On the crest of a wave in the studio with Boy George, Afrojack, Tara McDonald and George Michael
The phone rings…
Well lookee here Mr Vedo. One minute you are travelling the world in First Class with Boy George around the world’s finest nightclubs, the next you are answering the office phone down in a suburb of Bristol!
“Ha ha. Dan you know me, never lose site of reality.”
True, I remember when driving into Taunton to cover one of your early Koolwaters parties for the magazine and saw you with a bucket of paste ready for a quick bout of postering!
“It was all hands on deck back then. I used to book the DJs, DJ myself, take the money on the door, hang up the banners and yes, even put up the posters.”
Well it was all worth it. Your production is going through the roof at the moment which I will come to later, but firstly, what a summer you are having DJ wise. You are everywhere!
“I have just done 18 gigs in three weeks; Croatia, Monaco, Seoul, Italy, Turkey, Germany, France…they have all been amazing. How long have you got for me to tell you about them all?”
Well I know Croatia is going mental at the moment…
“The thing about Croatia is that the government is behind a huge tourist push at the moment. There are no closing hours, no noise restrictions, people can smoke in the clubs and there is so much money going into the line ups. Carpe Diem on Hvar Island is just stunning and has such a cross section of people on the dancefloor, Australians, French, Italians, British…so cosmopolitan. I can only compare the atmosphere to our residency at La Troya in Ibiza.
And the Papaya Club is off the hook this summer…
“Dan have you seen those line ups? Every single day there is a huge superstar. Carl Cox one day, then Avicii, then Sasha. Unbelievable. But I also have to mention Mykonos and the two clubs Cavo Paradiso and The Paradise Club. Two clubs a stones throw from each other with the likes of Martin Solveig, Erick Morillo and Afrojack all appearing over a weekend, I’ve had some incredible shows this summer.”
Monaco last week seemed a little opulent for you and Boy George…
“Have you been to Jimmy’z?”
At those prices?
“It is ridiculous. 2500 euros for dinner for two, people buying bottles of champagne at 4000 euros a pop, who can afford that? Saying that though it was a great night, fabulous atmosphere and all of the millionaires partying really hard with no pretentiousness. And they knew the tunes!”
OK I will ask the question everyone reading this will be asking, how many of those bottles of 4000 euros champagne did you put on your DJ rider?!
“Ha ha. Three.”
You were one of the headliners at the massive Ultra Festival event in Seoul with Skrillex, Steve Aoki and a hundred others. What was that like, who did you get to see?
“It was a very surreal evening. I was in Turkey the night before, I stepped off the plane, got taken to the hotel, had a quick shower and minutes later I was DJing in front of 40,000 people. I hung around to see Skrillex afterwards, which was interesting. He didn’t play what I expected, a lot of downtempo mellow Dubstep mixed in with some hi-nrg Dub and lots of classic piano house.”
You mentioned La Troya at Amnesia in Ibiza. A few years ago La Troya was without doubt one of the best nights in Europe, in my opinion the best in Ibiza. And then it had a few internal problems but it looks as though it is now back to it’s best?”
“I have to say that it is the highlight of my career so far, myself and George are having such a ball. The crowd, the production which they change the theme of every week are just brilliant. They have not had any guest DJs over the last couple of decades but after they found out we wanted a residency, they booked us for this summer and next year as well.”
And what has been your big tune these this summer?
My massive summer Anthem and get out of jail card is: Cevin Fisher/ Seamus Haji “I Love The Music” (Manuel De La Mare & Alex Kenji remix).”
And what is the current top 10 you are spinning right now…
1- Osunlade “Envision” (ARgy Vocal Mix) 2- Touch Sensitive “Real Talk” (Original) 3- Hector Couto “Lights Off” (Original) 4- Lana Del Rey “Blue Jeans” MK Darkest Mix) 5- Hardrive “I wanna be like it talking Heads” (Dino Lenny Dub) 6- Hot Mouth “Totally Worth It feat Chris James (Federico Scavo remix) 7- Marc Vedo/ Federico Scavo feat Boy George and Ebony Sky “These God’s Will Fall” 8- Marc Vedo/ Tate/ Boy George feat Sharlene Hector “Sunshine into my Life” (David Penn remix) 9- Stretch & Vern Vs Rob Base & DJ E-Z “Rick Right Now” (Club Mix) 10- Alter Ego “Rocker” (Prok & Fitch vs Digital Enemy remix)
So what has gone wrong with the UK’s club scene, it’s desperate at the moment…
“Where do I start with the UK? The clubs have lost all direction. The production is poor, the crowds are now geared towards drinking, owners have stopped investing in line ups. You go to places in Asia or Italy where clubbing has been going on for 30 years or so – and they still take pride in their clubs. Everywhere is beautiful and you get that great mix of the 40/50 year olds spending thousands on drinks coupled with the younger crowd going crazy on the dancefloor. The UK owners have got completely the wrong mind set and we are a million miles away from the rest of the world who have to be put it bluntly, caught us up and left us way behind.”
You are not playing in the UK so much these days…
“I would say that 95% of my gigs are abroad now. It’s got to the point where if I see a UK show in my diary I shudder and think oh shit. When I was 19 and starting out DJing in the UK, the scene was so good. I would DJ for you at Slinky or Sundissential and all over the country at great superclubs. What was great was that you could go to some little village or town in the middle of nowhere and there would be an amazing club.”
