Celebrating 20 years of Renaissance dancefloor magic…
There aren’t many artists who’ve sound tracked the birth of dance music and are still leading its development more than two decades later. There are even less who have gifted both the club and pop scenes with unforgettable musical moments that get talked about in hushed tones years after their creation. Dave Seaman is one of a select few. Whether it’s one of his spine-tingling Global Underground or Renaissance CDs that’s still burning a hole in your stereo years after its purchase, or the perfect pop of Kylie’s ‘Confide In Me’ that he co wrote, produced and remixed, there’s very few with their heart in electronic music who haven’t had a Dave Seaman ‘moment’. It’s a commonality that everyone from clubbers at Creamfields, to the biggest recording artists on the planet share. Having devoted almost every weekend over the last 15 years to moving dancefloors from Ibiza to Iceland, Seaman has played the world’s most recognised festivals and clubs in more than 70 countries throughout his career, while still lending his production nous to the music industry’s A List. Along with crafting beats for Ms Minogue, Take That and Pet Shop Boys have enlisted his studio expertise, with everyone from U2, to Michael Jackson, Alanis Morissette, David Bowie and New Order having received a Seaman re-rub. Dan Prince welcomes back Dave Seaman to DMC…
Dave, it’s incredible to think Renaissance are 20 years old next year. Did you think that you would still be here today back in 1992 – still at the forefront of this global takeover otherwise known as dance music. Back then, we all jumped around when we heard a Unique 3 or FPI Project on daytime radio, these days our music is part of everyone’s lives…
“It is incredible isn’t it? I don’t think any of us that were involved in the acid house explosion of the late eighties ever in our wildest dreams thought we’d still be going strong over 20 years later. Most youth cultures that the UK had produced that had evolved from a music scene such as mods & rockers, punk, new romanticism etc. had all lasted only a few years before dying off with the clothes they’d fashioned. But acid house transcended all that. The clothes and style may have changed but the music just continued to gather pace. A huge snowballing juggernaut that, like you say, just spread across the world like wildfire. Not even rock n’ roll had managed to cross borders and language barriers like acid house. And looking at it right now, I can’t see it ever it going away. It’s here to stay, to be passed down from generation to generation. I feel very privileged to have lived through it’s first two decades.”
However, it was plain to see that Renaissance was different from the rest. It oozed quality and there was never any cutting corners, it must have driven Geoff Oakes’s bank manager crazy. What have been your favourite moments at Renaissance over the past 2 decades…?
“Oh God, there’s so many to choose from. We had a couple of Asian/Australian tours in the mid/late nineties that will always remain dear to my heart. It was really when dance music was at the height of it’s powers and we had the likes of Bono and Helena Christensen dropping by our gigs. Also, playing alongside Kylie at Privilige in Ibiza was another special Renaissance night. And I don’t think anyone could forget the 2nd Birthday party at the Que Club where the production really must have given Geoff’s bank manager a heart attack. That was the moment that I realised dance music had well and truly gone big time. The last night at the Cross in London was a special night too.”
What are your all time 10 Renaissance classics?
M People ‘How Can I Love You More’ (Sasha Mix)
Bedrock ‘For What You Dream Of’
Shawn Christopher ‘Another Sleepless Night’ (Morales Mix)
Sounds Of Blackness ‘The Pressure Part 1’
Leftfield ‘Release The Pressure’
Pete Lazonby ‘Scared Cycles’
Way Out west ‘Mind Circus’
Luzon ‘That Baguio Track’
Blast ‘Crazy Man’ (Fathers Of Sound mix)
Hysterix ‘Talk To Me’ (Sasha mix)
Why do you think Renaissance has stood the test of time?
“I think that care and attention to detail has always been their strength. They’ve always put quality of product and experience before the bottom line which has been very much to their detriment on occasion. But they’ve always stuck to their guns. Never sold out or followed the latest trend. They just do what they do and they’re the best at it.”
This is your ninth Renaissance mix CD – how has your style changed over the years?
“I supposed like most DJs it has evolved with the times and with the advancement of technology. Things have definitely gotten slower recently though. House music is groovier again which is probably a back lash against the bang, crash, wallop aggressively mid range music that has dominated the last couple of years. But It’s getting more difficult to describe what I play. Music is harder to pigeonhole and besides, people have such different ideas of what the genres represent these days, it can be more misleading than helpful a lot of the time.”
You were the first Editor of Mixmag when it became available to the general public after being on subscription only for years. You once said in an interview when asked if you thought there was space for actual music magazines today in light of the hundreds of on line magazines…
“There is room for maybe one, probably DJ, but I think Mixmag will go. I don’t read it anymore. There is nothing to read in there anymore. It is the same stories repeated over and over again. They are cornering themselves into a very niche market with the music they cover – that trancey stuff. They’re going towards a bad end for me.” – How did that make you feel knowing it was your precious baby once in your life?
“It wasn’t very nice to see Mixmag go to the dogs at that time. It just turned into a rag. Nothing but tits and pills. It lost it’s spine both literally and metaphorically. But I’m happy to say that it’s now back in the hands of a publisher that knows what to do with it and it’s a much better magazine than when I said what I said. I do still read it from time to time.”
Are you looking forward to the huge Renaissance 20 birthday plans…?
“Of course, I’m so pleased they’re back in the game just in time for the 20th anniversary celebrations. There’s gonna be some big shows all around the world and some very special accompanying releases. I’ve been chatting with Geoff and Jo about it and I think it’s only just now sinking in what they’ve accomplished over the last two decades. 2012 is gonna be big.”
You left a very good job in advertising up in Leeds to follow your dream down south – what did your mum and dad think of your new career choice?
