London’s premiere electronic festival returns.
DMCWORLD speak to Underworld, Sasha, Above & Beyond, John Digweed, Laidback Luke, Ferry Corsten, Sub Focus, Adam Beyer and Josk Wink all headlining this weekend…
Karl, you will be headlining South West Four 2011. What have you heard about the festival?
“Everyone we’ve spoken to has said what a great vibe it is.”
What are you most excited about playing SW4?
“The energy of the crowd when we play in London is always special, always exciting.”
What can we expect from your performance on the day?
“We come to every show with an open mind. The audience tell us how they want the night to go and we tap into their energy. It’s going to be a party, that’s for sure.”
What is your one festival tip for SW4?
“Don’t peak too early!”
What is your favourite festival memory?
“Playing on a rain drenched stage at Giants Stadium outside of New York. Playing on the slopes of Mount Fuji with the sun coming up to reveal the volcano right in front of us. Playing as part of an 18 hour set on the Experimental Soundfield at Glastonbury in 1992. There are so many good memories – this has been an amazing journey.”
Which of your tracks is a favourite to play in the festival environment?
“Have a guess!”
What three words would you use to describe the ‘Underworld’ sound?
“Energy. Celebration. Eclectic.”
You are used to playing festivals in the countryside but have you played any inner-city festivals before?
“Yes. New York Central Park was a memorable one.”
You have regularly played indoor venues in London but have you played outdoor in London before?
“Hyde Park – we have a thing about parks!”
What do you enjoy about playing in London, is it like a homecoming?
“It’s our home crowd and Londoners have such fantastic energy, after all the travelling we do it’s brilliant to be back.”
You will be closing SW4 infront of a crowd of 20,000. How does it feel to perform in front of so many people?
“It feels like home. We enjoy playing for large audiences, feeling their energy drives us to try harder.”
Do you have any pre-set rituals?
“Spend time with our crew, take on plenty of fluids and clear the head to be ready for anything!”
In September you released your eighth studio album which featured collaborations with SW4 regulars Mark Knight and Paul van Dyk. How did these collaborations come about?
“Rick had wanted to collaborate with other producers and writers for a long time and we’ve enjoyed hearing our music remixed since day one. However we were never able to take these ‘collaborations’ any further because they were all done after the albums were finished. Rick’s idea was to find out what would happen if we got our music out to other artists ‘before’ the album was mixed, – what would that sound like? So we drew up a list of people we’d like to work with and were thrilled when the response from them all was ‘Yes’. It’s something that has gone so well and been so enjoyable that we intend to continue doing it.”
Do you have any exciting collaborations lined up for the future?
“Yes. Check our web site for updates as they begin to happen.”
And finally can you send out a message as to why your fans should be come to see Underworld at South West Four?
“This may be the last time to see Underworld in this form for a long time and we’ll turn on everything for you all to have a great night.”
“I’m in New York. I split my time between here and London. It’s pretty even at the moment. However, I spend more of my time in airports. It’s hard to call somewhere home to be honest.”
What are you currently working on?
“I’ve finished my new single that is going to be the first release on my record label called ‘Last Night On Earth’. It was chosen as the IMS anthem for this year and we’re doing a huge remix project around that which is exciting. I will be taking some time off at the end of this year and beginning of next year to work on a bigger project so I’m getting my studio stuff together for that.”
Is there a new album in the pipeline?
“Well I’m working on the next Involver record. There are so many requests and people are really hungry for another instalment in that series. We’ve just had so much feedback and people asking about it so it seems like the right thing to do. And I’ve got an amazing collection of tracks together for remixes and stuff so it’s going to be really exciting.”
Gig wise, where have you been in the world so far this year?
“I’ve been really busy so far actually. I’ve already been around the world three times it’s mental. I’ve already been to Australia, India, I did a tour of Asia which was great. I was in Toyko during the earthquake, which was a bit odd, but it was good to go out and support the scene out there. I was in Belarus for an incredible gig. It was my first gig out there and was really good. I’ve been to Israel. I’ve been globetrotting all this year so far, it’s been hectic and exciting. I’ve got a new direction and things are definitely looking up.”
Which fellow artists are proving most inspirational to you at the moment?
