I’ve never met Dave Clarke, or even seen him at work behind the decks. I know that he’s highly respected in his field (techno) and has an international following. I’m also aware that he’s known for his strong and sometimes controversial opinions. He’s definitely someone who provokes a reaction and I’m sure that this is part of the reason for his success as a DJ, for those who are into him are clearly really into him, whilst I’d imagine that he’d tell those who are critical of him to go fuck themselves.
The reason I wanted to speak to him was on the back of the interview I did with Norman Cook last year for my electrofunkroots project. This ‘conversation with Norman Cook’ revolved around his own DJ roots in the early 80s and how electro had been a major influence on his subsequent success as a dance music artist and producer. During the interview, Norman suggested that I talk to Dave Clarke about the electro era, as this was something he was extremely passionate about.
Then, earlier this year, Martin Dust told me that he was going to be interviewing Dave Clarke for the Little Detroit site. I asked if he could make contact on my behalf regarding the electrofunkroots request. Martin suggested that, in addition to his own interview (which would be dealing with more contemporary matters), I do mine in conjunction with Little Detroit.
Greg Wilson: The main thing that I want to talk to you about, obviously on the back of when I had the conversation with Norman, is the early Electro period. I mean, I’ve got a site, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to have a look at it. It’s called electrofunkroots.
Dave Clarke: Right. No. I’m sorry. I don’t really do that much internet surfing, cos I find it just takes up so much time and you always go somewhere where you never expected to go in the first place.
GW: Well, basically, in a nutshell, I was kind of heavily involved in the origins of the Electro-Funk scene in the UK. we’re 20 years on from all that now and the documentation of it is really poor. I’ve seen club histories written where it jumps that whole period.
DC: Well I find that about the whole of club history. Like the whole black influence in club history has been practically ignored. The whole black influence in Techno and the whole influence of Chicago house has been really, really…apart from Larry Levan, stuff like that, but not even talking about your Armando’s or anything like that, and I find it’s really upsetting how the press have taken control of these things and whitewashed it literally.
GW: Well, you’re very much on the line that I’m at. I mean the clubs that I worked in, where the scene developed, were a club in Manchester called Legend which was 90% black. And another club called Wigan Pier with people travelling from literally all over the North and Midlands. It was an amazing scene and this is where things like the Peech Boys “Don’t Make Me Wait“, “Planet Rock” and the pivotal tracks of that early period were first played. At the time, it was also a very controversial scene because I was coming from a Jazz-Funk background and I was already established as a Jazz-Funk DJ.
DC: Idris Mohammed and stuff like that?
GW: Like Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, you know…
DC: I actually inherited all those 12”s from my mum.
GW: So she was into that scene?
DC: Well, she was into that and Sammy Hagar and Whitesnake and Elvis so I always got a bit confused (laughs). I got “Expansions” on Flying Dutchman from my mum. “Running Away” 12” Roy Ayers from my mum. It’s all kind of weird.
GW: But they were the classic tracks of that scene. That all happened in the late 70s through to the early 80s, but by the early 80s, it was beginning to run out of steam. We always played the best of the black music available at the time. All the best Soul and Funk was played and the Disco stuff that people now refer to as Boogie. All that was played within the context of a Jazz-Funk night and also quite full-on Jazz-Fusion like Chic Corea. Stuff like that was being played, but with ’82 these tracks started coming through that were different. On the website is a list of a hundred tracks and I actually started it with D-Train “You’re The One For Me”. Nowadays it’s just seen as a Disco staple but back then, it was a very original sounding track when it first came out. Then came things like Stone “Time”, Electra “Feels Good” and Peech Boys “Don’t Make Me Wait”, which was a real landmark track you know.
DC: I don’t even think I know that one…I probably would if I heard it.
GW: Which one was that?
DC: Peech Boys.
GW: Yeah, you would. In fact it’s a Larry Levan track. It’s the track that’s seen as bringing the whole dub thing into dance music. It’s got these fierce electronic handclaps at the beginning and was like nothing we’d ever heard before! When enough of these tracks were about, it was obvious that this wasn’t Jazz-Funk as such, and this is where the Electro-Funk thing initiated. Then what they called the more blatant Electro started coming through, like “Planet Rock”, and Klein & MBO, an Italian 12”, “Dirty Talk”….these were huge, huge tracks. It was at this point that I kind of fell foul of the conventional purist Jazz-Funk or Soul outlook, and people started berating me for playing this electronic shit, which is how they saw it. They literally believed it was the computer that made the music and there was no value in it.
DC: I remember the first time I saw an 808 drum machine was actually when I was recording for R&S. I always thought that the cowbell was someone hitting the outside of a space shuttle out in space.
