April 30, 2024

Buckley, Acid House and The Haçienda: An Interview

Buckley, Acid House and The Haçienda: An Interview

All it takes is a moment. A moment for a new sound to vibrate your ear drums and change your life forever. For Buckley, that sound was acid house and the place was the Haçienda. This discovery turned into an obsession that would become a profession - culminating in a DJ residency behind the very decks that kicked it all off. EARPEACE catches up with Buckley to get a feel for the emotional roller coaster of discovering that sound for the first time and how it led to the beginning of his career as a DJ. 


What were your original musical influences before you discovered acid house?

I was always listening to music as a kid. I got into acid house when I was 18, so in the period before that, 15-18, everything was reggae. I was living in a West Indian area in Leeds, where the blues culture was really big, and It was always in someone's basement and they would just play reggae all night from midnight until 6am. That was my vibe! 

That being said - I was always fanatical about whatever I listened to growing up. My first record that I can remember, from when I was 6 or 7, was Saturday night fever the sound track which I absolutely loved. Then I was very much into the MOD thing and 60s music and American soul, Motown too.. 

I remember when the electro / breakdance thing first kicked in - and I was very much into that but there wasn't so much of a scene attached to it where we lived


When was the first moment you found out about acid house?

‘It started drip feeding through when I was still at school. And these were the days when there wasn’t a scene attached to it but you’d go ‘this record’s different’. The first one was ‘Jack Your Body’ that made number one in the UK top 40 charts, and there were a few other classic tracks that were going around Like Love Can’t Turn Around by Farley Jackmaster Funk and Kenny Jammin Jason, Can You Dance, but it didn't really stick. 

Back then, nightlife was your classic chart top 20s, a few beers and a kebab on the way home. You didn't really go out to listen to a dj and dance. It was by chance I discovered Acid house, on a trip from Leeds to Manchester. It was only one hour away but back in those days traveling that far felt like going on holiday. I had never gone that far from Leeds for a night out and I had no clue what we were letting ourselves into or that that night was going to change my life forever.

Well ok… the ulterior motive was that we were going there to meet some girls, and they told us about this club, the Haçienda. 

And when we got there we were like ‘wow… what is going on here?’

I mean, I’d heard of Acid house before but there was nothing quite like what was going at the Hacienda and the way they was doing it there - it was mind blowing. It felt like a big secret. Outside, nobody new but you walked in off the street into this big room, and it was just a magical world. Music you’d never heard, sounds you’d never heard, a constant stream of ‘oh my god - what is that’!

It wasn't  just the music, but the scene that went with it -  The way people dressed and the way people were dancing, just the vibe, I was like ‘oh wow, I want to be part of this’. From that moment on I was hooked. There was loads more going on at the Haçienda musically but all I wanted was Acid House - that was it for me. I could not get enough. People were going religiously, it wasn’t the kind of place you went once and didn’t go back. It became a pilgrimage. 


You mentioned finding out about it felt like a secret. Did people keep it secret deliberately? 

No, not really.  it was only a matter of time before  the discovery of something new would end up all over the newspapers, and before you knew it, every man & his dog were talking about it. Back then, nightclubs were traditionally drinkers clubs but all of a sudden there was this club that was a whole new world. And because it had never happened before and it was so fresh - you didn’t think twice about traveling the length of the country to go to where that new party was. 


What was it that made it so special?

It was just the way everything came together - aesthetically, the sound, the look, the people, and the mixing - to me I couldn’t figure out what they were doing it just blew my mind really. I thought they were magicians. As time went on and I started DJing I figured it out… but at first, wow!

How did you make the break from enthusiastic pilgrim to DJing in the booth you were looking up to?

I just got asked. 

What happened was back in the day there was the DJ booth and there was this big door and I would just go knocking and ask ‘What was that track you just played? Have you got a mixtape I could take?’. And I just made friends with everyone. 

Then I moved to Manchester and by chance the guy I was living with was the driver for Mike Pickering & Graeme Park who were the club residents. All of sudden I was meeting all these people who were connected to the club and being the young enthusiast that I was I made myself known.. At some point, an opportunity came along - there was a slot and they asked me ‘Do you want to do it?’. 

And I said: ‘Absolutely!’. 

