Shem McCauley R.I.P.
In the mid-1980s, a young Shem McCauley first made a name for himself as DJ Streets Ahead, pioneering the scratch mixing style in the UK. Early on, Shem scored slots spinning hip hop on Tim Westwood’s radio show, and as a student in Brighton, he ripped up the turntables alongside the likes of Norman Cook, Chad Jackson, and Carl Cox.
McCauley added his scratching skills to recordings by She Rockers, Kinkina, and Shakatak, and produced remixes for Simon Harris, Roxanne Shante, Wee Papa Girl Rappers, James Brown, Betty Boo, Digital Underground, Was (Not Was), Tony Toni Tone, Definition Of Sound, Herb Alpert, and Bomb The Bass.
In 1990, McCauley collaborated with Tim Simenon, John Foxx, and Simon Rogers in the short-lived electro collective Nation 12, releasing two singles through Rhythm King. McCauley and Simon Rogers would continue working together as Ramp in the mid-1990s, producing a couple of singles and loads of remixes for many artists, including: Sister Sledge, Boy George, D:ream, Tanita Tikaram, Armand Van Helden, and Yazz.
Concurrent with his work as Ramp, McCauley also began producing funky progressive house under the guise of Slacker. His 1996 single “Scared” was a UK hit, helping McCauley to set up his own label, Jukebox In The Sky, in 1998. By the late 1990s, Ramp was retired in favor of focusing full-time on Slacker, as the stream of singles and remixes continued. In 2002, Shem revived his old Head Honcho alias, issuing two singles through the Jukebox imprint.
After travelling around the world throughout the last decade, McCauley relocated to Thailand in 2010. Disillusioned with the music industry, he took up yoga instruction and made health and happiness his new priorities. However, McCauley’s old life wasn’t abandoned entirely—the new Slacker introduced a more ambient oriented sound for his first and only album, the introspective “Start A New Life”, mostly created on a laptop outside a fast food restaurant in Bangkok. (listen to selections here)
Sadly, Shem McCauley passed away on 23 January 2012. An incredibly talented artist, Shem will be greatly missed but always remembered for his innovative and entertaining body of work.