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Running south with Leon Windsor..

He's had a DJ career spanning decades which includes appearances all over the UK, Europe and four tours of the USA. He records and produces as Southern Cross, Hush Money and Menage A Trois releasing tracks and remixes that have been signed to Barry Jamieson and Jon Sutton's Fluid imprint, Lee Softley's Convert, Sony S3, Columbia Records and Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto..

PHC catches up with all round top fella Leon Windsor..

How long have you been interested in music and what were your influences growing up?

I’ve been into music as long as I can remember. My dad was, and still is, into the ‘good stuff’ and the bands and artists he liked, such as The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, loads of reggae and dub, really influenced me – basically loads of drums! The first record I bought with my own money was Stand and Deliver by Adam & The Ants because I was fascinated by the two drummer setup, and maybe a little bit by the idea of dressing up like a pirate / highwayman / native American! One of the first records I remember my dad playing me was Burundi Black, by Burundi Steiphenson Black – I advise anyone who hasn’t heard it to get onto YouTube and play it loud. After Adam & The Ants, I got into Ultravox, Erasure, Depeche Mode and Yazoo – any Vince Clarke synth stuff really, and I was one of those record collector geeks that every school year had. That was my teens up until house music came along and blew the rest away (or so I thought at the time)

In company with the C90

When did you make the transition into house music ?

I was perhaps a year or so too young to capture that first wave of 88-89, but I was certainly aware of it and from 90 onwards, was out all weekend, every weekend, doing what teenage ravers did back then – up and down the country, service station car parks, raves, travellers parties, clubs, the lot. I’m sure that’s a familiar tale many of the PHC crew can relate to. I’m from Newport in South Wales so we used to trek to Birmingham, Bristol, Mansfield, Coventry, Chippenham, Swindon as well as Cardiff and Swansea.

Any particular favourites from the very early days of Chicago / Detroit house ?

It’s perhaps not cool to like Rhythim is Rhythim stuff now, given the allegations surrounding Mr. May, but I love Strings of Life and Nude Photo. The obvious big Trax tunes from Chicago are all still very special, as they’re so steeped in memories, but I reserve a special mention for Future FJP by Liaisons D, an absolute fave of mine from Frank De Wulf. There were a load of others from that time which I also love but that’s my pick of the bunch.

What came first Djing or production ?

DJing, by quote a few years. I mentioned earlier that I was the record collector geek; this meant that naturally I was asked to play some tunes at parties etc. and once house music and rave / hardcore and all that stuff, I was spending all my money from part time jobs on records while saving for a set of decks.

Leon (second left) with the COR crew

Where were your first experiences actually playing out ?

I did a few birthday parties where my somewhat niche (at the time) tastes didn’t exactly go down well – and cost me a place on a course at university, but that’s another story – but my first ‘proper’ gigs were in Winchester and Portsmouth. Winchester was upstairs in a pub, not very busy but a great learning experience, and Portsmouth was in a club and was a half decent party. I remember playing King – Love & Pride at the time, and it went right off. Don’t even like that record very much, to be honest, but it was certainly a moment! I reckon that was probably 1993

Did you own a pair of Technics and a mixer back in the early days? Can you remember what you paid and which mixer had ?

I bought my first set of Technics in 1992 as I set off for university in Portsmouth. I sold my VW Beetle to pay for them, and my best mate and my brother brought them down on the train as I had to wait for them to come into stock. I got them for £580 for the pair from a shop in Newport called Hi Fi & Western, and it’s still there today I think. So are the decks; they’ve been going strong since then and have had some VERY big names play on them over the years. My first mixer was a Realistic one, or so I thought – I’ve been googling to try to find a picture but can’t! Anyway, it was ok, had EQ for the master and a crossfade which was all I needed back then. I upgraded it to a Vestax back in the mid-90s, which was the first time there was much available in terms of per-channel equalisation and isolation switches. Vestax were very innovative back then.

Can you give us some idea of your studio set up back in the nineties ?

