Sign up for our weekly newsletter
TRCH Hairspray

A Retrospective of Notts House Music: The 25-year reunion of Quadrant Sound System

3 September 21 words: Elizabeth O’Riordan

As they get set to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a long-overdue reunion, Elizabeth O'Riordan looks back on the impact of Quadrant Sound System...

The year is 1996. John Major is the Prime Minister of the UK; Dolly the Sheep has just been born; and here in Nottingham Chris Goss and Kev Dobson are busy setting up a sound system in the middle of their living room.

“Quadrant Sound System was a collective of people” Chris says, “we were together from the mid-90’s to the early 2000’s.” He goes on to talk about the Nottingham house music scene, remembering the DiY Collective, whom he credits for starting the house movement here in Nottingham. “Hearing this new sound inspired us to come together, it sounded so fresh and new” Chris recalls, “I remember listening to house music with jazz style chords and instrumental tracks, which was so different to what you’d hear in bigger clubs.”

From here, Quadrant Sound System was born. Chris explains it was his friend Kev who originally had the idea for the sound system and went on to build it from scratch. “We wanted to continue on from the guys before us and do our bit for the scene that had given us so much” he says. In the early days, they were just throwing parties from home; on the Facebook reunion page you can see a picture of the house on Gregory Boulevard, the photo shows a small semi-detached house, now covered in scaffolding. The caption reads ‘where it started’ and there are over 100 comments reminiscing about the parties there. Chris tells me that there was a place nearby named Sky Club and they became the unofficial place to come when the club would close. “Essentially it got to the point where the whole club was coming over” Chris laughs. 

As time went on, Quadrant began to organise DJ sets in clubs. “Not your commercial classy club” Chris says, “but underground venues.” At Chris’ mention of commercialism, I ask him if he thinks that house music has a rebellious or anti-establishment nature to it. “I certainly think there was a rebellious nature to the whole rave scene” he says, “obviously it became this big commercial scene later, but we were having fun and doing it our own way. You weren’t having to go into a big commercial club to party.”

My favourite part of the story emerges when Chris mentions transporting the sound system in a fire truck. “We were looking for some transport to take it to parties and clubs, then Kev rings me up one day and says he’s found a truck, the fire station are getting rid of it for a £1000. Anyway, we ended up buying it and stripping the back out. The sides of the fire engine were perfect for putting speakers in, and we put beds where the water tank was. We became infamous on the party scene for being the guys with the fire engine.”

In 1998 Quadrant Sound System moved to the Czech Republic. Kev had been invited to Prague and was excited to see the emerging house music scene. “Communism had only ended recently so they were a little behind us in music” Chris says, “house music had been in the UK 10 years by then, but they were still fresh to it.” So, following the buzz of newness, Chris, Kev, and a few others moved to Prague in the Christmas of 98’ – bringing along the fire truck.

Most of the people involved in Quadrant stayed in the music industry. “We’ve all wanted to do something to continue the scene” Chris says. Kev never moved back from the Czech Republic, and now works providing sound systems for major festivals. Chris lives back in Nottingham, still working as a DJ under the name Chris Quadrant alongside having a ‘real job’ (as he calls it) for Confetti as a music teacher. According to Chris, the fire truck still exists out there somewhere, it was sold to someone who planned to turn it into a beer bus but ended up sitting in someone’s garden instead. “A couple of years ago it resurfaced” Chris tells me, “the red all faded to pink.” 

Now Quadrant Sound System are returning to Nottingham for a 25-year reunion event starting September 3rd, 2021. “We’ve managed to get a full weekend of music and venues which are all sort of related to what we did in the past” Chris says, “it’s been great to come back together 25 years after we started and to remind people of our roots.”

The Quadrant Sound System Reunion is a free event that can be booked through Eventbrite. More details can be found on the Facebook page

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now