Tom Crookston is part of DJ collective and a party from London called Customs (other two members are Guy Bingley and Brendan Marriott). They are making intimate, the Loft-style and very authentic parties across town playing all kinds of music with guests like La Mamie, DJ D.DEE, Patrick Mocan, Jamie Tiller, Jan Schulte and more. Every member of the trio has specialty and different background. Tom was running hip-hop nights in London in his teenage years and living in Martinique when he was a student. Maybe there he started to dig deeper into zouk and Caribbean stuff. We’re excited to share his topfive picks with you now, soon we’ll introduce you to other Customs guys 😉
Hiroshi Yoshimura – A・I・R (Air In Resort) LP [1984, Shiseido]
We put a lot of effort into how we warm up our parties and create the right kind of mood – for the crowd, for our guest DJs and for ourselves – and this is one of my favourite scene-setters. Guy picked it up for me on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago; Yoshimura has made so much amazing music, but sadly most of it is pretty much impossible to find in the UK.
Marilia Medalha – Caminhada LP [1973, RGE]
I found this one almost by accident in a record shop in São Paulo. It caught my eye because the artwork is similar to a lot of the bossa nova records I was digging at the time, but it turned out to be this strange and slightly haunting MPB mini-masterpiece. Marilia’s voice is otherwordly, and there’s some really out-there arrangements by the massively underrated Rosinha de Valença.
Various – Produced By Nemisis Vol. 1 LP [1990, Intrigue Records]
I’m currently a bit obsessed with this guy called Toyin Agbetu, who produced a tonne of incredible UK house and street soul in the late-80s and early-90s before going on to become a prominent human rights activist. Some of his records – especially as one half of Soul Connection – are changing hands for huge sums of money now, but a lot of the best stuff is included on this five-volume series of compilations that you can still pick up for next to nothing. Tip!
Jocelyne Beroard – Siwo LP [1986, GD Productions]
I lived out in Martinique for a few months while I was a student, and there were a few of these 1980s zouk tracks that would get played at every party without fail. This was always the pick of the bunch for me; something about the way the sweet vocal plays off the tough rhythm section. Jocelyne Beroard was one of the lead singers in Kassav’, and all of the band’s top boys make an appearance here: George Decimus on bass, Jean-Claude Naimro on keys and the great Jacob Desvarieux on guitar. Excellent video, too!
Gifrants – Rara-Mwe LP [1991, Kadans]
Gifrants is an incredibly prolific and apparently self-taught musician from Haiti. This one is described on his website as “Haitian roots and folk music with electro-acoustic instruments mixed with some electronic gadgets” but that doesn’t really do it justice; the title track in particular is like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
Texts & pics Tom Crookston