I was so driven and so passionate about making music. There is such a difference between when you’re living it and when you’re just talking about it.
Going to clubs underage was my apprenticeship. I was getting away with going to a lot of different clubs in Southampton and being DJ Flash’s MC and box boy. We met when he was playing at one of the community clubs that my dad was chairman of. I jumped on the mic one day and I knew he couldn’t say anything to me because my dad was paying his wages.
You have to read the crowd to understand how to make music. I was studying what [Flash] was doing when he was playing records, watching the reaction from the crowd when he played certain songs. I wasn’t really interested in wanting to be on the dancefloor, drinking or looking for girls. I was so fascinated by the mixing and how he got a crowd so hyped. That was enough to give me the bug.
I was the Robin Hood of fast food. I worked at McDonald’s. You know those little tokens where you get a Big Mac and free fries? On my council estate, I was the boy because there was a mountain of those at the back of the McDonald’s which I liked to redistribute into my friends’ hands. I was bringing people happiness, man! At the same time, they were getting slipped a mix CD which I was selling for £10 a pop. It was really good profit to use to go and buy more vinyl.
Libraries gave me power – but not in the way you’d expect. I was at college for two years before dropping out and then going full time with Mark Hill [of Artful Dodger]. I was always in the library. People were like: “Wow! You’re always studying hard in the library!” I was like: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” If only they’d known that I was in there just using their printer cartridges and paper so I could print out my mix CD covers. I was on a whole different mission of making things work.
I only awoke to my Jewish heritage later in life. I didn’t really know the depth of the Jewish side of my family until my [maternal] grandmother passed away. She was laid to rest in the synagogue. That’s where I found out more about the Jewish side. Culturally it felt like it wasn’t leaning either way in terms of my mum being Jewish or my dad being Christian. We were just living the life.