John Digweed :: The Exclusive InternetDJ Interview
John Digweed, having released the ten year anniversary edition of his Renaissance CD set with Sasha and launching a new full-length mix, Fabric20, speaks to InternetDJ about his success, gear set-up and an original track in the works.
(InternetDJ)You just recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of your legendary Rennaisance CD set with Sasha. This also comes at a time when Sasha has released his ambitious "Involver" project and you offer quite an interesting new direction with your fabric mix. How interesting is it for you to look back in time?
(John Digweed) The biggest compliment I get is when someone says, "This album is different from your last one." I always try to put projects out there that are different and I also want to have a different sound within the mix. I think you can have a winning formula, but people donít want to hear it over and over again. For me itís always about finding exciting music. Thereís some exciting music out there right now thatís a little bit more up, a little funkier - It all goes with the times. I think the music that was around at Twilo suited that sound system and era, and now we are in a different era, and this is the music I really like.
(InternetDJ)Londonís Fabric is a club that is largely known for displaying the talents of more underground DJs and genreís. When you play at Fabric, do you need to play a little bit differently than at a place that usually hosts full-on house music?
(John Digweed) I think the thing with Fabric is that the sound system is so good. I buy so much music and sometimes I get to a gig and canít play it because the sound system isnít quite up to it or itís not right for that venue. When you get to Fabric, itís just perfect for everything. Itís just one of those dream come true clubs where the mood is just right, the sound is right, the crowdís amazing, so you can go in there and play the really cool stuff alongside the banging stuff. Thereís something about playing somewhere that has a sound system that brings records to life Ė they just sound amazing.
(InternetDJ)How did the idea to do a Fabric CD come about?
(John Digweed) Iíve been playing there since it opened, twice a year. Keith [Reilly], the owner Iíve know for many years. Heís an amazing guy and had a vision of how he wanted the club right from the start. I admire what heís done with the club really pushing underground music. They really think about the line-up of the club and how each room works. The fact that itís still the most popular club in London, if not the UK, after 5 years shows that the formula works. When Keith asked me to mix a CD for Fabric I jumped at the chance because I think the whole series is cool and the way they market things is fantastic. Also, because Iím a usually doing stuff on Bedrock or other labels, this gives me a chance to put myself into a totally different camp and to let people hear what I do.
(InternetDJ) If this CD wasnít specifically mixed for Fabric, would it sound different?
(John Digweed) I donít think so. Musically Iím into all of these tracks. Obviously, I wanted to represent what I play at Fabric, but I think musically Iíve changed Ė a bit more up, a bit more funky, a lot more bass driven Ė itís definitely a change of vibe for me at the moment.
(InternetDJ)We hear you were in LA for NYEÖwhat was that like for you?
(John Digweed) It was fantastic. It was a big outdoor event and I think they had just under 12,000 attendees over the age of 21! The crowd was solid right through to the end, not wanting to leave at the end and I had a real blast. On Monday, I did a charity thing for the tsunami appeal at the Monday Night Social and that was a lot of fun as well. I think they turned about 3 or 400 people away and it raised about $5,000 dollars for the appeal.
(InternetDJ)How quickly did the event come together?
(John Digweed) They asked me on NYE and I said ďSure, put me down.Ē I posted up on my website right away and sent out e-fliers. It was a great gig to do because Iíd gone from one extreme to the other Ė from the 12,000 event to the 400 event in 3 days Ė and had a blast at both of them. When you do the big showís youíre away from the crowd, but when youíre doing a gig like Monday Night Social, youíre right in the middle of the dance floor and itís a lot of fun.
(InternetDJ)Youíve traveled across USA many timesÖwhat have you learned most about the country and its dance music scenes.
(John Digweed) I love coming here Ė Iíve been coming here for so many years. Itís still growing. I think there was a period where it was like England, where there was a big boom and everyone was on to dance. I think now itís settled down a little bit, so now you are down to the main clubs where only the strongest will survive. But there are so many kids that want to be DJs, want to be making music. I get so many emails to my website from people in the States about my radio show; trying to get information about what they should be doing next, or they have tracks they want to send me for consideration on Bedrock. I know magazines usually call dance music a passing fad, but just look at NYE and youíve got 12,000 people at one show with me, Oakenfold and Mark Farina and Tiesto down the road Ė LA has a massive scene. Just look at New York, Paul van Dyk, Iím sure that was sold out. There are strong events in America on a weekly basis. How many European DJs are playing in any one U.S. city on any given weekend? I think itís still a very major player in the dance world.
(InternetDJ)Much has recently been made about an increasing lack of interest in dance music in the UK. Is this for real?
(John Digweed) I think whatís happened in the U.K. is that the dance magazines have dwindled. The media isnít so much interested in dance culture anymore, but to be honest, the parts they represented werenít the best parts of it anyway. They werenít much good in promoting what I was into anyway. I think they always had the cheesier end of it. If anything, the fact that it isnít getting as much exposure is a good thing because it gives the clubs, the promoters and DJs the chance to develop without being under the spotlight. I think now it has a chance to go back to the way it was where people are going to the clubs because they want to and not because it was on the television. It is something that was needed to get it back to basics.
(InternetDJ)Where is your favorite place to play?
(John Digweed) I just did a tour of South America and Buenos Aires is incredible. I did a show with Hernan Cattaneo and there were like 8 or 9,000 people just for Hernan and myself. From the front row to the back everyone is just going bonkers for 8 hours. It is truly something, it just isnít real. The atmosphere and the reaction is just fantastic. That is one of my favorite places along with Japan.
(InternetDJ)With all the time you spend DJing and running your business, how do you find time to search for new music?
(John Digweed) Iíve got shops like Massive, Plastic fantastic and 3 Beat that all send me regular packages. I also get a lot of upfront stuff from producers who send me stuff over instant messenger.
(InternetDJ)Do you use lots of CDs in your sets?
(John Digweed) Yes. I still get a shit load of records each week but I tend to burn them onto CD just for the ease of traveling. If you are in South America or Easter Europe you donít want to have big shiny record boxes going through the baggage handlers because itís too much of a temptation. I also donít want to lose my records, because there isnít anything worse than turning up for a gig without anything to play.
(InternetDJ)Whatís your current set up in the booth?
(John Digweed) Iím using the psych loops for looping up stuff and the Allen & Heath Xone: 92 which has all the filters on it. I still love the aspects of mixing the records in between each other and looping up some stuff so thatís where I am technology-wise.
(InternetDJ)Give me the name of a DJ or producer who you feel could make some major noise in the future.
(John Digweed) Luke Fair has been a favorite of mine ever since I heard one of his mixes. Production wise heís been doing some great stuff in the studio and heís a really great DJ. Heís one of my favoriteís out there. For the next Original Series on Bedrock (Out in March) Iíve got a guy called Jonathan Lisle who is another incredible DJ. He did the whole mix live and at some points has 5 CDJ-1000ís all playing at once, mixing the stuff in. When people hear the mix they are going to say,Ēwow, what the hellís going on here?!Ē
(InternetDJ)Have you been working on any new productions?
(John Digweed) There is a track that myself and Nick [Muir] have been working on but we didnít have a chance to finish it before the New Year. Weíll finish it up so weíll have something to play out at conference.
(InternetDJ)Is there a name for the track.
(John Digweed) Nah, weíll get the name once we finish it! [Laughs]
For information on Sasha & Digweed's Renaissance CD "The Mix Collection", check out this article complete with a 6-track MP3 sampler. John Digweed's latest mix album "Fabric20" is released in the US March 9 2005, UK January 17, 2005. You can buy it in the new world here, in the old world here.