Adam Peak: My Story
I was born on a Peak!
Crowborough, East Sussex is recognised by Peak enthusiasts as one of the UK's "Marilyns" (hills over 150m higher than the surrounding land). My birthplace Crowborough Hospital must rank as one of the highest in the country, at almost 240m above sea level.
1984 was the year in which pop music took over my world, and almost immediately I became interested in DJing, creating radio shows with two archaic record players my parents owned plus an electronics kit that allowed us to broadcast to the end of the road. I'm very proud to say my childhood DJ buddy Tim (aka TeeJay) is a vital contributor to Peak Radio UK!
In 1987 I got my first DJ booking at a school disco, and over the next few years I started getting more and more bookings at various house parties and discos. The results were mixed, as I honed my DJ skills through trial and error!
By 1991 I had set up A1 Discos, a mobile disco operating in and around Crowborough, plus occasionally further afield (including some early forays up north). Over the course of the 1990s, I DJed at more than 300 events, ranging from weddings in the Sussex countryside to large corporate events in Central London. After Christmas 1999, I largely retired from mobile DJing (although I continued to perform at clubs and various special events).
My earliest recordings include "I Want You" (Chill Factor, 1990), "Gonna Give You All My Love" (Chill Factor, 1991), "Never Knew Love" (Aphrodite, 1992) and "Chemical Reaction" (Aphrodite, 1993).
In 1992, the first ever DJ Alpha mix "Born Free" was recorded. This was followed in 1993 by "Connected" and in 1994 by "To The Beat Of The Drum".
By 1994 I was studying Journalism at university in North London, and formed a duo with Paul Chantler called London Electric. London Electric released three singles: "Natalie" (1994), "All I Want" (1995) and "A Taste Of Love" (1996).
Up until now focused largely on commercial pop and club sounds, in 1995 I radically remodelled the DJ Alpha persona. The sounds of early trance, techno and underground rave music had formed a huge impression, which was reflected in the "Strange Travels" DJ mixes.
There were a total of eight "Strange Travels" mixes between 1995 and 1997 plus an additional mix called "Spooked" in 1998 which would later be subtitled "Strange Travels IX". In 2006 I resurrected the "Strange Travels" series for a further three DJ mixes, bringing the total to twelve.
Aside from the first two "Strange Travels" mixes, which were built on more of a chunky, mid-paced techno sound, the series is dominated by fast, intricate psy-trance and Goa trance from artists like Hallucinogen, Astral Projection, The Infinity Project and Man With No Name.
After graduating in 1996 I found myself working in Thames Water of all places. I was soon joined in the workplace by Aussie guitarist Sam Johnson, and after chatting music I was invited to meet his bandmates William Keaveney (vocals) and Jim Kostakis (drums). Within no time I was officially keyboard player for Exit, and between 1997 and 1998 we released two singles, "Crowded Room" and "Days Like These"/"Judgement Day (In Dub)".
As fate would have it, the studio where we recorded the Exit tracks was looking to hire a new engineer, and I started work at Liberty Hall Studios soon after. Who should walk through the door in pretty much my first week on the job but the one and only Jason Jon Lacey. Under the name Ananda we released three singles: "All Yours" (1999), "Got 2 Get Right Out Of Here" (2000) and "Fusion" (2001).
Meanwhile using the DJ Alpha identity I continued to create DJ mixes, mainly in the hard dance genre, and occasionally using Jason's mastery of sound FX and samples to add an extra sonic dimension to the mixes. One particular Alpha and Lacey mix, 1999's "Twisted Petal Twins", was picked up in the American rave scene, leading to my appearance at a number of Stateside raves in the early 2000s.
Having relocated from London to Brighton, in 2002 I teamed up with Youngsta to form S.O.S. (Sounds Of The South). Two underground hard dance singles were released, "S.O.S." (which featured a sample of Edwin Starr) and "S.U.S.S.E.X.", with several club nights thrown in and around Brighton.
In 2004 I formed an internet-based collective called D-LAB. The concept behind D-LAB was to harness disparate musical talents from a number of sources using the internet to communicate and transfer sound files rather than have all the musicians under the same roof.
The first single D-LAB single "Onwardz N Upwardz" (and its B-side, "Underpaid Vacation") featured Finnish guitarist Fred Ekelund contributing his guitar parts remotely. Remixes by JJ Lacey and Kaleida & Alkee transformed the song into, respectively, the dirty club and drum & bass genres.
The second D-LAB single, "Diving" (and its B-side "Bad Ass Strikes Again") featured a similar modus operandi, involving the use of several contributors (Pandemik, Jutt, Jason Jon Lacey and DJ Chucky) to produce various different mixes of the original material.
