Housefreqs Radio – Paolo Tossio

Italian DJ, Music Producer & Music Director for Savvy Theatre Company, Heff Festival Teen Tent organizer & DJ.

As a DJ with many years of experience playing at Clubs, Bars, Festivals and Private Parties, when Paolo plays, he feeds off of the relationship between the crowd and himself, like an intense workout that everyone can enjoy! Regularly plays: HOUSE – Deep, Tech, Funky & Disco, but he can satisfy any genre requirement from promotions who like to book him!

As a producer, he believes in originality and stems his inventive music writing and productions from life experiences and regularly collaborates on diverse projects using a variety of music styles.

He began producing and DJ in Italy in his early teens & after moving to London in the late nineties, he was gigging at the great clubs like Ministry of Sound, Alexandra Palace, The Fridge, SE1 & Camden Palace alongside leading industry names such as Tiesto, Carl Cox, John 00 Fleming, Mauro Picotto and many other top Djs from around the world.


● Pop On Over Parties, House, Tech House, Funky House & Disco

●, Radio Show, Every Friday 5-7pm, playing Anything House

● Tribal Village, Electronic, Progressive & Funky Techno

● HEFF Festival, Sets up and runs the Party Tent, DJ & runs The DJamSandwich workshop – a funky mix of dj and musician jamming sessions, plus Silent Disco

● Savvy Theatre Company, Music Director, Dj & Music Editor


● Currently working on new material to showcase in his DJ sets

● New Album in the pipeline, release date TBA

● Ongoing music editing for Savvy Theatre


‘Crossing the Line’, Urban Interface Dance Uk for resolution! at The Place, Euston

(Short clip

● Brief: compose a diverse 15 minute piece of music which he achieved by following the dance routine and creating the sounds to suit the movement and mood of each section of the routine. In addition he advised and worked on lighting and video editing

● Genre: Variety of contemporary sounds and styles

‘Alice’s Mad Tea Party’, Savvy Theatre Company, Honeywood Museum, Carshalton

(Short Clip ), (Soundtrack )

● Brief: direct, rearrange, compose all music and sounds for each scene; create official soundtrack

‘Romeo & Juliet’, Savvy Theatre Company, Honeywood Museum, Carshalton (Soundtrack on request)

● Brief: direct, rearrange, compose all music and sounds for each scene; create official soundtrack

‘Ecobeats’, Imagine Arts Festival, Sutton

(Soundtrack (Video on request)

● Brief: work with teenagers, dancers, beat boxer, twin violinists and beat poet to create music and short film on an Eco theme

‘Eva Cammarata’, Fashion Designer, London

(Short Clip )

(Soudtrack )

● Brief: create a piece of music to accompany this designer’s collection for London Fashion Week

● Genre: ethnic, electronic, ambient

‘The H20 Show’, Imagine Arts Festival, Sutton

(Video & Music )

● Guest House Opera – remix/sound engineer & PA hire for live show

● Remix/record/ arrange sounds for Savvy’s short water themed film

‘Lyrical’, Collaboration with the artist – a rapper & beat poet

(Track )

● Genre: Fusion of Hip Hop, Electronica, Rock


● Audio Production & Editing

● Sound Engineer

● Sound Technician

● Logic

● Ableton

● Social Media & Promotion

● Workshop Facilitation

● Enhanced DBS


The Boony Interview

Here we meet up with Boony, one of the founding members of housefreqs, Boony has been a part of the community since even before the site was launched and has continued to support the community and all of the other members throughout that time. With that in mind we take some time out to catch up with him to find out a little more about what makes him tick.

DJ Name: Boony

Real Name: Daniel Haines

Where are you from?

Brentwood Essex

How long have you been DJ’ing?

Roughly 20yrs

What got you into being a DJ?

Summer of Love 1989, Wharehouse raves and Partying in farmers fields, like anyone at the time we bought the music we heard at the raves, it was so difficult to find the songs we’d heard, it was like a massive victory to have a tune no one else had at the time, as my record collection grew I was finding ways to create mixtapes without a typical dj set-up, when I think of the crap I had hooked up in my bedroom, wires everywhere, old bits of this stereo and that stereo. My poor mum!!
When was your first exposure to electronic music?

