Since premiering their bangin’ Cr2 Records release ‘Keep On’ with us in October for ADE, we are more than happy to welcome back Manchester-based House and Techno duo Versus – aka David Skehan and Luke Tregaskiss – for a very special Artist Spotlight edition.
Currently considered the hotbed of the underground house scene, Manchester is leading the meteoric rise with this mighty DJ-duo under their belt. Versus are the latest off the production line pumping out the city’s iconic, raw acid sounding groove. These boys are already on the path to great things having only been active for a short period of time and they already have a wealth of impressive gigs on their portfolio including Elrow, The Warehouse Project, Music Matters Newcastle, Sankeys Manchester, South, The Social Festival, and Ministry of Sound.
Brew yourself a big cup of ☕️ and dive in below as we dig deeper with David and Luke in this in-depth interview about how Versus was born, growing up in Manchester and how it has influenced their sound, their upcoming tune “1988” that is being played out everywhere at the moment, a fun manc inspired ‘would you rather’ quiz, and much much more!
MCOT: So David, can you tell us how you and Luke met?
David: So I met Luke in a nightclub in Manchester called Venus. Luke was on a night out with his friends and I just literally nipped into the nightclub and as I was leaving I bumped into Luke and we started talking. And Luke actually got his laptop out in the middle of the dance floor with his headphones and said “Listen to these tracks”. So we’re stood, on the dance floor, with hundreds of people around us dancing, and I’m listening to Luke’s tunes, and I thought “Hmmmm, these are really good!”. We exchanged numbers and email addresses, we got talking and we started jamming more. So yah, that’s how we met!
MCOT: That’s hilarious! Luke, why did you bring your laptop to the nightclub anyways?
Luke: Well, I was DJing at the time as well, I think I was actually DJing at the same club David was DJing at. So, at the time, I always used to take my laptop with to me gigs. Me and David DJ together now so we just take his, but I used to always take my laptop to gigs when I was DJing. And to be fair, I’m glad I did to be honest cause otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to show anyone my tunes and we might not have ended up being music partners.
MCOT: We’re always curious about the meaning behind an artist’s name. Can you tell us the story of how you guys came up with the name “Versus”?
David: Bit of a funny story this one… when we decided to form as a duo, we obviously needed a name, an identity, and a brand. I was text messaging Luke a lot of names, the type of names that you would find as Star Wars characters “Brazen”, “Dark Matter”, and “Baron Lands” and I was texting Luke these names and Luke’s like “Nope, nope, not good, nope”. And I was sat in a restaurant in Manchester and I was waiting for my food to arrive, and I was just staring into space out of the window and this big delivery truck blocked the view cause there was traffic lights outside the restaurant, and when the truck moved, all I could see was the word “Versus” like solicitors, it was like “VS solicitors” or “VS lawyers”. And I sat there and I thought “VS, V-S, Versus… Versus? Versus!” And I texted Luke basically saying Versus is a fantastic name.
Luke: You also had a dream the night before!
David: Yah, I had a dream the night before and it said like Versus and it was a bit weird. But I think it’s good, we love it!
MCOT: As DJs, what was it like growing up in Manchester and how did it influence your sound?
Luke: Yah well for me, music is obviously a bit part of Manchester, not just in house music but there’s a lot of like rock bands and things like that coming out of Manchester and I used to be in a rock band myself to be honest. I’ve always been into music since I was probably about ten, eleven years of age, and I think Manchester is a great city to live in if you are into music, it’s very influenced by music. So obviously you got some good iconic places in Manchester like Haçienda and Sankeys, unfortunately Sankeys recently closed down. But yah I mean I think Manchester is a really good place for the scene at the minute and it’s really influenced me growing up 100%.
David: Yah I agree with Luke, being born and brought up in Manchester has deffo influenced our sound and the direction we have choose in music, before we DJ’d in clubs we spent MANY nights in The Warehouse Project/Sankeys watching other DJs and learning about the tunes, the sound and style.
MCOT: How does it feel to have played the last ever Sankeys New Year’s gig?
David: To do the last ever New Year’s Eve 12′ o’clock set in Sankeys was very special. When we got to the club we went straight to the green room and had some drinks with friends, then we got escorted down to the DJ booth,, it wasn’t even midnight and it was absolutely packed, like you could not move! We went into the studio the day before and made a 12′ o’clock countdown edit of Andrea Oliva’s “Vermona“, this was our intro…it went off…my favourite DJ booking that we have done so far. We are very lucky to have done that countdown set! something we will never forgot.
MCOT: Luke, you mentioned you were in a rock band. Can you share with us why you decided to leave that part of your life behind you?
