It’s with great regret that Pete ‘Woosh’ Birch, founding member and influential figure in Nottingham’s DiY Collective, has passed away after a five-year battle with cancer.
If you scratch under the surface of dance music heritage in the UK it won’t take you long to stumble across DiY Soundsystem. The outfit was a seminal part of the acid house raves scene back in the early 90s, to many most notably being a part of the collection of sound systems which threw the infamous party at Castlemorton 1992. An estimated 20,000 – 40,000 party revellers enjoying the delights of the party which went on nearly a week. This resulted in the Criminal Justice Bill driving parties from fields into clubs full time in the UK. In a weird way, you could say we wouldn’t be here doing what we do today in this capacity without people like Pete pushing the way forward.
He was also responsible for one of the hottest nights in the UK at the time; Bounce which welcomed guests including Sasha, Laurent Garnier, DJ Pierre, Andrew Weatherall, Larry Heard, Derrick Carter and many more. From parties all over the UK, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Dallas and Ibiza it’s safe to say the DiY we’re absolutely on fire in their prime years. The collective was holding multiple parties a week at some stages. The infamous DJ duo Digs & Woosh along with Simon DK and many others of the DiY entourage were known for their dedication to music and bringing joy to many dance floors across the world.
Pete was also responsible for launching the labels Strictly 4 Groovers and DiY Discs releasing 100s of records. The imprints brought artists like Nail, Atjazz, Rhythm Plate, Inland Knights and many more to light. These records are still found in many of favourite DJs sets to this day and are an essential part of any serious house diggers collection.
After being diagnosed with highly aggressive head and neck cancer in December of 2015, Pete decided to take a natural approach to treatment and launched his The 52 Card Trick project. He wanted to give something back to everyone that helped him when he was diagnosed. The label would release 3 tracks a week for 52 weeks. It saw the likes of Brawther, Yueseke, Nail, Hot Toddy and Schmoov, as well as many others, release a brilliant selection of diverse music. All proceeds from the project went towards organisations which offered support with cancer, none of which received government funding. These included Active Cancer Therapy Support, Together Against Cancer and The Penny Brohn Centre.
DiY recently celebrated their 30th birthday in 2019; an achievement which is truly unique and special in its own right. How? Still sticking to the ethos that has served them so well over all these years. A family of like-minded people coming together for the love for music.
You only have to look on the DiY facebook page to see how many people Pete inspired over the years with floods of testaments, stories, nods of respect and admiration.
Thoughts going out to everyone suffering from his loss. The world we love has lost a rare breed indeed.
Rest in peace Pete ‘Woosh’ Bird.
Thank you for being you.
Words: Jordan Distan