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Celebrating Danny Rowland: A Deep Dive into ‘From Beavers To Bora Bora’ Tracks

Kono Vidovic October 16, 2023 237 4 5

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Chillifunk Productions proudly present ‘From Beavers To Bora Bora’ by Danny Rowland and Friends. The label is headed up by Flying Records’ resident Lofty, Keith Matthews, and Tommy D, and the release is devoted to old friend Danny Rowland, who lost his battle with an illness a few years back. The album celebrates Danny Rowland’s life – from his local back in the day called ‘Beavers’, to the heady days of ‘Bora Bora’ in Ibiza – and his productions and some of his collaborative projects. The tracks were all out on vinyl in the past, some rare to find now. But they’re all here housed on this celebration of Danny’s life and the vinyl is out now! We asked Danny J Lewis & Lol Graves to talk to us in a little more depth about some of the tracks.


DJL – I remember Brett’s brother Ashley laying down the intro keys using a Yamaha TG500 synth pad patch, he was a natural pianist although as far as I remember not trained – pure instinct. The TG was used for the piano – I took the chords Ash had played and then replayed them in a more stabby way. The bass was a sample, a one shot from a sample CD. In those days the synths behind the proper ‘house’ sound weren’t available to everyone, especially those on a low budget like us. I had built up tons of instruments from sample CDs and they were used much like a virtual instrument would be today. 

The singer whose name unfortunately I can’t recall came round to my mums and sang direct into Brett’s Akai sampler because I had no more sample memory in my Roland S750. We had no other way of getting vocals in so were limited in length – that’s why there’s not many vocals in the song. The arrangement was built up between the group and the stop start vibe on the chorus really connected with us all. The middle section was there just to stop people getting bored of what they’d heard and featured once again a synth patch from the Roland TG500. Like all the tracks I worked on with the lads this would have been running through a second hand ‘Soundcraft’ spirit folio 12 track mixer with only 2 multi FX units and no compression at all.


DJL – There was a time and space CD called ‘Vocal Bytes’ that we completely rinsed, and I think this started with that vocal. We wanted to build a track that would suit the Ministry Of Sound main room in one of its more relaxed moments and I remember CJ Mackintosh dropping this once, so I think we achieved our goal there! This would have been TG500 for most of the musical elements, but I think I can hear a bit of a novation bass station in there which I did purchase second hand. 


DJL – As a group we used to enjoy mixing up the dark and the light in our tracks and this was totally a bridge between those moods. It had the optimistic vocal sample but with a melancholy jazzy vibe. I went for a disco style bassline, possibly inspired by a track we had listened to. Vocals would have been from the Vocal Bytes sample CD again. Worth noting that these would have been sampled off the CD on the session, literally plugging the lead of the CD player into the sampler. 


LG – I remember Dan was quite excited that day, he brought in a vocal sample that he was really happy with, also a guitar lick, as per usual we would get a beat going and lay the guitar down, I would start jamming a bass line over it, if I remember correctly it was from my Roland U 10, we would sort of arrange as we were going along, Dan was a spot on arranger and then going to block’s were I’d jam string lines etc and then a final arrangement and then mix, this was done over a couple of sessions. I can remember so much as we were always laughing about something. Good times! 


LG – We used a scratching sample practicality all the way through on this laughing that it reminded us of birds, obviously kept it in though. Dan as usual, brought in a vocal sample and a little funky guitar, then we would get down to our normal process working and chatting and taking the piss! 


DJL – I think this was mainly myself and Danny, Brett may have been present for sure but not so much of an input. I remember creating several mixes of this, trying to give Danny a diverse range of versions he could shop around. 


DJL – Can’t remember much about this other than it was me channelling the lads more so than inputting a lot of ‘me’ into it. I was more of an engineer and facilitator – pretty much playing in elements that the lads suggested and the 3 of us making sense of it all.


LG – The timpani song! Terrific vocal sample by Dan, the bass originated out of a sine wave, and as we were jamming through the patches the timpani turned up, we both looked at each other and thought that’ll do and jammed away! And again, a couple of sessions, we would normally take a couple, sometimes three!  He had a great wealth of musical knowledge did Dan, I will always remember him for the warm, humorous man he was.


DJL – Brett was always singing and this was the only recording we made of him. Nightcrawlers ‘Push the Feeling’ MK mix sax totally influenced the patch used – again something from the TG500 and it sits super high in the mix (possibly too high!) It was an improvised set of lyrics recorded into the sampler and triggered. Piano, bass etc was me using a TG patch. 


DJL – Danny and Brett brought a record over that they wanted to use as an inspiration for a track. It was sampled and looped and used as a bed for new elements. The piano was played in by me as a bass line, with the arrangement influenced in part by Dan Hartman’s Vertigo. The vocal hook sits well over the music, and we were kind of going for a more girly version of Xpress II on this one. I added a bit of a percussive breakdown by playing bits in live. It’s a killer track still this.  


DJL – So this was our attempt at ‘Wild Pitch’, and I really don’t think enough people heard this – it’s massive! I remember going to get the track cut at Tape 2 Tape in Parson’s Green and it sounded incredible in that room on the mastering speakers. This was almost a ‘throw everything but the kitchen sink in’ track and featured the Novation Bass Station for the acid line and plenty of TG500.

A few last words.

We’ve journeyed through the musical genius of Danny Rowland and Friends, from the vibrant energy of ‘Beavers’ to the iconic beats of ‘Bora Bora’. A heartfelt thank you to Danny J Lewis & Lol Graves for their insightful track breakdowns. If Danny’s music has touched your soul, don’t forget to grab your vinyl copy now and relive the magic. And if you loved this track talk, share it with fellow music enthusiasts and let’s keep Danny’s legacy alive!

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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