Profile: Euan Bass
Well after agreeing over a year ago, I have finally got around to writing my DJ profile! So when and where did my DJ career begin? I must have been around 15/16 years of age when Billericay Rugby Club bought their own DJ equipment and four of the team were chosen to play music at their functions. I played a few records at four or five parties but then left the club to play for another side, so that was the end of my blossoming DJ career! Now that would be a very short DJ profile, but fortunately a couple years later, when I was studying at college, another opportunity came my way.
I was a part of the Student’s Union at Basildon College and we regularly held parties at Raquel’s in Basildon. We’d organized an afternoon Christmas party on the last day of term, but the DJ we had booked was unable to attend. I stepped in and said that I would play, so my first solo gig was to 1,000 drunk students! I must have done ok, as at the end of the party Kevin Greenham the club manager offered me a job as the warm-up DJ every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night! This started off as an unpaid job, then after a couple of months I started getting £10 per night to cover my travel expenses. Despite the lack of pay, I have to say this was an amazing opportunity and I learnt a huge amount warming up for three different DJs each with very different styles. Within 12 months I had left Raquel’s and was working almost every night of the week at various clubs and bars in the south-east Essex area.
These venues included The New Yorker and Libert’s in Basildon, Palms and The Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh and, the main venue to employ me, The Dickens in my home town of Wickford. At one point I was working there five nights a week, but over time that was reduced to four and then three. This was because Tuesdays and Thursdays were the quietest nights with only 100 people turning up! Not bad for a pub I thought!! But they decided to go with live music instead. I could have seen this as a negative, but I saw it as an opportunity to branch out to other venues. I managed to land a regular slot at one of the best soul music venues in Essex, The Old Windmill in Hanningfield, which was a large country pub that would attract over 600 soul music fans on Mondays and Thursdays. This gig led to me being asked to DJ at many other venues and specialist music events, giving me the opportunity to DJ alongside some of county’s best DJs, many of whom I still class as friends. Probably my greatest achievement was holding a residency at one of the best Jazz Funk & Soul clubs in the world, the famous Gold Mine in Canvey Island.
It was during my early years working in pubs and clubs that I assumed the identity of my ‘DJ brand’ – Ian Stewart – and it has stayed with me ever since. So who or what is Ian Stewart? Well, in the ‘80s many club DJs took on ‘stage names’ although at first I didn’t think I needed one. However, when I was asked for the name I use to go on a flyer early in my career and I told the club manager to use my real name, Euan Bass, he didn’t like it! He thought that Euan sounded too posh, and people wouldn’t know how to pronounce it!! Euan is a Gaelic name and its English equivalent is Ian, so we decided on that. Next I needed a surname, as they didn’t like Bass either because it sounded too specialist, but my middle name is Stewart so that’s how Ian Stewart was born!
As the years progressed I took the step into nightclub management. My first job was at a small capacity venue in Pitsea, Basildon called The Workshop. One of the first things I did was demote myself from being the main DJ on a Saturday night and employ Colin Hudd. He had been one of the top soul DJs, but in recent years had begun to pioneer House music in the UK. The club was a huge success and I was soon headhunted to become the manager at Mr B’s in Southend as they wanted this club to follow more of a Dance approach too. Once again I seemed to have the magic touch and took the club from trading one night a week to six! Unfortunately things soon turned sour and after a heated discussion with the company chairman it was decided that we should part ways. I thought offers from other clubs would soon come my way, but they didn’t materialise. This was very humbling, but fortunately another door of opportunity was about to open. A local entertainment agent called Colin Dench offered me some mobile DJ work! At first I was apprehensive, as after 10 years as a DJ I hadn’t ever done a mobile gig, but needs must and I reluctantly accepted the booking. The rest, as they say, is history.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 93, Pages 17-20.