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Fans including Ben UFO, Jane Fitz and Fabric director Craig Richards explain why they love British house icon Baby Ford.

In keeping with his view that the music should always come first, it proved all too difficult to tie British house innovator Baby Ford down to an interview. As such, and on the back of the December release of his entry into the hallowed Fabric mix series, we asked some fans and peers about the impact of his work.

Born Peter Frank Adshead, Baby Ford is just one of the many monikers of this Bolton-born, London-based artist, but it is arguably the most well known. Since 1988, it has seen him turning out pioneering acid house tracks, hard techno bangers and expertly reduced minimal techno that still sounds futuristic years after the fact. Consistently innovative yet decidedly recognisable, Ford is one of the most coherent and forward-thinking producers in all of electronic music.

CRAIG RICHARDS

Fabric’s musical director has a long and storied relationship with Baby Ford, so knows him better than most.

Baby Ford’s work is incredibly important to our understanding of modern day house and techno. His production, his collaborations and his labels are incredibly important to me – far reaching, futuristic, experimental and always groovy. This output spans decades. We are from the same generation so I have watched the story unfold in the most understated and considered way.  It’s not easy to remain relevant within an ever-changing scene. Peter Ford is one of those people. A true originator who lives in a calm world where less is more.

JANE FITZ

London based record collector, writer and revered DJ Jane Fitz says Baby Ford’s music appeals to her for four reasons: “Acid. Attitude. Humour. And Britishness.”

The words Baby and Ford transport me back to my 15-year-old self, at a disco in the back of a pub in Dagenham and hearing ‘Oochy Koochy’. It was one of those early British house tunes that came in a wave and were plastered all over Top Of The Pops, The Chart Show and Saturday morning TV. I remember seeing the cover in Record Parlour in Barking, and thinking he looked a bit like Adamski. Years later, I was quite surprised to discover that he wasn’t just making acid house for the charts.

I like the early stuff, the ravier stuff. I have a brilliant four-track sampler on Rhythm King that I love to play now. And I love ‘In Your Blood’, with those Shamen-y gated stabs. Good time party records that avoid snobbery and request your perspiration. In terms of playing it in clubs, rave always works for me because I like to see people sweat while I’m playing records. I’m a big fan of early British acid house, too, so if I’m abroad I always try and stick something in, in a vague attempt at patriotism. Baby Ford has often been my flag bearer.

Why should people check out Baby Ford? To hear what the UK sounded like in Dagenham discos in the late 80s.

I don’t think I’d bought a Baby Ford record for about ten years, but I was in Tag Records in Soho or somewhere like that in about 2000/2001 and I came across The Healing EP. It completely kickstarted a renewed interest in him as an artist for me, and put him back on my radar. It also underlined him as a master of reinvention. I thought it was brilliant and I still play all four tracks – three of which are by other British UK techno producers Mark Broom, Eon and Cheru Amadi, as Ifach Collective.

Why should people check out Baby Ford? To hear what the UK sounded like in Dagenham discos in the late 80s. And a place to start? Always return to the source. That’s my advice.

BEN UFO

Hessle Audio founder Ben UFO knows a thing or two about playing the right record at the right time, and for him Baby Ford’s music reveals something new each and every time.

A lot of my favourite records are by Baby Ford. He writes music you can spend time with. His tracks never seem to reveal themselves to me straightforwardly – they can sound totally different from day to day, depending on where I hear them and who’s playing them, and depending on my state of mind. His music seems to contradict itself – at its deepest his music is still playful, his most direct records are still full of impossibly intricate little details, and his most delicate records are still impactful. It’s for this reason that you can play his records almost anywhere and at any time – sometimes it’s as if the music contorts itself to fit that specific moment. My favourite records by him feel in the moment as though they’re sweeping you away with an unforgettable intensity, only to slip from your grasp as soon as they’re over.

My favourite Baby Ford records feel in the moment as though they're sweeping you away with an unforgettable intensity, only to slip from your grasp as soon as they're over.

ALEX CELLER

Having released on his Trelik label and had one of his cuts used on Baby Ford’s fabric 85, Alex Cellar has plenty of insight on the man himself.

Baby Ford is a genuine human being, a most original musician, artist and master of his craft. The first track I heard by him was ‘Chicken Store’ by Minimal Man on Trelik’s 12th release. It came out in 1999 but I heard it about 2003 or 2004. It’s a collaboration with his late studio partner, the legendary Eon. Curiously, a track under the same name was rereleased on Perlon in 2004, but the tracks are completely different, yet both amazing.

