For men and women of a certain age (33 1/2) who grew up in the midlands and went to the same nightclubs as me, and were into the same DJs as me, and were into hard house like what I was, Ian M is a name that will send shivers down and up their spines.

Ian M is one of my all time favourite DJs and producers. He, along with Tony De Vit, Dave Randall and Untidy Dubs were music makers you could rely on to churn out hard house of a quality that was sometimes rare in the late nineties/early noughties. After Tony died, Ingo Starr, Fergie and Eddie Halliwell fucking ruined hard house and I don't mind saying that out loud behind a blog that I don't put my real name to.

- How did they ruin hard house, Tonka?

- They just did.

Ian M plays rock hard but with a panache and sensitivity that makes you forget that what you're listening to is about 145 bpm. I remember seeing him at the Mezzanine in Wolverhampton for a Tidy Trax party and he played a track that sounded like a rubber band being flicked over a 909 kick, but the rubber band sample had been pitched down so low that it sounded like the colour black, if that makes sense? Just a 909 kick and a pitched down rubber band sound for about nine minutes. It was fucking brilliant.

I met Ian M for dinner at the Osteria del Portico in Ealing. I paid for a delicious three course meal and drinks on the WRDM company card and we conducted the entire interview in Italian, for a laugh.

Here is the translated transcript of everything we said to one another:


Q) For anybody unfamiliar with the name Ian M could you tell us who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A) For any 'absolute virgins' of the hard house/dance scene, I have been a full time DJ for more than five mins (joke!). I was one of the main residents at Trade at Turnmills (considered in its day to be an industry standard) for about 8 years before I left around 2001. I followed on from Tony de Vit’s 8am til 10am set at Trade every week which, when I reflect back upon, think to myself that it was a bloody good experience.

I have also been involved with and released original tracks and remixes (e.g. The Dreamer and Annihilation) for various labels like Tidy Trax, Tripoli Trax, Mohawk & others (go to for more details).

Finally, with the question, “Why do I do it?” my answer is simple, it must be my love of good music.

Q) Was establishing yourself in the music industry a MASSIVE uphill struggle or something that you were all cocky about because you knew you had the talent for it?
A) I have never thought myself to be cocky or even thought of myself as God’s gift. I would say it was not easy getting to where I am nowadays. I have had loads of peaks and dips throughout my career but you learn from the experiences. It has always been a struggle being a DJ and more so today, because everybody wants to be a DJ. Even now, I am always learning to be better.

However, as I have said before you put it all down to good experience, as some people will say it is like doing your apprenticeship.

Q) How did you come up with the moniker, Ian M? Did you ever toy with the idea of prefixing it with DJ, like a proper DJ (DJ Ian M) or suffixing DJ with something more exciting like ‘Brick Knocka’ (DJ Brick Knocka) or ‘Mix Masta Masha’ (DJ Mix Masta Masha)?
A) It was actually Alex Laird (Manager of ex-Subway City) who came up with the idea for a Thursday night event called Rim held at Bakers, but he spelt it as Ean M at first. After slagging him off for the mis-spelling, we agreed on the Ian M moniker in the end because we thought it was better than people having to say my full name. So today, I just call myself Ian M but some promoters put my name out as DJ Ian M, most do not.

At end of the day, what difference does it make? If I am booked to play at a club, then it is pretty obvious. And I wouldn’t really say calling yourself “Brick Knocka” or “Mix Masta Masha” as exciting. Nowadays names like that make yer sound like a prat as far as I’m concerned.

Q) One bar snare fill or a high pitched vocal “come on!”?
A) Both please with a side dish of cheesy fries & a dildo smile.

Q) As a successful DJ, are you able to go clubbing and relax or are you constantly comparing yourself to who’s playing?
A) It’s very rare I would go to a club when I’m not working but whenever I have popped into a club, I get the odd funny look and people shake my hand & generally say hello and sometimes we’ll end up in conversation. Moreover, I never compare myself to anyone else because every DJ is different in his or her own special way.

Q) One of the saddest days of my life was when Pulse (Birmingham) got closed down. I thought that it was the spiritual home of Sundissential and my hard house days started to wind down shortly after. What are your memories of the late 90s hard house heyday?
A) Funnily enough, I remember that place as The Powerhouse (with DJ Funky Dunk) before it was called Pulse. I do remember the Tony de Vit Memorial Night with Boy George and Judge Jules playing. However, when it comes to memories from those times, they are few and far between, it was a very mental time to be a DJ. Sometimes we had around four or five gigs in ONE NIGHT, we were rushing around the country like headless chickens. Actually, friends remind me of some of the funny times we used to have at the old gigs around the country.

Q) Do you have any good Madders anecdotes?
A) When it came to Madders, you were worried in case he never coughed up the DJ fees. Afraid he owed me a few pennies in those days; of course, you have to write it off now. But I like to joke about it.........NOT!! I remember he used to come up to the DJ box either in Brum or in Leeds and shout to me “COME ON!! BANG IT OUT WILL YER!!” because I use to hold back playing the harder tunes.

