THE GUIDE INTERVIEW: Graham Massey of 808 State on his passion for music, helping to create a culture and performing at Camp Bestival
Dorset Echo Dorset Echo
13 February 2015
Dorset Echo

HE'S the creator of a seminal chill-out anthem but Graham Massey is in one big rush today.

Out interview is pushed back a few minutes, then a few more and a few more again as the member of 808 State is on his way to the studio.

He's involved in so many projects that it's hard to keep up with Graham - a side project with Sisters of Transistors and a solo album recorded under the name Massonix.

808 State are responsible for chill-out anthem Pacific State, which, most likely you have heard.

And Graham will very much be part of 808 State when the band performs at Camp Bestival this year.

Unfortunately they have a gig in Glasgow the next day so won't have time to hang around.

But the Mancunian is a big fan of Durdle Door, he tells me.

"Is the Lulworth Castle where the festival is a ruined one?

"I keep thinking of this ruined castle when I think of Dorset."

I tell Graham he's probably getting his Lulworths confused with his Corfes and that Lulworth Castle is very much intact.

He's really looking forward to Camp Bestival, he tells me.

"People seem to love coming together at a festival.

"It's not not we play Pacific State because we have to

The band is named after Graham's favourite drum machine the Roland TR-808, with this technology creating a whole new sound known as acid house, which paved the way for rave.

"The music was very much about the technology of the time.

"It used to be synonymous with dance culture.

"I've been interviewed for a film which is coming out, 808 The Movie about the music of that time.

"It's about to have its London premiere and the documentary addressed how a piece of equipment like that has shaped modern music and the way it has developed."

Growing up in Manchester was a fantastic grounding for Graham.

"For many years a town like Manchester during the Thatcher years was a place where you felt disempowered.

"The fact that the party scene developed there gave people a sense of self empowerment.

"People from all over the world started coming to Manchester.

"We got the big airport and the place was updated and taken seriously in its own culture.

"Now it is a real place of culture and they have things like the Manchester International Festival.

"These things would never have happened if not for the culture of those days."

The group still enjoys playing in some quirky locations, Graham says.

"For us it's not always the biggest festivals that are the best.

"We've played at one in Portmeirion, Wales, where they filmed The Prisoner and it's fantastic. You get a real sense of place."

Graham firmly believes that things have got better for music fans over the years.

"There's such a wide world of music now.

"Streaming services like Spotify and iTunes have opened everything up to every genre of music.

"Now people curate their own interest in music."

Graham has produced remixes for many famous people over the years, including Bjork.

He said: "It's great to get to fiddle with songs.

"I loved doing a remix for Quincy Jones, he's such a legend, I also did one I really enjoyed by Jon Hassell, an avant garde trumpet player.

"I love the fact that I have done a real diversity of music."

He is thrilled to still have an ever evolving set of fans.

"808 has been going since 1988 and I just love the tradition of it.

"To do something we have loved over the years for so long is fantastic.

"There does seem to have been a rise in the number of people interested in acid house.

"We've done many gigs in Europe and there seems to be a new crowd.

"They've come to acid house through the internet."

Proud dad Graham is pleased that his 17-year-old son has got into DJing.

"There's such a library of stuff he's able to pick from.

"I'm not sure if he will get into doing the same stuff as me - he's got his own interests!

"I have encouraged him but I'm not sure what he'll end up doing."

For the future Graham will continue working on many projects.

He says: "Manchester is full of other people doing many different projects.

"As a musician in the town you kind of have to to pay the bills.

"I'm not really one of those people who thinks 'you've got to be the best musician, I'm talking about developing music that speaks directly to people.

"And when you encounter that as a music lover it's valuable to people, that's what I have always got from people and that's what I want other people to get."

Music runs through the veins of Graham.

"Death to me is getting bored of music, luckily for me I've never run into that.

"If I'm not making music or listening to it then I'm playing the drums in Sisters of Transistors.

"It's a treat for me to play in someone else's band so I don't have to organise things.

"That's a joy for me, not having to do loads of admin."

*808 State will be at Camp Bestival, which takes place at Lulworth Castle from July 30 to August 2. See for details.

[Author: Joanna Davis, Features & entertainments writer]