“They weren’t very impressed when I told them I was going to give up my highly paid and promising career in Advertising to go and be a tea boy at some fledgling DJ organisation. There were some heated exchanges shall we say. But they’ve since admitted they were wrong about my decision and are now very happy that I chose the path I did. I think like any parents, they were just worried about me. I try not to remind them about it too often! Hahaha.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are smashing out right now?
1. Butch ‘Big Futt’
2. Oliver Huntemann ‘In Times Of Trouble’
3. Henry Saiz ‘La Marea’
4. Trentemoller ‘Moan’ (Radio Slave remix)
5. Egbert ‘Vrijheid’
6. Sian ‘Sacred Geography’ (Guy J mix)
7. Boys Noize ‘Adonis’
8. Slam ‘Black Arts’
9. Dapayk Solo ‘Nneka’
10. 2000 & One ‘Tropical Melons’ (Kaiserdisco mix)
In today’s modern times, fans know everything about their heroes thanks to Twitter and Facebook – doesn’t this frighten you knowing people know your every move? We knew last week for instance via Twitter that you were on the A380 driving home from the airport and at 5am you were “relocating goldfish”. Do you think things have gone too far in this obsessive world we live in?
“Hahaha. I wasn’t driving on the A380 (wherever that is!?) Dan, I was coming home on an Airbus 380 – the huge double decker plane that Emirates use between London and Dubai. Hahaha. So much can get lost in translation. I take the position that if people want to know what I’m up to then I don’t mind sharing some information. But I only pass on the stuff I want them to know. I still keep a lot of my private life private. I don’t think people need to know every little detail.”
You were once the boss of the mighty Stress Records where the likes of Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and John Digweed released dancefloor monsters. What was the biggest song you signed to Stress?
“Probably Bedrock’s ‘For What You Dream Of’. It was Digweed and Muir’s first release and when we re-released it after it went on the Trainspotting soundtrack, it went Top 40.”
So we come back to yours after a club (we sit in the garden so as not to wake the kids!) – what are the (quiet) 10 Back To Mine tunes you spin us…?
Lana Del Rey ‘Video Games’
Jamie Woon ‘Spirits’
Sara Bareilles ‘Gravity’
Flowers & The Sea ‘A.M’
Everything Everything ‘Final Form’
Bon Iver ‘Perth’
James Blake ‘Limit To Your Love’
Clare Maguire ‘Ain’t Nobody’ (Breakage mix)
Bat For Lashes ‘Moon And Moon’
It may not be very good for my image, but I really like…
“A Saturday night off at home in front of the telly. Harry Hill’s TV Burp, X Factor, Match Of The Day with a curry and a couple of cans. Boom! Get in!”
So Dave, a family man now. It’s fair to say that the style of music you play took a dip in the UK a few years back with the emergence of trance and the harder beats, whilst the demand for your decksterity abroad just got bigger and bigger. It just shows foreign shores have better tastes in music. How though has the incredible air miles accumulation had an affect on married life – is it not impossible sometimes to get onto yet another plane?
“It is a bit of a juggling act trying to be an international DJ and a good father and husband but it’s something I like to think I manage quite well. I very rarely go away for more than a weekend, always take the last flight out and the first flight back and try to not work after I’ve picked the kids up from school during the week. My job has also had lots of benefits for them too though. They’ve all been round the world several times on my air miles. It’s already played a big part in shaping their characters.”
You also once lived in Ibiza. What are your thoughts on the wicked white isle these days?
“I still love it although it’s a very different island for me nowadays. I took the family there in August and we had an amazing time. We did loads of things that in all the years of going there I’d never got around to doing. Taking the ferry to Formentera. Visiting the church at the top of Dalt Villa. Swimming at Es Cavellet. I only went out once to Ushuaia and Pacha and even then I was home in bed by 2am!”
What one record would you never sell?
“Everything has it’s price.”
Not a lot of people know this, but Dave Seaman is very good at…
“I can sit on a unicycle juggling three dwarves whilst playing the theme from Thomas The Tank Engine on the piano with my left foot! True story.”
An increasing amount of DJs today are only playing their own bootlegs of people’s tunes throughout their sets – thoughts on this?
“I’m all for it although I don’t think you should just exclusively play your own edits or bootlegs. Some tracks are perfect in their original format and don’t need messing with. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But bootlegs and mash ups are a great way to make your sets unique when music is so easily accessible these days. It let’s a DJ really stamp his own identity on a set.”
What is the weirdest request you have ever had from a fan whilst DJing?
“’Have you got anything we can dance to?!’”
What is your guilty pleasure song?
“Oh God there’s loads. In the last year though I would say Nicola Roberts ‘Beat Of My Drum’ and Rhianna’s ‘Only Girl In The World’. A good pop song is just a good pop song. Period.”
It’s your birthday, what 3 DJs do you ask to come and spin…
“Larry Levan , John Peel and Sasha, Alas, it might fall on Sasha to do the whole night as the other two are sadly no longer with us.”
And finally – what have you in the pipeline for us all in 2012?
“I’ll be touring my new Renaissance Masters album right through to spring 2012 and am planning to get back into the studio soon too. I’m going to do a new track with Funkagenda and also another with Andy Chatterley. I’m also going to start doing some pop songwriting again too if time permits. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day. No change there then!”
Renaissance: The Masters Series mixed by Dave Seaman is out Monday October 24th.
Renaissance : The Masters Series Album Launch Party November 4th @ The Village Underground, London DJs: Dave Seaman, Henry Saiz and Matt Tanner (Amplify Destroy) www.renaissance.dj