This week we caught up with Rob Steer (aka DJ Mr Lob) (dude in the pic on the left!). Rob started The Forty Five Kings Collective with Fatwax45 and has created a superb community of like-minded individuals based on the love of collecting and spinning 45s or as some would know them as – 7 inch singles.
I was personally recommended to the group by Mojaxx so I was pretty confident it would be good! I wasn’t disappointed, a welcoming community with a positive vibe keen to help one another. I was so impressed I knew the waxwrx community needed to be made aware of the collective who now has their own dedicated page on waxwrx!
So I asked Rob a few questions and got some great responses and fascinating stories along the way! Enjoy and don’t forget to comment!
For something to listen to whilst reading about the man why not check out his extensive catalogue of mixes on his MIXCLOUD PAGE.
Click or press the questions below to reveal the responses.
ANSWER – Hi Matt, firstly thanks for the opportunity to do this, it’s always an honour when someone takes the time to ask about my story as a music lover!
I’ve been Mr Lob for over 22 years now and the original idea came from a Tshirt Label I had started in Chiang Mai, Thailand with 2 local friends who had a market stall in the night market. We called the Label ‘Mr Lob’, as that’s what they called me as some Thai people have problems saying R, which becomes an L.
When I returned to Australia I decided to keep the label going and as part of doing the launch parties, I would bring in Dj friends to play and I thought I’d give it a go as I had also bought a crate of Hip Hop 12s and LPs from a friend who had been a mobile dj in the 80s and early 90s.
I had also collected records as a kid and teenager (particularly 45s as they were affordable) but just for personal use and I would always take over the music at parties from when I was a kid, from home parties to school discos where I would make compilation cassettes and later compilation cds.
Once I started djing I was hooked and luckily enough some people gave me the opportunity to play at their house parties, then bars and pubs.
In 2000 I started to Dj commercially with some friends at a night we called ‘Fistful of Funk’ and haven’t stopped playing and collecting since.
From about 2002 – 2004 I ran a party and website called ‘Weedhopper’ where we would run 2 rooms, one for Breaks and one for Hip Hop, Funk and Soul and this was around the time the new funk scene exploded and I was buying local 45s and whatever else I could find.
Alongside the Fistful of Funk and Weedhopper parties that I did with Heptune, I had become involved with The Gentlemen’s Record Club where I djed at parties like Strange Behaviour that featured The GRC live with a whole bunch of MCs and my favourite dj Wax Vandal on the decks. I would play after the live performances to get the dance floor up and going alongside Heptune and Wax Vandal. This led to other nights we ran like ‘Plates From The Crates’ and guest appearances at nights like Funkport, Dropping Fat and Kungfusion.
From here I ran my own nights such as Living For The City, The Get Down, Car Boot Funk, Just A Little Groove, The New Jazz Cool and Soul Searching amongst others.
During these years I have also played lots of guest spots and residencies such as a 9 year residency every Saturday night at Murmur, a 7 year residency at GoGo Bar in Melbourne and a 9 year residency at The Penny Black.
During this time I have expanded my record collection hugely and stepped into other genres a lot more, such as Jazz, Downtempo Jazzy Hip Hop, Reggae, Latin, Afro and Hip Hop, always with a focus on 45s.
In about 2007 I met Dj Oblivious through my night ‘The Get Down’ and together we formed ‘Black Caesar Events’ and our focus has been pushing 45s only parties and nights as well as booking some of the finest bands that have come out of Melbourne.
Our relationship continues to this day with Oblivious booking me for his own nights and parties such as the local version of the ’45 Sessions’ and him and I holding down a 10 year annual residency together for the Sydney Road Festival as well as holding down our own all night party at Rainbow Serpent Festival playing only 45s!
Since 2010 I have also toured Thailand 7 times playing everything from big festivals to Bangkok clubs and small open to the street bars.
Over the last 5 years I have returned to predominantly playing only 45s at gigs and leaving Serato for that 1% of gigs I was doing that had no turntables or needed music I wouldn’t buy on vinyl.
For the last 8 years I have been a constant maker of mixes across multiple genres and have now released over 500 mixes, collaborations and radio shows to my Mixcloud page which has helped me build a really good and receptive audience and opened up so many other opportunities for me to Tour within Australia, collaborate and go much much deeper into the genres I love.