“People like Paul Kalkbrenner. I went to see him at Fabric recently and I’ve really supported his music from the first release of his, so it’s nice to see him getting a lot of recognition. The gig he played was fantastic at Fabric, I really enjoyed that and the place was absolutely jumping. But yes there are lots of weird and wonderful producers popping their heads up. There seems to be such a vibrant sound emerging, like a British house sound that has been championed. I don’t know if it’s British, but there’s a new house sound that’s been championed by people like Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, Damian Lazarus and it’s a great sound. It’s a really vibrant scene.”
This year you’re playing on the Sunday of SW4. What are you perceptions of playing on the Sunday rather than the Saturday?
“I don’t know. I’ve never done it before. I’ve done the main stage many times and it’s been an important gig for me over the years. But I’ve been offered the chance to host a tent this year so I’m really excited about that and we’re going to put a visual element into it, so as soon as the sun goes down I’ll be able to get all my twinkly lights working and I’m sure it’s going to look fantastic. It will be a different experience. I’ve never really experienced a tent at SW4, I’ve always been on the main stage so I’m looking forward to it.”
This is the same show at Coachella is it not? Tell me more about the show itself.
“It’s going to be similar to that. It’s going to be a slightly different version. The Coachella stage is enormous, it’s absolutely massive so we’re doing a stripped down version of it for SW4. It’s still going to be a very powerful show. The Coachella show looked very good because it’s such a huge wide stage, 150 feet wide. It’s an intense LED show that we do. We work with guys in Montreal creating content and also with people in London at a company called Immersive that have worked on a lot of really impressive shows and it really works for the music. It’s a really cohesive set up.”
You’re going to be playing in the ‘We Love’ arena. What are favourite memories of Space in Ibiza?
“Oh too many. It’s one of my favourite clubs in the world. Sundays at Space were a very important part of my career as well. Out of all the clubs in Ibiza, that is the place I’d always go to really get into the music that I think I preferred. I preferred that venue over the others at the time because it was a good place to go and get lost.”
What do particularly like about playing SW4?
“I think SW4 is such a unique festival. It’s the perfect place to have a party in the middle of London and a great day out.”
Do you have a particular memory of SW4 that stands out?
“All the gigs have been fantastic, they’ve always been amazing. It’s hard to pick one as they’re all such a buzz.”
What your tips for surviving a festival?
“Be well stocked and well prepared. You’ve got to be mobile. Don’t try and go with a posse of friends. If you try to organise ten people you’re just going to end up chasing your tail constantly. You’ve got to be a tight unit, you’ve got to be stealth, you’ve got to be ready for the rain and ready for the dust. You’ve got to be prepared.”
Can you give us one message why people should come to see you at SW4 this summer?
“It’s London, it’s the middle of the summer, and it’s on Clapham Common. Hopefully the weather is going to be great. It’s just a fantastic festival and great location to see any DJ.”
ABOVE & BEYOND
Boys, a massive Summer album out under your belts. What’s behind the name ‘Group Therapy’?
Jono: “‘Group Therapy’ represents the fact that we hope, some of the songs will go out to people – and they’ll be able to gain something in their lives. Also the fact we are also a group and for us, writing songs plus producing music is kind of therapeutic!”
Tell us more about the inspiration behind the album…
Jono: “Stuff that happens in your life, the same for any musician really… music that you hear, your experiences – that get spat out in musical form.”
Looking back, how does ‘Group Therapy’ differ from your debut album ‘Tri-State?’
Paavo: “A lot of production is ‘very now,’ but the core of our music is very much the same. We like to think good songs are timeless and as such, ‘Group Therapy’ has a lot in common with ‘Tri-State’. This is a statement of where Above & Beyond’s music is in 2011.”
You are hosting your own arena at SW4 this year, does this bring added pressure to the gig?
Paavo: “This in general adds a lot of pressures, making sure things are right. When playing someone else’s stage, all our concentration is on the music. Nowadays doing a lot of our own stages, this is about delivering a real show and experience. So not only a musical journey, but visuals too and a full A&B experience.”
Hailing from London, why are these homecoming gigs so special?