DC: And then I actually thought
Fuck me, it’s like a Bontempi.
GW: It was the 808 obviously with “Planet Rock”, which brought it through and divided the scene. This is what you were saying about the black thing before — this sits at the crossroads of the old on one side, being Disco, Jazz-Funk and Northern Soul, and the new, which would eventually become Hip-Hop, Techno and House.
GW: And the thing that allowed one to fuse into another type thing was this Electro-Funk hybrid period of the early 80s that we’re talking about here. Because obviously it brought through the Hip-Hop scene, which we didn’t even know about until Electro came in and bit-by-bit we realised what was happening. This was the gist of the interview I did with Norman. I was doing the Haçienda Roadshow at the back end of ’83 and he came along to that. Broken Glass were dancing and he was telling me during the interview that I kind of showed him the rudiments of scratching and cutting the next day. He was saying that the Hip-Hop thing came to Brighton that night. Probably, like a lot of the country, it was only within the black areas where these things were happening, and so bit-by-bit it was coming into the culture. I always look at Morgan Khan’s “Street Sounds Electro” albums as being pivotal.
DC: Yeah. I’ve got every single one including the bonus one.
GW: Yeah. you’ve got the UK Electro one as well?
DC: Yeah. Yeah.
GW: I was involved in all but one of the tracks on that.
DC: Wow. It’s a lot more musical actually.
GW: It was just totally experimental. It was made up in the studio as we went along. We went to Morgan. We had a couple of tracks. One was by Broken Glass, “The Style of the Street”…
DC: Yeah. (sings) “Broken, the style of the street”.
GW: (laughs) Right. Nice one.
DC: And that used to mix out of… (sings again) “Away-ah hah-ohh…”
GW: Yeah. That’s “Music”. I think…
DC: I was talking to Lex from Blue Boy and he was trying to sample that as well. It was quite funny.
GW: Well, weirdly enough, that’s getting a revival at the minute. I actually heard it for the first time playing in a club a few months ago, ever! I’ve never heard it playing in a club in my life, so that was quite a buzz. I was working with some musicians in Manchester and we’d just done a couple of tracks and went to Morgan and he came up with the idea of doing a UK Electro album and giving everything different names. So basically, it’s the same people doing all those tracks apart from one.
DC: I do know them well because I used to body-pop to them quite heavily when we went on holiday to Llandudno in Wales. In fact, I earnt a few quid on the beaches of Brighton body-popping and actually getting some money off students for body-popping.
GW: Right. I think that’s what Morgan did. He created the albums for this kind of UK breakdance generation. The only one we didn’t do was The Rapologists which was the Mastermind Crew from down in London. We did everything else on there, you know… different things on a different level like the “Forevereaction” tracks were much darker and Syncbeat was the one you mentioned with the African samples and everything. But it was literally one of those things that we just went in the studio and made up as we went along. It wasn’t New York Electro, it was just a UK slant on it.
So, from your perspective, how did you first come across the Electro side of things?
DC: Erm… try to analyse. I was into Hip-Hop back in ’79 with the Sugarhill Gang. I was a kid. And then, sort of grew up listening to Effectron, “Mack Attack” and stuff like that, Go-Go and then obviously Hip-Hop as well. My mind might not be completely in chronological order but there you go. Being at school and we’d be swapping Electro tapes, and “Crucial Electro 1” came out and “Nunk” was on there, which I think was an early Jellybean production.
GW: Yes, Warp 9.
DC: And that’s when that came out. And all of a sudden I thought,
Fuck me! This is what I’ve been waiting for. This has made sense of all the music of the past and is making sense now cos it’s the music of the future. And, so, for me it’s like
thank you, this is what I was waiting for. I didn’t know it and I couldn’t explain it, but now it’s here, I could explain it really vividly. And so I’d end up breakdancing and listening to stuff like Shannon “Let The Music Play”. And all that sort of stuff going down the local clubs and just trying to do body-popping and things like that. I mean, obviously, Morgan Khan was the catalyst for a lot of us. When you’re at school and you’re a kid, you can’t afford imports. In fact, you probably don’t even know what imports are. So, we’d all get “Crucial Electro 1”, “Crucial Electro 2”, “Electro 1”, “Electro 2”, “Electro 3”, “Electro 4” and a lot of times, I’d be on army cadet manoeuvres with my personal stereo listening to “Electro 3” and “Electro 4”, which both seemed to fit on a C90 cassette equally on either side and I could just listen to it. I wish I could remember all the titles but if you told me I could wax lyrical about them. By the time I sort of got later down the scene, I went up to Morgan Khan’s and said,
Look, I can do something like this and he politely gave me a white label album, which I really felt chuffed with, I think that was my very first white label I actually was given. I then departed and heard nothing from him, but listening to stuff like Hashim and going down to records fairs in Brighton and actually being given copies of “Planet Rock” and stuff like that. Shit man. Electro was a massive, massive influence…and still is.