Pirate Radio, I loved that it didn’t sound like anything before, I grew up being force fed all that 80’s pop believing that was what I was supposed to listen to, acid house showed me you didn’t even need lyrics, seeing Adamski live, what he could do with drum machines and keyboards, wow! I was blown away and grown ups hated it which I loved.
Who are your musical influences?

Musically I can listen to nearly anything, Jazz/Folk/Funk/Indie, I’m not a producer so I don’t really look at music the way they do, I used to obsess over particular dj’s then realised I was just copying them, I take away a little something from most mixes I hear.
What parties are you playing at this year?

I’m hoping to play some more MERJ events at Night Tales in Hackney, got a few little places I’m trying to get into, also Hackney, a few house party’s are on the cards too.
What were your favourite parties you’ve played at?

My friend’s house Parties are always good, we have so much fun, as the Tech has changed over the years we’ve used all kinds of equipment, had a few special guests too.
Do you produce your own music?

No, I use up enough time looking for new music, the hours these guys put in to produce one track, well, I’d never leave the house!!
Are you signed to a record label? no
Do you ever play live or do you just DJ? Just DJ
Who are some live acts that inspire you?

Orbital, these guys are just brilliant live, if you know their stuff you have goosebumps all night, check out their DJ set on mixmags The Lab on YouTube, they were The Labs very first guests, it’s a brilliantly crafted set. Groove Armada are very good live too, their mixture of sounds is fantastic.
Who were the 3 most influential artists of last year?

Black Coffee, he’s been putting himself about DJ,ing, I’m expecting some studio work soon, great vibe,
PBR Streetgang, really like their sound, Disco/Funk influences.

Eats Everything, has a residency on (god I can’t believe I’m gonna mention this) Radio 1, he sources music from everywhere,

If you could go to one gig tonight where would you go?

I’d like to see Black Coffee live, hell, I’d go anywhere at the moment!!
What can we expect from you this year? for sure, keep my show ticking along, time allowing I’d like to add some new features, and hopefully some live gigs.
What would you say the single most vital piece of tech is?

You can’t say that to a DJ, everything is connected, one thing goes with another thing then it works better with this thing and of course this thing over here, I don’t really need it but it does this flashy thing etc etc etc….
What is that thing that most people don’t know about you?

I love old cameras and film photography.
If you could give any advice to young DJ’s just starting to get into DJ’ing what would it be?
Get out of the bedroom, hit small bars & clubs, get as many slots as you can, play as many different places as you can with different crowds, play what makes them want to get dancing, open up your musical tastes for the crowd and eventually you’ll find your own style.
I got into DJ’ing around 1989/90, hosting local parties and small events, over the years it’s remained more of a hobby, pushing my mixtapes onto my network of friends, wether they want them or not.

Presenting House 61, Old Skool Vinyl House sessions.
Boony 2017-10-21 – Mixcloud


The tide is turning and quickly in favor of supporting legalized weed in the United States. It is no secret that public opinion has shifted pretty dramatically in the past decade in favor of legalization. A new gallop poll shows that the percentage of individuals in the United States supporting legalized marijuana is now at an all-time high – 64%.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug and that number will likely only continue to rise. One in five Americans live in a state where they can legally smoke weed. However the current administration has ideology on drugs as dated as the mythological creatures they look like, so any sort of sweeping drug reform on a federal level seems as likely as finding a cheap place to live in Manhattan.

Either way, the support shows that the tide is turning and maybe people will start to make this issue more important for them when they hit the ballot box. According to the polling data, democrats and independents are heavily in favor, while republicans have just crossed the threshold of 51%, so maybe DOJ head Jeff Sessions will have to move on the issue if his party moves without him.

Source – magneticmag


The club’s penchant for hedonism overshadowed the music played on its dancefloor.

