Some beautiful Melodic Techno, live, from HVOB in Mexico, for Cercle. Beautiful setting and beautiful music. Cercle, as always, providing the platform for some of the best gigs in the world.
Two fantastic live mixes this week.
Hour 1 features highlights from the last time I played the Exchange in Los Angeles in 2017.
Hour 2 features Robbie Lowe’s warm up set from Sydney earlier this year.
An interview with John Digweed by Ryan Middleton in Magnetic Magazine
John Digweed is a man who needs little introduction. He has been an icon in electronic music for the past 25 years as a producer, DJ and label owner. He hasn’t just been a successful DJ on his own, but also collaborating with Sasha for their infamous Sasha & Digweed project that has found new life in the past few years and Bedrock with Nick Muir – also the name of his label.
In his frequent travels around the world, he records his sets and sometimes releases them as part of the Live In…. series that puts out official recordings of his DJ sets. This past New Year’s Eve, he played the final set ever at revered Brooklyn nightclub Output, playing for 10 hours well into the morning. He is releasing the set as part of his Live In…. series tomorrow, May 3. Though all 10 hours aren’t in the version being released, most of it is packed into a 6 CD compilation with records new and old from Eagles & Butterflies, Super Flu, Anja Schnieder, Pig&Dan, Agoria and more.
With the mix coming tomorrow, we chatted with Digweed about that final gig at Output, why he decided to put this out on vinyl and how clubland can do better with its important institutions.
Why did you decide to release this set on vinyl?
John Digweed: As a record label I think it’s always important to try and release vinyl when you can. On a big album like this with so many incredible tracks I was actually spoiled with choices but with the cost of manufacturing I had to whittle it down to just four discs. I think I’ve managed to include a good balance of tracks that have never been on vinyl and some rare tracks that would be in demand that people still wanted.
Which songs didn’t make it into the compilation? How difficult was it to license all of these songs?
John Digweed: The second track that was originally on this album was going to be “Be Yourself” by Danny Tenaglia but due to the fact that it’s on a major label, the process of trying to get it licensed was one of the reasons it came out later than normal. We tried everything we could, including reaching out to Danny, but working with major labels is incredibly slow and we had to make the decision to take the track out and move on. I’m really gutted this track didn’t make it but we would still be emailing the major label now asking them if they have an answer for us. Apart from this, the album was fairly straightforward to put together and I’m thankful for the labels that we were able to work with and continue to work with that are very supportive of what we do.
Do you know ahead of time that you will record a set to be released? How do you prepare for those sets differently? Does it change song selection?
John Digweed: I’ve always recorded my sets. It’s just something I’ve always done, so when the “Live In . . .” concept started it was only then that I ever first listened back to a recording. I never plan any of the clubs or the cities that these albums have come from. I think psychologically if you know you’re going to record an album to be released it would make you play differently and you would be conscious that this recording was going to be on a live album. These albums always catch me in my natural environment, relaxed and playing the music I love. I think that is why they’ve been so successful. Nobody is really releasing these types of albums nowadays. We just have to make sure the standard is higher than the last album.
What was the mood like when you played your final song during the Output set?
John Digweed: The mood in the club was incredible! By that time I was originally going to finish around 8 AM, but when I went past this I still had so many records I wanted to play. It’s a weird feeling knowing you’re never going to play another record in such an amazing club ever again, so it was very important to me to give everyone there that stayed the distance a truly memorable ending. When we got to the last record there was such unity on the dance floor — it was an incredible moment and something I won’t forget. New York has always been a very special place to me ever since I first started playing there in the 90’s, so I was really honored to be the very last DJ in such a legendary club.
Where would you rank Output in the overall pantheon of New York clubbing lore?
John Digweed: Since Twilo shut in 2001 there have been many clubs that have come and gone, but few have made the impression that Output did. Their music policy was incredible and a door policy with no VIP made everyone the same. With the camera ban, this allowed people to just focus on the music and the friends they were with and friends they have not yet met. The owners had a great vision of how a club should be run and what people they wanted to come to it.
How do you survive marathon 6 to 10 hour sets? Bathroom?
John Digweed: When I first started to DJ you played the whole night regardless. There were no other DJs, you played from start to finish, so I’ve always been used to long sets. When you’re playing on such an incredible sound system like they had at Output, ten hours never seems long enough and on the other hand it also just seems to fly by.
Do you ever see a point where you may not have the energy for a set that lasts until sunrise?
