Mick Park needs no introduction in the world of dance music having forged a career spanning some 30 years.
As one half of DJ duo Parks and Wilson, a residency at The Eclipse saw the friends put Coventry firmly on the map with a mixture of up-tempo dance and harder techno in a predominantly hardcore club. The residency resulted in the Dy-Na-Mix DJ agency taking the guys on board, beginning one of the most successful DJ partnerships in the world and helping define modern progressive house. Outside of the DJ work productions came in the shape of Ritmo Rivals, Blood Brothers and then teaming up with John Graham and Nic Britten to form TILT, a combination that would change the course of UK progressive house with a raft of genre defining dance floor smashes. Go forward a few years and the line up may have gone through some changes, there's been a critically acclaimed album in the shape of 'Resonator' plus a slew of tracks & remixes..
This confirms one thing for sure... TILT and Mick Park are still going strong..
Afternoon Mick and thanks for taking the time to talk to PHC.
So looking back on your very early years in production a favourite track that gets posted in the PHC Facbook group on a regular basis is 'Ritmo Rivals – Americano Slide' on the excellent Planet 4 label. How do you feel about having a track thats now 27 years old and still held in such high regard?
I don’t really think any different about the records we produced back then. It was at the beginning of our career and we had a great opportunity to work with Chris Joyce from Simply Red in his amazing Manchester studio ‘Planet 4’. That studio was incredible; it was an Aladdin’s cave of analogue gear so we had a total blast. We co-produced the track with Guy Oldams from Eastern Bloc Records and had Roger Lyons co produce / engineer the various sessions. Roger was one half of Lion Rock with Justin Robertson – so it was all about that Manchester vibe!
We recently did an interview with Nick Gordon Brown from Stress Records who spoke very highly of all the artists on the label. How did you a your DJ/Production partner Michael Wilson come about recording on the label?
Mick and I were music reviewers for Mixmag, so we got to know all those guys very well. For us it was a natural progression to start making music for that label. In fact, I remember at the time we didn’t have a lot of money so couldn’t afford to get a hotel room when recording in Slough. We used to sleep on the floor of the studio on a regular basis – but we didn’t care, we just wanted to make music!
I was always a huge fan of the Parks & Wilson DJ partnership with my first experiences at The Eclipse in Coventry where I believe you were residents. You went onto have a very successful worldwide career as P&W regularly holding court at the likes of Crobar, Twilo, Pacha, Renaissance and Cream. At which nights did you feel you really got to craft the Parks & Wilson sound ?
Its hard to say, obviously Twilo was pretty special. The first time we played there we were both blown away. Womb in Japan has a great system as well (all Phazon) so it was perfect for our dark progressive sound. However, I think our real spiritual home was Cream in Liverpool, especially the Courtyard when Oakey was the resident. All of our tracks went off in there – we love Liverpool!
So the group started in 1993 with yourself, Michael Wilson and John Graham, your now production partner Nic Britton was the engineer on those early releases, What was it like having the four of you in a studio, did you all have the same vision for Tilt going forward?
It was hectic most days with a cocktail of Inspiration, wrestling and heavy partying. Having three strong characters in a small recording studio can go either way. Luckily for us it was mostly productive. We had a great management team who were always on the end of the phone, they really encouraged us to push the envelope and create bigger and better tracks. I remember when Paul Van Dyk came to our studio he couldn’t understand how we worked. He said it was ‘too crazy’, I think that’s was due to Mick Wilson wrestling with John Graham and ramming his head into the fridge door – and that was a quiet day!
Tilt spent a decent spell at Perfecto Records back in the nineties and have been back with the label in 2018 releasing 'Miracle' which has a really nice nod to your original Tilt sound. How do you feel current music production compares to that of nineties?
I’m personally not into this whole ‘groove production’ with a breakdown after 3 minutes. Its almost like painting by numbers and I find it very underwhelming, especially from a DJ standpoint. I’m still a sucker for a great vocal and killer production; so that’s what I naturally gravitate towards these days.
Looking through the Tilt Discography its hard to pick out an absolute favourite, the early Perfecto releases are of course a testament to how good the production team were in defining the progressive house sound of the nineties. But after this you went on to record singles and albums for Hooj Choons and had tracks released on Deconstruction, Lost language, Black Hole and ProBTech. What do you guys think has been key in contributing to such consistent quality in releases across the career of Tilt ?
We have always made music we are really into, it’s that simple. The tempo and production techniques have changed but the sound remains the same.
You went on to cover and remix two very difficult projects, the first being Robert Miles – Children and the second being Jeff Wayne's – Eve of the War. How did these come about and what is the initial approach to such a project ?
We produced ‘Children’ because Oakey had asked us to fill in for his residency at Cream in Liverpool, Mick and myself wanted to drop something which nobody had at the time. That track literally ripped the roof off from the first play and Deconstruction signed it off the back of that. I’m glad to say Robert Miles loved the cover and we became friends with him – he was a really great guy!
Sony Music approached us to remix ‘War of the Worlds’ so Jeff kindly invited us down to his beautiful home just outside London. It was great having lunch with him and discussing the original concept he had put together all those years ago. Nic Britton was uncontrollable throughout that session; WOTW is his favourite album of all time. I’m glad to say it all came together fairly quickly, so it worked out really well.
Its now 2020 Tilt look strong as ever and your now involved in a new label venture 'Guerilla Movement'. Looking at the great artwork for the launch party circulating on social media, is there a nod to the seminal prog house label Guerilla from the early nineties?
Well spotted, of course it’s a nod to arguably one of the best underground labels to come out of the UK (that’s why its spelt like that). In the early days William Orbit was a huge influence on our sound.
Unfortunately our sold-out launch night took a bit of a blow, we’ve had to move the location and date due to the venue losing its building insurance due to a condemned roof and ceiling. It’s a real shame because we had commissioned some amazing artwork to be installed and hired a fantastic sound system that would have probably ripped the roof off anyway!
What are we to expect from Guerilla Movement this year, will it be the new home for Tilt ?
Guerilla Movement is our new home, we are founders & co owners so won’t be signing to any other labels now – this is it. Expect to see new music; with may be the odd remix thrown in here and there. For us it’s all about taking back control and building both the music and clothing brand.
And finally, a new Parks & Wilson documentary is in the offing.. What can we expect and when is it due to air?
We filmed the documentary last year. It’s basically about the rave scene in our hometown of Coventry and features a lot of the prominent movers and shakers from that era, I think its getting premiered some time in June 2020. It’s a great insight into the workings of the rave scene and how Coventry became pivotal in the legalisation of all night partying in the UK. The guys behind it have done a fantastic job and I believe its now being signed to the BBC to coincide with the ‘City of Culture’ celebrations in 2021.
Mick its been an absolute honour, we wish you and Nic Britton all the very best with TILT and look forward to seeing the development of Guerilla Movement. Thank you.
TILT back catalogue available in digital format
Information on Guerilla Movement
Previous Parks & Wilson blog entries
Jay Dobie / Wasim Afzal / Marcus Harriman