Paavo: “We don’t get to play London that often, and it has that something special – don’t know quite how to describe it! We’ve all had some unforgettable experiences clubbing in London, Ministry being one example”
One tune the SW4 crowd will definitely be hearing is…?
Jono: ” ‘A Thing Called Love.’ We just came from the studio finishing some bits, and will be complete in time for SW4.”
Please give your essential festival item?
Paavo: “A totally open attitude. Especially in 2011, with so many different musical genres at festivals. The best thing you can do is bring an open mind – and an open heart, enjoy the music you are hearing. And your sunglasses!”
Was ‘Sun & Moon’ purposely designed to appeal to such a widespread audience, Radio 1 and MTV were all over it…?
Jono: “Not really. When you write music, you just have to do it from the heart, do what you believe in. If you try and second guess the audience, it’s a dangerous place to be (as very contrived). Whilst there are certain tricks and formulas in dance music, when it comes to song writing you just have to go ahead and do it.”
Paavo: “Also ‘Sun & Moon’ was made for the dancefloor, a real club track for us. So we were quite surprised to see it also work on TV and radio. It’s a real true bred club record, so really cool for the support.”
Your label Anjunabeats, recently celebrated 10 years. Is it hard to balance the business side with a hectic travelling schedule?
Jono: “Yes it is, because we are also running a label, DJing and producing music. Juggling that is very difficult, as sometimes we will be working on a track – then comes ‘knock knock’ from the label manager! He’ll require some input from us, for example our opinion on a track and whether we want to sign it.”
How has 2011 been for you so far?
“Really good so far. Gigs have been great worldwide and Bedrock Records has had a great start with albums from Marco Bailey and Guy J, plus my new Structures Two album out. Lots of festivals, overseas gigs, beach parties, Ibiza etc. I love this time of year. It gets a bit crazy with some of the travel but when the sun is out and everyone is in holiday mood it’s a lot of fun.”
Being in this industry for so many years, how do you adapt your musical style in order to keep up with the changing music trends?
“I just try and stay on point with all the new music that’s coming out. It’s also important to be consistent and deliver every time you play out. I love what I do.”
‘Bedrock’ has established itself as a well renowned brand in the music industry. A record label, a promotions company and a studio production partnership; describe your working relationship with Nick Muir. How did you two get together?
“We met through a mutual friend when I was a resident at Rage in London. Nick gave me some tracks he had been working on and asked what I thought of them. I told him they were OK and he suggested that we work on something together. The first track we did was ‘For What You Dream Of’. Nick is an amazing musician and producer as well as a great friend.”
How do you go about structuring your set given the different type of crowd you might encounter?
“Well each gig is different and that’s what I like about what I do. Every gig is different so it keeps me on my toes and allows you to approach every gig based on the type of venue you are playing at.”
What do you look out for in the artists before signing them to your label?
“Tracks that have some great elements in them and original sounds. There are so many tracks being made every week so you need to pick the really good ones to make your label stand out.”
What memories do you have of the first Bedrock in London?
“I think it’s any DJ’s dream to have a successful night in London, so I was very nervous before the gig as you don’t know if it is going to be busy or not. The night was a huge success and I have been lucky enough to have many Bedrock parties since.”
Are you excited to be playing yet again at SW4 2011?
“Very excited. It’s one of the biggest electronic festivals in London so to be asked back year after year is amazing. There is nothing better than looking out from the main stage and seeing everybody going nuts.”
The venue for SW4, Clapham Common seems to have a bit of resonance for a lot of artists who have played at the event. Do you have any great memories associated with Clapham Common?
“It’s hard to pick out one as I have been lucky enough to play the main stage many times as well as hosting my own Bedrock arena a couple of times as well. Every party has always been great. Even though it finishes at 9pm the crowd always get there early and make a full day of it. From 1pm the tents are already jumping. People really look forward to SW4 and so do I.”
What do you love most about playing in London?
“I don’t have to catch a plane firstly, and it feels like playing at home. London also has so many people living in it from all over the world so you also bump into people that have heard you play in another country. It’s great they come and support you at a London show.”
Your favourite club to play at in London?