I worked in my engineer’s studio first of all. He’s one half of the Wideboys, very big in the UK garage scene and has been for decades. He had a wicked set of kit, all outboard of course. My favourite piece of kit was the Juno 106, and I’m still a big fan of it today. After that, we (Triggs and I, Southern Cross) had a fairly basic set up, a couple of keyboards, including an ancient analogue Roland SH09 which was wicked because it was really difficult to control and therefore came up with some ace random sounds. We had a couple of effects processors, the Alesis Quadraverb and Midiverb, a Boss DR 600 and a couple of other bits lost to the mists of time and memory. We remixed Timo Maas (Orinoco – Mama Konda) on this kit, wedged in the front room of the tiny house we shared at the time. We sold the kit a few years later, then a good few years after that it found its way back to me somehow because Dave Robertson had bought it and we did a track together (this was before his Reset Robot alias was born). I’m sure I’ve got the tune somewhere; we didn’t do anything with it at the time though. Would probably have tried a bit harder if I’d known the stellar career he was about to have!

At what point in your production were you able to submit demo's ?

This was the bit where we got lucky, and I’m really grateful for it. I used to shop in Domino Records in Portsmouth, and the Sony rep was a guy called Mark Bounds, who I became good mates with. We’d done a few bits in the studio, got them cut onto dubplate at Music House off the Holloway Road in London (I’m sure there must be people in the group who recognise that name!), played them out etc. and had decent responses – Danny Rampling asked for one of them after we played it. I was livid because it cost me thirty quid! But it gave me a boost because it was validation from a DJ who was then one of the most in-demand in the UK. Anyway, Mark was just setting up a new label for Sony, called S3 (later to become INCredible) so I gave him a copy of a track we’d done. He liked it enough to give us some really great feedback, got us to

tighten it up and make it the finished article. Then he gave us some parts to do a remix on spec (music biz speak for ‘for nothing’!). The tune was Meltdown – My Life Is In Your Hands. While it didn’t make it to the commercial release, it was really well received and led to a couple of other opportunities. I’ll tell you about those in a minute…

A track heavily supported by the likes of Sasha & Digweed is 'Southern Cross – Running'.. signed to Barry Jamieson's Fluid imprint.. how did they pick that up? And given the PHC group interest in classic prog, how do you feel that stands up in 2021?

During the time all the above was happening, the mid-90s, we had a residency at a club night called Bang! in Portsmouth and we got involved with taking all the ‘superclub’ tours that were all the rage back then. I was busy making a nuisance of myself building contacts and relationships with the likes of Renaissance, Limbo, Cream, and 7pm Management who at the time looked after Sasha, and also ran Jackpot Recordings. I used to go up to 7pm’s offices on the blag for promos etc. and I used them to book a few artists as well, and they offered us the chance to remix a track which was originally to be called ‘Whitelands’ by Tenth Chapter. They gave me the vocal parts but the rest of the track was 100% our own. By the time we delivered it, Tenth Chapter had decided to do something different and released (as I recall) a 10” on Jackpot called Whitelands which was a completely different tune; a tribute to one of their close mates who had recently passed away. So we had a finished record, Tenth Chapter weren’t using it, and Jackpot had a full roster but I’d already got to know Barry and sent it to him. He offered to take it for Fluid, and since he used the same lawyers as 7pm, it was all agreed really easily, and that’s why you’ll see Terry and Nathan credited on the twelve.

Obviously, the big Brucie bonus was Evolution doing the remix. So we found ourselves in this amazing position of our debut release being remixed by just about the best production outfit in our scene (arguably the best progressive artists of all time) and our first commercially-released remix was of none other than Sam Mollison!

‘Running’ is definitely ‘of its time’, but we are in discussions to bring it up to date for the relaunch of Fluid as a label. I know the relaunch is something both Jon and Barry have wanted to do for some time, and I feel really fortunate to have been a small part of it first time around.

Now I seem to remember talking with you and you mentioned a Perfecto tour back in the nineties. How did that come about, where did you go and do you have any stories?

Think there might be some crossed wires here: I did a remix for Paul Oakenfold for his ‘Travelling’ series, following Gary Bennetton (now of Collective States) and me supporting him on a couple of gigs and Oakey heavily supporting our track (Menage A Trois – Centrepoint, released on Lee Softley’s Convert label). So, he asked us to do an album-exclusive remix for him, of Jazzy B’s ‘Jazzin The Way You Know’. Anyone who knows the original will tell you it’s not even close to a prog sound, so we did away with pretty much everything, vocoded the vocal and that was it; tribal drums and noisy synth parts. It was never released separately, and I’d struggle to find a copy of it in my archives. Annoyingly, I had to buy the album myself too!