John Digweed: It’s all about picking the right parties to play those long sets with the best sound systems and the right crowd who are there to hear and enjoy what you do. I love to DJ now more than ever before so I have no plans to hang up my headphones at the moment.
What can fans, DJs and others in the business do to help keep great clubs open?
John Digweed: The most important thing is for people to support the clubs. People used to go to clubs because they were great clubs, they trusted the music policy, and they had faith in the music that would be played there. Lately it has become talent-driven, where people will only go to hear certain DJs when they play there, leaving the club looking like more of a venue than an actual traditional club.
Clubbing in New York has shifted from Manhattan to Brooklyn. How have you seen the scene shift during your time playing as it has moved over the river at the pace of an MTA project?
John Digweed: The club scene in Manhattan was kind of forced to move to Brooklyn really after Twilo shuttered. Nothing seemed to really work in Manhattan and seeing it first-hand, it kind of fizzled out. People who invested millions of dollars into these clubs saw them close down. It’s really healthy to have more clubs than just a few because this keeps promoters and club owners on their toes as well as gives clubbers plenty of choice. When the warehouse parties started happening in Brooklyn it energized the scene with new clubs and parties that were getting thrown every weekend. Nothing ever stays the same in clubland so that’s why it’s always important to support these clubs week in week out.
You have been coming to New York for a long time. What are a few of your favorite places to eat or go out?
John Digweed: I’ve got some great friends in New York that take me to some amazing places every time I travel there. With so much variety you can find somewhere great to eat. Sushi is always a favorite of mine in New York – Sushi Zo, Ushiwakamaru and Omakase room by Tatsu.
As a label owner and DJ, how do you battle through the countless demos of functional electronic music?
John Digweed: I try to work my way through as many as I can, but we can only really release around 20 to 25 releases a year so the tracks have to be very special to make it onto the Bedrock release schedule. I spend a lot of time listening to new music demos and promos to try and find the most exciting tracks for the label.
How have your sets with Sasha changed over the years? Who goes first?
John Digweed: We just get out there and do our thing. Nothing has changed since the first time we started playing together, we don’t practice and we don’t rehearse, we just try and read the crowd as we see them on that particular night. We have enough years of experience between us to know how to rock a crowd. We always take it turns with who goes first.
Henrik Schwarz was born and raised in South Germany where he also took his first musical steps as a DJ in local Clubs playing Rap, Hip Hop, Rare Groove and Jazz and Detroit Techno. Soon after he started to spin regularly he was also interested in computer music production and started to do his own productions in 1992 with a few drumachines and synths. When he got his first Laptop in 1998 he started to integrate it into his DJ-Sets and soon the Laptop played an important role in all his music activities. The software got better and better and Henrik was enjoying the new possibilities.
1999, after he had finished his studies in Graphic Design, Henrik decided to move to Berlin and worked as a Graphic Designer for several years. By-and-by things developed nicely also on the music side and he had the chance to found his own label SUNDAY-MUSIC together with Sasse Lindblad who had just released Henrik’s first ever Vinyl 12″ called “SUPRAVISION EP” on his label Moodmusic Records in 2002. “Marvin”, one of the tracks on the record, got attention from many DJs around the world, especially BBC’s Gilles Peterson took it in his show and played it with immediate effect. From that moment things made a great leap forward for Henrik: He received first remix requests and started to travel to the UK and other European countries. His next releases “Jon” on SUNDAY-MUSIC and especially “Chicago” on MOODMUSIC became very successful and made him shift his activities more and more from Design towards music production and travelling.
Over the last years with international bookings all around the globe, with regular appearances in Japan, America etc. Henrik improved his HENRIK SCHWARZ LIVE show and is now one of the most requested live acts in the dance scene. At the same time Henrik produced a string of very well received remixes and own tracks: WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES for Coldcut on Ninjatune became one of the biggest club hits of 2006, LEAVE MY HEAD ALONE BRAIN bridged the gap between Jazz and Techno and Soul and was super well received by Deejays from Hip-Hop to House to Techno and became the biggest hit for SUNDAY-MUSIC so far. Until today he has done remixes for many very well known names like Mari Boine (Universal), Kuniyuki (Mule Musiq), DJ Hell, Tosca (G-Stone), Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (Deeper Soul), James Brown, Dark Globe feat. Boy George, Omar feat. Stevie Wonder, Jazzanova, Jesse Rose, Detroit Experiment, Michael Jackson (Motown) and many others. Today many fans are awaiting his debut album which is in the works effectively since a few months.