“Bedrock at Heaven in its day was very special. So many great nights and not a lot of work done on a Friday. Now I would have to say that Fabric is the best place to play in London. They get it right on so many levels.”
What would be John Digweed’s tips on how to recover from a festival?
“I don’t think you should be planning that far ahead. Just go and have a great time. It’s a Bank Holiday on the Monday so you have plenty of time to rest up.”
You undoubtedly have a huge fan base, what message would you like to give out to the London crowd who will be coming down to see you this summer at SW4?
Thanks for all the support over the years and can’t wait to rock the main stage for you again this year.
How has 2011 been so far for you?
“It’s been amazing! Every year has been such a rollercoaster ride from when my international career took off in 2007. But it seems to just stack up every year and 2011 is set to be my biggest year yet!”
How has Ibiza been?
“I’ve been really happy with it. Some great clubs We also had the kick-off of my own ‘Super You & Me’ nights at Cream in Amnesia as well and it was more than I expected.”
How would you describe your style of mixing/production?
“Basically the same as what I call my recordlabel: Mixmash. I often tend to just chuck in a lot of styles and mix and mash them to one unique thing.”
If you could choose anyone to collaborate with who would it be?
“I’d probably say Madonna, Justin Timberlake or Daft Punk. I’m such a big fan of Daft Punk and I consider Madonna and Justin Timberlake as legends.”
What was the first record you ever bought?
“Johnny L – ‘Hurt You So’, a classic in the UK rave sound. Absolutely adored the epic break and I always was so into the UK breakbeat stuff.”
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
“Making the step from being a national DJ to an international DJ and pulling it off. It was a big struggle to get there too. But being here and now and looking back at it, it was one of my biggest accomplishments. But I’ll never forget doing an official remix for Daft Punk too and having the guys respond to me saying they loved the mix : ) Having said that though, I need to say the hard work I put in to train new and up and coming talents too. People like Afrojack, Avicii, Bart B. More, Bingo Players, Max Vangeli, Angger Dimas are amongst a few that came from my forum and made it big. I couldn’t be more proud of that!”
Tell us more about your ‘Super You & Me’ night…
“When I came up with the idea of the ‘Super You & Me’ nights, I thought a lot of dance music nights were way too serious. I remember the best times I had on nights out were just the stupid crazy fun I had with my friends. I wanted to have that kind of feeling back in my nights. I felt not only the DJ should feel like a superhero but the crowd should feel that way too. That epic feeling of putting your hands up and being able to take on the whole world! I love dressing up too. Insert your transvestite jokes here. I remember in the beginning days of house music people really took care of their outfits and it adds up to the anticipation of living up to a night. Crazy stupid fun, dressing up, epicness. You could sum the ‘Super You & Me’ parties in that way!”
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever encountered at one of your shows?
“That’s always such a hard question, so many shows! Most recently my shows in America are getting out of hand. I’ve been shut down by the police twice on the last US tour because of over capacity. The nights were too busy the police needed to shut the club down mid set!
How was South West Four for you last year?
“Oh I had such a good time! It was definitely one of the highlights of my summer last year! I always get so much love from London and SW4 made that very clear to me once again.”
Who will you be watching at the festival?
“Well I’ll be playing in between the big dudes on the festival. I believe I’m on before Underworld and I haven’t seen them live for a while now. Edit that – probably ten years, as a fan and admirer. I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing them perform.”
What’s the best thing about playing in London?
“To me it’s one of the places where my international career started. I remember me trying to push hard to make it work back in the days. And little by little it got there. I feel I have a solid foundation now and I love the support I’m getting!”
What can you fans expect from your main stage set?
“I never know what to bring! As all my sets are improv and catered to the absolute moment. I’ll definitely bring the energy and fun, that’s for sure!”
Describe what you think SW4 will be like in 3 words.
“Really Fucking Amazing.”
How do you cope with such a hectic DJ schedule?
“My life is always about music really. Outside of this, I love snowboarding and being with the family – for the little spare time I have.”
At the end of 2010, you featured highly in the DJ Mag Poll. How does it feel to be rated highly in this chart?
“A lot of people look at the DJ Mag list, it’s a reflection of your popularity I guess, so it’s awesome to be up there. But I don’t make it my mission to do so. I try to do the best in everything, so if that puts me in the Top 10, I can only be happy. So thanks for everyone who vote.”
