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UK DJ and Netflix Reality TV Star DJ Prone Determined to Live His Dreams

Tell me a little about your background? Where you are originally from and how did that journey lead you to where you are located today?

I live in Bedfordshire in the UK and previously lived in London where I still do a day job as a Residential licensing Officer and appear regularly on Channel 5 and Netflix ’Slum Landlords and nightmare Tenants’. By night I am a Latin percussionist, music producer, radio and club DJ. Rewind back to 1983 Hip Hop started to hit the shores of the UK, I was bitten by this new bug and became a B.Boy (Breakdancer) , graffiti artist, and one year later I became a DJ after wanting to become the next Grandmaster Flash. I never did quite get to that level in turntablism but did my best learning my craft at my school youth club. My interest in Hip Hop had me searching for those drum breaks and samples from older records, tracking them down, and adding them to my collection.

I would record these drum breaks and do pause button mixtapes on my double cassette deck which I guess were my early naive days of becoming a Hip hop / Music producer. I was the kid at school listening to early James Brown, Jimmy Castor, Sly Stone, Electro and Hip Hop while everyone else was listening to Boy George and Duran Duran. Over time I got deeper into other genres such as Jazz, Latin Music, Soul and pretty much all funk music. Initially, I just wanted these records for the 10 or so seconds of drum breaks but over time I began to get drawn into the music and listen to whole albums rather than those stolen moments. Forward to 1987 and the Rare Groove scene kicked off in London, initially mainly a funk-based genre and I had a lot of the records already, so the gigs started coming my way thick and fast. Rare groove these days also comprises of two-step and sweet soul as well as the funk. my DJ sets were no longer just Hip Hop and drum breaks, I was playing funk, soul, jazz and rare groove and by 1988 I had become quite a busy DJ. 1989 I played on pirate radio station Infinity FM hosting my first radio show on this illegal station with a ‘biscuit tin transmitter’.The station inevitably got shut down by the authorities.

1991 I acquired an Amiga and started making beats from sampling and also bought my first pair of bongos which is what got me hooked on percussion. I was at that time working a Saturday job at London's infamous record store Mr. Bongo which was known to be the home of Hip Hop and Latin music in the UK, the shop provided a good source of digging for records as well as a digging trip to the USA. it was a matter of months after getting my first bongos that I moved on to congas and that's when I really got hooked. Fast forward to today and I have worked with some of my idols both as a DJ and Musician, I've gone way beyond my bucket list and still continue to get involved with new projects all the time.

So why are you called ‘Prone’?

In the 80s as a Hip Hop head, breakdance, and graffiti artist everyone had a Street name or tag. I had a few names to start with but a few years in from 1987 I was known as Prone and it's stuck, so many people know me as Prone and don’t know me as Andrew. I was called Prone because I’m laid back and I guess I am a little accident-prone too. it stems back to a conversation where my dad said to me “you’re so laid back your almost Prone” The name was born.

What inspired you to be a musician and producer?

My records were my teacher, I was doing a regular low paid job at the time and couldn’t afford a teacher so taught myself. I would listen to a lot of Latin jazz, samba and funk such as Airto, Jon Lucien, The Blackbyrds, Ray Barretto, Incredible Bongo Band, In fact, it was the incredible bongo band that really introduced me to percussion from the start as a b.boy dancing to the Bronx National Anthem - Apache. Over time I learned my craft and by 1994 I had helped set up a Samba School in Reading. I don’t have a particular style preference as a percussionist as its typical for percussionists to only stick to one genre such as Cuban, so I guess I'm all over the place but adaptable. As a producer, I was inspired by early Hip hop producers such as Marly Marl, 45 King, Pete Rock, and Premo and later on Jay Dilla. I became hooked on Charles Stepney who I would say is my all-time favorite producer, he worked with the likes of Rotary Connection (Minnie Ripperton's 1st band), early Ramsey Lewis, Marlena Shaw (yes he produced California Soul)Earth Wind and Fire before his untimely death. That guy always managed to get an incredible sound and I love the analog warmth of his production, it's timeless. I just love the way he had those drums sounding incredible in the mix, I’m all about the drums.