Hidden Hand Radio
In 2005 I started developing an interest in internet radio, with the stated aim of "always DJing, even when I'm not DJing". By creating a non-stop stream of music, selected and programmed in advance, I would indeed always be DJing, even when doing something else. Test broadcasts of Hidden Hand Radio began in the summer of 2005, and over the course of the next two years the technical setup, playlists and schedules of the station evolved constantly.
By 2007, however, it became apparent that there was simply too much music, in too many different styles, to all fit comfortably into the confines of one radio station. A solution was required that would involve segmenting the different genres in a more appropriate format.
Peak Productions 2007-2010
Inspired by the natural beauty and magical atmosphere of the Peak District, I formed Peak Productions in 2007 with the aim of not only continuing my quest to be "always DJing", but also notching up the symbolism and imagery to new levels of artistic expression.
Having tapped into the natural synergy between the psychogeography of the Peak District and Abraham Maslow's psychological concept of the "peak experience", I wanted Peak Productions to be a psychoacoustic representation of the peak experience, with the aim of giving the listener the same euphoric, mountaintop feelings experienced intuitively in the Peak District and explained academically by Maslow. The hard part was to make it sustainable - more of a high plateau that one could stay on for a long period of time, than a pointed peak that would take listeners down almost as quickly as they had climbed to the summit.
The answer to the issue of sustainability came in the form of splitting Peak Productions into three separate strands: Peak Gold, Peak Bass and Peak City. From 2008 to 2010 each of these three strands had its own internet radio stream: Peak Gold covering the traditional oldies "classic hits" format, Peak Bass concentrating on the DJ Alpha underground club mixes (but also bringing in mix sets from other DJs), and a brand new venture, Peak City.
Peak City was specifically designed to be an urban contemporary radio station, focusing on the most commercial, accessible music of the last five years. The most durable songs to feature on Peak City would eventually make it into the pantheon of Peak Gold classic hits, whereas the tracks that could not withstand five years of play would quietly be jettisoned, never attaining "Gold" status.
One further change to the Peak Productions roster occurred in late 2010 when Peak Bass and Peak City radio stations amalgamated to form Peak Radio. Daytime schedules would feature Peak City chart/commercial hits of the last five years, whereas in the evenings output was to be dedicated to the underground sounds of Peak Bass. Over 50 DJs went on to contribute to the schedules, including big names such as Lisa Pin-Up, Matt Lee and K Warren.
In keeping with the Peak District theme, Peak Radio was "figuratively" broadcast from Holme Moss Transmitter, located on top of an especially remote stretch of the Pennines. Late nights on Peak Radio became known as The Dark Peak (the name for the northern part of the Peak District) and the weekend dance shows became known as The High Peak (the administrative area that covers most of the central Peak District).
Peak Gold has its own radio stream figuratively broadcast from a radio tower next to the Cat And Fiddle Inn near Buxton (the second highest pub in Great Britain). In addition to the radio station, many of my recordings from between 1990 and 2006 were released on the 2007 Peak Gold compilation "Chronology 1900-2006".
There were six Peak Bass releases: the two S.O.S. singles ("S.O.S." and "S.U.S.S.E.X."), the two D-LAB remix EPs ("Onwardz N Upwardz (The Remixes)" and "Diving (Remixes)"), and two remix EPs of tracks by P.P ("Lose Control (DJ Dubs)" and "Remixes"). In addition, a Peak Bass compilation album, "Flamin Bass: The Sound Of Peak Bass", was released in 2011.
Between 2008 and 2011 Peak City released six singles, a return to more commercial-orientated music sparked by a long run of club DJ bookings in Hastings, East Sussex with DJ Jonny B. The first single, "Need U Tonite" (2008) was credited to Pureflow, a duo comprising DJ Jonny B and Ben Kempner, co-produced by myself under the name P.P (Peak Productions) and featuring vocals by Ben and Vicki Hales.
The second single, "Live (4 The Moment)" (2008) was also credited to Pureflow, co-produced by P.P, and featured vocals by Loz. 2009's "Lose Control" was credited to P.P featuring Natalia, featuring both a Pureflow Radio Mix and also a bassline house remix by Da Kaleida.
The fourth, fifth and sixth singles on Peak City were all credited to P.P meets Flora Jane, a classically-trained singer from my hometown of Crowborough: "Dirty Booty", "Flamin' Warz"/"Hey Lily" and "Wild One".
All six singles went on to feature on the first Peak City album, "Dirty Booty: The Origins Of Peak City" (2011).
In 2014 an eight track album titled "Peak Vibe" was released featuring two new tracks recorded between 2012 and 2013: "Peak Vibe" and "Pseudo Science" (credited to LCD featuring Slojam), as well as extended remixes of various tracks previously featured on "Dirty Booty: The Origins Of Peak City".