I guess through all these activities I connected with other lovers and collectors of 45s and about 16 months ago brought the idea of The Forty Five Kings to my buddy Fatwax45 and this started a whole new thing!
ANSWER – It’s kind of taken me awhile to really grasp the impact of The Forty Five Kings in just under a year and a half, I mean a lot has happened and is going on, so I kind of get lost in it at times and it becomes all consuming but in a really good way!
The initial idea was to link all the Djs, Collectors, Labels, Producers and lovers of the 7” format that I had met through the above activities and had great respect for.
Fatwax45 wanted to do the same and the concept for the The Forty Five Kings was born.
The other idea was to try to create a group not based on genre but format and to include people who play and collect a huge range of genres, as I love so many different genres and my ears are open to hearing things I haven’t heard before.
I also love listening to dj sets, especially live all 45s mixes and I just really want to hear how people put records together, the mood they create and the journey they take us on with their selections.
I thought a Facebook group where I could connect all these people together and encourage participation and use my reach on Mixcloud to help promote the 45 and all these djs and collectors I was meeting would be a fantastic tool.
That led to a seperate Forty Five Kings Mixcloud page and we’ve now released 55 mixes!
I was also sick and tired of the infighting, nastiness and the attitudes that a minority of deep collectors and those who are willing to pay big $ for rare records had for others who were new to the game, not as versed or cashed up or just wanted to play 45s they could afford whether this be reissues, first time on 45, big hip hop tracks now on 45 or even bootlegs/mashups in some of the groups I was in.
I just want to point out that I actually have great respect for the rare collectors and those who bring to light those hidden gems, those whose goal is to go deeper, get dirtier and have the rarest of the rare records, presses etc
I want to hear what they’ve found, the story behind the 45, where it came from etc not be quoted a price. For me price/what you pay is a personal choice, not something that makes you better than others.
So hence we started the group to be an unbiased place where we could connect and share our love of the 7” format, collaborate, release member mixes, share new and old finds, support labels and others involved in the culture of record collecting and playing 45s and learn from and support each other.
We had no idea it would grow so big and get the support it has and that Djs we admired like Marc Hype, Jim Sharp, Robert Smith and their Dusty Donuts Crew, alongside the 45 Live Label and legends like Pete Isaac and Greg Belson and UK legend Chrome, as well as the Soul 45 crew would join and be so involved in our success.
Besides these guys we were blown away that many of the small labels we love like Little Beat More, DNA Records, Origu, Matasuna, Jalapeno, Serpent City Records, Our Label Records, Art Surgery, Hip Hop Be Bop, Dj Bacon Records and Beat House Records, as well as resellers like Dr Diggns amongst others would get on board and be so supportive.
Besides all this, I have loved that we have all types of Djs and Collectors represented from bedroom masters, to established djs from all around the world, big collectors, genre driven collectors and that we have managed to host streams from some of the best djs in the world and count among our members some of the finest female djs in the world who have played amazing streams for us. We also have kid djs and djs from Bulgaria to Canada, New York to Southampton, Melbourne to Philadelphia, Rome to Paris in the Forty Five Kings Collective.
I have loved the connections made in the group, the great conversations, the support for each other and for releases from members in the group.
We were pretty clear from the beginning that the group was a place of respect, that all are welcome, regardless of affiliation, genres played and that the group is not for purists only but all who love the format and that we would not stand for any abuse or insults based on someone’s choices of what to buy and play.
Not all are rare collectors and some just want to play the big hip hop hits, good on them and good on the rare collectors, we have space for all!
While all this has been going on I have pretty much released a weekly 1 hour mix from a member to our Mixcloud page and each mix has been amazing and inspiring.
Once Covid hit the facebook group became a place of refuge, discussion and sharing and I hope was always a welcoming place for those popping in. We like all groups have had some issues here and there but it’s a really friendly place I believe.
Obviously Covid impacted us as djs hugely and it seemed that we needed to move into the realm of Live Streaming and I especially want to shout out Criztoz (25ThC) for getting onboard and pushing me/us into the Live Stream world and really helping us grow our name, our reach and for hosting some amazing live streams.
From all this we were approaching 12 months as a group and had grown to 600+ members and were live streaming weekly as well as doing Country and City Based Live Stream Specials and other great shows like ‘The 45 Queens’, ’45 Kids’ and ‘Reggae Fire’.