If disco was born in the underground gay clubs of late 60s New York, its coming out party was April 26, 1977 in an old Broadway theatre at 254 West 54th Street. If it wasn’t disco’s greatest club, it was certainly the most dramatic. Studio 54 was conceived as grand theatre as much as a club and it showed in the ambition poured into it by its owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, as well as the woman who conceptualised it, Carmen D’Alessio. Whereas most of the New York underground club scene had been about equality and fellowship, Studio 54 was the most public expression of the veneration of celebrity, glamour and glitz, epitomised by “The Man In The Moon” on stage, inhaling coke from a glittery spoon.

Having gestated in the underground parties of the Loft and the Gallery during the early part of the decade, by 1977 disco had already become a commercial force with New York’s triumvirate of record labels – Prelude, Salsoul and West End – already established alongside the arrival of the disco-conceived 12” single two years earlier.

If disco was born in the underground gay clubs of late 60s New York, its coming out party was April 26, 1977 in an old Broadway theatre at 254 West 54th Street. If it wasn’t disco’s greatest club, it was certainly the most dramatic. Studio 54 was conceived as grand theatre as much as a club and it showed in the ambition poured into it by its owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, as well as the woman who conceptualised it, Carmen D’Alessio. Whereas most of the New York underground club scene had been about equality and fellowship, Studio 54 was the most public expression of the veneration of celebrity, glamour and glitz, epitomised by “The Man In The Moon” on stage, inhaling coke from a glittery spoon.
Having gestated in the underground parties of the Loft and the Gallery during the early part of the decade, by 1977 disco had already become a commercial force with New York’s triumvirate of record labels – Prelude, Salsoul and West End – already established alongside the arrival of the disco-conceived 12” single two years earlier. 
On the opening night, an array of celebs duly showed up, with Bianca Jagger, Brooke Shields, Cher and Donald Trump smiling for the cameras. In the chaos of the opening, there were almost as many left standing the wrong side of the velvet rope, among them Mick Jagger and Frank Sinatra. A party for Bianca Jagger’s birthday a few weeks later, thanks to D’Alessio’s brainwave of getting Bianca to arrive atop a white horse, was the publicity coup that helped establish Studio 54 as the go-to disco club of the moment. 
The resident DJ, the much-loved Richie Kaczor, had been plucked from midtown gay club Hollywood before arriving on West 54th Street and, although a more commercial sound was required in a space so large, Kaczor managed it with grace and elegance. It was here, on the floor at Studio 54, that Kaczor broke Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. It had originally been the B-side to ‘Substitute’ but it was Richie who flipped the 12” and turned it into an anthem and worldwide hit. “Richie had a lot of respect from all the underground DJs, claims Danny Krivit. “When he did Studio 54, instead of thinking of him as, ‘Oh you’re just playing that commercial stuff’, we thought of him as someone who does this, but is playing the commercial stuff there. The whole time I knew him he was so down to earth.”
But the music was frequently overshadowed by Studio’s antics: the fucking on the balcony, the industrial quantities of drugs consumed, the celebrity whirlwind. It was more of a show, less of a club. Appropriate given its location. “Studio 54 was like going to see a movie,” says Danny Tenaglia. “It wasn’t about the music, it was a secondary factor. When you went there, it was gimmicky. It was the first club where you had people painting their whole body silver. ‘Oh there was somebody in there on a horse!’ People would talk about that instead of the music. So it was all about who was there: Liza Minelli, Diana Ross. The whole drama at the door of who could get in and who couldn’t.” 

Prior to its opening, Rubell and Schrager, who had been running a club out in Queens, were New York unknowns. But Rubell, in particular, revelled in his new-found fame; loved the drugs, the showing off, the power. Kenny Carpenter, another resident DJ there remembers an incident that epitomised his approach. “Rubell brings Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol to the booth. And he says, ‘Can you play ‘Your Love’ by Lime?’ ‘I’m sorry but I don’t have it and it’s not my kind of record.’ He says, ‘Well, listen, I own this club and I’ve got Bianca and Calvin and Andy and they wanna hear that record.’ I said, ‘Listen Steve. Sorry I don’t have that record, but even if I did have it, I wouldn’t play it because it’s not my style.’ He got mad. Stormed out of the booth. The following weekend, he hired Lime to perform live. And he stands looking at the booth, like, now I got Lime.” 

