July 29, 2021
His house music caused a sensation – ​but soon he was depressed and working a for a phone company. The US producer explains how he swung back to Grammy-winning glory
Todd Edwards: the inspiring force behind Daft Punk and UK garage
The video keeps getting removed from YouTube, but whenever it does, someone else uploads it again: jerky cameraphone footage of a man in a homemade T-shirt that reads Jesus Loves UK Garage, DJing at an Essex club in 2003. The crowd in Romford are going insane – the man is Todd Edwards, an American house producer whose rough-edged production style had exerted so much influence on the UK garage scene that he had become known as Todd the God – but the object of their worship looks, as he puts it now, “scared to death”: the smile on his face is weirdly fixed and unmoving, in a way that suggests not enjoyment, but terror.
He had, he explains today, never really DJ’d in a club before, certainly not in front of 1,500 people. Edwards had previously declined all entreaties to come to the UK, despite the fact that his music was vastly better known and more successful here than back home. Moreover, he had almost no idea what a UK garage club was like. His experience of clubbing had largely involved hanging around the booth at New York’s Sound Factory Bar, hoping that the resident DJ Little Louie Vega would play one of his tracks; a visit to Zanzibar, the Newark club where Tony Humphries had pioneered the original, gospel-influenced, American garage sound, had ended in disaster when Edwards’ car had been towed away.
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