Work on your new album is ongoing. How is this progressing?
“The new album is slowly but surely taking shape. I’m working on it, a lot of the time in Europe. So during the week I’m in the studio a lot. It’s getting there, but not quite perfect.”
Will this album differ to your previous offerings in any way?
“Not sure if it will differ sound wise. Definitely very big, anthemic melodies! What may change is the track tempo. Nowadays this is definitely lower, not 140 BPM anymore. This album is more in tune with the times. So in summary lower BPM, but with the big lush melodies!”
Will we hear any of this new music at SW4?
“By SW4, the album will be as good as ready. So will definitely be road testing the new material.”
What do you like about Corsten’s Countdown?
“Corsten’s Countdown is something I really didn’t foresee. But then it took off! I can present music I think is great, and get the fan’s opinion – all because of the concept. Hence I can gauge what’s popular, but sometimes the listeners really surprise me.”
Tell us a bit more about the ‘EON’ alias?
“This is one of the 20 or 30 aliases I came up with, back in the day. Started my own label, but didn’t have any artists. So came up an array of different names – of which I was behind. Some examples are Gouryella, Veracocha and System F. So Eon was just a new artist name…”
What do you like most about playing in London?
It’s such a mixed crowd. The locals combined with people from round the world that are here for a short time or holiday. Every place has a different way of partying – and in London it just all comes together. It’s a great place!”
Are you looking to being back in London for the festival?
“I’ve been playing clubs mostly in London – the last couple of years for The Gallery. Can’t remember actually doing a London festival, so really looking forward to being part of SW4.”
What do you prefer about outdoors, as opposed to in the clubs?
“Special things about being outdoors are the wind or sun! I love the breeze and sense of freedom. Inside is always a smokey atmosphere for example. You also notice the crowd vibe, they seem to be a lot more outgoing – when outside.”
Does the unique location of SW4 add to the atmosphere?
“If you play in the middle of a city, it’s always a great atmosphere – as you’re right in the hustle and bustle. Especially in Clapham, as there’s a lot of greenery, so it doesn’t feel like you’re in the city. But it’s easy to get to and always an amazing crowd.”
How does SW4 compare to other festivals worldwide?
“There are not many city festivals. A few in the States, Ultra (Miami) and Electric Zoo (New York). So SW4 is like these, a city festival – without that city feeling.”
Top tip for SW4?
Bring Sunscreen, an umbrella or wellies.
What have you been up to this summer?
I’ve been touring a lot, been heading up a lot of festivals; recent highlights, probably EDC in Vegas and Glastonbury which I did on the same weekend. Hideout and also Secret Garden Party great too. It’s been a good summer so far.”
Any particular highlights?
“Secret Garden is a crazy festival – basically, it’s full of nutters! I really enjoyed the whole thing – I went for the whole weekend. I had a bunch of friends playing, so it was really nice to have a whole group of us there; me, Nero, Brookes Brothers – who I’ve been friends with since we were about five years old – and we went to see Andy play on the Sunday, too, which was fun. It was a really good festival!”
Tell us how you first got into music and production.
“I got into music production through being in a band originally. I was very into rock music and I started getting involved in producing our demos, and at the same time I got some rudimentary production software. I also starting getting into early Jungle and groups like Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy, who were sort of fusing their guitars with the dance stuff they were doing and that was my route in. It’s all come from doing something I was doing for fun and slowly, organically it turned into something I do full time.”
Going back to The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers, your music does seem to span across the electronic spectrum. Who would you say are your main influences?
“I definitely think from the dance music I started getting into; all the big guys like Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, who I’m a massive fan of, so, all the obvious people. I think my mission statement is to take different aspects of music genres, predominantly electronic. Especially when I was writing exclusively drum and bass that would always be the thing; I’d try and write drum and bass that had a very strong techno influence maybe, or a sort of indie sound to it. That’s what I always try and do – pick fairly disparate elements to go into it. More recently I’ve been listening to a lot of guitar music, so I’ve starting working with more guitars, more vocals and just basically trying not repeat myself and develop.”