As befitted a club of such glorious excess, its stellar years were relatively short. A year after its opening Steve Rubell bragged to the press that, “only the Mafia made more money,” a fact that alerted the tax authorities. The club was raided by the IRS in December 1978, who found $2.5m stashed in garbage bags in the building. The pair were convicted of tax evasion and spent 13 months in jail.

Many people saw Studio 54 as a corrosive presence in disco. “There’s a scene at the end of the Last Days Of Disco where one of the characters has this very idealistic speech where he says disco was a whole movement,” remembers disco writer Vince Aletti. “It was funny, but it was really true and people felt that. They felt disappointed that the idealistic quality of it was being trampled over, in favour of money and celebrity. As much as disco was glitzy and certainly loved celebrity culture when people came to clubs, there was never a sense of it being driven by that. It was much more driven by an underground idea of unity.”

Studio 54 became the template for a certain kind of club, someway from what we’d now regard as the underground. It’s frequently cited as an influence in almost every sleek new entry onto the market, without any of the real glamour and excess achieved by Rubell and Schrager, never mind the heroic levels of drug-taking. When they were released from prison, Schrager opened the Palladium nightclub and went on to build a portfolio of influential boutique hotels. Steve Rubell died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. In January of this year, Schrager received a full and unconditional pardon from President Obama. He is now entitled to vote.


Ikutaro Kakehashi

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland Corporation, created more than a successful business with a host of important innovations in electronic musical instruments; he has also paid tribute throughout his career to those who first inspired him. Mr. Kakehashi was born in Japan and formed Ace Electronics in 1964 with the goal of improving the electronic organ, following up on the work of his heroes, Mr. Hammond and Mr. Leslie. With the expansion of electronics in the late 1960s, he formed the Roland Corporation, which soon became one of the leaders in the industry. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than Mr. Kakehashi’s success is his own personal energetic passion for music and many, many friends along the way!

We might not realize it, but the Roland company we know now is entirely different than the one it was shaping up to be in its early days. When Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, started his first venture into musical instruments, it was indebted to his love for time. In 1932, at the age of two, Ikutaro lost both of his parents to tuberculosis. As a young boy he had to make a living fixing Kairyu submarines in Hitachi-run Japanese military shipyards. Once the war was over he was refused entry to Osaka’s university on account of his poor health. Searching for a solution to this predicament and a steady job (having been forced to forgo his education) he traveled to Kyushu, the southernmost province of Japan. There, he discovered something brilliant: Post-War Japan had virtually no timepiece industry. Mirroring the beginnings of a young Torakusu Yamaha, he took a job as a watch repairer.

Kakehashi was 16 or 17 years old when he set about to learn in mere months what took years for many to learn through apprenticeships. In mere months, he set up the Kakehashi Watch Shop as a base to start his own ventures. With money raised from repairing watches, Ikutaro turned his eye towards music and the radio industry. Just years ago, even owning or listening to foreign radio transmissions was deemed illegal. Now, here, in Kyushu, Kakehashi was making or repairing devices that were an expression of freedom in Post-World War II Japan. When he finally earned enough money from his shop, Kakehashi turned back to Osaka and decided to use these funds to pay his way back into Osaka University. Unfortunately, once again tragedy struck.

