If you’ve managed to stumble upon one of Christian Wood’s all-vinyl sets at some point over the last few years, you’ll know about it. He’s a lively Mancunian with a bold, fiery presence behind the decks, offering selections as broad as his various monikers – Il Bosco, The Nudge, DJ Absolutely Shit, or just plain Woody. He’s been described as one of the stalwarts of the burgeoning Manchester scene of late, after over three decades of partying across the North West, and now regularly DJs at festivals as big as Dimensions, Love International, We Out Here & Gottwood, whilst frequently smashing it amongst the moonstruck crowds of Salford’s infamous White Hotel.
As the boss of Red Laser Records, he’s one of the leading brains behind the colourful ‘Manctalo’ movement – a tongue-in-cheek play on italo-disco – which provides underrated local producers with a platform to deliver pounding, synth-laden cuts and a general wealth of 80s-inspired ‘edit-not-edit tackle’. The slang is strong amongst the Red Laser squad. He’s also involved with the team behind Hidden’s fittingly hidden record hangout – Hi-Tackle – and has left his mark on the city in years gone by through his excellent collaborative work on events like Eyes Down, Friends & Family and the Pomona parties.
As a youth, his family would watch Top of The Pops religiously on a large rig in the front room, which was also commonly used for house parties by his young parents. Inspired by new wave and synth-pop bands like Yazoo, The Human League, Eurythmics and New Order, young Christian and his friends eventually took to the rig at said parties themselves to get the crowd moving. Fast-forward 30-odd years: he’s now the happy father of two, and a lauded local selector, producer and promoter that’s busy raising his profile on the international circuit, whilst still finding spare time to blog comical reviews about cigarettes and wine.
After catching his tremendous performance at We Out Here this summer with MC Kwasi and a few other Red Laser friends, we thought we’d reach out to Il Bosco to ask him about a few things…
Hey Christian. How’s it going? Any exciting plans for Xmas & NYE this year?
As a father of two, do you ever find it difficult to balance full-time work and family life with life as a DJ, label-boss and promoter? What do you do to unwind in your spare time aside from digging and reviewing cigs and wine?
You’ve mentioned in the past that your young son has shown an interest in your line of work, and that there’s a bit of crossover between your music tastes. Do you think we expect to see a Busby Wood release on Red Laser in future?
What’s your thought-process like when you sit down to produce a track? Do you have a favourite synth, or piece of gear that always features?
You often talk fondly of the break-hardcore and rave scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in the north-west, when you and your friends would travel far and wide to get to raves and events all over the place. Are there any strikingly memorable parties, sets, euphoric moments or funny stories that stand out for you from that period? Or is it all just a blur?
Did you ever venture over to the Leeds/Yorkshire area for parties during that time?
You’ve mentioned how initially discovering hip-hop felt like finding a gateway into tonnes of other genres like funk, soul and jazz. Do you recall your first memories of those hip-hop jams that really struck a chord with you?
Have you had any similar moments when discovering music more recently?
Given that you’ve lived in Salford and Manchester for as long as you have, seeing both cities move forward in terms of nightlife – and in many other ways – what would you say has changed most since your early days of partying here? Lots of people talk about how the IRA bomb of ’96 completely transformed the place, for example, or how the opening of the Hacienda was like a UFO landing amongst a wasteland. Are there any other key moments that you would say stand out, which perhaps flew under the radar?
In the past you’ve talked about how your parents were very sociable when you were young, having parties all the time – playing great music. Do you think this early exposure to inclusive, family-led parties was essential to creating such a wholesome, sought-after – and now infamous – event in ‘Friends & Family’. Is there a connection behind the name there in terms of ethos, or is that just a coincidence?
Me and my fiancé caught your set at We Out Here this summer – which was outstanding by the way! My partner hadn’t heard of you before and I remember her saying that you seem to really care about your audience when you’re spinning, which I thought was a funny comment at the time, but you did just look like you were having a fucking great time! Haha. Do you ever get nervous before performing? How important do you think it is to connect with your crowd in that way, when so many other DJs don’t seem to?
Finally, what does 2020 hold in store for Il Bosco and the Red Laser squad? Anything we should be keeping an eye out for?