GW: The documentation of dance culture in this country usually starts with the Acid House explosion, but the earlier Electro period was hugely significant and what happened later was a direct consequence of this. I could be speaking to someone in an area like Cornwall, where there’s pretty much no black culture at all, and they’re saying that their introduction to dance music was when somebody brought in an ‘Electro’ album one day and that was it…that changed it. These Electro kids, that first came to dance music in a big way on the back of this, were all over the place. Also the first wave of British dance acts, the people who would actually make the music, were very much coming from this direction and were the ones who were getting into Morgan’s album and stuff like that. So when the Acid thing did hit, a lot of the British musicians that were making this music had found their inspiration in Electro. They were already on the dance path before House, so they were perfectly positioned when it all kicked-in.
GW: How old were you when started buying the Street Sounds albums? This would have been ’84 with the ‘Crucials’ that you’re talking about…
DC: Erm… I was born in ’68, so ’78 is 10, erm… 16, 15.
GW: Right. So you just weren’t quite club age. You were probably still at school age when these records were coming through. You said you were into body-popping and stuff. Can you remember how you came across that in the first instance?
DC: It was before Breakdance Machine, or whatever they were called. Well before that.
GW: Break Machine.
DC: Break Machine yeah.
GW: A lot to answer for those guys!
DC: Yeah I know. I still remember it. (whistles)… sad. I don’t know. It was just a good way of getting girls really.
GW: Can you remember where you saw it though? Where you originally saw…
DC: Probably on television.
GW: Right. Would it have been something like “Buffalo Gals” or would it have been the Rock Steady Crew?
DC: Yeah, yeah. Definitely Rock Steady Crew cos “(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew“ was out. But listening to things like World’s Famous Supreme Team, stuff like that. I mean like, shit man, all that music to listen to, you know, and early Paul Hardcastle stuff, which, you know what you were talking about earlier, he was the one that definitely bridged the Jazz-Funk / Electro movement together. And then he goes on to do music for, what’s it called, “Holiday” wasn’t he?
GW: Yeah. He became very standardised / commercialised in a sense.
DC: When I left school, I then worked in a clothes shop and one of the guys that I worked with had a Renault 5 Gordini Turbo with Alpine stereo in there, with all the separate tweeters and all that shit and we’d be listening to Full Force, stuff like that… Nile Rogers “Stay Out Of The Light”, and his best mate was Paul Hardcastle. He’d tell me all these things about how He’d have Revox Reel-To-Reels and all these weird sequencers and I was just really, really interested.
GW: Right, yeah. Cos he had “Rain Forest”, which was a big track on the black scene. He had a lot of respect for a short period of time. He was a British artist as well… a lot of people forget that.
GW: Do you remember things like, I’m talking from a British perspective, like Newtrament, “London Bridge Is Falling Down”.
DC: Yeah. Never was into that. I found it really commercial.
GW: Right. That was a huge track.
DC: I know, it crossed over the Atlantic I think, as well.
GW: I’m not sure how well it did in the US but it certainly was big from the UK side. Again, an early example of a British track being done at the time this new music was coming out of mainly New York.
DC: I mean John Robie was incredible. He did a lot of the keyboards for everything. And for me, Newcleus…fucking hell. Even now “Push The Button” is an amazing track. And I wanted to licence a lot of that Newcleus stuff for Electro Boogie back in whenever I did it, which was ’96 I think?
GW: Yeah. That’s the series you did for K7.
DC: Yeah. And EMI wouldn’t let it out which was a real shame because I’m thinking this stuff is incredible funky, incredibly musical, incredibly full of depth and it’s a shame man.
GW: So as a result of that, you became ingrained in Hip-Hop culture.
GW: So when did you actually start DJing?
DC: When I was about 8 years old.
GW: When you were 8 years old!
DC: Yeah. I never realised I was DJing but what I was actually doing was putting together mix tapes and I’d be mixing all my 7”s and stuff, not disco, whatever I had and all the 12”s my mum had and try mixing them together. But I only had one record deck so what I did was I had a train, which I never used anymore, which had a light at the end of it. And I broke the train apart, fed the lights on one end of the keyhole, fed the leads through the other end of the keyhole, and then when I attached the 9V battery (which was attached by Blue Tac on the back of the door). It meant that no-one was to come in because I had the microphone live and I was recording off a record deck, then pausing on the beat and stuff like that.
