It’s amazing what can come of a few chance meetings in a record shop. It was during his time working at London’s ‘Blackmarket Records’ that Jay Hannan became acquainted with Ben Watt, and together the pair became Lazy Dog - deep house DJ’s and soulful Sunday night party hosts.
After almost four years, the Lazy Dog name has become synonymous with a laid back celebratory vibe. In many ways, it’s a throwback to the days before corporate brands began eating away at clubbing culture, and since April 1998, Watt and Hannan have been Lazy Dog’s resident DJ’s, founders and promoters, basing themselves at Notting Hill Arts Club.
“We never wanted to start a ‘super club’”, Jay explains, “We just wanted to play records other people weren’t playing - a change from the bigger clubs.”
“The idea was to create a soulful party with a social atmosphere, where people dance, smile, and meet each other. Clubbing should be about meeting people. I’ve still got friends I met at raves in 1988. I think clubbing and music should involve people.”
This emphasis on music and socialising rather than a big club ‘brand’ is an important part of the Lazy Dog ethos, says Jay. “I’ve been to big clubs where you see people standing on the dance floor, staring at each other, staring at the DJ...Lazy Dog was set up on a social level. It’s like a party, and as the party gets better, the atmosphere gets better.”
But what, if anything, constitutes the Lazy Dog ‘sound’? Jay claims the music he and Ben Watt play is not just restricted to house. “I think all music is valid. If I hear something that moves me in any way, I buy it. I just look for anything that’s good - it’s got to be soulful, it’s got to be deep. You know what it’s like if you hear a good, soulful voice - it connects with people.”
With a second mix compilation of Lazy Dog favourites now available, a wider audience can get a flavour of Sunday nights in Notting Hill. ‘Lazy Dog Volume 2’ picks up where the duo’s first set of mixes left off. Consisting of two cds, each with ten tracks, the first selection is mixed by Watt, the second by Hannan.
With cuts such as Benjamin Diamond’s ‘In Your Arms (We’re Gonna Make It)’ as remixed by Joey Negro, and a Wamdue version of Kim English’s ‘Been So Long’, Jay’s set suggests a strong affiliation with funk and soul music. Is this an influence? “I play saxophone, and I’ve played in funk bands”, Hannan says, “I grew up listening to my parents music, which was a mixture of blues, soul, and reggae. If anything connects the different kinds of music I play now, it’s probably that funky element.”
The compilation represents a bookmark in the recent history of Lazy Dog, as Ben Watt, whose breakbeat leanings have increasingly surfaced through his work as one half of Everything But the Girl, explains: “We’ve tried to compile an album of genuine Lazy Dog classics from the past year or so, roadtested and rubber-stamped by our crowds, who help keep it fresh, keep it deep, and keep it low to the ground week in week out.”
Jay Hannan echoes this sentiment. “It’s like the best of Lazy Dog from the last year. For anybody who’s been to the club during that period, it will hopefully remind them of their time at Lazy Dog. The people who come will recognise it.”