My Techno set from Earthdance Johannesburg. Set in a beautiful forest near Haartbeeshoek Satellite Station, the venue is on the edge of the Magalies mountain rage, near Hartebeespoort dam. It was early on Saturday at 1am. I took over from a young DJ, named Rikay, who played a fantastic set. He got the crowd jumping!
My Techno sets at Earthdance always seem to go down really well. It winds between harder underground Techno and driving Acid Techno. The KV2 sound system was fantastic, driving hard and with a solid kick. Gavo took over after me and continued slamming it till the close at 4am. Tanks to Terence and Jade and Earthdance for the great opportunity.
Amelie Lens is a self-confessed control freak. Every step of her journey as a DJ so far has been the result of her own obsessive attention to detail and laser-focussed determination which permeates everything she does. Nothing is left to chance. The often-referred to ‘explosion’ with which the Antwerp native made her way into the global techno scene has been the result of a long-standing love affair with dance music, ignited by her first outing to Belgium’s Dour Festival at just 15 years old. Techno had Amelie at ‘hello’, and she spent the rest of her teenage years crossing Belgium by train to attend gigs, hypnotised by the new world that was opening up to her.
Fast forward a few years and Amelie had started her own club nights in Antwerp, DJing under numerous aliases and learning to produce at the same time. “I started making edits for myself, like old-school tracks with a different kick.” That fusion of classic techno with a fast, futuristic edge helps define Lens’ sound today. “A mix of old and new strong techno records, tough but not hard, fast and throbbing, hypnotic and energised” is how Richie Hawtin described it after being blown away when hearing her for the first time at an ADE showcase.
Her debut release came on Italian imprint Lyase, and soon after a trio of releases on Pan-Pot’s Second State gave her recognition on a global level. Despite her measured and considered approach, the gigs came thick and fast. “Timing is everything to me – and a lot of times I’ve felt like it was too soon for me to play somewhere.” But it wasn’t long before Lens was sharing stages with the most respected artists in techno. From headline club shows to peak-time slots at the likes of Sonar, Time Warp, Awakenings and Movement Detroit, as well as the legendary Circoloco at DC-10, whilst featuring on the coveted Mixmag cover and recording her first Resident Advisor podcast in 2018. At the start of 2019 Drumcode marked it’s 200th release by asking Lens to remix the label head’s 2014 release “Teach Me” – a milestone in her career that speaks volumes about Adam Beyer’s admiration for his younger counterpart, who describes Lens as having “a unique pure form of timeless techno. You can feel the passion when watching her – there are only a few DJs with that energy, that ‘it’ factor.”
As a resident at Hasselt’s Labyrinth Club, Lens started curating her own nights under the name EXHALE and soon was inviting the likes of Marcel Dettmann, Ben Klock, Ellen Allien, Rødhåd and Kobosil to play alongside her, often delivering her own all-night-long sets that have become the stuff of legend for Belgium’s adoring fan base. Lens has steered the EXHALE parties further afield, with regular showcases at the likes of London’s fabric club and colossal stage hostings at Creamfields, OFFSonar, Dour and Extrema Festivals and many more on the international summer circuit. Her aim is to showcase a new generation of hand-picked, up-and-coming talent alongside international heavyweights.
Lens has moulded her own imprint, LENSKE, in her image – driven, energetic and authentic. A handful of carefully curated releases from fellow Belgian’s Farrago, Milo Spykers and Paris-based AIROD fuse a high- velocity mix of uptempo 909 uppercuts, hyper-futuristic acid accents and evil-minded drops. The label’s tight- knit family of artists help solidify Lens’ reputation as a curator and taste-maker as much as a master in the booth.
In just a few years Lens has achieved what many artists would dream of achieving in a lifetime, and her rapid ascent is something many find hard to grasp. “It just happened so fast – too fast. So I understand. It’s going to take me ten more years to prove myself, but I’m going to do it.” Rest assured that the Amelie Lens story is just beginning.
Some DJ careers are built on hype. John Digweed’s career is built on substance. One of the planet’s most popular DJs, his sets never fall out of favour with clubbers the world over, as his relentless global gig schedule testifies. From ethereal, swirling cinematic soundscapes to energy-infused bass-bothering tech growlers, a new generation of clubbers are learning what we already know – that there’s nothing quite like being locked into a John Digweed set.
But John Digweed is much more than a DJ. Bedrock – his record label, promotions company and production partnership with Nick Muir – is a mothership of creative ingenuity and integrity that other labels orbit around. His vision for the Bedrock record label has been realized over 12 years, as he continuously seeks out mixes and remixes from the world’s best producers. Techno mainstays like Marco Bailey, Christian Smith and John Selway sit comfortably alongside hot new talent like Guy J in the Bedrock camp.
In a dance scene increasingly inhabited by inflated egos and gimmicks, John’s approach remains all drive, no drama, a heads-down crack-on attitude that has won him the respect of his peers. However, the fact remains that John Digweed has notched up a mighty list of groundbreaking achievements since he first became involved in the embryonic acid house scene as a 15-year-old lad in Hastings. From Top 40 smashes ‘Heaven Scent’ and ‘For What You Dream Of’ (with Nick Muir) to world renowned mix CDs for Renaissance, GU and Northern Exposure, it’s little surprise he was voted No.1 DJ in the World by DJmag readers in 2001.
Ten years on, the excitement John Digweed generates is even more palpable today. With Nick he has scored a Hollywood film (Stark Raving Mad) and Spiderman`s animated series for Sony/MTV. Toured with David Bowie and Moby, and transformed Brighton Beach into the UK’s biggest beach party (250,000 people) with Fatboy Slim. His Transitions, Bedrock and Structures albums continue to turn new fans on worldwide, Bedrock’s recent 12th birthday party at London’s O2 Brixton Academy was a road-blocked sell-out and his Transitions radio show is one of the world’s most successful dance music shows, broadcast across 45 countries to a staggering weekly audience of over 14 million.
But the real beauty in John Digweed’s story lies in his unflinching belief in the music he plays. And with new music comes new chapters in an already astonishing career.