Surely the prices of major DJs haven’t helped either?
“Oh for sure. When I started running my club nights back in the 90s and wanted to book a healdiner such as Tony de Vit or Seb Fontaine, I would have change from £2000. You want to book a major headliner today who knows that they can get the fee they quote anywhere in the world…well that’s where the UK has hit a dead end. Calvin Harris – $35,000, Afrojack – $50,000, Avicii – $200,000…the UK just can’t afford this market. Even in Germany where clubbing is still fantastic, this week their bottle service was going through the roof, which at the end of the day helps the venues foot the bill of the big DJs. It is going to take a long long time for the UK to get back on it’s feet.”
Lets go back to where it all began, Koolwaters in Taunton in the 90s. You started your night amidst the golden era of the superclub, Slinky, Gods Kitchen, Cream, Gatecrasher and Sundissential were all packing in thousands a week. How important was it for your brand to be at the helm with a great musical knowledge. You were able to change direction when needed – unlike your competitors. Some of your rival promoters ended up in prison or are now working on building sites…
“I think is has been really important. As I grew as a DJ and learnt about the industry, my brand grew as well. Trance then began to die in the UK and even though I had started as a trance DJ, I was losing the love for it. I switched to house music and started to get bookings for DJ sets at house clubs and started to book house DJs for Koolwaters and before I knew it we were doing events all over the UK. However after the Millennium crash the UK club scene just imploded. And that’s when I knew I had to concentrate on foreign shores for the sake of my own career.”
It’s difficult to keep up with your studio projects at the moment. Let’s kick off with the recent collaboration with Afrojack & R3hab. How did that come about?
“It is very exciting! We met at ADE in October and set up the project and since then we’ve worked around all of our busy schedules to write the tune, do the vocals and it’s just about set to go.”
And did you get a chance to all get in the studio together?
“No, all done by the remote 2012 collaboration route. We all pinged back ideas, vocals and files and we are all really happy with it. We’re deciding whether to release it on Ultra in America or Afrojack’s Wall Recordings label. Watch this space.”
How did the track with George Michael arise?
“That’s been bubbling around for a while now. George was asked by George Michael for some suggestions on dance producers to get involved with his new album and George kindly put my name forward. We spoke on the phone, talked through some ideas and after a few changes here and there, the track was completed. It’s called ‘Every Other Lover’ and should be out soon.”
I’ve heard he is over in Ibiza at the moment, that should be interesting if he comes down to La Troya…
“That would be cool if he came to the show, you never know, he does like his clubbing so he might come in for a drink or two!”
What else have you coming out from the studio…?
“We have so many tunes we are trying to slot in. A great new track I have just produced with Italy’s Frederico Scavo entitled ‘These Guys Will Fall’. Myself and George were talking on a plane journey about how quickly these big new DJs can rise to huge fame and then fall away so quickly and never be seen again. It should all be down to the music, not the marketing. So anyway, the track was written before we landed! Universal called today and said they want to sign it, it features John Gibbons and George on the vocals and we are very excited about it. There’s a track with Tara McDonald called ‘Alive’ also coming through Universal, she’s just releasing her new album and we are next in line for release. We have some underground German projects under way, a project with Yoda and Michael Woods and also something with David Penn who we are huge fans of.”
Have you helped Boy George’s mixing skills?
“Ha ha loads! I’m always giving him little tips. I got him switched over from vinyl to CD years ago and we’re going through the Ableton set up at the moment and we’re really excited to be having our crash course on the Pioneer RMX 1000 Remix Station this week, they can’t produce these products quick enough for the demand.”
What has George taught you?
“He has taught me a lot about vocals, how to construct a song and verses.”
How do your DJ styles musically differ?
“We are very similar in music to be honest. We DJ as a double act about 80% of the time these days. Before we get to the club we have a chat about what we will be playing later that night. If I am on first I’ll get the vibe of the club sorted in my head, if I can see the crowd like it a bit harder I’ll tell him. More times than not though he’ll ignore me completely and play the records that he wants until after about 20 minutes he’ll turn to me and say ‘oh piss off, you were right after all!”
What are his most annoying habits on tour?
“Oh his stubbornness. It can be so annoying! Like what I’ve just mentioned when he’ll eventually come round to my way of thinking whilst DJing. And also that everything is always my fault! Anyway, we get on great. I always try and have a come back with whatever he throws at me and the best way is just to be real and honest. You can’t believe your own hype all of the time!”
Are you surprised at the reaction he gets when he walks into a room?
“We have been doing this a long time now. When we started around 2001 the reaction at gigs was incredible, hundreds of people trying to get near him. People are a lot more chilled these days and George is great at handling people. Although saying that, we did this ATP Tennis after party not so long ago with all of the top 10 tennis players there alongside millionaire footballers, actors – and all of their wives! We walked in and there must have been about 50 camera crews waiting for us, and we were only meant to be DJIng! Anyway, that pissed George off. There was about 200 people in the VIP room that could only fit 50, plus the whole of the DJ booth was full of people wanting photos and autographs. So we left.”
And finally. Does George have any idea that as a kid you used to dance around your living room watching Fred Astaire and that once upon a time you were in The Sun newspaper in a feature entitled Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelors?