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In Conversation With: Waifs and Strays

In Conversation With: Waifs and Strays
Avneet Takhar

Waifs & Strays have been a household name for a minute now. Originally a duo comprised of two already established DJs in their own right, Amos Nelson and Richard Beanland, the pair have amassed quite the back catalogue of pulsating 12″s on an assortment of labels, from Hot Creations and Leftroom to Futureboogie and Madtech.

The pair tragically had their ranks cut in half a couple of years back when Richard encountered problems with his hearing and was forced to drop out of the club world altogether. An occupational hazard, perhaps, but one no less heartbreaking.

Since then, Amos has continued the duo’s legacy as a solo artist in the capacity of both DJ and producer and, despite the incident and his holding down a full time job outside of music, seems intent on maintaining their consistent output. This year alone he’s seen releases on Skream‘s Of Unsound Mind, Steve Lawler‘s VIVa and most recently provided a remix on relative unknown imprint Kenja Records.

Having just returned from his debut Australasia tour, we caught up with Amos to talk studio time, new music in 2016 and the pros and cons of working as a solo artist.

You’ve just got back from touring Australia and Asia. Was it your first time out there?

Yes the first time here. It’s been great fun so far – good shows and met some really lovely people here. I’d love to go back – I feel I haven’t even scratched the surface of Australia.

How did you find the crowds? Did you have to play it safe at all in your sets, or could you let loose as you might in London?

No, the crowds were great. Didn’t have to play safe at all! The gigs were sold out so it was great for me to play!

How has your experience with Waifs and Strays changed since Rich departed?

It was a big change in terms of the studio and the dynamic playing out but I’ve adapted pretty well I think. I miss him being around for sure, but it’s also nice to have total creative freedom in the studio and behind the decks.

Do you feel the music you’ve been putting out has changed?

A bit, but not necessarily because Rich isn’t here, more as a result of changing tastes and trends and a natural evolution of my sound. I would never want to just keep putting out the same music time and time again.

How does working as a solo artist compare?

As I said before it’s nice to have the creative freedom and that’s the biggest change, however it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other at the same time. I’ve been djing for 18 years now, well before I was djing with Rich, so that hasn’t been so much of a change.

Your latest work is a remix on relatively unknown Southampton label, Kenja Records. How did you come to be involved with them?

Ronnie Spiteri, who wrote the track and owns the label got in touch and asked if I wanted to do it…I really liked the original and felt I could do something with it so agreed to do the remix. I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

Your output has been pretty solid in 2015 with releases on VIVa, Dirt Crew, and Of Unsound Mind. You must be really enjoying your studio time at the moment.

Yeah, I really am. The summer was a really busy period and I didn’t write too much, so I am really itching to put some good hours in as the winter approaches.

Looking ahead to 2016, what’s on the agenda after the tour?

Getting back to reality, touring is always a bit of a surreal time of planes, hotels and clubs. Looking forward to getting out my new Of Unsound Mind EP in December!

Waifs & Strays new EP on Of Unsound Mind is out early 2016.