Joining the Dots: Milo Johnson aka DJ Mil’o aka DJ Nature

Hi,

In this piece I want to write about the great DJ Nature, aka Milo Johnson, aka DJ Mil’o. This man’s career spans five decades (he started spinning in the late 70s), plus he’s kind of an underground figure so for me to get his full story on here will be impossible. There’s still much I need to learn about Milo’s DJ’s career, but for this piece I wanted to put down a flag to explain why he gets my admiration. In fact it’s really more accurate to say he gets my wife’s admiration as well as mine.

Some time around 2004 I started seeing my now wife Niamh and it was she who got me into this mix CD which was released on the Strut label in ’02: http://www.discogs.com/Various-The-Wild-Bunch/release/123867

In my world in the mid 00s I had just moved back to Dublin after living in London for a few years. Techno seemed to me to be losing some of it’s it’s funk and I wasn’t in the loop of much of the good house music that was coming out at this time. When I take a look at this mix’s track list today I can see why it left such an indelible mark on me. It covers 80s hip-hop, Disco & Boogie and house. It reignited my interest in disco at that time in the mid 00s when my own listening habits were becoming a bit tired and I started to look back to the past for musical inspiration.

The mix nods it’s head to Milo’s roots in the sound system culture of Bristol City. This is a good example of the way that the UK bass genres are somewhat linked to disco through a wider musical history other than dub alone. Personally I think this connection is a fascinating one and DJ Milo bridges the genre stepping stones like no one else.

There seems to be two biographies on Milo Johnson: one on his hip-hop side under the moniker DJ Mil’o and another on his disco & house side under the name DJ Nature.  I wonder is this dichotomy intended by the man himself…

In an industry that likes it’s genres clearly defined does Milo wish to separate his DJ personas?

I shouldn’t really speculate, but it seems the DJ Nature persona came about after Milo moved to New York in the late 80s. At least according to this bio it is the case: http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/djnature/biography.  But, it’s interesting that there’s no mention here of the previous DJ Mil’o name nor any of his part in the burgeoning Bristol hip-hop scene. However, in this DJ Mil’o biography it does mention his move to NY and a connection with the awesome Nu Groove house music label: http://dj-milo.net/bio.html. So we see the hip-hop and house dots starting to join up.

Listen to this DJ Nature remix from ’93: https://youtu.be/NFbc5-Z2VGI.  It sounds like Milo must have been heavily influenced by the NY house scene which is firmly rooted in disco. Who wouldn’t if you lived in New York at this time?

DJ Nature spins house and disco to this day and is arguably more popular and relevant now than at any stage during his awe inspiring career. 2014 gave us two full LPs: “Groovotica Collection 1” on Golf Channel Recordings and “Let The Children Play” on the Jazzy Sport label.

Milo’s “Year End” mixes over the past couple of years have become essential listening for me. I think the 2013 one is gone from SoundCloud now, but you can still get with his ’14 warm up selection mix here: https://soundcloud.com/natureboy/year-end-mix-2014-part-1-foreplay.  Also worth a listen is his LWE mix here: http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/lwe-podcast-167-dj-nature.

Now DJ-wise he specialises in slow groove sets. Niamh and myself with some friends were lucky to catch a DJ Nature set at a Together Disco night we went to last year. One of the great things about the party from my perspective was the way Milo kept the tempo slow and mixed between disco and house effortlessly. I have to say there is nothing “warm up” about this music when the system is tight and the crowd are up for it. I would jump at the chance to catch him play again.

I hope Milo continues to DJ and set the standard for what a successful career in dance music should look like. Go on DJ Mil’o, we are big fans!

Incidentally as a foot note I want to say that the Strut, Nu Groove and Golf Channel labels are incredible and each are worthy of at least their own blog entry by me. I may get to them in more detail another time.

That’s all for now readers and thanks again for clicking on my blog.

Cheers,

P

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