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ABSOLUTE. at 40 Years of GAY TIMES: The Exhibition at Outernet London

There was some pretty gay stuff happening in the month of May 1984. Not only was GAY TIMES Magazine first established, but it also saw the release of one of the most iconic gay anthems of all time.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t immediately hypnotised by the pulsing electro-pop heartbeat of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’. That riff is as exciting today as it was back then; a timeless callout to queer people everywhere.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Smalltown Boy’, British DJ ABSOLUTE. has reworked the classic into a surging club anthem while retaining the magic of the original. “I wanted to keep the essence of what made it so special in the first place but add some modern day energy and euphoria,” he tells GAY TIMES.

After sprinkling his golden remix dust over gay anthems by the likes of Kylie Minogue and George Michael in recent years, the London-based DJ was the perfect pick for the honour.

So when it came to finding the perfect soundtrack for 40 Years of GAY TIMES: The Exhibition, it felt like the dream match. Considering Bronski Beat appeared on the cover of GAY TIMES Magazine in November 1984 and ABSOLUTE. is a recent digital cover star and friend of the brand, there’s shared history all round.

We caught up with ABSOLUTE. to discuss his remix of ‘Smalltown Boy’, how music by LGBTQIA+ acts has evolved since 1984 and his own memories of GAY TIMES Magazine.

What inspired you to remix such an iconic track? How did you approach it?

It’s pretty nerve-racking reworking such an iconic tune. It was an emotional moment when I first listened to the parts and heard Jimmy’s vocal playing on its own, especially growing up queer in a small town. There’s so many standout parts to the original, I felt a lot of pressure to do it justice. I wanted to keep the essence of what made it so special in the first place but add some modern day energy and euphoria. I aimed to create something I could end my set with in the main room at Drumsheds for False Idols or 10am on a Sunday in Panorama bar.

How has the reception been for your remix so far? Have you received any feedback from fans or the original band members?

It’s had the most incredible response. It really feels such an honour to add a small part to the track’s long legacy and have so much positive feedback. I think the best part was having such a lovely message back from [Bronski Beat frontman] Jimmy [Somerville] about it.

How do you feel the LGBTQ+ music scene has evolved since Bronski Beat first released their music in 1984?

It feels like there’s a space for everyone musically now and there’s more representation. There’s so many scenes that if you’re in London, you can find a queer space that’s playing music you love and that feels really liberating. It’s where I found so many of my chosen family.

If you could remix any other classic LGBTQ+ anthem, which one would it be and why?

I feel I’ve had a pretty good run remixing Kylie and George Michael [laughs], but I would love to remix something from Charli XCX‘s new album. I created a private edit of Club Classics for my sets recently, which is how the Kylie remix first came about, so you never know!

ABSOLUTE. at 40 Years of GAY TIMES: The Exhibition at Outernet London

Do you remember your first time interacting with GAY TIMES?

I remember first buying GAY TIMES Magazine before I came out and being terrified in case someone saw me [laughs] and then reading it and feeling like I wasn’t alone – that there’s other people out there like me. I don’t think you can underestimate the power of that when you’re growing up.

What did you think of 40 Years of GAY TIMES: The Exhibition?

It was actually really inspiring to see the legacy of GAY TIMES in one place and remembering what a powerful voice it’s been for the community and the impact it’s had over so many decades.

What advice would you give to aspiring queer DJs and producers looking to make their mark in the music industry?

Finish as much music as possible and be consistent. Go to the parties you want to play at and make friends with people there. Play and make music that you love, put the work in and always be kind to people along the way!

Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ (ABSOLUTE. Rework) is available to stream and download now.

40 Years of GAY TIMES: The Exhibition is currently running at Outernet London until 1 July.

ABSOLUTE.’s live dates this summer are as follows:

28 June – Nitsa – Barcelona
30 June – Glastonbury – San Remo with Confidence Man DJ’s
4 July – Ton of Brix – London
5 July – Castlefield Bowl – Manchester
13 July – Lakota – Bristol
20 July – Village Underground – Lisbon
21 July – Walpole Park – London
27 July – ______ – Berlin
27 July – ______ – Berlin
2 August – Paradiso – Amsterdam
3 August – Patterns – Brighton
10 August – Boardmasters – Newquay
14 August Pikes – Ibiza
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