THERE are certain songs and genres that transport you back to a time and place in life. For anyone in their 30s and 40s, Sweet Like Chocolate, Flowers, and Fill Me In are probably familiar titles. DJ Spoony has been working on Garage Classical, an album full of remixes of some of the biggest tracks from the UK garage scene, reworked with an orchestra and some very exciting names.
The album is out now, followed by a stellar show at the Royal Albert Hall next week. ‘It’s a big deal reworking these songs,’ he says, just before taking up his residency set in Ibiza. ‘Artists can understandably be quite protective of their original versions, but they trust that we’ll look after it. There’s always an element of trepidation, but because I have so much love for the genre, everyone knows I’ve got nothing but the best intentions for it.’
Some of the tracks include Paloma Faith performing Moving Too Fast, Sugababes reworking Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers, and Game Of Thrones’ Raleigh Ritchie taking on the Craig David classic, Fill Me In.
Spoony enthuses: ‘Raleigh Ritchie is so different to Craig David — nobody other than Craig can do Craig David, but Raleigh has done an amazing rendition of it. We’re proud of the whole project.’
On getting Sugababes involved, he says: ‘It was such a massive chance. They have the most dedicated fans. I covered for Trevor Nelson on Radio 2 and played Overload and mentioned that I might have some Sugababes news coming up, and I should not have said that,’ he cracks up laughing. ‘I had so many DMs getting cross with me for not revealing the news then and there, I had to tease them, though — I wasn’t allowed to say anything yet!’
So, how does he feel about playing such a big show at the Royal Albert Hall? ‘I cannot wait, it’s a massive thing. When you walk around the building and see who’s performed there, it’s just mad. Standing there, thinking that we’re going to do Garage Classical on that stage.
‘It probably won’t sink in until I walk out and fall over. It’s going to be a moment and we’ve got such a stellar line-up.
‘There’s going to be some people who couldn’t do it, or weren’t sure, or didn’t confirm, and they’re going to be gutted. But they can do the next one!’
It must have been a challenge picking which songs to feature.
‘It’s the elephant in the room: it’s a commercial project, it had to make sense. We had to go for songs that people would know and connect to. Tracks like Flowers and Sweet Like Chocolate aren’t underground records, but they have as much right to be on the album as others. For album two, we can go to another level, as we’re already in.’
When songs are as well loved as these, how does he make sure people are happy with a remake, as it’s changing the song they know?
‘It’ll be a first for some people — they’ll never have had the chance to hear these songs live if they’re 18, 19. Fans of the genre who know these songs back to front, this will be a first for them, too. They’ve never heard these tracks sung by the Sugababes or Paloma Faith or with a 36-piece orchestra. People who think they know everything, like me, it shows you don’t.’
He grins again: ‘It’s going to be an amazing time. If you’re into UK garage, you’ll love it; I’ll be knackered after it, I need to start running again to get my fitness up.
‘I was 15 when I started DJing. I had to do my homework before I could do anything else. My mum would have taken my decks out of my room otherwise. That was my motivation. I’ll let the music do the talking. I joined Radio 1 in 2000 and nearly 20 years later, we’re taking over the Royal Albert Hall. It’s been a long time in the making!’
■ Garage Classical is at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on Thursday, royalalberthall.com