At the age of 20, rather than spend his money on education, Kakehashi had to pay for tuberculosis treatments. For three long years, he was consigned to a hospital ward, only repairing electronics for the hospital staff or other patients in order to support himself. Right before he received Streptomycin, the experimental drug that saved him from his terminal illness, so driven was Kakehashi to view Japan’s first TV signals that he used most of those savings to purchase a vacuum tube to create a television to receive them. In 1954, when Kakehashi finally had the strength to leave, he opened an electric repair shop post haste. In the span of six years, as radio and TV technology grew, he solidified the new business’ name as the Ace Electrical Company and earned enough money to try something different. As the Ace Electrical Company became Ace Electronic Industries, so did a shift toward a new kind of product.
For years, Kakehashi tried to branch out into the music market, following an intriguing product that piqued his interest: the theremin. Influenced by Dr. Bob Moog, Kakehashi tried to build his own theremin. His first creation didn’t sound quite right, but undeterred, Kakehashi moved on to creating a keyboard instrument. Hearing and seeing the Ondes Martenot in action, he used bits from reed organs, telephones and other transistor sound generators to create his own version. This too was another misstep and the instrument never went to production. By 1959, rather than redesign the wheel, he designed and released an organ: the Technics SX601. It was the success of this organ that allowed Ace Electronic Industries to add guitar amps and pedals to its product line. However, by 1963, something new had stirred Kakehashi’s interest: the Wurlitzer Sideman.

Released in 1959, the Sideman was revolutionary in few ways people envisioned. Using tape loops, this self-contained device allowed users to play 12 predetermined drum patterns at varying tempos. A whirling disc would cycle through different electronically generated drum sounds. Using this device, any musician could have drum accompaniment without an actual, physical drummer. However, what interested Kakehashi wasn’t this per se, but the idea of an electronic percussion instrument. In 1964, when he introduced the Rhythm Ace R-1 at NAMM he introduced his version of a drum machine.
Ikutaro Kakehashi (梯 郁太郎 Kakehashi Ikutarō?, 7 February 1930 – 1 April 2017) was a Japanese engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of Japanese companies Ace Tone, Roland and ATV. He was a pioneer in electronic musical instruments, involved in developing Ace Tone and Roland drum machines such as the TR-808, TR-909, FR-1, TR-77 and CR-78; the TB-303 bass synthesizer; the MC-8 digital sequencer; Roland synthesizers such as the SH-1000, Jupiter, SH-101, JX-8P, Juno-60, D-50 and JP-8000; the System 700 modular synthesizer; and the MIDI standard, for which he received a Technical Grammy Award. His electronic musical instruments were influential, revolutionizing contemporary popular music and shaping numerous music genres, including electronic, dance, hip hop, R&B and pop music.

Prior to Roland, he started Ace Tone, an electronic organ company that became known for producing early drum machines in the 1960s. It evolved into Hammond Organ Japan, which he eventually left to start Roland in the early 1970s. At Roland, he produced a number of electronic instruments that became widely adopted by the music industry. Kakehashi died in April 2017, at the age of 87.

He was born on February 7 1930 in Osaka, Japan. 

Both of his parents died to tuberculosis during his early childhood, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents. Much of his childhood was spent studying electrical engineering and working in the Hitachi shipyards of Osaka. During World War II, his home was destroyed by American bombings. Following the war, he failed to get into university on health grounds in 1946, and then moved to the southern island of Kyushu.

In 1947, at 16 years of age, he founded the Kakehashi Clock Store, a wristwatch repair shop on Kyushu Island. He soon began repairing radios as well.[9] He later returned to Osaka to attend university. During a mass food shortage, he contracted tuberculosis and spent several years in a sanitarium, where he became a clinical trial test patient for an experimental medicine antibiotic drug, Streptomycin, which improved his condition In 1954, Ikutaro Kakehashi started Kakehashi Radio electrical appliance store, while concurrently repairing electronic organs and created new prototype organs throughout the 1950s. At 28, he decided to devote himself to music and pursuit of the ideal electronic musical instrument.

Ikutaro Kakehashi never received any formal musical training. He wanted musical instruments to be accessible for professionals as well as amateurs like himself. He also wanted them to be inexpensive, intuitive, small, and simple. He constructed his first 49-key monophonic organ in 1959, specifically designed to be playable by anyone, with no musical skill necessary. The focus on miniaturization, affordability and simplicity would later become fundamental to product development at Roland.