Luke: I guess I just got bored of it in the end. I think it was also because I had a separate group of mates that was always going out partying that were into house music and when I started going out with them, I just started getting more into house and going off rock music. And it’s weird because it was really like heavy screaming rock music that I was into as well. So it is a big desire to go from that to house music. But ya it was just from like going out with my friends and then I just drifted away from that music and started getting more into house music. That’s just when it started for me, and then obviously that I started deejaying and started learning how to produce as well.
MCOT: Congrats on the success of your upcoming track “1988”! How does it feel to have heavyweights such as Carl Cox, LEON, MK, Gorgon City, Danny Howard, and more supporting it?
Luke: Yah it feels absolutely amazing. From the moment that we made the track, we didn’t expect like anyone like that to play it all, not even four or five months after we made it. Gorgon City was the first ones we sent the track to and as soon as they started playing it, they were literally playing it in every set, they played it few times at Glastonbury. And then we went it to MK and he played it at Defected in Croatia. Then we sent it to a few others as well and then Carl Cox played it. I mean it’s an amazing feeling because we didn’t expect it one bit at all so ya it feels good. It’s really surreal.
David: It’s surreal, having these huge names support our tune..it’s mad!
MCOT: We also absolutely love the Lee Foss remix of ‘1988’! How did you guys get in touch with him and how did you feel when he said he would initially do the remix?
David: I met Lee the last time he was playing in Manchester, we were on the same event together, we we’re sat in the green room talking and I ended up taking Lee back to an after-party….cut a long story short we exchanged numbers and emails….I sent him 1988 and he started playing it at every single show….He played it in Vegas, LA, New York, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Tokyo, Japan, he literally played it at every show. I sent Lee a text message one night saying “would you be up for remixing 1988?” and then I just sent it and then within 5 minutes he replied saying “Yo dude, yah 100% send me the parts I’ve got a few free days and I’ll remix it for you guys”. That was literally it. The remix is good, it’s very different to the original which is what we wanted. It’s a really good remix and to have someone as big of a name in the scene as Lee to remix our tune is incredible. Both myself and Luke have been fans of Lee for many years, through the early Hot Creation days. So, yah, it’s pretty surreal to have him remix our tune. Still mad Lee Foss has remixed our tune.
MCOT: And because we know how much you guys love curveballs, we’re gonna throw you 3 in a row right now to see how truly Manchester you are…
MCOT: Sankeys or The Warehouse Project?
Luke: I would say Sankeys, only because I been going to Sankeys a lot longer and I was going to Sankeys just as I was getting into house music, so I think it has a lot to do with me being influenced by house music and that. I definitely say Sankeys, yah.
David: For me personally I’m gonna say The Warehouse Project. The Warehouse Project is very special to me and the guys who run it have helped me out A LOT (shout to Sacha, Damian, Oli, James & Ed!) …So for me DEFFO W-H-P aka The Rave Cave!
MCOT: Hot Since 82 or Solardo?
David: F**KING HELL!!! THESE ARE MAJOR CURVEBALLS! (screaming and going off)
Luke: Well, I’m gonna say Solardo, only because Mark and James are really good mates of ours and we’ve known them for a while, well actually David has known them longer than me. But ya I would have to say clearly because we know them more, we partied with them more, and they’ve actually had us on some of their events with them so obviously, we’ve got to say Solardo. But that is a really hard question!
David: That’s a really tough one. I’m gonna have to go with Luke and say Solardo. I’ve known Mark and James for about ten years plus I grew up on the same council estate as James, they’re good friends of ours. They’ve had us on their Solardo sessions tour shows in Manchester and Birmingham. So I’ve got to, I’ve got to, I’d get slated if I didn’t, haha, ya so it’s gotta be Solardo for me!
MCOT: Red or Blue?
David: All my family are United supporters, so, I’m a red! I don’t really follow football to much these days as I haven’t got much time to go to the matches or stuff like that. But I’m gonna say United, let’s see what Luke says!
Luke: To be honest, I’m not a big football fan neither. But, if I had to choose one, it would be blue, city, only because all my family is city supporters as well so yah I would say I’m a blue.
MCOT: Can you share with us a little bit about your new radio show on Manchester’s Unity FM?
David: We start our radio show on the 8th of December on Manchester’s Unity FM which is 92.8 on the FM dial. We start doing the Friday show from 21:00-23:00. We’re gonna have guests on there doing guest mixes, features, interviews, live-recordings, info about our upcoming shows in December and January, artist spotlights, producer of the month, tune of the month, etc. Getting into live radio was something Luke and I wanted to do and for the last 6 months we’ve had an internet station with Datatransmission, so that was pretty successful and obviously we use that as a platform to get into the live radio. To have a live radio show in our home city which is being broadcasted to hundreds of thousands of people on a Friday night from 21:00-23:00 is pretty incredible, so we’re both excited about that.