Going back to your love of techno, you’re playing in an arena that is very eclectic with yourself, Andy C, Richie Hawtin and Modeselektor – is that something which gets you excited or inspires you?
“Yeah definitely, I had a really nice moment the other day. I played at Amnesia for the first time, I’ve been going to the Cocoon nights there for years, and I played a track I wrote for my last album called ‘Vapourise,’ which was strongly influenced by going to those nights and it was such a nice moment seeing the ice cannons blast out over the drop of that tune, because that’s what really inspired that track. I do take a lot of influences from techno, especially with the last record. Trips to Ibiza, DC10, Amnesia – I do grab ideas from the places that I go.”
Obviously SW4 is in London. Being in London and born and bred, what’s so special about playing in your home town?
“It’s really nice; a lot of friends will come down and see it. I did Wireless last summer, which was really good. SW4 is great, it’s a pretty big festival and it’s the first time I’m ever gonna go there.”
With your particular music style, how would you say it changes from a festival performance to a club performance?
“With the festival crowds, you know you’re gonna be playing to a bunch of people who might not know your stuff and I like that. I think there’s a certain danger factor there – it could go either way. When I do the live sets I’m playing all my own music. I think my style is suited to these kinda things [festivals]. In the last few years I’ve stopped seeing myself as a purely drum and bass producer and really expanding it, so I’m making all kinds of electronic music, I guess you’d class it as bass music – anything with a bass line – and it tends to work really well at festivals, so I’m confident we’ll get a good reaction.”
How would you sum up your particular style?
“Well, like I was saying, this is the sort of tag that’s come up recently and I think bass music is probably a good way to describe it. When I was doing the first album I was trying to work it out, because I really wanted to put some of the house music that I’d been writing over the last few years on there, some of the dubstep stuff, and I was trying to work out what my style outside drum and bass would be and that kinda narrowed down to really anything with a strong bass element, so I think that’s probably the best way to describe my stuff. The thing with my sound is I always try and make it hard hitting with a lot of melodic elements.”
Are there any plans to follow up your debut album?
“Yeah, absolutely, I’m sort of half way through another record. It’s been going a lot quicker this time, which is good, because I spent about three to four years writing my last one. I think it’s difficult when you write a first album, because you’re expected to come up with something that’s very polished. I was happy with the way it turned out, but I think once you’ve done that you learn a lot, and this process has been so much easier in terms of the genesis of it and I’m really excited to bring it out, it should be out next year.”
Are there any interesting collaborations you can talk about, or is it all very under wraps?
“I’d like to try and keep it under wraps at the moment! There’s a few high profile singers I’ve been talking to and I’ve been working with a nice cross-section of different vocalists, but I don’t want to jinx anything just yet by talking about it, but there’s a lot of cool collabs on there, definitely. I’ve started a track with the guys from Nero, who are actually next door to me in the studio, and so they’ll probably be a few producer collabs on there as well.”
At SW4 you’re going to be playing a live show, can you give us a brief description?
“So my live show is a sort of LED show, based around my logo. It’s really cool, because we’ve got it so the elements of the tracks I’m playing are reactive to the lights, so the lights are very tightly synced to what I’m playing. I’ve been trying to do it in a futuristic way. I’ve been having controllers made and I’ve been using things like motion sensors, so I can move my hand around in the air to control some of the sounds I bring in. The best way to describe the sound of the show is almost like me remixing my tracks, because I can take any element from my tracks and combine it with the element of another, so the beat from ‘X Ray’ and the vocal from ‘Could This Be Real’ and combine them and mash them up.”
Last year you played Wireless, how would you say an inner-city festival compares to a traditional festival in the middle of no where?
“It’s a completely different thing. I think they’re cool in a different way. One of the first festivals I went to was one in Finsbury Park years ago, when I was first hearing jungle and drum and bass – this was in the middle of the 90s, when I was pretty young – so I love that whole vibe. When you’re staying at a festival for days and days, it sort of becomes more mental as it goes on, but I love the inner city festivals as well.”
Your Drumcode label is going from strength to strength, why do you think it’s so popular?
