Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Resurrection of Todd

A piece by UK Garage-ologist Gabriel Szatan on Todd Edwards's career rebirth 

"If there’s one moment of telepathic audience communication almost every Todd devotee can picture with their eyes closed, it’s this: simply utter the words ‘Jesus Loves UK Garage’, and a rippling harp ushers in the dream sequence.

"It’s New Year’s Day 2003. On the fringes of East London, history is being made. A full decade into his career, Todd Edwards is stepping up for his first club DJ set. The venue is Romford’s  Time & Envy, the night is DJ EZ’s 4by4, and the jet-lagged Jersey boy is sweating with anticipation in a homemade black T-shirt proclaiming Christ’s affection for UKG... 

"EZ slots his records away as Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont and Karl ‘Tuff Enuff’ Brown beam from the booth’s back wall. Todd is summoned and cues up a custom dubplate cut for the night. Around 1,200 tightly-packed fans surge forward to the sound of — wait, is that The Carpenters? Todd stands, eager but flummoxed, as people begin to cheer and shuffle to the muted intro for 45 seconds or so. Then the tune kicks in, and the venue goes absolutely doolally.

" [Todd recalls]'... They cheered every song, including that preposterous intro, which was intended to show the crowd how my samples worked. I learned so much that night: the interaction between the DJ and the crowd was like nothing I’d experienced in New York. The MC was saying things and the crowd chanting back — as an American, it just sounded like a pep rally.'”

"During his set, this innocence resulted in one amusing misunderstanding. As the crowd demands a rewind, Todd flashes a confused glance back to the MC. Unsure what was being requested, he whiffs at the chance of a thunderous reload, instead merely hitting the stop button and watching the turntable power down. He grimaces at the mention. "Tuff Jam always joke about that.”

Watch the magic and the mishap here  - or below 

Less cheerfully, there's a lot about Todd losing his way, bad management, financial struggles - and failure to capitalize on a later resurgence off the back of Random Access Memories

There's talk about his "lost" album Odyssey (actually released but not to much impact)

"A 2006 love letter to God that slipped through the cracks, ‘Odyssey’ has gathered something amounting to cult classic status amongst in-the-know heads. The album shows a different side to Todd — multiple different sides, in fact, as each track features a different vocal impression. Todd huffed helium to sound like Björk and crooned like Michael McDonald for maximum yacht-pleasing effect. The production is crystalline and the lyrics have an unresolved melancholy to them, seeking salvation in song. As an artistic statement, there’s no real point of comparison anywhere in Todd’s oeuvre." 

Hear it here or below 

"Todd has been chipping away at an improved version of ‘Odyssey’ for close to a decade, and come 2022, there will be an accompanying (re)making-of documentary by filmmaker Billie JD Porter. The new version is, Porter says, “basically a different album by this point. It’s a fresh, loud take on the original. Old school Todd fans are going to be overjoyed when this record hits.”

And here is Todd talking about spirituality, UKG etc at a Red Bull Music Academy event:

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