MCOT: Where can fans find you playing next month (December)?
Luke: We’ve got quite a lot of gigs coming up in December all the through to the New Year to be honest. Our first one that we got is Gorilla on December 1st and then we’ve got Box on December 2nd with Hot Creations Paolo Francsesco, Then on December 8th we start the Unity radio show then we got Venus on December 15th for Seshlem @ Venus. We’ve got One Night stand (Ki Crehtions event) in Carlisle with Ki himself and Kydus on December 22nd. On December 26th we’re heading Liverpool to link up with Lee Foss and the Camelphat lads, to see Lee Foss and Camelphat. Then we’ve got 3 gigs on New Year’s Eve. The first is stage & Radio in Manchester, and then we’ve got Warehouse Project and also Attic in Wigan that’s all on NYE. And on New Year’s Day we’re playing Covert with Camelphat and Kinnerman @ Gorilla…So that’s what we got from early December to NYD so that’s 11 shows.
MCOT: Do you have any releases in the pipeline you can share with us?
David: We’ve got quite a busy one over the next few months in terms of releasing music. And just as we’ve been doing with you now, we’ve just had a record label come back to us and wanna sign a track of ours, so we’ve just signed “Wanna Feel” to a label called Eton Messy, that’s gonna come out on Christmas. Also in December, we have an EP coming out on Hot Like Detroit’ label Trouve Grooves…one tune’s called “Movin” and the other one is called “Don’t Stop”. There’s gonna be a couple of remixes on there as well, but we can’t really talk about them at the moment. The big one is January which is “1988” EP so that’s 3 tracks of ours, which is “1988”, “Ill Phil”, “My Piano”, and then there’s a remix of “1988” by Lee Foss, so that’s signed to Under Illusion Records. We just started a remix today for Stefano Crabuzza, that’s gonna be coming out in December as well so that’s another good one. We are doing a remix for a track called “Carnival” by a producer called NAL, so we’re gonna start that over the next couple of days. We have another remix coming out on Emery Wrmm’s label No Excuse coming out in December as well. We have music also coming out on CR2 Records and Eton messy too. It’s a pretty busy schedule. I think since April/May we’ve released 18 records so ya it’s exciting, really exciting.
MCOT: What can we expect from Versus in 2018?
Luke: Definitely a lot of music, a lot more gigs, as well. And it’s looking like there will be a lot more collaborations as well cause we’re starting to get a lot of people coming up to us asking to do collaborations with us. I think you’ll definitely see a lot of that which we are very looking forward to and we’ve already got a few of those lined up as well to be honest. It should be a good year 2018 we are looking forward to it and we’re just gonna keep pushing harder than we have done this year.
MCOT: Between countless gigs and releases, how do you guys find down time?
David: I don’t really switch off if I’m being truthfully honest with ya, I’m always on the go in terms of emails, phone calls, all the social media, sending tracks to record labels, to DJs, you know that kind of thing. So when Luke and I leave our studio at 18:00, I’m still always on the go, emails, emails, emails, calls, calls, calls, texts, texts, literally always on the go. But in terms of down time, I don’t really watch TV if I’m being honest, I like a lot of documentaries. That’s a tough one, I don’t really switch off do I Luke?
David: With us both it’s like music, music, music. I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I might be wide awake at 2/3 in the morning and I’ll be texting Luke and emailing but I think that’s my drive. I just don’t switch off.
Luke: We spend Monday to Friday in the studio doing about 10/12 hours a day, and even on the weekend I would sometimes make beats on my laptop at home. The only thing I do when I’m not in the studio really is I go to the gym but it doesn’t really take up much time. This is our job you see, this is what we focus on mainly.
MCOT: By never switching off do you guys find it hard to stay creative sometimes or does it just come naturally because of working so much. Or do you do little things to help spark that creative in your mind when you’re busy in the studio all day.
Luke: That’s a very good question. If we ever do get stuck in the studio cause like we said before, we do spend a lot of time here, then we just look at other sample packs, download some samples for more ideas. That’s if we ever hit a brick wall, which can happen. Especially if you’re spending countless hours in the studio all week, we are bound to hit a brick wall. So if that ever happens, we listen to tracks that we are inspired by, that kind of keeps us going and generating ideas. Also taking breaks like a couple of hours away from the studio we’ll go out for a drive or something and then once we come back we have a fresh head, that always helps as well.
MCOT: Last but not least, how do you both take your tea?
Luke: I’m not gonna lie, when it comes to tea I’m like a big kid. I like it not too milky, but I do like it quite milky, and with a bout 3 sugars, depending on the size of the cup. But I know that’s pretty bad isn’t it?
David: I’m quite the opposite to Luke, I like mine quite medium-ish, I don’t like it milky and I only have 2 sugars.