“I think I always had quite a strong vision with it and had a lot of live fans who’ve been following it for years. I always try to get really high quality releases and trying to make techno interesting all the time. There’s so many labels copying others and I always try to be ahead of it a little bit, which I think my fans acknowledge.”
How are you celebrating 15 years of Drumcode?
We’re doing a bunch of shows all over the place. Most of it’s going to be after the summer but also through the summer we’ve done a couple of dates in Ibiza. We’re obviously doing SW4 and just loads all over Europe. Australia later on in the year and a big compilation as well with exclusive tracks from a lot of different people.”
Last year you took over the Ewer Street car park in London for a massive Drumcode showcase, how was the party?
“It exceeded our expectations I have to say, really happy with that one. It sold out and we had loads of good feedback so it seems like there’s a demand for Drumcode parties in London, which is good.”
What do you like in particular about playing in London?
“I have a quite close relationship with England in general, I mean I came here quite early in my career, not so much to London it was more up north, but I’ve always liked it here. There’s such a vibrant cultural music scene and obviously dance music and techno have quite strong roots here. Playing at Fabric and clubs like that has always been very good for me. I’ve always had a good following and a lot of people coming down so I just enjoy coming here.
Last year you played South West Four in the Carl Cox & Friends arena, what were your memories from the event last year?
“It’s always hard to remember parties because we do so many but I remember Carl playing very well and he did quite a big set, playing a lot of old English rave classics dressed up with new beats, stuff like Bizarre Inc ‘Playing With Knives’. So I found it a little bit hard to come on after him to be honest, you’ve got to be honest sometimes! But it went well, it seems like a well organized festival, right in the middle of the city.”
What excites you with regards to playing a festival that is in a city like SW4 and like Ultra compared to a festival that is in the middle of nowhere in a field?
“People come out and they go out for the day then they go back home to sleep then they go the next day rather than staying in some tent somewhere so, it’s just a little bit more fresh really.”
You’re no stranger to playing on the global festival circuit, what are your favourites?
“I think one of my favourites has to be Awakenings in Holland, mainly because it’s a pure techno festival. I’ve been there since the first one and last year it was the 10 year anniversary and now they’ve grown to around 45,000 people which is quite amazing if you think about the fact that it’s only techno. 6 stages with only techno! Apart from that, places like Nature One, Exit in Serbia is always good. Global Gathering in England is pretty good, so many actually. But those are the ones that I keep coming back to.”
This year you’re hosting your very own Drumcode arena at SW4, how significant is this for you and the label?
“Well I think it’s quite a good year for us because we’re starting to get those slots now where we can take over a whole tent. We do it at a couple of other festivals as well, it’s what we’ve been working towards, being able to program the whole day or night ourselves, musically, with all our artists. It means a lot to us and I hope we can keep growing and keep re-investing in it and keep the audience getting the full Drumcode experience.”
What vibe can we expect from your arena at South West Four?
“Well I think the best word to describe it is probably techno. It might be a bit obvious but I think that’s our main focus. But not just hard, banging stuff for the sake of it but a nice, well planned journey throughout the day, with all the different acts contributing to make it interesting and also an experience, a journey.”
What are your thoughts on the artists playing the arena…Slam?
“I remember buying Positive Education in what was it ’92, ’93? I mean they’re legendary and they’ve done so much good stuff, I’ve always been a big fan so having them signed to the label is pretty amazing to me. They’re really nice guys as well, very down to earth, always cool, so yeah I’m super-happy to have them on.”
“Paul is, I think, one of the best live acts out there at the moment, every time I see him he’s always blowing my mind playing live because he’s not really a DJ, I mean he does DJ a little bit but he’s been focusing on his live act for years, so you can really tell that he knows what he’s doing and how to work the live.”
“Ben is another one of the old heroes and has managed to cross into the new era of techno but he still keeps that old flavor of his, but still doing something new with it. I think he’s one of the most technically skilled DJs on the planet today. He’s got that old-skool, slightly more hip-hop type when you’re mixing techno, which is not too common these days so I’m looking forward to seeing him actually.”
“Well Alan is one of the new breeds, he’s done quite a few records for us now on Drumcode and yeah I’m interested to see him grow with the label. He’s one of the best people coming out of England doing techno right now so happy to have him on as well.”