Peter is one of those artists who is a master of being able to say so much with so few elements. He really is a master of stripping things back to the basics and yet is able to tell such a complete story. In Baby Ford’s productions we can clearly observe the less-is-more principle in full effect. His rolling drum programming, the deep basslines, the smooth synth sounds: not a single element in his tracks is ever redundant and everything is completely effective in its role rhythmically and musically. Not a single time you hear a Baby Ford track does an unnecessary element come in. A true master of minimalism.

Each period of his has its own merit, be it the early acid house stuff, the mid-90s techno material or the 2000s housier grooves – I am loving each for what it is. I really can’t pick and choose, to be honest. Without a doubt you can play a Baby Ford track at any given point of the night and it will go down well. In fact, it’s his kind of tracks that will pull you out of a challenging situation during a set, be it a slow deeper house burner like his remix for Leigh Dickson’s ‘Praise’, a slamming, bubbling bassline monster, like his very own ‘Serpentine Tale’ from his BFORD14 on Pal SL, or a lesser known mid-90s techno jam with Eon as Minimal Man such as ‘Treatment Feel,’ Peter is always delivering.

I consider myself lucky to have spent a considerable amount of time talking to Peter on the phone and hanging out with him in my studio. I can honestly tell you he is by far the most genuine, humble, down-to-earth guy I have met in the business and a completely authentic musician who has always been true to his values and his art. I’d love to discuss a lot of the things I have learned from him, but it’d really take me at least a few paragraphs to analyse. Let me mention just a few quick ones: Peter showed me that it is completely essential to keep keeping on; to believe in yourself no matter what, no matter how long it takes. To keep working and ignore all external influences. He also told me this very catchy phrase which I etched on my Trelik release: ”Don’t get in the way of the music.” He told me this as a means to explain how we should just let our music and ourselves go while creating and not think about the creative process itself. It also applies to how we should take each piece of music for what it is, without thinking too much about it.

I also love his labels, 100% and without a doubt. Since the very early releases, Ifach, Trelik and Pal SL all offer a stunning string of top notch, quality releases with productions that have defined the house and techno genres like only a few have done. Where does one start? The early techno collaborations with Mark Broom and Dave Hill at Ifach? The Minimal Man stuff on Trelik? The legendary Soul Capsule EPs at the turn of the century? The Dimbiman four-track on Pal SL? Or the recent collaboration with Zip as BFZ on Trelik? Now that sounded like it came from 2025! There really isn’t a bad release – the music in his labels is so well selected and filtered.

My tracks ‘Haz’ and ‘Pacificon’ were signed by Baby Ford for Trelik 27 back in December 2014 and they came out about a year later. I understand that in the space between Peter signing those two tracks and their release, he got an offer to mix Fabric’s next CD. Once the mix was finished, he told me that he had included ‘Haz’ in it and it was a great feeling and honour to have a track featured for a second time in a Fabric mix CD (the first one was in Jay Haze’s mix back in 2009). I consider Fabric home. So, go to Baby Ford’s Discogs page and start listening from top to bottom.

ION LUDWIG

Toi Toi regular and a producer of expertly reduced sounds, Ion Ludwig owes a lot to the templates laid down by Baby Ford.

Quality, knowledge and realness come to mind when I think of Baby Ford. He is a true artist capable of moving with the tides of time. I discovered his music in Berlin, around 2007, through his older releases on Perlon and a remix for Roman Photo. The strength of his work moved me enormously. His tracks seemed to be cut out of marble, especially the later, hypnotic and minimal period of recent years. Music that represents one feeling, and is produced in such a cohesive way, is so unique to me.

As I have met Peter more often now, and was able to talk and share thoughts with him, I realised why he and his music are still respected and widespread. He taught me everything about how you could act and be as musician, from back in the days to the very present. He showed me the basic fundamentals of being, or becoming, a known producer, and how closely connected this is to your personality. I am very thankful to him for being able to have released two EPs on his and late Ian ‘Eon’ Loveday’s Trelik label. To me those are two of the most valuable releases I have done so far. Praise Mr Ford!

 

fabric 85 mixed by Baby Ford is out now.

Author Kristan Caryl
13th January, 2016

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