One name is synonymous with Ska music in Essex. Pete Lacey.
As a DJ he has supported some of the Top names in ska, reggae and two tone, including UB40, The Dualers, Lee Thompson, Bad Manners, Desmond Dekker as well as being part of the DJ team for Skabour festival in previous years and the DJ/hosting team for Essex’s own ever growing Brentwood Festival for the past 4 years.
But Pete’s talents do not end at Dj’ing, he also is the front man of Essex Ska band ‘Undercover’.
Pete is often performing in Southend, so we thought we would catch up with him.
AH – How many years have you been entertaining people?
PL – Too many! My parents always loved to get up and sing at holiday camps and especially at large family gatherings, so its little surprise I’ve followed in their footsteps. My earliest memories are around 13 years old when I did my first dj slot and I sang at a holiday camp when I was 14.
AH – What first got you started?
PL-The punk scene gave everyone the opportunity to have a go. You didn’t need to be great, the raw energy was key and although I’ve seen some dreadful bands I’ve always admired the passion and commitment that any live act provides.
AH – Have you noticed a change in the music scene between when you first started and now?
PL- Changes! In the 70s the music scene seemed very stadium rock and lots of cheese, epitomised by the video for Fanfare for the Common Man (ELP) and latterly by Brotherhood of Man! yuk!!!!
The mod revival which was ignited with the release of Quadrophenia and the energy of the Jam created a youth culture movement that still exists today.
Punk was still alive but the cracks were starting to appear and of course the 2-tone bands were creating a fusion of traditional ska, punk, politics and fun. So 3 massive genres were the choice of music.
Then came the soul scene which filled the dancehalls and reignited he earlier disco scene. So, in that short time of late 70s the variation in musical tastes, which was reflected in the clothing and who became your mates, gave plenty of choice and often it was only one choice for each individual and you’d shun the other tastes.
The 80s provided commercialism in music, masses of cheese in all genres and a concentrated nightclub environment. The jukebox seemed to return to the pubs and of course karaoke!
It seems each decade is defined easily, almost as if it becomes a cut-off point for the old and in with the new.
The indie scene took off in the 90s and the House scene merged out of Chicago. Both survive strongly today as does Garage. But thankfully “hardcore you know the score” and “Aciiiid” are no longer the shouts of the radio!
AH – What has been the worst gig you’ve ever done and the best?
PL- As a band we did a gig in the Globe in London, a well known venue which we were told could be full of A&R men. Unfortunately it was 2 men and a dog.
So the band stripped down to their nakedness and played their hearts out. As a dj the worse decision I’ve made was to commit to a gig rather than take a slot dj-ing at the O2. It was hard to look down at the granny Christmas disco knowing I could have smashed it in London!
AH – What do you prefer doing – Djing or singing with your band?
PL – On stage singing or DJ-ing can be electrifying. Injecting your enthusiasm into a crowd, winning them over with performance and fun is both infectious and energising. You can be a different person on stage, infact I believe you should be. So, its hard to know which is the most enjoyable.
The real answer is in the preparation. As a DJ there’s only one person to make the decisions, arrangements and commitments. As a band that requires the simultaneous decision by several members, often eight in Undercover’s case for whether to accept the gig, find the gig, rehearse and attend.
Organising that can be stressful, especially when deps are required. So in preference I prefer DJ-ing but as I say, on stage it’s hard to choose.
AH – What are you future plans for gigs/events?
PL – 2018 is running away with me, pubs want more than I can provide so the majority of Saturdays are booked. They include DJ-ing my own events as Ska N Mash, with bands under the event title of 50 Shades of Reggae and Stanford Ska Sunday, and being invited to dj at festivals/events such as SkaMania in Ipswich, Brentwood Festival, Skabour (Folkestone), car shows and hopefully Skamouth (Great Yarmouth).
I continually toy with the idea of a radio show, but that commitment probably doesn’t suit my lifestyle and activity, but I’m keen to look at some guest slots and perhaps develop the Mixcloud route.
Pete’s next Southend gig is the Woodcutters Arms, Leigh-on-Sea on the 8th of December!
Keep up-to-date with Pete’s Gig on his DJ Ska N Mash page here –
Or to catch Pete with his band Undercover (occasionally featuring yours truly) check here –
Header Image Credit: Ska N Mash / Facebook