. I used it, before I took up running, as a tool for learning my way around town so probably had a sip in something like 200 pubs around here. I’ve had a few locals and a few pub DJ residencies and will feel guilty if I miss out one so I’ll say that I’m most likely to grab a pint in either The West Hill, Coopers Cask, Fortune of War or The Lion And Lobster.

Who’s your favourite Brighton celebrity?
None. Absolutely none.

When was the last time you had any Brighton Rock?
Probably when I came down on that Network Day as a kid!

Vibraciones y sentimientos by Andres Y Xavi is out now on Bandcamp:

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