Alongside our audio mixes we had built up a huge amount of djs sets on video, posters and flyers and the idea came to me to build a website where we could host and archive all these things to celebrate our achievements and create a place for people to come to for music streaming as well as things like interviews, feature stories, sponsor links and Dj sets on video.
I had no idea how much was involved in bringing this altogether and the time and costs involved!
Thankfully my good friend and fellow member Dj D Cow offered his services and we started to map out the idea for the website with no funding!
The idea grew and grew as to what I wanted as there was already so much stuff I wanted on the site and we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve with it.
We realised early on that we would need funding and support to get it off the ground to pay for the template, hosting and associated costs as well as the covering the costs for having Mixcloud and Hearthis Pro Accounts to host our mixes as well as paying for archive space to host our videos which were growing in number week by week.
From this came the idea to host a Raffle where we could hopefully draw on the support of our members to Sponsor us and donate prizes and then sell Raffle Tickets within the group to pay for us to build and launch our website and Pro Audio accounts.
Well this became a monster and the Sponsors were amazing and came on board with over 120 individual prizes that were broken up into 4 Major Prize Packs and 1 Consolation Prize, each containing at least 14 x 45s amongst tshirts, vouchers, caps, food, 45 adaptors, custom artwork, spicy sauces, design services and a myriad of other amazing items.
The Raffle was a great success with over 350 tickets sold to members and 5 very very lucky prize winners!
The funds raised paid for the development, hosting and launch of our website as well as our Pro Audio Accounts for the next 2 years.
There are some amazing interviews and feature stories on the website now, alongside our member mixes and video dj sets and I am now also starting to do Reviews with my first review of the new Magma 45s Trolley Bag up on the site.
It’s not the most beautiful website and uses a very plain template but we did it ourselves and have done our best to make it easy to use, navigate and encourage you to visit regularly.
I would love to continue to develop the site and continue doing interviews and reviews and hoping that members will get more involved and submit Feature stories.
I’m also hoping to learn how to do a Newsletter and start sending that out in the not too distant future!
We have also developed some great Merchandise such as Tshirts, Slipmats, Stickers and soon some caps and beanies which we have sold to members exclusively.
I would like to be able to have a Shop on the website to sell these items thru as it has become a full time job to run the Facebook group, website, live streams and associated activity and at some point in the near future it would be great to be able to support my/our endeavours and earn some money to be able to support myself and all of these activities.
We would also like to start our own Label and will be looking at this year hopefully!
I have benefitted greatly from starting this group and have made so many great great friends and connections and it has been real hard but rewarding work and I hope to continue to do it and work closely with Fatwax45 & 25ThC for many years to come, while continuing supporting and pushing our members activities forward all while supporting the humble 7” record and the culture around it.
QUESTION - You’ve really captured the essence of what we feel is important in music. Your sentiments are most definitely echoed in the fact that music should be accessible to all and a tool to promote positivity and respect amongst like-minded individuals. We think it is important to use genre as a guide now something to live by as there is so much amazing music to discover if you remain open minded. Your words resonate with the waxwrx crew. It really is great to hear the passion and the waxwrx journey has been very similar so we understand the journey at times can be a little rough and all consuming. Great to see you breaking through the barriers and looking to the future. The collective seems to have a healthy organic approach to growth. Where do you see the collective a year from now, what does success look like for you guys?
ANSWER – That’s a really hard one to answer as we have achieved so much in such a small amount of time, but really if we can continue to grow our audience and reach and bring some of our immediate projects to fruition like a webshop on our website (as there is real interest in our Merchandise), get our Newsletter up and running and people subscribing to it and to build Paid Subscriptions for our Mixcloud and Twitch accounts, we can continue to put time into this and support ourselves and take it further, hopefully to a Record Label that releases original music.
The ultimate goal is to be able to play Festivals and bring our own lineups to these gatherings and how good would it be if we could host our own stage and even tour it with Fatwax45, 25ThC and myself travelling as the Forty Five Kings and then adding our local members in each destination to the lineup.
Once we are on top of Covid 19 and free to travel again, my first order of business is to get to the UK and meet lots of people face to face, play a few gigs and then get into Europe to do the same.
Lastly, I would like to say thanks to all who support what we do, I cannot do this alone and the assistance, advice, sponsorship, donations of products and 45s, time, passion and love of my fellow Kings and Queens has helped carry me over the past year especially.
Long Live The Forty Five Kings!
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