“Well Ida has a huge following in Germany and Belgium of her own. For us she’s the perfect one to start the parties up because she plays a bit more of the tech-house type thing and also it’s nice to have some female presence within this male-dominated group of artists so, yeah, she’s amazing, she’s one of my favorite techno DJs out there.
And finally…Cirez D? Playing his first ever set for you guys.
“Yeah I’ve known Eric for a long time and one of, or I think even his first Cirez D record ever came out on my label Truesoul, so we have a long relationship going and to have Eric to play for us and do a bit more of a techno set is going to be really interesting I’ve never heard him do that before so, looking forward to that as well.”
What do you enjoy in particular about working with Eric?
“He’s got such a high profile and we kind of do quite different stuff if you look at it, but then our paths keep crossing at some points over the years and he’s just a good friend to have and he’s from Sweden as well. We’ve always been very supportive of each other, all the Swedes always backing each other up and if we can do some stuff together then cool, why not?
What festival tip would you give to all South West F our followers hitting Clapham Common this summer?
Bring a smile and come and have fun, simple as that.
Where in the world are you right now?
“Ibiza, Spain. In a villa overlooking Es Vedra.”
How has your summer been so far?
“Amazing gigs. Festivals, parties and releases on Ovum Recordings! Weather has been amazing as long as I stay in Spain!”
What did you listen to growing up?
“A bit of everything. Jazz, new wave, punk rock, classic rock, hip hop, classical, reggae. I have a brother ten years older than me. So, I got to hear diverse sounds.”
Tell us a bit about how you first got into music and DJing.
“It all started by wanting to get into radio when I was 13. Then started mobile djing, then club djing and then I wanted to play my own music instead of playing others. So, I started making music in the late 80’s.”
From your beginnings in the early 90’s to the present day, how much has dance music changed?
“Like everything else in life-It all changes. But before it was house music and techno. Now it’s house music, techno and Dance music. Dance music meaning the pop side of it.”
I’ve heard about 300 remixes of ‘Higher State of Consciousness’. Do you have a favourite?
“The original. As it’s the only one that I approved!”
What’s been your top track of the summer so far?
“Shlomi Aber ‘Slow Dancer’ (Josh Wink interpretation) on Ovum.”
What are your recording plans?
“Hope to get into the studio by the end of the year. I’ve only done remixes this year. Which I’m extremely happy about, but I really want to work on my own things.”
What do you do outside of music?
“Live in airports, hotels, and airplanes. Read, stretch and cook.”
Your last album was called ‘When A Banana Was Just A Banana’. Is there a story behind the title?
“In a nutshell, it speaks really of the loss of innocence of music.”
I recently heard of an internet scavenger hunt for your Gorillaz remix. What do you have to do to find it?
“It was a secret 12’ released by the band and the label. Have fun!”
What’s your funniest festival story?
“Has to do with a portaloo and I really don’t want to get into it now. Or should I talk about how Dave Clarke from Soma always puts me on to perform after groups like Wu-Tang clan or The Streets final performance!”
Where’s your favourite place in the world to play?
“Used to be Portugal, but things have changed there. I still enjoy it but it’s not the same. Spain has been super to me along with Holland and Japan! Wow. Seems like I like to play all over the place!”
How do you change your approach to a festival set as opposed to a club show?
“It’s kind of like sex without the foreplay!”
There is a current trend in DJs performing ‘live’. Have you got any plans to follow suit?
“Not until I feel comfortable with the vision I have. I have a lot of music to perform with. Just not 100% with the ‘Live’ computer show.”
What’s been your career highlight to date?
“That after 20 years I’m still making music, running an important record label and enjoying what I do! I’m blessed!”
This will be your 3rd SW4 appearance, what keeps you coming back?
“The portaloos and good times in London!”
You’re playing alongside Tiefschwarz, Loco Dice and Sven Vath in the Cocoon Arena on SW4 Saturday. What can we expect from your set?
“I’m never really sure what I’m gonna play. It’s always spontaneous, as I vibe with the crowd. But, I have to be on top form, as I’m in a great area!”
Why should your fans come to see you at SW4?
“If you show me love…I’ll show ya love!”