2006, as a result of him getting more and more known by a wider audience, Henrik was asked by !K7 to do one of their famous DJ-Kicks series and the result has been regarded as “one of the highlights of the series” and led to another cooperation of the label and Henrik: HENRIK SCHWARZ LIVE with recordings from his intoxicating live shows from all over the world.
With Dixon and Âme from Innervisions Henrik released “Where We At” with Derrick Carter on Vocals which became an instant classic and marked the beginning of a fruitful and close collaboration between Henrik and Innervisions until today with successful releases and remixes like AMAMPONDO AND HENRIK SCHWARZ – I EXIST BECAUSE OF YOU (Amampondo is a very famous south african percussion group), ANE BRUN – HEADPHONE SILENCE (Henrik Schwarz Remix, Dixon Edit), Crocodile IV-RMX for UNDERWORLD, HOLD MY HAND IV-RMX for UNKLE and many others culminating in the first unforgetable Laptop Supergroup Live show of the dreamteam together “A CRITICAL MASS” in Amsterdam and more gigs around 2009 at Melt!, Dissonanze in Rome, Detroit Electronic Music Festival, NY, Japan and many others to come.
2009 also saw the release of a very well received compilation called THE GRANDFATHER PARADOX were Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon were looking back at the last 50 years of minimalistic music from Stevie Reich to Robert Hood and correlated the past and today to throw a glance at the future with the help of todays technology.
Early 2010 Henrik released the SCHWARZONATOR. It is a music software plug in on the basis of the music programming environment MAX/MSP. SCHWARZONATOR helps creating complex harmonic structures for the computer musician. It can also help interacting with instrumentalists and led to another major discussion about the use of the computer as a musical instrument. More software like this will be written by Henrik in the future to expand the performance and improvisation possibilities given by computers today.
Henrik already worked with the Chicago based Jazz trio ETHNIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE on live performances earlier in his career with gigs in Bordeaux and Chicago etc. His most recent Live duo project together with world-famous Jazz virtuoso BUGGE WESSELTOFT from Norway happened at several venues all over Europe in 2009 with gigs in Berlin, Oslo, the Jazz Festival Montreux and others. It is about the free improvisation between a laptop and a grandpiano played by two musicians who both have a great knowledge from the ohter one’s musical background. 2010 took the duo to a sold out London’s Royal Festival Hall with more gigs in 2010 for example at the Philharmonic Hall Cologne or the Norway Numusic festival and many other venues around the globe.
A CRITICAL MASS (H. Schwarz, Âme, Dixon) wrote a new scoring of the black and white horror movie classic “Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari” which was performed live by the group at the Jetztmusik Festival in Mannheim early 2010.
The future looks bright as we will see more of his one-of-a-kind remixes and remarkable releases in the near future, more colaborations with Dixon and Âme, Bugge Wesseltoft, Guem, Jesse Rose more Live shows and finally an album!
Kieran Apter is quickly making a name for himself. After coming to the attention of some of the best artists in the scene as co-head honcho and resident DJ for Edinburgh house and techno party ‘Tweak_’, Kieran’s real breakthrough moment came in the form of his sophomore EP which released on Chapter 24 Records in September 2017. The ‘All I Want’ EP featured two original tracks by Kieran, including a collaboration with vocalist Leon Power which was remixed by Innervisions artists Aera and Manuel Tur. These tracks found their way into the sets of Dixon, Rampa, &ME and Andhim and were aired by both Pete Tong and B.Traits on their BBC Radio 1 shows. Anjunadeep then came calling, releasing Kieran’s next track with Leon Power, ‘Drifting Spring’, on the imprint’s Anjunadeep 09 compilation. The compilation reached number 1 in the iTunes Dance Charts around the world and number 24 in the iTunes UK Albums chart. Anjunadeep label bosses Jody Wisternoff and James Grant also hand-picked the track for a carefully curated four track sampler EP. In the following months Kieran went on to release a second EP on Chapter 24, as well as an EP on Monkey Safari’s ‘Hommage’ imprint. Both received high rated reviews in Mixmag and DJ Mag, and a full-page feature on Kieran was published in DJ Mag U.S.A. Kieran’s music continues to gain support from a who’s who list in dance music, with further releases on the horizon. In the last year Kieran has went on to play at festivals and clubs around the U.K and Europe as well as holding residencies at Cabaret Voltaire’s Saturday night party ‘Pleasure’, and ‘truelove.’ at Wire Club in Leeds.