UK label Hard Times released Best of Times last month. The album is a compilation of the best of the label’s releases and affiliated tracks, mixed by long time Hard Times mainstays Roger Sanchez & Todd Terry in their first collaboration.
We speak to Hard Times head honcho Steve Raine and DJ Roger Sanchez about the release and his time at the label, and we take a look at the history of Hard Times itself.
The Story Behind the Best of Times
Hard Times has been one of the UK’s premiere house music brands for 22 years. Running as one of the nation’s most respected “superclubs” based around Leeds, the Steve Raine-founded brand turned into a label in 1995, releasing two albums back to back: Roger Sanchez’s Hard Times – The Album and Todd Terry’s A Night in the Life of Todd Terry Live at Hard Times.
These releases became house classics, encapsulating the thrill of a night at a Hard Times party. Now, Steve Raine and the Hard Times team have brought Sanchez and Terry together to compile a mixed collection of music that represents the Hard Times philosophy.
Best of Times has been hugely successful so far. It is working its way up the Traxsource and Beatport charts, and it’s had special placement on the iTunes dance homepage in the UK, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia among others.
The compilation was also featured by Mixmag in the respected magazine’s coveted ‘Compilation of the Month’ spot.
Roger Sanchez and Steve Raine on the Best of Times
MN2S: What does the new album mean to you?
Steve Raine: Back in ‘95 when we first released our Todd Terry and Roger Sanchez albums we were named the no 1 night in the country by Mixmag DJ Mag and Muzik Magazine, so 22 years on to be able to release our Best of Times album gives us a massive sense of achievement. Back then it was always about pushing boundaries and trying to be at the forefront of our industry. Nothing has changed and this album allows us to showcase that fact to both old and new followers of Hard Times.
Roger Sanchez: It means revisiting — mentally — a place that was very important to me during the early years of my career and reliving some of the musical moments that were special to me when I played Hard Times then. I also got to introduce new sounds that will indicate the way forward for me for the upcoming Hard Times events.
Roger, what’s it like working with Todd Terry?
RS: Besides being a legend and inspiration, Todd Terry is also a personal friend. When I was first coming up and went on my first UK tour with him, he sat me down and explained the business to me. I’ll never forget that. Todd is always someone I enjoy working with and respect.
What are some highlights from over the years of Hard Times?
RS: I think the Bagley’s event in London with a host of DJs who played for Hard Times was definitely one of my highlights… That and doing a Muzik Mag cover hanging out with Steve Raine’s inflatable sheep!
SR: There have many highlights over the years we have always tried to put events together that were very special. The party I’m really proud of is our Hard Times Down and Out in London at Bagleys Kings Cross. No other club had held an event of this type before. We were a Northern club that came down into london and brought with us just about the whole US house industry who all played under one roof on one night. It was amazing.
RS: Battles with managers who tried to rip me off, the death of people close to me and of course the beginning when I didn’t have much and was working my way up the career ladder. These things helped to get me to where I am today.
SR: Over the last 24 years there have been many highs and lows both in club and music stuff and my personal life. However the whole ethos behind Hard Times is that when you walk through our doors on a Saturday night you leave all your troubles behind and just get lost in the moment. Hard Times has been good to me and helped me to deal with things.
What’s coming up for Hard Times in the future?
SR: We have lots planned for Hard Times .We hold residencies at the Church Leeds and Digital Newcastle and have some amazing events in place at both those venues. We have also been working on a very special project that will see Hard Times return to London before the end of this year which is very exciting.
RS: I think the future is bright for Hard Times — I’m really looking forward to being part of the upcoming residencies, especially London!
Download Best of Times via iTunes or Beatport, or stream it on Spotify now.