GW: Wow! Madness.
DC: My dad was one of the first people to have quadrophonics, he had massive tannoy speakers. My mum and dad used to go to discos so eventually they got two record decks. And then they had to have disco lights and I used to hijack the disco lights, in fact I got electrocuted and it taught me very early on to respect electricity. When you’ve got one of those multicore bulgen things open and you think
Ooo, I think I’ll stick the fairy lights in there and you remember to switch it off next time. And so I got a healthy respect of electricity from that early age (laughs). But yeah, I’d be doing that sort of stuff, heavily editing on the pause button. Then trying to do mixing with two record decks but not realising that vari-speed was needed. Then saving up lots of money and getting some drum machines. And then my dad got me a four track which I completely knackered within about two weeks of using it cos I fucked up the pause button so much constantly doing edits on the pause and then bouncing backwards and forwards from tracks 1-4 and then back again, and back again, and back again until it completely fucked up. I had to change it and went back again and they said
have you ever heard of a sampler? I went
no, sorry. And then I tried to work it, and then I had a BBC B computer and I tried to use UMI software on that as well.
GW: So obviously you were always quite technical from being a child.
DC: Yeah, I was pretty technical. I mean my dad had spring reverb in his hi-fi set-up for fuck’s sake and he was heavily into big amplifiers and tannoy speakers.
GW: So you were in Brighton at this point?
GW: So you grew up in Brighton?
DC: Yeah. I was born in Brighton and I went to school there.
GW: Which clubs did you first go to?
DC: It would have been called the Top Rank Suite. And then also there’s Coasters… Oh my God, the first PA I ever saw was down there was Divine and that scared the bollocks out of me. (laughs) There was a big fat bloke in front of me in a skirt. And that scared the living bollocks… But yes, I used to go down there and it was really cool cos they used to play a lot of gay music, obviously, and a lot of Bobby O productions. When you listen to a lot of Divine, a lot of Sylvester, Mainframe, Blow, all that sort of stuff again was quite Hi-Energy, but you could easily drop in Shannon “Let The Music Play” and stuff like that, and they did, and that’s what I used to listen to down there as well.
GW: Yeah, definitely. It’s like what Norman said about his introduction to Electro, which was hearing “Planet Rock” played at a club called Sherry’s on a Futurist night, which rang very true with me, because I know that on the black scene there was a lot of people who were up-in-arms about me playing “Planet Rock”, but from the Futurist / New Romantic type side of things, they played it. It made sense straight away to what they were doing.
DC: And also, I have to go back. I mean, it’s very easy to overwrite on certain things, but for me, before I was listening to Electro, I was listening to Depeche Mode; I was listening to Yazoo; I was listening to Vince Clarke; I was listening to Midge Ure; I was listening to John Foxx; I was listening to Devo. Devo often is, in my particular music scene, neglected quite unfairly. Those guys actually invented midi for fuck’s sake. Without midi you wouldn’t have had John Robie and Arthur Baker hooking up an 808 drum machine. Devo in ’79 was fucking brilliant. Amazing, amazing group. And then John Foxx “Metamatic”…again an amazing album. “Tidal Wave” and stuff like that was really, really intense electronica which bridged the gap before all of a sudden it became very, very heavily black influenced. But there’s a definite case for the white influence.
GW: Oh for sure. This is how I look on it. It’s that beautiful moment, almost like an atom splitting moment, when Afrika Bambaataa decided that Kraftwerk was something that he was going to play to a black audience in the Bronx. It was the open-mindedness from the black side….I mean things like Gary Numan as well and Human League. Hearing this music and saying
DC: I mean Martin Rushent. What an incredible guy.
GW: Well for sure. I still love the League Unlimited Orchestra album.
DC: Yeah, it’s amazing. You know, it’s just amazing you didn’t realise that he was just playing the beats an octave higher. But everything was just fucking immense. I still remember that tape. And I still remember I had a Panasonic stereo walkman, which actually had record on it. And I still remember, even though it was actually an original tape that it had accidentally been recorded over in a shoe shop. And I still remember the edit that came in there by mistake cos I just listened to this shit day in and day out.
GW: All that kind of stuff was very influential on what was going to happen in New York. I think they took the essence of that, but the funk was there with the black kids. They brought the funk to it and, as a result of that, it sowed the seeds for the future of dance music as we know it, all ways up. For example, the Techno side. The first Techno track is seen as “Clear” by Cybotron and often people try and put some kind of separation between this new Detroit thing and New York Electro.
