Jez, Tim – great to have you on board at DMC again. You were once described as the “the first true stadium house band”. At the time had you any comprehension that one day this quote would become a reality with DJs and dance acts filling huge arenas on their own?
“Yes, even then there were great live electronic acts and rap acts using DJs live – it actually took a bit longer to be accepted and embraced by the live scene than we anticipated though.”
Jez, you were happily involved a different style of music until you met Tim who drew you into the evils of house music. What was your first impression of the music he was into?
“I was more into metal and industrial music at the time, but also we both shared a love of The KLF. My first impression of house music was that it wasn’t that far away from industrial, both scenes at the time were using the same drum machines and synths for example, so not a seismic gap at all. I realised a few tweaks and the music I was into could drop into the house scene.”
Urban Myth? Tim tested the waters with ‘What Can You Do For Me?’ by playing an early tape you’d made to the dancefloor at a local club?
“That is 100 % true – Dan, no idea how you found that out! But it was straight out of my bedroom studio onto cassette and he played it at the club in Harrogate near Leeds.”
In the early days, The Utah Saints managed three Top 10 hits using three different sampled voices (Annie Lennox on ‘What Can You Do For Me?’ in ’91, Phil Oakey’s ‘Believe in Me’ and Kate Bush on ‘Something Good both in 1993). Though you used sampled voices you stated at the time “we’d never just use the essence of someone else’s song and use it as the basis for our own”. What are your thoughts on sampling in dance music today then? Has the sampler just led to total worldwide abuse of people’s music?
“Well, we have always been big fans of the sampler taking any sound and making it into an instrument. Like music, there is some sampling which as an artist you think is cleverer than others, but that probably doesn’t make it anymore legitimate. We’ve always said that the best way to sample is to use it as an influence on your own tracks, makes it more fun and gives a new context.”
What is the current top 10 tunes you are spinning?
Utah Saints V Drumsound & Bassline Smith – What Can You Do For Me
Santero – What Time Is It
Bonsai Kat – Bla Bla (Original)
Rory Lyons – Shake Your Mamma (Original)
The Loops Of Fury (Don’t Stop) (Original)
Cirez D – Mobka (Original)
Major Lazer – Original Don (Original Mix)
Flux Pavillion & Doctor P – SuperBad
Peo De Pitte – Who Do You Love
Mumbai Science – Lotus (Original Mix)
What is the finest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?
“That is an enormous question, almost unanswerable, but one track that works in so many places is Pendulum Remix of ‘Voodoo People’ by The Prodigy.”
In a recent interview, you said that you didn’t think you and Tim were going to lose momentum again and that you had possibly a third album to come. So what’s coming our way?
“We are currently sketching a heap of ideas for a third album which we are aiming to finish mid 2012. We also have 4 or 5 things in the running for follow up singles. We also have releases lined up for our Sugarbeat label and hope to take the Sugarbeat Sound System out to a few fesitvals over the summer, as well as finding another city to have monthly SugarbeatClub nights in.”
A big date for you coming up playing at the Together Winter Music Festival in London at the Alexandra Palace. Do you think this is the healthiest (if healthiest is the right word) the dance music world has ever been?
“It’s certainly a very exciting time for electronic music right now – one of the upsides of low attention span is that people are much more open to hearing an eclectic mix of music on a night out, which we have always been into. And obviously home studios are coming on leaps and bounds, so it’s possible for someone to finish a track on their laptop and have it in the club the same night – definitely an exciting time for dance music.”
How different are the crowds on the dancelfoor today than they were 20 years ago? Do you think there is as much drugs going on and are they as educated musically as they were back then…
“Hard to say – there seems to be a lot less use of E’s than there was 20 years ago and people definitely come along open minded as they did 20 years ago. A good tune will still go off so people definitely know a good track when they hear it nowadays. There was a time period probably 1998 – 2006 when everyone was a bit too concerned with genres but I think that just like back in the day, today it’s just about the good tracks…”
How did the immense Drumsound & Bassline Smith remix of ‘What Can You Do For Me?’ happen?
