It’s a safe assertion to make - snooker players don’t have the most fun image. You might think of a wisecracking Ronnie O’Sullivan or Dennis Taylor’s upside down specs, but unlike other sportsmen, they’re not particularly known as partying lotharios. It’s all more working men’s club than nightclub; more John Virgo than Virgo Four. So seeing six times world snooker champion Steve Davis on the line-up for Bloc weekend certainly caught our attention! Far from being a novelty act, it turns out Davis is into some pretty credible stuff, as a listen to his weekly radio show on Phoenix FM makes clear. From the Crucible to Bloc and Glastonbury, we needed to know more about his journey from snooker star to techno DJ…
Have you always been into electronic music? When did your vinyl addiction begin?
I’ve never been able to walk past a record shop without going in. I don’t know why. I think there are two states people have to be in that may turn them into record collectors. The Music Lover and the Collector. If a Music Lover also has the Collector gene then it’s carnage! Looking on the bright side it’s better than stamp collecting or turning up at Star Wars conventions! My first purchase was Neil Young’s "Heart of Gold” and from then on I’ve always needed to acquire a piece of music that I’ve been smitten with. I’ve never been a completist but recently I’ve found I’ve been happy to collect more back catalogue of an artist that I admire, regardless of actually auditioning everything. I’m a recent convert to electronic music. I was brought up on Tangerine Dream but as far as “new" electronic music is concerned … well, in some respects I just think of it no differently to any other stuff. But of course stuff that is created on a laptop is always going to come under it’s own genre. I don’t think of the creators as anything different though. They are musicians and composers whether they play an instrument or a laptop!
What’s the best gig you’ve played recently?
I play mostly with Kavus [Torabi], who also presents the radio show with me. We’ve had a great time recently, Glastonbury was amazing and we had a wonderful weekend over in Ireland at Castlepalooza. Our smaller gigs are lovely and we had a top night at Cafe Oto in London a while back while our bi-monthly residency at the Redchurch Brewery in Bethnal Green is close to our hearts because it was our first outing. I’d have to say though our favourite gig so far was our first big festival, Bloc Weekend. We were so excited in the build up and it was received so well! BBC iPlayer did a mini documentary on it and it just magnified the buzz!
Would you rather be known for your performances behind the turntables or snooker tables?
Snooker was my hobby and then it turned into my profession however being a DJ is something I want to remain firmly fixed as a hobby. As a music fan it’s great to play stuff you love to an audience and on the occasions where someone asks what track you played because they loved it, well that's a great thrill. But I don’t see it as a job. I think Kavus Torabi and I see ourselves more as facilitators who introduce people to music they may never have known existed. I’m very happy to always be known as a snooker player who has a credible hobby as a left field radio presenter and who has discovered the enjoyment of being a DJ!
Do you have any particular pre-game / pre-gig psyche up rituals?
Pre snooker match it was water and a light meal. Pre gig so far it’s been… Bloc weekend - Craft Ale. Glastonbury - Botanical Gin and Castlepalooza - Local Tullamore Craft Stout. We were flying at Glastonbury but then I think on the Thursday the whole place is going hard, even everyone was planning to take it easy … until they got there!
Why did you choose the name 'DJ Thundermuscle'? (we love it, by the way)
I didn’t choose Thundermuscle, Surgeon (Anthony Child) suggested it due to my cameo appearance in the TV comedy “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” of which he was a fan. Here’s a clip, but you need to know the back story for it to make any sense!
And finally - what can the dance floor expect from one of your sets?
Kavus Torabi and I play a style of music that doesn’t really fall under any genre. This was our Glastonbury set and I think we will certainly be playing some of these but obviously everything changes. We have started revisiting our record collections with a view to more of a “playing out” mentality. On our radio show (The Interesting Alternative Show, www.phoenixfm.com every Monday 10pm) we can indulge ourselves with a more armchair listening vibe, whereas in a live atmosphere you need to at least keep people’s feet tapping even if you aren’t totally being a slave to the dance floor. It’s still nice to see people getting “lost” in what they are hearing. Especially if they’ve never heard the track previously but we don’t want to water down the intensity of what we play purely to get a full dancefloor. Otherwise we might as well play what everyone else is playing … and that wouldn’t be interesting would it?
Catch Steve Davis playing at Slide at the Prince of Wales, Brixton on August 28 th alongside DJ Kon, The Reflex and more.