The big tours I did were in the States in the mid-90s. I went over 4 times, and played across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. That time was just amazing – I met and made lifelong friends, including Mollison, over there, and was introduced to the movers and shakers of that Florida sound which was on fire at the time – Chris Fortier, Kimball Collins, Jimmy Van M, Friction & Spice (who did Aria and Voyager), Bill Hamel and loads of those Orlando local guys who were a seemingly endless stream of talent, as well as seeing RITM live, which was insane. I have many stories of those times, but I think I’d need my own lawyer to read over them before I confess anything. Suffice to say, we had a LOT of fun over there and I have to pinch myself looking back, as even as I’m saying this now, it doesn’t seem real – but it was!

In the studio with TILT and Sam Mollison

Lots of 'prog' jocks and producers get a little tetchy about the term 'Progressive House' these days, what are your thoughts?

I can understand why people don’t like to be pigeonholed, but have any of those guys actually come up with a better term? I don’t think so! I don’t have a problem with it, and it helps music buyers to find styles they like more easily. Having said that, I did an interview with a magazine back in about ’97 and I described my music as ‘epic and atmospheric’ which couldn’t have been more pompous and daft!

Can you look back to the early nineties and give us a stand out favourite prog track and DJ ?

The DJ has to be Sasha. I’d seen him a couple of times previously, but I was at the infamous Universe rave in Magor (only about ten miles from my house) and was standing right by ‘the man in the Tottenham shirt’, and that remains one of the best parties ever. Even though he was smashed, coming to dance with everyone and forgetting he was DJing, it was still an amazing set, containing many of the ingredients of the sounds and styles that came to be defined as ‘progressive’ – even if the tracks themselves weren’t.

Prog track; my favourite back then, and one I still play regularly in moderns sets to this day, is Groovy Beat by DOP. So simple, so effective. There are hundreds I could have chosen and I could have gone for something obscure, but I’m sticking with this one because it’s a certified club banger.

Prog track; my favourite back then, and one I still play regularly in moderns sets to this day, is Groovy Beat by DOP. So simple, so effective. There are hundreds I could have chosen and I could have gone for something obscure, but I’m sticking with this one because it’s a certified club banger.

Going a few years back you kindly let me have a remix of 'Collapse – My Love' ..As far as I know this never saw the light of day. I played this to death at various parties and featured it on various studio mixes. What was the story behind this and why did you pick that particular track for an update ?

The remix was a straight up bootleg – I believe the modern parlance is ‘edit’ but let’s call it what it was. I didn’t give this to anyone (so you’re privileged!!) and I did it to bring the tune up to date and make it mixable. Anyone with a copy of the original Ambient Drops mix will know that it shifts by a whole half a BPM in the middle, and they’ll also know that the other mixes are awful, so I wanted one that was based on the Ambient Drops mix but with a bit more welly. I chose it simply because it was one of my all-time favourite uplifting Italo tunes, a proper E tune from back in the day. I’d love to get it released but I wouldn’t know where to start. Given that the Italians played pretty free and easy with copyright laws back then, perhaps I should just put it out there and wait until someone sues me!

Going forward your still playing records and enjoying music with COR. Current situation taken into account what can we expect for 2021?

Civilisation of the Rough (COR) is one of four outfits I’m involved in / resident at. COR has been going for twelve years and is a proper melting pot of styles, with a couple of older disco and soul boys who play alongside us younger (haha) lads who play anything from techno to Balearic. We’ve had a monthly show on 1BTN for five years and that station is really starting to builds up a massive roster – I’m surprised we haven’t been kicked off yet!

Crescendo is my straight up prog and techno night, and we currently have a monthly show on Bloop radio in London. $hit Disco is a festival crew I play for, and we do loads of the festies, or would have done had it not been for Covid, sadly. 6 festival gigs got cancelled last year, which was a crushing shame. Finally, Tryouts for the Human Race is a party in London run by Logan Fisher and is in a similar vein to the ALFOS parties; very much dark rooms, intimate, late nights and dubby tunes, a chance for me to play some really way-out music to a clued-up crowd.

Other than that, Southern Cross is still a thing, despite having had a long rest and Triggs living in New Zealand; we have a handful of new music to put out very soon, including a collaboration with the aforementioned Mr. Mollison (left) which is something I’m really proud of and dying to unleash (once we can get together to remaster the vocal).

Thanks for taking the time to speak us Leon, most appreciated mate.


For information and news on forthcoming Leon Windsor projects please visit Facebook and Soundcloud. In the meantime check out two classic projects, the Jomanda remix and the 2011 Wintermute EP.


Southern Cross Free Download

Leon Windsor - Wintermute EP feat the classic 'Somewhere'

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