How do you prepare for a gig ?

If I’m performing as a musician, I naturally rehearse weeks leading up to the gig because a band is only as good as its weakest member and I don’t want to be that guy. On the day of the gig, I will always get there way before soundcheck as I usually carry the most gear as congas and percussion is not usually provided by a venue as a back-line unless it’s a major festival or tour. I’m not a last-minute person so in the downtime prior to soundcheck ill have a little warm-up and let my mind chill. Every single gig I do I am always excited; you just can't beat playing live. With regards to DJ gigs I tend to take a look at the DJ line up, the theme of the night and then pull my records out the night before, yes I still use records as it's my personal preference and to be fair all my bookings are at venues that have vinyl DJs , I have nothing against people who play from laptops but it's not for me, as a record collector I love the physical side, the artwork and I feel I own the recording whereas on a USB stick I would feel like i am listening to the radio. I tend to arrive at my DJ gig an hour or so before my set so that I can see what other DJs are playing and make sure I don’t play the same and if I can continue their musical journey into my set. As a radio DJ, my sets on Indie Soul Radio and Gold Dust Radio are never pre-planned. I broadcast from my studio and pull records randomly as I love the challenge and spontaneity is fun.

So what's it like being a TV celebrity on Slum Landlords and Nightmare Tenants, your job must be a challenge?

Although I've been doing my job for years, there are sometimes is heartbreaking situations where dodgy landlords are clearly taking advantage. My main aim is making things right for the tenants and turn the bad landlord into a good landlord. I prefer compliance over enforcement but won’t hold back when I have to get legal on them. I look for the good in people and try and bring that out, doesn’t always work that way but our team has turned around a few bad landlords into good ones. To be fair bad landlords are a minority and most I deal with are doing a great job providing for those in our overpopulated city of London. I do get recognized occasionally when I’m out shopping or gigging as the show is on a major TV station in the UK called Channel 5 and is always on repeat and on its sister stations too seen by millions. The show is also shown on Netflix in the USA. People always have kind things to say to me when I get spotted and often ask about my colleagues who are fantastic. We are a very under-resourced team and I myself have over 400 cases.

What was your favorite gig of all time?

Phew, this really is a hard one, I've had some amazing moments both as a DJ and musician. Let's start as a musician. I would have to pick a few moments as none really out rule each other. I have been so lucky, my best gigs have been with London funk band ‘Funkshone’ . We played the Legendary Jazz Cafe 6 times which have been some of my fondest moments as well as supporting some of my idols ‘Fred Wesley and The JBs’, ‘ The Blackbyrds’ and opening up as a band at the Hook and Sling Festival in London as well as performing across Europe at various gigs and festivals . Playing in California with soul singer ‘Gina Carey’ earlier this year which was also a major-notch on my CV this year as well as performing on her single My Destiny which reached number 2 in the UK soul charts a few weeks ago was such a blessing. Work has already begun on the next single. Naming a favorite gig is so difficult as there are so many and God continues to bless me with these experiences. My favorite crowd was probably at the Band on the wall gig we did with Funkshone and Craig Charles (6 Music, Red Dwarf) in Manchester.

As a DJ again I am going to struggle with this question but ill shine some light on a few golden moments as there have been so many. Providing DJ support for live acts has always been great fun and I've been blessed to do this for .. ok hold your breath as I’m going to start name dropping… Roy Ayers, Tom Browne, The Crusaders, Gwen McCrae, Big Daddy Kane, Jurassic 5, Sugarhill Gang, Dougie Fresh, Biz Marke, Pharcyde, Brand Nubian, Souls of Mischief, TY, Blackalicious, Poets of Rhythm, and I'm going to stop right there as there have been so many more. If I hung up my headphones tomorrow, I can safely say I've achieved beyond my wildest dreams. Many of these great moments were in my club promoter days where I put some of these acts on at a night I named ‘The Breaks’ and also the legendary Dedbeat Weekender a three day festival in the UK where I was a resident DJ. I've also played with some of the best DJs on the planet such as ex DMC world Champion DJ Craze, QBert, Charlie Chase (Cold Crush Brothers) , Keb Darge (Deep Funk) , Mr. Scruff, Egon, Peanut Butter Wolf, Scratch Perverts, En4cers, Big Ted, Ian Wright and many many more. I often play in London with the Raregroove Connoisseurs at JM Souls Global Soul events amongst some that I consider to play the best sets on the planet consisting of some classic tunes and some under the radar rarest records that I refer to as chin strokers.

