With the release of his new album, A Product Of Your Environment, UK house stalwart Yousef is on a one man mission to bring vocals back to dance music. We asked him to pick his all-time favourites for Top Tracks and he even threw in a few tips on recording and editing vocals for good measure.
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Adam and the Ants’ ‘Prince Charming’ for my brother’s 13th birthday. He subsequently bought me Street Sounds Electro 6 which became my instant favourite album and introduced me to concept of DJing and hip hop culture. I still have it on the wall in my studio.
The best vocal ever on a dance track?
That is a really impossible question to answer! Dance music is so broad and refined now that picking just one can’t be done. That said, I’m yet to hear a better vocal performance than Loleatta Holloway’s ‘Love Sensation’. It’s got to be the most sampled disco track of all time and still has an unquantifiable energy.
The badly recorded vocal which still sounds great
Two friends of mine, Onionz and Joeski, recorded a track called ‘Hold On To Your Love’ for Onionz’s label in about 2000. The track itself is a poignant love song and I loved the grit in the vocal instantly. Onionz explained to me that they made a pretty rough backing track and thought they would venture into the world of vocals. They heard about a local singer in their home town of Queens and called him up on the phone. The singer (I never found out his name) was instantly thrilled two of New York’s finest and most well known DJs wanted to work with him so he offered to do the vocal there and then, via the telephone.
Onionz and Joeski literally miked up the handset they were speaking on and pressed record. The result (after a long phone call) was a thin, hollow, distant-sounding recording that lacked anything like quality but had one of the best vibes I’ve ever heard on a dance track. I went on to massively champion the record and used it on my Mixmag Winter Warmer mix CD. It became quite a notable underground hit. Even now when I play it it’s a dark anthem.