In 1960, Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries Inc. In 1964, he developed a hand-operated electronic drum, called the R1 Rhythm Ace. It was exhibited at Summer NAMM 1964, however not commercialized. [10] Kakehashi patented the “Automatic Rhythm Performance Device” drum machine in 1967, a preset rhythm-pattern generator using diode matrix circuit, a drum machine where a “plurality of inverting circuits and/or clipper circuits are connected to a counting circuit to synthesize the output signal of the counting circuit” and the “synthesized output signal becomes a desired rhythm.”

Ace Tone commercialized his preset rhythm machine, called the FR-1 Rhythm Ace, in 1967. It offered 16 preset patterns, and four buttons to manually play each instrument sound (cymbal, claves, cowbell and bass drum). The rhythm patterns could also be cascaded together by pushing multiple rhythm buttons simultaneously, and the possible combination of rhythm patterns were more than a hundred (on the later models of Rhythm Ace, the individual volumes of each instrument could be adjusted with the small knobs or faders). In 1968 a joint venture was established with Hammond USA, the FR-1 was adopted by the Hammond Organ Company for incorporation within their latest organ models. In the US, the units were also marketed under the Multivox brand by Peter Sorkin Music Company, and in the UK, marketed under the Bentley Rhythm Ace brand. The unique artificial sounds characteristics of the FR-1 were similar to the later Roland rhythm machines, and featured on electropop music from the late 1970s onwards.[10] Ace Tone popularized the use of drum machines, with the FR-1 Rhythm Ace finding its way into popular music starting in the late 1960s.

Kakehashi also developed the Hammond Piper Autochord, which was a success in 1971. It produced harmonic bass chords from single notes played on the organ keyboard, and was instrumental in the production and domestication of electric organs.

In 1972, he founded Roland Corporation and became president. The company would go on to have a big impact on popular music, and do more to shape electronic music than any other company.[9] At Roland, he continued his work on the development of drum machines. Roland’s first drum machine was the Roland TR-77, released in 1972.[13] The Roland CR-78 in 1978 was the first microprocessor-driven programmable drum machine.[14] These 1970s Roland drum machines were used in disco, R&B, rock and pop songs from the early 1970s to the early 1980s.[13] The most influential drum machine was the TR-808, released in 1980, which was widely adopted in hip hop, electronic and pop music, and is still widely used through to the present day, having been used on more hit records than any other drum machine.[15] The 808 is one of the most influential inventions in popular music.[16][17] It was then followed by the TR-909, released in 1984, which is widely used in electronic dance music, such as techno and house music.[18][19]

He also worked on other influential electronic musical instruments. He developed the the Roland System 700 modular synthesizer, released in 1976.[6] The Roland MC-8 Microcomposer in 1977 was the first stand-alone microprocessor-driven CV/Gate music sequencer,[14][20] and had a significant impact on popular electronic music, with the MC-8 and its descendants impacting popular electronic music production in the 1970s and 1980s more than any other family of sequencers.[21] Roland synthesizers such as the SH-1000, Jupiter, SH-101, JX-8P, Juno-60 and D-50 were widely adopted in popular 1980s music. The Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer was instrumental to acid house music and the rave scene.[4][6] The Roland JP-8000 was widely adopted in 1990s trance music.

In June 1981, Kakehashi proposed the idea of standardization to Oberheim Electronics founder Tom Oberheim, who then talked it over with Sequential Circuits president Dave Smith. In October 1981, Kakehashi, Oberheim and Smith discussed the idea with representatives from Yamaha, Korg and Kawai.[22] In 1983, the MIDI standard was unveiled by Kakehashi and Smith, who both later received Technical Grammy Awards in 2013 for their key roles in the development of MIDI.[23][24] Since its introduction, MIDI has remained the musical instrument industry standard interface through to the present day.[1]

In 1988, Roland purchased Rodgers Organ Company renamed Rodgers Instruments fulfilling Kakehashi’s lifelong dream to build large classical organs
In 1994, Kakehashi founded the Roland Foundation and became Chairman, in 1995 he was appointed chairman of Roland Corporation. In 2001 he resigned from the chairman’s position and was appointed as Special Executive Adviser of Roland Corporation. Kakehashi retired from Roland in 2013.

