No matter what your profession, re-booting your career after a decade and a half is a risky move, re-booting it if you’re an international DJ and producer, where reputation matters more than in most professions, is basically suicide.
However, that’s precisely what Tom Dinsdale, aka Mineo, did. After ten years as one half of British house pioneers, Audio Bullys, Dinsdale decided to strike out on his own, eschewing his decade in the industry and starting over again with a new sound, a new attitude and most importantly a new name.
“I lived in Paris and Amsterdam for like a year, in 2011 and came back and got a studio in Shapes in Hackney Wick for a year,” Dinsdale explains of his decision to go it alone. “A friend of mine was friends with Jamie Jones and the Hot Creations lot so we got introduced and the first record I put out as Mineo was on Hot Creations which was called ‘Turn Out the Lights’ and that started it.” While many producers dream of having their debut single put out on a label like Hot Creations, revered as it as one of the most prolific labels in modern house music, Dinsdale soon realised that he didn’t want to become another DJ on the roster of someone else’s label. “I’d kind of had enough of all that. I was a DJ in a duo for ten years; I didn’t want to do that again.”
Indeed, his desire to shrug off the past was so extreme that Dinsdale decided to stop making music altogether for the following year, picking up a paintbrush and throwing himself into a new medium instead. “When I get into something I really get into it, so I literally stopped making music for like eight months and just painted every day. I had a new place in Hackney Downs with massive windows, so I went from living in the same flat in Richmond to this flat and it was the biggest switch up in inspiration I’ve had in a long time” he enthuses. “Music [had become] my life and I had to pay the bills and the energy changes when something is your bread and butter; the art was just ‘I don’t need to make money off this, I’m just doing it because I enjoy it.’ I’m good enough that I can design my own artwork now, so it brings that control back to me, I like to rely on as few people as possible.”
Mineo is far from an entirely solo project, however, and his latest singles have seen him with not only collaborate with cult London MC CASISDEAD but also reunite with his former project Audio Bullys (the rumour mill is awash with talk of a 2018 reunion). “I’m not anti-working with people but when it comes to putting something out, the less you have to ask people for favours the better it is and the more pure it is to you.” His independent approach is paying dividends as well, “I can edit video to some degree as well so that last video for ‘Original’ that was me, I made that, the one with CASISDEAD before that as well. I can see myself getting really into that.” To date CAS is his most frequent collaborator outside of Audio Bullys, a south London rapper as versatile on the mic as Mineo is behind the boards, and as well versed in the hedonistic grit south of river specialises in, the two hit it off by chance but have gone on to become firm friends, complimenting each other’s styles perfectly. “I met Dizzee Rascal’s manager Nick, and he was working with CAS and asked if I wanted to get in the studio with him so I did that for about six months,” he explains. “That brought me back around to where my strengths are. It was satisfying to make house bangers again.”
“House bangers” doesn’t quite do justice to Mineo’s particular take on the genre. Aforementioned new single ‘Original’ is the kind of brash, rabble-rousing acid house inspired number that wouldn’t sound amiss soundtracking an Irvine Walsh adaption. Similarly, his previous releases ‘Do It Again’ and ‘Woodblock’, both with CASISDEAD, bristle with the edge of a night out in London’s seedier depths. It’s a mix of the ‘hooligan house’ he helped pioneer as part of Audio Bullys and his love of Britain’s rave history, explaining that ‘Original’ was born from rediscovering his love of old-school rave culture, in particular, jungle. “That ‘original bad boy’ sample is from a track I loved when I was fifteen or sixteen… I’d go around this guy’s house and he had walls filled with all these old jungle records and I’d go around every day after school and I’d just mix, mix, mix. He’s kept 150 really good jungle records which he let me borrow, and I’ve sampled them all again,” Dinsdale explains, taking a moment to reflect on the depths of his re-obsession, “I could play a Carnival ’95 set easily.”
Throughout our conversation, Dinsdale enthuses breathlessly about samplers, decks, raves and parties, his chat flowing as seamlessly from one topic to the next as the finest of his mixes. He’s been DJing in one form or another since he was fifteen and has held down residencies at some of the most iconic venues of the acid house and early garage scenes. He’s clearly proud of his longevity, and he has every right to be, few artists manage to maintain the independence and creative control he has for as long as he has. Every time Dinsdale has felt his career or creativity drifting he’s pulled it back or dramatically changed gear.
Looking towards the future and Dinsdale has his sights set on expanding far beyond his house roots. The proud owner of an MPC 3000 (that’s the sampler that Dre and Timbaland used to define the 90s hip-hop sound for you non-gear nerds) he’s planning on dipping his toe into the world of hip-hop. However, despite their history of collabs don’t expect CAS to turn up with a verse on them. “CAS always seems to want the house stuff from me,” he says, somewhat dismayed. He won’t be dwelling on it for too long however as his next single ‘Bout To Get High’ features Miraa May, a singer who he’s dubbed “the best voice in London”, no small feat considering the amount of vocal talent in the capital right now. Whatever 2018 holds for Dinsdale, whether as part of a reformed Audio Bullys or on his own as Mineo, the results are going to be big enough to blast a hole in Britain’s flagging house scene.