House Rules ft Fred Robarts


For this month’s House Rules ft Fred Robarts, he actually flips discs to create this amazing mix! All songs are created from actual vinyls and takes us way back on a blast from the past. One word describes Fred Robarts’ rules: APPRECIATE!


Where are you right now? Describe your surrounds. What do you see? What do you hear? What can you smell?

I’m at home in Accra, sitting outside on a wicker bench with kente cushions. I’m in our (very) small garden and I can hear the cawing of those ubiquitous pied crows, as well as some more musical birdsong. I can smell my morning coffee and I can already feel the impressive warmth of the tropical sun.

If you could name this mix, what would you call it?

I’d call it ‘Listen!’, after the enthusiastic exhortations on Kool & the Gang’s ‘Universal Sound’. Although, as Gil Scott Heron points out at the beginning of the mix, you do have a choice.


What do you imagine people doing as they listen to this mix?

Listening intently with open minds, I hope. Especially those people used to a strict diet of contemporary trap rhythms. Nodding along to those skittering high-hats and flute and piano riffs. Some people might be busy in the kitchen; others will be out and about with their headphones, navigating the bustle.


If this mix were an ice cream, what flavor would it be?

Ah, now, what we have here is a generous scoop of finest Madagascan vanilla with a dusting of fresh-ground coffee and a dash of single malt whisky. This recipe (for which I thank my Godmother Dido) is called a Chimney Sweep, and in case you’re not convinced, please give it a try.


You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?

I’m the dark blue of the Blue Note Records logo, with whose legendary back catalogue I have spent so many hours over the years. They continue to inspire me with their dedication to quality and support for diverse artists including the great Tony Allen and Gogo Penguin.


What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

My two-year-old daughter Audrey makes me laugh most days, usually with her combination of spontaneous wiggly dance routines and stern announcements in a made-up language.


If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Perhaps Cymande’s ‘The Message’, which has an unmistakable positive groove but isn’t melodramatic or attention-seeking. I’ve heard enough by now to know that it doesn’t bore me. Cymande had a brief existence in 1970s London, and sadly split the year I was born.

You wake in the last movie you watched as one of the characters. What movie is it, and what which character are you?

My wife and I recently introduced our kids to the original Star Wars trilogy – a rite of passage. I’d have to be Chewbacca, since on occasion I’d like to be able to roar and groan like a Wookiee.


You meet 3 African musicians and they want to have a party. Who are they, and what are you playing them first?

Franco Luambo Makiadi, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Busi Mhlongo hailed from different parts of the continent, but would all, I think, appreciate Wendo Kolosoy’s first hit, ‘Marie-Louise’ (it would have to be the original 1948 version, which was said to have the power to raise the dead). (The party is in Kinshasa, where I lived for several years and had the honour of meeting and hearing some of Franco’s bandmates.)


Describe the colour blue to a blind person.

I propose we sit back and listen to Brad Mehldau’s sublime rendition of ‘Since I Fell For You’. When the last note has faded, eleven minutes from now, we can talk about cool rain, heartache and the ocean.


A goat walks through the door right now wearing a Gucci rag. What does he say and why is he here?

 There’s a question you don’t hear every day! OK, we’re having a pool party, it’s getting lively and the goat is hoping the glam attire, plus his friendly compliments about the music, will save him from a terminal rendezvous with the barbecue. He’s in with a chance, but it’s at best a 50:50 proposition.




1.     Deodato – Also Sprach Zarathustra (+ sample from  Gil Scott Heron)

2.     Herbie Hancock – Fat Mama

3.     Bobbi Humphrey – Harlem River Drive

4.     Donald Byrd – You & Music

5.     XOA – Mon Ecole

6.     Voilaaa – Jungle Fire

7.     War – Flying Machine (The Chase)

8.     Nina Simone – See-Line Woman

9.     Kool & the Gang – Universal Sound

10.  Gyedu-Blay Ambolley – Fa No Dem Ara