Bristol-based turntablist team The Allergies have been mixing it up around the UK for a good long while with their tracks a firm fixture on national radio playlists. Rarely do I come across anyone with similar musical tastes to me, let alone play the same records, but when I heard these guys’ DJs it was one of those rare times where every pick was solid gold and their competency on the wheels was second to none. Taking it live, founding members DJs Rackabeat & Moneyshot built a show upon the idea of a mixtape performed live with one song blending into the next, enhanced on stage by their fellow band members. James Morton performs on sax and dials into the classic funk and soul riffs sampled in the music of hop-hop legends like Pete Rock. In fact, it was when working with the Allergies that I noted how I’d never clocked that ‘Let It All Hang Out‘ by A.D.O.R was a sample of California Soul, that features in The Allergies’ own version of the track. Vocalist Marietta Smith (of Smith and the Honey Badgers), brings the soul power on the vocals and bounces off MC Andy Cooper (a former member of Ugly Duckling). Sometimes life comes around in the most unexpected of ways and little me, who in 2001 was picking up records like ‘Eye on the Gold Chain’ and ‘A Little Samba’, would never have believed that 20 years later he’d be filming videos with the guys who made them. Fun fact – Andy Cooper went to school with Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz.
The first time I filmed with the Allergies in London in May 2022 I was drenched in sweat by the time they stepped off stage. I would rate their energy levels right up in the top tier. Such is the skill on the wheels and dynamism between DJs and charismatic performers that entire festival size crowds in the thousands get fully engaged from start to finish. This was something that really set off the footage as, whilst the front-of-stage lighting was slightly underpowered, the combination of backstage lighting, haze and a hyped-up crowd gave it the energy of 8 Mile.
In August, Andy came by and we filmed green screen for a solo project he’d recorded. If you can’t tell Andy is 6ft huge, so I had to build an extension on the green screen to get him all in.
The next day went to Green Man Festival and filmed two other music videos the same day. ‘Green Light Go’ was filmed primarily by fixing cameras to the dash of a car with additional b-roll from bumper cams, and a drive around Bristol on the way to the Festival. Once we arrived at the site of Green Man we had an hour before the show to shoot a video for ‘Vamanos‘. As a group, they don’t take themselves too seriously so we just had fun with the idea of a song about going somewhere hot on holiday filmed under a cloudy sky by an ice cream van and a funfair which are kind of staples of crappy UK-based summer holidays. I also love Johnny Vegas’ “Who’s Ready For Ice Cream”. But this was very much a video that was made up on the spot. The live set was the same level of energy from London only this time in front of a crowd of about a thousand people.
There are different types of “established” in the music business. There are artists who are household names and artists who are lesser known and whilst better-established artists should usually be able to draw bigger crowds, this is not always a guarantee. I’ve seen well-established acts play to no one and I’ve seen smaller acts play to huge crowds. Ultimately, if you’re good, you can rock a crowd and you’ve got the right management then there’s no reason why anything should come between you are your artistic ambitions.