By Luigi Meliambro
When I contacted Trevor Walker about a possible interview, I was expecting a meet up in some cafe. Instead he suggested I come over to his home. I quickly accepted and then started to giggle like a child—wow, I get to see Trevor’s record collection! I’ve known him for many years and I was honoured to step into his home where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
Trevor has been a DJ in Ottawa for 30 years, spinning records in clubs, cafes, music festivals, on CKCU radio, backyard parties . . . you name it he’s played it. His love for music is unsurpassed and even though the scenes and musical taste have changed, Trevor seems to keep it real after all these years.
Cheezy Luigi: What the f**k are you making?
Trevor Walker: Coffee.
CL: What? What’s in that?
TW: . . . You want try it?
Check the recipe at the end of the interview to try it yourself.
CL: For sure . . . Hey, that’s good!
TW: Wanna go downstairs?
CL: Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for this
Trevor leads me into his basement where there’s two separate rooms and in them shelves upon shelves of records. It doesn’t seem like a lot at first, but when you step back and digest it all, you’re quickly overwhelmed.
CL: You’re really organized
TW: Easier to find things. Let’s see what we got: here’s some funk, disco, some hip hop.
CL: Not much hip hop.
TW: I got rid of most them, I don’t like what most of them were saying.
CL: Do you have any Larry Levin?
TW: Oh yeah, Peech Boy, Gwen Guthrie, he does a great Jimmy Castor remix I have. Also John Morales is amazing stuff, I’ll play you some, a complete boogie remix, this one I picked up the early 90’s.
CL: Nice. Larry Levin was just a New York thing, right?
TW: Yeah, it was a big enough scene.
CL: Just like house [music] from Chicago.
TW: Exactly, very contained. Not commercial at all, very underground. Here’s a John Morales remix of Marvin Gaye “I want you”. This stuff was never properly released, they were on tapes or reel to reel. You couldn’t get it. The people of New York were so spoiled. Nobody knows John Morales, here’s a Teddy Pendergrass remix, it builds up nicely . . . you can’t play this out, people get bored.They want instant gratification . . . but I’m really digging the African Stuff.
CL: What are you saying? You’ve always dug that stuff.
TW: Even more now, there’s more available.
CL: What were you playing the night I saw you at Charlotte on Elgin? You just bought it, you cringed about the price you paid.
TW: Oh that’s from West Africa in Benin, it’s called Assa-Cica et L’Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. That whole sound from around there is really another level. Check this out.
CL: What a sound!
TW: Here’s another—Ahehehinnou Vincent. He only put out one record. Original pressing is going for $1,200; very rare stuff. That’s why I buy the re-issue *laughs*
Listen to those back vocals and arrangements. I just wanna play this stuff out. No one what’s to listen this . . . there’s no scene for this stuff.
CL: Are young Africans listening this?
TW: No way, I really doubt it. But there’s some really great electronic music coming from there these days . . . Here’s a Cuban Band called Monguito, I’ll play you some.
CL: It’s so tight . . . I have to ask what are you going to do with all these records?
TW: I’m cutting my collection down to a quarter of what I have now. It’s too much, I’m never going to listen to all of this in my lifetime, It ain’t going to happen . . . and lots of stuff I’ve grown out of, I just don’t have the time anymore.
CL: Where was the first club you played at ?
TW: Club Zinc in Hull, I filled in for Michelle (Laville) or Nadine (Gelineau) one night.
I was always hanging and dancing there and they just asked me if I wanted to play, I don’t know if I was good or not . . . but I spent all my money on records. I’d buy anything with a black person on the cover! *laughs* I didn’t want screeching guitars. Anything with a groove. That was 1988 . . . I was playing early house, early hip hop . . . we tried to break new music.
CL: Nadine was great for that.
TW: Nadine was amazing. Then I started with one night at Zinc.
CL: What other clubs came after?
TW: Deluxe, the pub in the market where I’d play the pop stuff, Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys . . . [at the] White Room playing Acid Jazz, Atomic, the Well, The Pit and Sweet . . . most of the nights I was playing to the four walls, they had a really good time!
CL: And eventually The Mercury Lounge and CKCU.
TW: The radio show was a saving grace for me, an outlet to play the music. That was early 1990’s.
CL: What’s the scene like today?
TW: Smaller scenes, pop up parties . . . Tropikalo, Double Barrell, things like that . . .
most kids just wanna hear the hits of the day. Sometimes they will Shazam my songs but they can’t find it, so yeah, I guess there’s interest, but I don’t think there’s enough exposure. People are coming to me like I’m a human jukebox, but I don’t know it, they’re like “you don’t know that?!’’ Yeah, I know it’s weird, I’m a DJ and I don’t know it.
CL: You listen to rock music? You have records?
TW: Let me see . . . a couple of Stones, I don’t have any Led Zeppelin records, maybe a Beatles anthology . . . there’s so much of it out there, you don’t need me to play it, really!
Trevor’s Coffee Recipe:
- Brew a serving of espresso
- 1tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1tbsp butter
- 1tbsp “Fatso” peanut butter or MCT oil
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tbsp cocoa (optional)
- 1tsp sweetener (optional)
- Blend ingredients for 30 seconds