Q) Where is Madders now?
A) Why? Does he owe you money as well? He, he!

Q) Some people are quick to slag off hard house and dismiss it as fairground music. Am I right in saying that in a game of Top Trumps, Tidy Trax and Tripoli Trax of the 90s/very early noughties would fucking hammer a team of Ed Banger and Kitsuné?
A) Fairground music? You must be joking! Have you heard Hardcore or Hard Style these days? As per any music genre, there are sub-levels to it as well. Therefore, with Hard House, of course, you can have some fluffy flavours but it can also have some 'fucked-up' hard flavours. Some tunes would give some Lenny Dee tunes a run for its money.

I think people are mixed up with all the different genres these days. I know I do. So nowadays, I tend to call em all “Council House”. In addition, get this interesting fact, in America Todd Terry is considered to be Hard House. Work that out eh? And these are the people who call “EDM” dance music these days. I shall say no more?

Q) Kathy Burke. Would ya?
A) Would you?

Q) Was there a Tidy Trax and Tripoli Trax beef or did they get along well?
A) Many moons ago, they got on like a house on fire but bugger knows these days? I would say they STILL love each other. Amo loves everybody!! Anyway, does it matter? Don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over it.

Q) Curate your fantasy club night. What’s it called? What’s the line-up (dead or alive)? Where’s the venue? Is there a dress code?
A) I would probably call the night either 'Cum & Get It' or 'Up Yours'. The line up would be DJs who are really, really passionate about the music they play and it will be properly programmed. I know who I’d personally ask to play but I’d like to keep it a secret.

The venue would be a “Turnmills” style club with the most unreal Digital 3D/Surround Professional Sound System. In addition, of course, I wouldn’t have a dress code. People can come as they want, dress as they want BUT leave all the attitude outside the door also come with a musical open mind because the night wont be sticking to one music dance genre.

Q) What advice would you give to me any young readers of this blog who want to make a name for themselves in the music industry?
A) DON’T!!! Unless you are willing to sell yer soul to the devil. I tell the young un’s keep yer full time job and look at dj’ing as a part time hobby cos I’m afraid there isn’t any money in the music industry, that’s unless yer Simon Cowell obviously.

The government is going out of its way to close club land down, you only have to look at all the clubs that have closed in London recently. Don’t forget to thank Mayor Boris for making it difficult to license venues as well. The Ministry of Sound club recently nearly copped it but they managed to fight back and keep themselves open but what have they done, put bloody flats next door or close by. They have done the same around the country in all the cities. It is outrageous really! Eventually, the people will bite back but it maybe too late at this rate.

Q) Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A) I have done one of these descriptions only once and vowed, I would not do it again. Guess which one.

Q) What are your plans for 2014?
A) With the new label, running that will keep me busy in one form or another. We’ve got some wicked stuff due for future release, from the likes of Steve Thomas, Andy Farley, Little Jon, Knuckleheadz, 12” Thumpers, Kris O’Rourke (originally from Derby but now lives in Brisbane) and some new local Midlands artists like Kieran Browne and Dark Element...and of course, me!!!

I shall be embarking upon my second PURE IAN M 6 hour set in October. The first one was such a success, the MORE ON THE DOOR boys decided on the night to hold another one in 2014. It was fun because it gave me chance to play different types of music and styles. I think it surprised many people and was talked about for weeks. In addition, it gives me a chance to highlight new talent to the London crowds like Tim Clewz & Kirsty Lee James.

Finally, I’d really like to earn enough to survive and pay the bills. Times are tight out there people.


What a lovely man! Nobody has ever said to me that I sometimes use the Weekly Review of Dance Music for selfish and nostalgic purposes, and to form balsa wood contacts with DJs, producers and people on the scene I would never had got access to ten years ago, but I regularly imagine that that's what people think. Let this weeks MASSIVE QUESTIONS be a MASSIVE message to anyone who thinks that I live in the past from time to time.

Ian M is a hero of mine and, as I said before, a lovely young man, so do me and him a favour by getting right behind him from this day forth. All of the YouTube clips I've included in this post prove beyond doubt that hard house, when done properly, and with the right amount of subtlety, can be just as fucking good as your technos and your minimal technos.

The official Ian M Soundcloud page, not one of the many hundreds of bootleg pages:

The official Ian M Mixcloud page, not one of the etc, etc:

Carboned label Soundcloud page:

I'll be back next week with a very special post about something I've not yet thought through and Tonka's Week on Ransom Note will be on Friday, as agreed.

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These tracks also prove that hard house can be good:


UPDATE:  This is a live Ian M mix, rather than Tony De Vit, as stated. Whoever uploaded it has made a MASSIVE mistake. Ian assures me that he has the master tape for that particular mix and I have no reason whatsoever to disbelieve him.