One of the biggest techno DJs of all time back where he belongs
Welcome back to DMC towers Dave. Well the big news everyone is talking about is you hosting your own stage at the best festival in the world - Tomorrowland in Belgium on July 29th. You have handpicked the artists yourself, who are you excited about seeing…
"All of them to be honest, they all have a unique and valuable talent and yet they all represent their own territory with gusto. But maybe that is why I chose them..."
How on earth have you managed to stay away from this event for so long, you must be looking forward to this one...
"The back channel diplomats have been trying for years to get this done, but finally having a face to face with the organiser made things really happen. Sometimes it can be that simple."
You now live in Amsterdam, surely you must be behind the introduction of the cannabis cafe pass system being introduced over there?
"Yes, but not as someone opposed to it being smoked. The disturbance comes from people whose governments are not so enlightened, they come over and binge and just cause a bad vibe. Far better to regulate it... the glamour would go as it isn't risky anymore."
You took a break from production to take a breather, spend some time with people close to you and also because you weren't sure where the record industry was heading. So, what prompted you to come back and what did you think of the state of the industry?
"Computers finally (almost) having the power to be reliable for handling big projects, itchy feet and a need to rebuild a studio that I lost after a divorce. I had a big analogue studio but when thinking about a new studio to replace it with, well I was left cold by the then limited powers of on-board DSP. As for the state of the industry, well just turn that sentence around...to think people are happy for 400 sales when I would have a limited run back in the day of 12-15k vinyls, a mix album could easily sell 100k copies. The days of sustaining a living through making music is nothing but a distant dream for most people. That saddens me immensely, but there are different ways to get through now and the ones that aren't bent are more democratic than before. Now we need to get the collection agencies up to date."
Tell our readers how the whole Mr Jones hook up started, you were playing his tunes on your radio show…
"At one point every week, a different one, for a couple of months, he had the passion and drive and love of music that I respect. I then met him in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and it started from there. I realise collaborating is not just fun but essential for inspiration, I had mostly worked alone since my first recording in the late 80's."
You record under the Unsubscribe alias together, some great remixes for the likes of Boys Noize, Ben Sims and a.o. Detroit Grand Pubahs amongst others. What's coming next studio wise…
"A few more remixes and then some original stuff. Then when I feel comfortable some solo stuff."
Has the break from the studio changed the sound of your production in any way?
"No but the technology has. When the machines are working the only limit is imagination. It is so rewarding to not sample beats anymore and make them from scratch."
You escaped England, a country, which apart from Fabric, is very short of anyone championing any sort of quality music. Cheese rules. Why do you think it has turned out like this…
Funny you say "escaped". I'm not running away from the country, I just couldn't grow there anymore. I first went to gig in Amsterdam in the late 80's and fell in love with the place and hoped one day to live here. It has so many great things, an amazing way of life in the most beautiful setting with a bloody great big and reliable airport 15 mins away. But yes, the scene is cheesy in the UK, why do I think this...well I blame one person: Pete Tong, the driver of big business into UK radio. That is my interpretation anyway. Also the sad demise of record shops didn't help sustain a healthy disdain to the commerciality so omnipresent in the UK. Yes, Fabric kicks the crap away with an amazing stance for quality week in week out, but you mostly have to go to the celtic side to get back the punky attitude, Scotland, Ireland..."
As a kid knocking around the arcade, smoking fags, listening to punk…had you any idea what you wanted to do with your life, were you interested in anything back then?
"Yes, I used to tell people when I was working in a shoe shop that I would one day travel the world based on a career in music... I was that driven. That and the fact I had no chance of any other career as I was sleeping rough at the age of 16 and there was no money for me to go to 6th form to do software engineering...perhaps it was just a dream, but here I am in Japan still living it."
Not many people know the story about the difficult part of your life from the 'leaving school' chapter to the 'successful DJ/producer' chapter…
"That’s ok, it used to be a big chip on my shoulder, but it is part of my life that I have absorbed for the greater part. A lot of people have shit to go through, very few have it easy...even people like Guetta had it hard...puts things in context. But people concentrate on the fairy tale side whilst neatly forgetting the ugly sisters."
Most people on the other side of the decks think the world of a DJ is a very glamorous life (!), well it's not is it?
"It is in the fact that it is not mundane and 9-5, it is in the fact that when you have finished work people scream for more (an old school friend told me when he finishes the accounts at work, no-one asks for an encore... point well made). But the travelling is tough, the lack of sleep is a killer (3-4 hours over 2-3 days), giving up your weekends for 25 years needs understanding from friends and family, being dead tired on a Tuesday is really a bummer, being in cars for hours on end when you want/need to sleep can drive you mad, being in a club when people really get you and all is syncopated is pure magic...ups and downs."
Who are the young producers you've checked this year that have impressed you. If any.
"For that it is best to go to my radio show "White Noise", the podcast can be found by going to RTE in Ireland. This really is my way of paying back the scene. A particular curveball favourite of mine at the moment is Mazzula."
Looking back, what is the best club crowd you have ever had the pleasure to entertain?
"Tough to say…Fuse Club Belgium, Red Box Eire, Awakenings Holland, Rex Paris... so so many, Arches Scotland..."
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
"Getting home at 8am, my lovely girlfriend cooking me breakfast after I have a bath, sleeping for four hours, then going for a walk together to a record shop, then a steaming hot curry. That is heaven."
Aside from techno, what other artists are you digging at the moment?
"A Place To Bury Strangers, psychedelic wall of sound punk rock, Soft Moon provide an antidote for those Monday afternoon office blues."
And one final thing Dave, if this DJing/producer lark doesn't work out, DMCWORLD Magazine are always looking for good reviewers…
"Haha...ah yes the little arguments I used to have for things like trying to get my review of the first Aphex Twin track in the old DMC Update magazine come to mind. But you did believe in my reviews and you did put them in (thanks Nick Gordon Brown / Dom Phillips) and by having my reviews in there helped me to get the vinyls I needed to be out there DJing. Yep DMC, I still owe you for a few rungs up that long ladder...thanks x."
The Dave Clarke Presents stage will be present during Tomorrowland on Sunday the 29th of July. To get an sneak preview of what to expect, check Dave Clarke’s Awakenings 2012 DJ set on Soundcloud here:http://soundcloud.com/dave-clarke-dj-sets/awakenings-festival-201.
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