In Conversation: Humans on Wax talk Coventry's Underground Scene
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
Humans on Wax are a Coventry based collective made up of Fazed and Ellejay aka Rodney Taylor and Lauren Joyce. At the centre of their collective is, you guessed it, wax, with a focus on showcasing vinyl DJs from across the midlands and bridging together the older and younger generations of selectors.
Since their start up 3 years ago they have collaborated with the likes of Motoring and held events across the city at Empire, Castle Yard Taproom, Inspire Bar and more.
This interview is a particularly special one for me as the duo have really increased my passion and interest for vinyl with their genuine love of music and the nights they throw. So without further ado let's hear what they have to say as they talk all things vinyl, Coventry's underground scene and what they've been up to during lockdown.
Hey Rodney and Lauren! Super excited to chat with you more about Humans on Wax. Firstly, let’s talk about your ethos. Vinyl is at the core of your nights. Why is this format so important to you?
Fazed: For me, Vinyl was a huge part of my life, it was the only platform for music when I was a kid, so I guess it’s like a heritage thing…
Ellejay: It was a huge influence on the beginning of our relationship, Fazed took me shopping for my first pair of turntables not long after we met, and the love just kind of grew from there. I love the tangibility of vinyl and being able to hold it, feel it, and the fact that it’s not perfect. Each record can be pressed slightly differently and I just find that a bit more exciting.
Do you play on digi at all?
Ellejay: I think I speak for both of us when I say no, lol. Fazed is too much of a purist, but when your fave tune on vinyl is silly money, you can see the appeal for digital.
And how did you nights come together in the first place?
Fazed: Myself and Ellejay, discussed the idea for starting up nights from early on in our relationship. At that time (2014), we were playing a few small nights down The Quadrant Club in Coventry but not really delving into the promotion side, just playing tunes that we loved for people to enjoy. It was always the plan to start something, but we had no idea what it would look like or how we would get there.
As I have told you many times I love how your nights bring together the older and younger generations. Why do you think this is important?
Fazed: The beauty of music is its universal, it unites people despite differences and transcends languages and barriers. I think it’s important to build a community of like minded people where the arts can thrive. It’s also about educating the next generation on the art of vinyl DJing, passing on knowledge and skills, and networking to collaborate on events and projects to boost Coventry.
How many events have you done so far and what’s been your favourite?
Fazed: We’ve done around 10-12 events in Coventry since 2019. We were trying to organise at least one night a month prior to Covid. For me, my favourite would have to be our second collab with Motoring at The Empire. Every DJ that played that night was fire, every record selected was fab, it was a really great night.
Ellejay: Yeah, I’d have to agree. The vibe that night was sick, it was all about the music and everyone was having a great time, whats not to love.
Let’s talk Coventry. I love how you are contributing to Coventry’s underground, electronic scene. Why do you think it’s important to have a thriving local scene?
Fazed: It’s important because it’s an outlet to showcase local talent, DJs, Producers and Promoters. It contributes massively to small independent bars/venues/businesses which in turn helps them thrive.
Ellejay: People need spaces to express themselves and loose-themselves for a while to escape the everyday humdrum of society. Especially in a time like now where it is so difficult for anyone to travel, we need spaces to explore ‘spiritual travel’ on the dancefloor.
Rodney, I have to ask you about your experience of Coventry in the 90s. What was it like and how does it compare to now?
Fazed: The 90’s- let me see- Coventry was buzzin every evening of the week, there was always somewhere to go, always something happening. In one way we were lucky, I’m not saying all of it was brilliant but, there was more of a selection of clubs/bars/nights/pubs, you name it. How does it differ now, Coventry’s night life has steadily been declining due to the series of councils trying to ‘clean up’ the City Centre, but doing so it has created a donut effect where all the bars and clubs are on the outskirts. In doing so they have ripped the heart and soul out of the City’s Nightlife, but there is hope, due to the introduction of new venues to fall in line with the City of culture and beyond.
Lauren this ones for you, you’re behind the artwork for Humans on Wax, what inspires you when creating imagery?
Ellejay: Art is a huge part of my life, I use it to express myself when I can’t articulate through words. I use art as a release and as a way to escape from reality. When I’m drawing/designing I tend to dissociate and loose myself for hours in the process. I draw a lot of my inspiration from everyday life, politics, culture, history- anything really. When I get an idea though I just have to run with it, it’s incredibly impulsive but there are worse habits to have.
How have you both been keeping yourself busy during lockdown?
Fazed: From the last gig we did back in march, the rate in which the pandemic took control, we knew that there would be no events in the pipeline for us for a while, especially as Ellejay was shielding. We had to reevaluate how Humans On Wax could retain a creative output without holding physical events. We decided to launch the divergence series, a strictly vinyl mix series, to showcase DJs and their talent. The series has had contributions from local, national and international DJs, which has allowed us to create new contacts and relationships that we wish to continue.
Ellejay: I spent a lot of time designing different prints that we could use for merch in the future. I designed 2 tshirts in lockdown and even did the press shots and everything to get them online to sell. Unfortunately due to other demands, I haven’t managed to get much further than the prototype stage but it’s something that will be happening soon! I’ve also got back into producing our Humans On Wax radio shows, it’s given me time to brush up some skills. Fazed and I did a radio show together years ago, so everything has kind of come full circle.
And finally, what can we expect from you in the future?
Fazed: In the imminent future, we’re going to continue to put out our radio shows on Block Radio and The Music Galaxy Radio. We’re also going to continue to curate the Divergence Series and work along artists to explore analogue music. In the long term, once we know what’s happening, hopefully we can continue to put on a variety of events and continue contributing to Coventry’s Nightlife.