In 2014, Kakehashi founded the ATV Corporation. [25] Together with Paulo Caius, former CEO of Roland Iberia, Founder and CEO of Roland Systems Group EMEA, Makoto Muroi, a prestigious research engineer for music and audiovisuals, also former President of the Roland Systems Group Japan, Mark Tsuruta, former CEO of Roland Audio Development USA and Glenn Dodson, previous CEO of Roland Australia.

In 1991, based upon his contribution to the development and popularization of electronic instruments, Kakehashi was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, U.S.A. The Bentley-branded Rhythm Ace inspired the 1997 Birmingham band Bentley Rhythm Ace when a model was found at a car boot sale.

In 2000 he left his handprints at Hollywood’s RockWalk in Hollywood. In 2002 Kakehashi published his autobiography, titled I Believe In Music,[26] and was also featured as a biography in the book The Art of Digital Music. In 2005 Kakehashi was awarded the title of professor emeritus of the Central Music College of China and the University of Glamorgan.

From flop to fame: how the ridiculed Roland TR-808 came to define modern music – WIRED UK

In 1982, Marvin Gaye found himself in the small Belgian city of Ostend, trying to escape his drug, money and family problems. The soul star needed to create his music in complete isolation. He was surrounded by synthesisers and drum machines, pushing buttons, setting levels and cueing rhythms. He pushed “play” on a song that was made entirely using a drum machine. That song was “Sexual Healing”.

The song became a huge global hit, his biggest in years, thanks to a drum machine called the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer. After years of being seen as a faded star, Gaye suddenly found himself a key player in a new musical movement.

In an era in which renting studios cost thousands of pounds, Ikutaro Kakehashi wanted to create a tool that would make music-making affordable. Born in Osaka in 1930, he was orphaned at the age of two, and grew up in a Japan between the two world wars. He moved in with his grandparents to the rural island of Kyushu. There he set up a business, repairing clocks and watches, he also started building his own radios so he could listen to radio stations. He was heating old parts over a candle, so the magnesium would oxidise and improve the sound of the tubes. The search for the perfect sound became an obsession, and he dedicated himself to music, via creating experimental rhythm machines. In 1972, Ikutaro founded Roland, releasing, among others the TR-808 drum machine.

The 808 was initially a commercial flop: the sound patterns sounded like a fake analogue instrument, the reproduction of physical instruments to digital sounded too futuristic and the kick drum too overbearing. Seen as a toy in a musical environment where guitars dominated and electronic musicians preferred slicker equipment, Roland discontinued the 808 in 1983.

Its turning point came when its price tag plummeted from $1,200 to $100 – which attracted curious underground musicians from America’s poor urban areas turning 808 into cult. Before long, producers in Chicago, Detroit and New York were making electro, techno, house, acid and hip hop that sounded like nothing else that had come before. Within a few years, Roland’s commercial flop had become an essential piece of kit. It even started its own genre, with acid house being able to have the epithet of acid in front, only if the music was made using an 808.

The rest is history: Madonna’s “Vogue”; Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”; Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”; Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill”; LL Cool J and Run-DMC’s crossover smashes… Nearly 30 years later, we can hear the machine’s percussive attack in chart-topping hits from Kanye West and Drake.

Even PC gamers cannot escape from Ikutaro’s legacy, as Roland’s MT-32 sound gave DOS gamers MIDI music. So whenever you connect a keyboard to your laptop, you should thank Ikutaro for creating the technology. (In 2013, Ikutaro received a Technical Grammy Award for his MIDI work.)

How ironic that Ikutaro wanted to enable affordable music, only for the TR-808 to be unaffordable for fledgling musicians. It took its initial failure to become a huge success. And today? Turn your radio on and you’ll hear an 808 kick in within ten minutes. And for this, Ikutaro arigato.