Lee Burridge: Balance, drugs and Tyrant

Lee Burridge is an inventive genius and manufacturer of great house music. Before Lee Burridge became one of England's more acknowledged house DJs in the early 2000s thanks to his Tyrant residency at Fabric alongside Craig Richards, he spent the majority of the '90s in Hong Kong, where he honed his skills.

In the decade that has passed since Lee Burridge discovered acid house music, raided the local record shops of Bournemouth and took to the decks, his illustrious DJ career has spanned at least three continents and seen him work alongside some of the England's most revered DJ's.

In 1991 the South Coast scene was no match for Lee's dexterous talents and Hong Kong beckoned with the promise of a residency that would put Hong Kong on the clubbing map. Six years later, the undisputed King of the colony was guesting at most of the big club tour parties in Hong Kong, including Cream, Ministry, Malibu Stacey and Northern Exposure.

He garnered special attention with his unexpected mix of house and breakbeats, two often juxtaposing styles of dance music that he would carefully balance during his sets. Lee Burridge is currently ranked # 30 in the DJ Mag top 100 list for 2003.

Beat Factor chatted recently with Lee Burridge at the phone about the future Balance mix CD, the Tyrant project Lee did with Craig Richards, drugs, his opinion on the current dance music scene and many other things.

I take a lot of pride in doing a mix CD, it's not just a way to knocking out; I've always tried to make my mix CDs in a way that you would want to come back to them and they would grow in a flow;

Beat Factor: You've just made the latest installment from the Balance compilation series. How did you get in touch with the guys from Balance?

Lee Burridge: They actually get in touch with me. I think they've been concentrating about having me part of this for a while; it's sort of an established CD series, so I was happy to say yes.

Beat Factor: The compilation features three CDs, each of it with its own sound. What's the story of each mix?

Lee Burridge: I had two ideas when I began the process of making this CD. First was to make sure all three CDs work together as like one piece of music. But I also wanted to make them interesting enough, so it wasn't just the same CD over and over again. I was trying to represent myself in a club, but also make an experience you can listen to at home. So that was the first idea, and the second one was that I've been wanted a CD together for a while, with different sounds; a little beautiful, kind of melancholic, warm, music made from passion. And that was CD one – it's almost like a downtempo, chill out CD, without being downtempo. It's really nice, very listenable music, there's a lot of emotion in the first CD. The second CD, that's where things started to become clubby and druggy, I actually struggled a lot with the second mix.

At one point I was on the telephone with Tom from Balance, saying "Hei, you know I was talking about doing three CDs? How do you think two CDs are going to sound?" I was just having a problem getting a flow. So then I woke up one day and decided to make it and turned out is one of my favorites. It's definitely kind of wonky, bouncy, druggy house music; there are a lot of transitions of energy in that CD. I keep describing it like is very drummy; drummy isn't a word, but it is now.

Beat Factor: So how big of a deal was for you to make this Balance project happen? How much time did it take you to find the tracks?

Lee Burridge: I think this is a really nice personal way of sharing music, my records and my taste in music, with people. So I spent two months on it; you know, contacting people after new music, going to my record collection. I take a lot of pride in doing a mix CD, it's not just a way to knocking out; people listen to it and then come back in a month. I've always tried to make my mix CDs in a way that you would want to come back to them and they would grow in a flow; they're definitely not instant CDs. So I put a lot on effort on this, I spent one or two days down to my basement and I stayed there for like 48 hours. Occasionally I was shouting at the stairs to my girl friend for water and other things.

Beat Factor: Did you get any feedback so far regarding the compilation?

Lee Burridge: Yes, I read a couple of reviews very positive. And, so far so good.

Beat Factor: Last year you launched your record label, Almost Anonymous. How is it going?

Lee Burridge: It's actually on hold, because of the CD. The first three releases are going pretty well, but everybody told me it's tough to sell records. I think I have 50 copies of thousands records I stopped for the first release. A lot of people are buying digital as well. The market exploded. The way that mix CDs went, when you where going to a shop and there were so many mix CDs it's now happening on beatport and 3beatdigital. You go there and there's so much to listen to. But it's pretty fine; I can put out my records on my label when I want. And if anything comes along from producers that I like, I can put that out as well. It doesn't seem to be much money to be made these days in record labels, but it's born from passion, not from financial gain.

Beat Factor: The Balance tour will bring you, one again, to Romania. Are you very keen on our country, or what's the reason you are always coming here?

Lee Burridge: It's my favorite place in the world to say.

Beat Factor: Really?

Lee Burridge: Totally. I love it, it's amazing, and the people are amazing. I go to different cities in Romania. In any other country, if you go outside of the capital, it's maybe, good in one or two cities, and then it's pretty difficult and not so great. In Romania I go to Cluj, I go to Brasov, to Timisoara, Iasi. So I'm definitely coming back soon (laughing).

Beat Factor: So, are you considering to become a Romanian citizen?