“We were asking people we knew and respected if they might be up for having a go at remixing ‘What Can You Do For Me’ and luckily the one’s we asked said yes. Doorly got his in first, pretty much off his own back, which suddenly gave us a kick to get going, so we asked Drumsound And Bassline Smith for a mix -we are big fans of theirs, and Bassline Smith had come up to Leeds to play Sugarbeat and taken the roof off the place , a massive night for us, so we knew they would deliver. At the same time we were working on a 140 bpm mix ourselves, and had some ideas for piano and strings which weren’t working too well. When we tested the Drumsound And Bassline Smith mix out it was a huge track for us, so we decided to have a go at making a version which welded ours to theirs. Luckily it all worked out, and as you say it’s sounding immense 🙂
What is the biggest crowd you have ever played to?
“85,000 supporting U2 in Lisbon. The smallest is probably 10!”
It’s your birthday, what 3 DJs do you ask to play?
“Again, very tricky to answer. It would be good to get Skrillex in for an eclectic set, Mixmaster Mike to play an eclectic set and DJ Kentaro for sheer awesomeness.”
Tune of 2011?
“Aviici ‘Levels’, much as we would like it to be something by The Bloody Beetroots.”
Not many people know this, but Utah Saints are really good at…
Great answer! You once supported U2 on tour – favourite rock n’ roll story from little expedition?
“We could tell you, but U2 would probably have to then take you out.”
Crap answer. Have you seen or heard any new DJs/artists we should be looking out for in 2012?
“Yes, loads – in no particular order, L Plus, Rory Lyons, Mooqee,Toni Jarvis, Santero, L’Amour La Morgue, Koan, Millions Like Us, Mark Maitland, Felix Leiter, Zedd,Valentino Khan, Gemini, Doorly will all have a great year in 2012.”
So we come back to yours after a club, what 10 Back To Mine tunes do you spin us to carry on the party?
Bloody Beetroots – 31 Seconds To Die Lenzman – Broken Dreams Chet Faker – No Diggity Stratosphere – Digitalism Switch – Still Love You Underworld – Always Loved A Flim Sabres of Paradise – Smokebelch II KLF – Last Train To Trancentral Sebastian Tellier – La Ritournelle Utah Saints – Lost Vagueness
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
“Stop setting the bar so high, but then again that’s what keeps us going, always thinking we can do better…”
What is your favourite ever festival story?
“There are loads, again some of which we can’t actually speak about for fear of being chased. But a bad one is a few years ago when a festival organiser had expected to sell 10,000 tickets to his first event and actually sold 800 – he couldn’t afford to pay the people who emptied the toilets, so when they realised they weren’t going to be paid instead of going off site and paying to dump a truckload of sewage, they found the nearest manhole, opened it and blasted the entire contents of their sewage truck into it. The drains couldn’t cope with the pressure so the next manhole along blew it’s lid. This happened to be under a carpet in artist catering so suddenly a fountain of shit appeared in the middle of the artist catering tent. Not a good look. Our own greatest festival achievement was being voted 2nd Best Dance Act at Glastonbury (Fatboy Slim was No1) – the first time we played there in 2000 – we’ve only ever played Glastonbury twice, so was a result for us. Oh and you are aware of a story involving Utahs, DMC’s then owned Mixmag magazine and the King’s Lynn dog track…but we should all keep that under wraps for a few more years eh Dan!”
Ahem. You were once named MDMA but changed your mind from that, and I’m guessing here – massive dance music alert. You plumped on Utah Saints after watching the film Raising Arizona. Have you ever actually been to Utah?
“Actually Mega Dance Metal Allegiance, but yours works just as well. Yes, with no foresight and by complete fluke we did have that name, and funnily enough had to protect it for a while as a lot of people wanted to use it. We’ve played Utah once, and it was crazy. there were no crowd barriers and a low stage as the club had booked us pretty much without knowing anything about us apart from our name and that we played electronic music. A couple of hundred people turned up and within 30 seconds of us starting we had to stop as a mosh pit started and everyone fell on the stage, taking half our gear with them. We sorted it out and restarted but the same thing happened again. We ended up having to play the whole gig behind two rows of security guys linking arms to stop it happening again.”