Who as a musician would you like to play with dead or alive?

Wow-what a question. I love so many genres in predominantly black music so it would really depend on my mood. I think one of the greatest and underrated producers and singers in the soul scene and that would be Leroy Huston, his music is absolutely phenomenal, and I consider him a living legend every album is a masterpiece. If I was to say funk then that would be with one of my favorite funk bands of all time and I would need to go back in time to 1969 and perform with a band that came out of Austin, Texas ‘Mickey and the Soul Generation’ who had hits such as Iron Leg, Get Down brother and football which were huge in the early London Raregroove scene. The band is still alive and well today and was set to perform this month at London’s 100 club before this pandemic broke out. Over the years I have become friends with some of the band members and they regularly listen to my radio shows. If I was to play with someone on the Jazz Scene,

(Andrew "Prone" Sedman (L) Fred Wesley (R)

it would be without doubt Horace Silver who’s a stone-cold favorite of mine. Horace was an incredible pianist and always gave other musicians space to play on his LPs. I would have said Miles Davis, but I think I would have been scared of him as he put some of his band members through hell. If i was to go with Jazz Funk without question it would be Roy Ayers, one of my all-time favorite artists.

So are there any more plans for TV?

Before the COVID 19 pandemic broke out we were filming another series of Slum Landlords and Nightmare Tenants. I've presented the radio for years now and I wouldn't mind trying out my hand as a TV presenter. An opportunity has come up but I am going to keep quiet about that until that transpires.

(Andrew "Prone" Sedman (L) LeRoy Hutson)

Do you see yourself doing music for the rest of your life?

Yes, and that's exactly how it's going to be. The day I stop is my last day on earth.

Has your love for music increased or decreased through the years? Why?

My love for music is always on the increase and we are now at a time when the artist has a lot of control over their product thanks to the internet. I am now hearing a new generation of amazing young musicians in the Jazz, Soul, Funk, and Reggae scene. The internet provides a wealth of knowledge and many of these artists have picked up where some of the founders have left off and either aimed to take things to the next level or show respect and even mimic the styles. The only thing I would say is MUSIC BUSINESS .. two separate words and sometimes big clashes between the two. Not all creatives are good at the business side so you may have to look hard for new music as unfortunately, the music industry likes to tell us what we should listen too and feed us garbage. People say things like “they don’t make good soul music as they used too”. I disagree because the music is out there, you just have to look and sometimes listening to an online radio station such as Indie Soul, Gold Dust, Global Soul will be the link to the new music.

So I would say my love of the business is not there as it can sometimes be shady. some of the big streaming services have a lot to answer for as they sign people up for 10 pounds a month for unlimited music which the listener never owns. The artists in return get extremely little and I mean pennies so it's very hard to make money out of music because of these services and when they work so hard for literally nothing it’s very hard for an artist to make the next album because session musicians, producers, etc need paying. Even downloading is becoming a thing of the past but I urge everyone to get behind these artists and buy a download, vinyl record or CD, I mean look at it artist spends hours upon hours writing and recording a song at much expense. For less than a price of a cup of coffee you can download and buy that song.

We are on lock down due to a pandemic right now and everyone’s now turning to artists for entertainment. now's the time to put your hands together and your hands in your pocket for them. The only way to make music now is live gigs , session work or selling records and yes records are now outselling CDs threefold and have been for some time, lots of new young bands are pressing vinyl , Slide record shop recently opened in my nearest town ‘Bedford’ and its always busy with young and old people buying new releases. so to get back to the question i still love music but not the business.

Were there any other family members al