Lee Burridge: It looks very possible. All the cute girls are in Romania as well, but my girlfriend is currently telling me not to look at them.

Beat Factor: I totally understand her. Let's get back. Do you have any new plans with Craig Richards, under the Tyrant project?

Lee Burridge: Yes! We've been doing a party every three or four months in Fabric. We plan to be back in Europe a little more. We'll play in Mexico in October, so slowly I'm thinking to open up the Tyrant project. I'd like to think at some point, in a year or two; we can maybe do another compilation and start to work together a little bit again.

We put our own personal things and our own taste in music, and it's definitely waking up again; even though I did my 365 project separately.

Features Archive


Lee Burridge: Balance, drugs and Tyrant

August 24, 2007 at 2:48 PM CEST


Bianca Balan

Beat Factor: Do you have so far any pleasant memories from the Tyrant project?

Lee Burridge: The first time when Craig and I met, before Tyrant, we were at the house of a friend of mine in Hong Kong, at an after party. There I started to love Craig so much, we have the same sense of humor. We found the biggest pair of shoes I've ever seen in my life, they were like 16 or something.

Yes, they were enormous; they had the size of a leg. We found the owner and we manage to persuade him to give us the shoes. We persuade him by lying him; Craig said that he will buy a new pair of shoes and send it from London when we came back. So we managed to chop one shoe in the half of a meat-grinder, by heating him really hard. The other shoe we took it outside, down to the water, put barbecue and set fire to it. And we almost got arrested by the security guard for setting illegal fires, and Chinese thought we were crazy. So it was pretty fun actually.

Beat Factor: Have you discovered recently any new future heroes?

Lee Burridge: Well, I have a big love for Bill Patrick.

Beat Factor: Yes, we know..We had an interview with him a couple of weeks ago and he said he's your biggest fan.

Lee Burridge: Aaa, the video interview! We were laughing so much when we saw it. Why was he banging over so much? We watched this a few times, you were professional, but Bill was acting very weird.

Beat Factor: Well, the music was really loud and we couldn't understand each other very well.

Lee Burridge: No no, I think he's not so used to do interviews, and I think he was not aware that you were holding the microphone and he was intruding his mouth in the microphone. Yes, that was fun.

So, producers, I really like a guy called TG, he's from UK and he's been making some interesting music. It's funny, I'm pretty bad when it comes about productions; there's also a Turkish guy, and Johnny D is pretty cool as well. And, believe it or not, Dubfire, one half of Deep Dish, is suddenly making really cool underground music. Deep Dish was very commercial for a while, but at the moment Dubfire is cool.

Beat Factor: What do you think about the nowadays music?

Lee Burridge: Music is really healthy. The scene is really healthy. I've been DJ for 24 years, so I've seen the dance music scene from the very beginning to the present day. There's always times when it's expanding and everybody thinks this is the craziest thing ever, and then it's times when it's contracting, and right now I think it's really healthy. New DJs are emerging, which is important; it's not good when it's just the same names over and over again. Music is in a good position right now.

Beat Factor: You've stayed in Hong Kong for some time. What 'Asian' memories return now to your mind?

Lee Burridge: I was very lucky to be in Hong Kong in the nineties, because nobody else was playing dance music. So, I think the memory of being so involved with the creation of the whole scene in Hong Kong and in Thailand, this is one of my proudest moments, and it's a nice thing to remember. I don't feel like "oh, my God, I'm amazing, I created the scene!!" it's just a nice thought being part of it. I think maybe if I was making more music, in my head I would be like "yes, I'm amazing!!". (Laughing). We had a pretty wild club, ecstasy was legal until '95, so there were many people, without paranoia of being arrested. It was a good time.

Beat Factor: If you'll have to change your name, what other name would you choose?

Lee Burridge: Flash. Yes, Flash Burridge.

Beat Factor: I've heard that you're not really into trance music.

Lee Burridge: I don't hate any style of music, it's just that I wouldn't play it anymore, just because for me it is the same as it was in 90-92, when I was playing it. For me, it's a little obvious; it's easy to understand, I've been there and done that. For me, I'm sort of over it.

Beat Factor: And finally, what's your position regarding use of drugs and drug traffic?

Lee Burridge: In the dance music scene, everybody thinks "oh my god, they all take drugs!" Which, one, they don't, and two, it's not a damaging thing; it's just an illegal thing. It's sad, because alcohol does more damages than drugs. Without drugs, so much music it wouldn't been make in the last 15 years; from rock & roll to disco, all this amazing music. Off course, dance music is the easy target, but you have lawyers that never go out and listen to Alanis Morisette doing cocaine, in bars and restaurants. And they're not getting arrested, because they're not as obvious. It's a shame that none of the governments is not brave enough to legalize something like ecstasy, although would probably be okay in less damaging to people. It's a shame, some people are going to jail for a long time to sell ecstasy; I understand why it's illegal, but there's other big crimes happening in the world right now than people happy on a dance floor.

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