For people that don’t know you, who are you ?
My name’s Daniel Schott and I point out things in Chester that are musical. I first started in the autumn of 2012. Before I started in music , I set up a printed music fanzine. I went to Leamington Spa and I didn’t know much about the music scene in the west midlands. Me and my friend ran a fanzine called “The middle edge” and we ran 6 episodes of that.
Are you from Chester originally?
Yes. I was born in North Wales, my parents moved there because it was cheaper housing in the 70s, then we moved to Ellesmere Port as a child. I had a comfortable upbringing. Then in about 1983, we moved to Tarvin of all places. There was no music in Tarvin at that time!
Were you into music at a young age?
My middle name is Keith and I was named after Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake and Palmer. My dad used to roadie for them and other big rock bands like Led Zeppelin all over the country. I grew up in a childhood of psychedelia and prog rock . There was a lot of good music around in the 70s and 80s, my dad was into all the synth stuff like Depeche Mode.
What was Chester like in the 1980s?
I remember watching Boy George with my grandad on TV in his living room. And he turned round to me and said “that boy needs feeding raw meat..” That was the homophobic attitude, it was a different time. There was a lot of hardship, post Falklands, pre miners strike, it was a hard time.
I used to hang out when I was old enough at the cafe in the old Delamere street bus station, it was the best cafe Chesters ever seen. I used to go and get my newspaper from the newsagents around the corner. I used to get the 84 bus to Tarvin.
My dad was quite high up in oil, worked for an American oil company. When I was 15, he got a job in Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe. We moved to Scotland, that was very unsuccessful. Through no fault of my parents, I got moved from school to school..
Did that impact on you?
Yeah for sure, I was unsettled. I have never felt until the last few years that I had any roots anywhere. In Scotland I was severely bullied. I took a job as a kitchen porter and left school when I was 15.
It was the summer of 1990, Madchester was all kicking off, rave, hip hop, Stone roses. I was in Scotland for that! So I missed that! I was an introvert. I was the guy who sat upstairs with his headphones on , writing poetry. My parents thought I was very detached and kept forcing me to go outside and mingle . All I wanted to do was either programme my computer or listen to music. Music was my life really
I moved back again to Chester . I had started working front of house, waiting on., I got into catering. We had a ball, Chester in the 90s! We used to work together, go out together, places like Caffe Uno (no Cafe rouge) , Bella Pasta… Little Chef, I was manager there for a while. As staff in the 90s we used to go out and get hammered together. We would leave Bella Pasta at 10 at night and go to Cream in Liverpool , take drugs all night and be back in work for 9 the next day, with no sleep.
You have been open about your drug use. ..
Everybody was doing it. It was all ecstasy back then … we were all popping them like candy because it made you feel good. The club scene was more loving, you used to go back to someone’s house and you’d be popping 50p into their generator to keep the party going. Good times.
Do you still view that in a romantic way?
Yeah! From 1990 to 2000 I was 15-25. So I hit it bang on. It opened my eyes to perception and subjective consciousness. It cost me a few jobs at the time but we were surfing a psychedelic wave. We were young and thought we’d live forever. Rave was our God.
What was changing in Chester?
Chester was all about John Locke . He had brought dance music to Chester. We had local bands, like The Egg, Mansun. There was loads of different bands. Telfords Open mic scene was thriving, but it wasn’t like it is now, you had bands rocking up! The sound engineer had an absolute nightmare, you’d have 5 0r 6 people on stage at a time, not just Alx Green on his acoustic. Telfords was the circle in the 1990s. But you also had good clubs doing rave, I even used to go to Grab a Granny night at the Plantation as well!
Its 2000. How had you changed by this point?
I had met a girl and I was moving away with her, she was going away to Warwick university. It was an optimistic start to the millennium. So I left Chester again for 8 years .
So when did you actually start getting actively involved in music?
It was a response to someone saying “Chester is a musical wasteland”..I saw comments like that as ignorant and damaging to the local scene. I had moved back in 2008 and I had seen no evidence of a cultural wasteland.
We had the Odeon and the Gateway closing, so I suppose the period will be known in the history books as the cultural desert…
I get that, but music comes from struggle. Look at Wrexham, stuck between major cites. Bands would go off to Liverpool or Manchester…These little pockets pull together and create their own little scenes . Chester has had a fantastic music scene since The Beatles played here, Thin Lizzy played here…There is a legacy of music in Chester that gets forgotten.
Some of the stuff that Jane Wolfe was doing in the 90s.. she was from Garden Lane, she was in a band called Carrigana. Also bands like Rev Rev and Red Elektra 69, people like Mark Henderson who’s been doing this for 20 years.
You play a big part in Chester now..