When you put your sets together, did you select records just to please the crowd or did you select records based on what you wanted to show people? 

It’s definitely a bit of both - you want to showcase your skills but balance it with what would turn people on and get a reaction. I didn’t go for the obvious, I avoided playing records that everyone else was playing. At the same time, there are some records you had to play because they were so good. 


Where did you find your music and what was your digging process like? 

There were three main shops in Manchester- Spinnin, Eastern Bloc, Manchester Underground. I had it all sewn up. What I used to do was build up a rapport with the staff - that way when I arrived they had a pile of the latest releases ready for me to listen to.. At the time, you had to have constant chats, let them know what you were into, and really build that relationship. In the latter days I used to go in on Wednesdays when the deliveries came and they’d give me a big bag that I could take home and dig through and then return. They’d say ‘here you go, don't be longer than three days’. This ensured I was on top of everything the shops were getting. 

You have to remember that this was before the internet so you’d have to spend hours and hours in the stores, listening to record after record, just looking for that one tune that other people aren't gonna find. The challenge was finding one’s that the record distributor only had 3 or 4 of or a shop in London had five of and they never came up North. 

How did you develop your sound? 

I knew how I wanted my sets to feel and then I went through a process putting this jigsaw together. I was very much influenced by the Haçienda. I used to love how Mike Pickering and Graeme Park were playing back to back. I guess in the early days I used to just copy them. Probably really badly but I was hugely inspired by them - they were like gods to me. Also Sasha too, I learnt a lot of good little tricks off him. 

Back then it wasn’t  so much about slamming it for two hours, you’d really have to build your ups and downs. There were certain records that you couldn't just play on their own, you had to build up to them. This way you could tell more of a story with what you were playing. In the latter years I’m maybe more guilty of slamming it for two hours - but I do that because I like to build momentum and maintain it. Keep the energy.

How long were your sets? 

I used to play for 90 minutes to two hours. Back then 90 minutes used to feel like such a long time, mainly because I didn't have all the tracks and tools that I have now. These days I feel like I can play for hours. 

Can you give us five anthems which you would say defined the time? 


Number one would be Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald. It came out in 88 and when I first went to Hacienda in 89 that was the one that really stood out to me. I just remember the vocals being stuck in my head on the way back to Leeds after it had finished!

Next is Kid ‘N Play ‘2 Hype’ remix by Dancin’ Danny D. That one can sum up the summer of 89 at the Hacienda for sure. 

This one from 86/87, it used to sound like the future - Kenny Jammin Jason & Fast Eddie Smith - Can U Dance

The next is Orange Lemon aka Todd Terry - Dreams Of Santa Anna (Extended Club Mix)

Finally is Cariño by T Coy, which is one of Mike Pickerings aliases. It has a latin vibe and was one of the first UK House records if not the first.

Are there any other clubs that have given you that wow moment?

There was Space in Ibiza that had wow moments, then DC10, Panorama Bar, but to be honest for me personally nothing came close to the Haçienda. The Haçienda was new, it was a secret, it was fresh to my ears. Even beyond that the social aspect to it.. The Haçienda can’t really be compared to anything. 

That being said - we had great years at Back to Basics with plenty of ‘wow moments’ thanks to a great crowd and club. It was a really special atmosphere for a few years and it seemed like time just flew by - we were relentlessly having WOW moments every weekend. 

Who were the big characters and DJs around the Hacienda that made it special?

There were loads of big characters and I’ll give you a few names. The funny thing about Manchester is that we had these character names like Jeff the Chef, Rick the Graft because he was a chancer, a hustler, a grafter, Ten Bob Eric (ten bob means 50 pence in the UK) because he did everything on the cheap. 

Ten Bob Eric was the equivalent of Bez from the Happy Mondays. His brother was in 808 state. He would dance at the front of the stage looking cool as fuck while 808 would play

Then you had John the Duck because had big lips and looked like a duck.. Steven the Mooch coz he was always after girls so he was always on the mooch. There were loads of characters - and I mean big characters as well. 

DJ wise the kings on the throne were Mike Pickering and Graeme Park. Then you had John DaSilva and Sasha coming through -  Those were the main guys back then. 

Looking back now, has Manchester got anywhere to replace the Haçienda?

No of course not, it was just too unique to be replaced. 

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