How would you describe your approach to building a set? What are some of the characteristics that define who you are as a DJ?
I like to get people into a fun party mood and then get more twisted from there. Never knowing what’s about to come next definitely defines me, being a master of trepidation and whatever I do being very trippy; yet very sexy. These things define my style. I do have my own sound but that comes from deep house, house, lots of acid, tech house, techno and proper electro and I do like to drop classics and disco very late in the morning when doing extended sets. Whatever I play there will be no cheese.
It has today almost become customary to radically change pieces in the act of mixing and to increase the creative input of the DJ even to the level of the actual composition. What's your take on that and in how much do you make use of these possibilities yourself? Is there such a thing as 'disrespectful mixing'?
Playing lots of loops can get a bit boring as I do like proper compositions, but I’ve heard some pretty amazing edits of tracks getting thrown down. I play tracks as they were intended to be played for the most part, but I also do very long and drawn out mixes and use FX in the mix. However I rarely do my own edits, but that could change in the near future now that Record Box and Pioneer Nexus equipment is so versatile. I don’t think there’s such a thing as disrespectful mixing but there is self-indulgent mixing to try to get brownie points, which I find quite annoying.
One of the most important aspects of a DJ set is the transition from one track to the next. What makes a transition successful from your perspective? What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next - are these purely subjective to you or are there objective things that work or don't work?
For me simply good, honest long mixing works best. Transitions are important and it’s nice to delay tracks out or use filters and other effects to complete a mix. For me, the Universe decides which tune to play next. The tracks make themselves obvious as the crowd and unified atmosphere is leading the way. Mixing should be subjective because doing things on the fly is usually more exciting. Of course there are tricks and more objective techniques that work, but in my humble opinion these can get a little tired. Follow the arrow and take risks I say.
How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new? What's your take on the idea of the DJ as an "educator" and is the relationship with the dancers a collaborative one or, as Derrick May once put it, a “battle”?
Who’s to say what a crowd wants? The crowd wants to have a bloody good time and be entertained and for me, that means being fresh and getting involved. I don’t play tunes that the crowd will know as I get bored very easily so it’s always something new but at the same time collaborative with the crowd. I want to hear amazing new fresh tunes that are fun so I presume that everyone on the dance floor does too.
There's always sheep who want to hear the hits and the same tunes that everyone else is playing, but that’s their problem and one, which I don’t entertain. Chances are I wouldn’t have tunes that are requested by the crowd with me anyway. A DJ should play what he or she enjoys and wants to play but should also have a special connection to the crowd so that the crowd loves it regardless. It’s a DJ's job to help people celebrate life and we should never forget that, but at the same time a DJ should be original and artistic. Fun is the name of the game and I like to be playful when I’m spinning and interaction is vital. DJs should also educate, but not at the expense of fun. In fact education should be fun.
It is customary for many DJs to also produce tracks of their own, thereby lifting the former 'division of labor' between the two. How do you feel about this – and in which way can both sides benefit from this? How does your work as a DJ influence your studio productions and vice versa?
There's many producers that shouldn’t DJ at all because they’re rubbish. They should stick to producing or maybe play live instead, but to be fair, due to technology and syncing track BPMs, this has made DJing by great producers who are shit DJs, a whole lot easier.
There’s also amazing DJs that can’t or don’t produce who should get more work and be in the limelight for their skills as a DJ, but sadly the dance music crowd is so fickle these days that DJs have to make tunes to be ’relevant’, which sucks. Then there’s DJs who don’t make tunes but have ghost writers, but let’s not go there.
There are also many good DJs who make great music too. These DJs should use their own productions in their DJ sets to help define their sound. My DJ sets do influence my studio work and vice versa.
With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
Actually I think that there’s many producers who make music that sounds the same as everything else. I call them copyists as it’s not artistic. I completely ignore music by numbers as I’m always on the look out for fresh music that I personally find exciting. These copyists have lowered the quality of music that we hear on the dance floors as there’s also many DJs that simply copy others. All areas can be original, it’s just down to the person making the music to want to sound different and not the same as their peers. The DJs that I find inspiring are the ones who are not afraid to be different and play music that I’ve never heard before.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
Reaching people doesn’t always mean working with a PR company. I didn’t use a PR company from the mid 90s, right up until two years ago when I re-launched my Superfreq imprint and it didn’t stop me getting noticed. If you make good music, get it out there by sending your material to all the good working DJs who play your style of music and play amazing sets. These things very much speak for themselves.
There are many DJs that are promoted heavily by publicists who are pretty obvious and commercial DJs. These “hyped” DJs are usually not that good. They're cheesy, have huge egos and DJ only for fame and money. However, I do think good DJs and producers should market themselves properly to their audience and use decent PR companies. They deserve to be heard and they do have to cut through all the bullshit somehow, which sadly means sometimes playing these marketed “hyped” DJs a little at their own game. It’s a sad thing because heavily marketed DJs who are rubbish are tricking lazy journalists who feed from PR companies like parasites and are holding back real talent. Shame.
It is remarkable, in a way, that DJing has remained relevant for such a long time. Do you nonetheless have a vision of DJing, an idea of what it could be beyond its current form?
I don’t know that it is remarkable. People have been dancing to percussive sound as a part of human evolution for over 50,000 years so that’s not about to stop any time soon. In my eyes there will always be people who want to dance in large groups to great music to enjoy the music, socialise, have fun, get laid and celebrate life. There are also many sheeple who will simply follow whatever’s trendy and rammed down their throats by heavy marketing. There will always also be people who love playing other peoples records (and their own records) to the said large groups of people. I’d like to see more live acts performing personally and I’d also like to see more real DJs that don’t make music get a look in, the later of which I don’t see happening any time soon due to media hype and the marketing of the copyists.