I play a part. I’m not stupid enough to think it all revolves around me. All I do is point things out..I started a free wordpress site and I was looking for names, and I’d seen Craigs List. I wanted to point out the cream of the local scene so I called it Schott’s list. It was a simple blog and it grew from there. I have a lot of contacts that I’ve built up over the years
All it is, is a series of relationships and information. I do think I’ve had a positive impact on the scene. But not just me, people like Chris Ingram, Adam Walton. Chris Sutton at Flipside…
Tell us about Flipside..
In late 2012 Sutton got in touch with me and we went for a coffee at the late Harvest Moon. I started doing a couple of shows and got involved in their FM broadcasts, co-ordinating bands and artists. Flipside plays a key part in the community. nobody sings and dances about it we just get on with it quietly.
We are just making our own Chester. Making things happen..
There is still a vibe of things being “shit ” here.
Yeah but that’s their Chester. That’s not my Chester. My Chester is ace! Its exciting , its a culturally rich atmosphere. There’s that much going on. I am following 625 accounts on soundcloud. I could fill 10 shows now! So much music. Ignorance is the biggest killer of culture in Chester it really is. What annoys me is misinformed opinions having a negative effect on the city. When people read things, people believe what they read unfortunately.
I am giving up Chestergigs.com. Its not my job to point things out all the time. If people are too lazy and ignorant to get off their bums… Gig listing is boring so I am just going back to doing the cream again. For open mics, me and David Watson founded a facebook group to list all the events in Chester. We were lucky to host an event at the bandstand a few weeks ago and a representative from every open mic night performed.
You’ve clashed with certain people in Chester over the years…..
I don’t want to get a reputation for someone who always falls out with people! I’m not naming anyone . Normally its the fact that musicians aren’t being looked after properly. I can’t always afford to pay bands, when a band does something for me I look after them. If someone drives to Flipside, records a session for 45 minutes, the first thing I’ll do is give them a recording of that session for them to do with what they want. A New Hope festival, no one got paid, but everyone ate well and got fantastically drunk.
There was talk a little while ago, about the half marathon having musicians on the side, playing for free, for the people to run past! Its an uncecessary luxury that you can’t pay for, things like that are ludicrous !
It was last summer during the PSPO uproar, you spoke out about your use of legal highs and its effect on you. Where do you think we are now ?
Well its been pushed underground. People can still get it on the internet. I have noticed there is not half as much of it going on in Chester as there used to be. As an ex addict I can smell it a mile off. There aren’t as many wrappers around, not as many ambulances taking people away. You need an internet connection and a card. You used to be able to go to Dr Hermann’s with a bag of coppers and buy what you needed. Personally I have never looked back I have been clean for nearly 18 months.
You spoke to the press about it.
I got mentioned in the House of Commons which was nice (by Chris Matheson MP )
Would you consider working in any drug related field, helping people etc?
No, not for me thanks. I’ve got enough problems. Even today I get harassed by the media, but I’m not interested , I am moving on. I put myself up as an example. People did look at me when I was walking around town. It probably had a detrimental effect because people looked at me differently . But its quite weird because I don’t remember the start of Schotts List because I was on legal highs…
You branched out and ran Chester culture for a while…
I am shutting it down. I am not happy with it in its current format. I am tempted to turn it into a newspaper format and keep my original stuff on Schott’s List. I think we missed the boat with Storyhouse coverage.
Chester Culture launched during the cultural desert phase, as a reaction to that negativity ?
Yes, exactly what I was doing with the music as well. Is Chester culture relevant now ?
What are you involved with currently?
Next year A New Hope music festival is going again, we already have some major bands involved, that will be happening in May 2017. We will be going against Chester Live.
I don’t like the way they treat musicians. They’re a business.
I also have Chester Space Rocks on the 28th January. Its me and Vince Cory from Red Elektra 69, we’re organising a prog rock festival at Alexanders.
I am also doing a 4 week residency at The Ship Inn, starting on Friday (16th) , free entry.
You are very positive about Chester’s future?
Yes, early this year I thought we were getting a bit stuck in 2013, Chester was patting itself on the back a bit too much. People surprise me every day, people like Dave Julian, or a band called Ark. Sofar sounds was good while it lasted as well. Ear of the Tiger is doing well, getting a lot of attention from outside of Chester.We have Mr Parsley on board now as well.
Do you want to dig up Deva?
No, I don’t understand what it means.
What does the future hold ?
There’s talk of a record label.. I am going to be having some conversations with people who have experience. We are going to sign bands for one off EPs. That will be the next logical step. Plus I’m living with my girlfriend Sian now.
In closing, I would say “don’t let social media dictate what Chester you live in, make sure you live in your Chester and make the most of your city.”
Daniel Schott, thank you