Peak City Leeds
In 2013 I created Peak City Leeds, a repurposed version of Peak Radio reflecting my relocation to Leeds. Peak City Leeds was figuratively broadcast from Emley Moor Transmitter, maintaining the Pennine connection whilst shifting perspectives towards the West Yorkshire conurbation.
Also between 2012 and 2013 I recorded several new DJ mixes under different pseudonyms: a dark DnB/neurofunk mix recorded in collaboration with DJ Sanction: "SlapDash Vol. 1" (credited to Peak & Sanction); three further DnB mixes: "Chaos Fell", "The Gatekeeper" and "Obfuscation" (credited to The Peak); two retro 80s mixes also recorded in collaboration with Sanction: "Nostalgia" and "Nostalgia Vol. 2: Mr Rubik's Revenge" (credited to Dr Who & Ace); a mix of Motown and Northern Soul yet again inspired by imagery of the Peak District: "Mountain Soul" (my final mix ever to be credited to DJ Alpha); and three selections of influential pop, rock and dance classics, as featured on my Facebook page: "FB Songs Of The Day Vol. 1 - Landslide Of Love", "FB Songs Of The Day Vol. 2 - My Favourite Game" and "FB Songs Of The Day Vol. 3 - Blinded By Science" (credited for the first time to Adam Peak).
Peak City Players
In 2011 I collaborated with former Pureflow member Jonny B under the name of Phase 180. The only Phase 180 single "Fingers" was produced by UK garage pioneer K Warren. In addition to the original version, which can broadly be described as "dubstep/pop", K Warren produced two remixes of "Fingers", a UK garage remix and a club remix.
In 2014 I collaborated with vocalist Melodi on a new vocal melody, overlaid onto a re-edited instrumental of the "Fingers" club remix. This mashup version, titled "I Like U (Phase 180 Bootleg Mix)" and credited to Peak City Players featuring Melodi, was released in 2015.
Sub:mission Audio / Transmission Audio
Transmission Audio had its roots in my original aim to collaborate with Leeds-based DnB producer Altered Perception on a remix of "Peak Vibe". The strings from the "Mermaid's Pool Mix" formed the basis of a brand new DnB track titled "Thor's Cave", which in 2014 would be released along with another new track "Chrome Hill", together forming the "White Peak EP", released on our liquid imprint Sub:mission Audio.
The lush, liquid "White Peak EP" was followed up in 2015 by the darker, techier "Dark Peak EP", featuring the two tracks "Bleak" and "Axe Edge". This was released on our tech imprint Transmission Audio.
In 2016 the Peak/Perception track "Crook" was released as part of the "Nexus Point Volume One" EP on Nurtured Beatz Recordings.
Between 2014 and 2015 I also recorded four Transmission Audio podcasts under the pseudonym The Peak: "City Of Light", "Last Battle", "Symbiosis: SA vs TA" and "Wind Of Change".
Peak City Radio
In late 2015 I temporarily relocated to Stockport, Greater Manchester. On 1st January 2016 Peak City Leeds was switched off and Peak City Radio immediately replaced it. After broadcasting from "the other side of the mountain" for six months, Peak City Radio returned to Leeds later in 2016 with a brand new look and schedule plus over a dozen new Adam Peak/The Peak podcasts, including (somewhat belatedly) my first of many dubstep mixes, "Prophesy Of The Snake".
Over the course of 2015 and 2016 I indulged in a pair of "off-piste" lo-fi side projects that between them would lay the groundwork for the PC Roots imprint. First was Spacecake, with the romantic "How Many Times" and "The Land Of Might Have Been", followed by the mock "Northern power-pop" band The M62s and their Soundcloud-only free EP "Platform".
Working once again with longtime collaborator Jason Jon Lacey under the name Paid By Word, our dubbed-up remixes of "Peak Vibe" and "I Like U", plus a lovers' reggae cover of The M62s' "Green Lady", featured on PC Roots' debut album release, 2019's "The Manchester Dubs".
2020 and beyond...
In 2019 I updated my recording setup and started work on brand new material, now settling on two distinct guises: Peak Plus [...guest vocalists], continuing in the Peak City slick dance/pop vein; and Adam & The M62s, an outlet for my wackier, quirkier (and far less slick!) side. "S - O - S" was the first new Adam & The M62s track since 2016's "Gonna Catch You".
The ongoing ethos of Peak City Radio and all my musical projects has been the emulation of nature in the form of music. We are nature! Moreover, not only is The Peak a universal metaphor for the essential role played by natural landscapes in inspiring and uplifting us, it's also a very real and specific location in the heart of the area I have chosen to make my home.
The skyscrapers of Peak City are the mountains and moors of The Peak District; and it is these Pennine uplands - and the people who live in the cities around them, such as Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield - that continue to be my inspiration.