DC: Rick Davis and those guys were so, so influenced, and you can so easily hear it if you’re aware of it, by John Foxx and Gary Numan.
GW: I understand that side of the influence and everything, but the New York side of it is not very often mentioned. It’s almost seen as separate whereas, firstly, from our point of view, when “Clear” came out, it was played on the Electro scene. It was seen as an Electro track. We didn’t know it was from a different part of the country. It just fitted in perfectly. But secondly, and what a lot of people don’t really draw attention to, is that the guy that mixed the 12” of “Clear” was Jose Animal Diaz, who was immersed in the whole New York Electro thing. He’d mixed the Jonzun Crew and had also done a Disconet mix of “Hip Hop, Be Bop” by Man Parish.
DC: That was an amazing track. One of the reasons why I became a DJ was because in the clubs that I used to go to, the DJs never had the bollocks to actually play the music I wanted to hear. I’d say
can you play ‘Hip Hop, Be Bop’ and they’d only play it when there wasn’t anyone left and it used to piss me off. I had to become a DJ because there was all this good music out there that I felt wasn’t being given the space that it deserved. I mean “Hip Hop, Be Bop” still makes me cry.
GW: A wonderful record. I remember when that just came through on import, like the moment…And now you listen to it all these years on and it’s a classic.
GW: But there was a point in time when that was a brand new record coming through that was just awesome. Again, this was the wonderful thing about that period and certainly from being a DJ who was in the position to be able to play all this great new music that was coming out in New York. It was so varied and different. I always talk about the tempo range as well. It was from right downtempo to uptempo… and every kind of texture in between. I think the way that everything got sectioned off into it’s own little departments was so contrary to my way of looking at it. At the same time as playing all this Electro side of things, I was also still playing the Funk and the Soul and the Jazz and it was all within the context of one night.
GW: Do you remember Norman from when he was DJing in Brighton in those days?
DC: Very vaguely. I only went to a couple of his gigs.
GW: So obviously, as time has gone by, you’ve got to know Norman because, the way that he put it to me was that
you’ve got to speak to Dave Clarke because he’s got a sort of Northern Soul fanaticism when it comes to Electro. You’re heart is obviously with this period of time. That’s where you’re coming from in effect with regards to dance music as such.
DC: Yeah, right.
GW: Why do you think (I asked Norman this question), why do you think that it became a forgotten music in a sense. Why is it that people weren’t talking about this whole Morgan Khan Electro album period as being the influence that we know it to be? Where was it lost?
DC: I don’t know cos I always did. I never forgot it. I always appreciated it. It’s always been a proud part of my record collection up until “Hip Hop 22”, when I got a little bit bored with it cos it just became formulaic. But up until then, for me, my favourite (“Street Sounds Electro”) albums probably go to number 11 or even 12. It’s always been for me something that’s never been forgotten. I can’t answer why it’s been forgotten. I don’t know to be honest. It’s kind of strange. It’s like Acid House in some ways, the real Acid House, not the bullshit in the charts. Electro’s been forgotten just in the same way that the real Chicago House has also been forgotten. I just blame it on commercialism and badly informed journalists that actually want to prove a point that means something to them and actually doesn’t have anything to do with the real history of music.
GW: Do you think this is because a lot of people who were writing about it were doing it in retrospect, i.e. that they didn’t get into the scene until the House explosion and so obviously they weren’t there at the time and were probably into a different thing when this whole kind of Electro, and like you say, the early original House period was developing, so that you get a very sketchy outlook on what went before?
DC: I think the majority of journalists around that time didn’t have their roots and they just all of a sudden became music journalists on the strength of ecstasy, on the strength of acid and on the strength of Acid House. And they saw the Acid House movement and they reported about that, but really they were just what you call ‘acid teds’. Just your college kid who really didn’t actually have any foundation…understanding of the foundation of the whole musical scene they got into at that particular point. I think that’s why it got so badly reported and that’s why the history got written out. I’ve come from a very, very large multiple musical background and I get confused because yes, I grew up with Punk, I grew with Mod, I grew up with Ska, I grew up with early, early Hip-Hop, club Hip-Hop, stuff like Rammelzee Vs K Rob, Sugarhill Gang, Kool DJ Herc, Red Alert, Marly Marl. I grew up with all of that and I also grew up with all of Electro. Maybe it’s just because I’m a music fanaticist that I just don’t know exactly where I came from, but I know that Electro was a massive part of my life and I’m definitely not saying it to try and be cool and try to ‘blacken’ my musical heritage. It’s just that it was definitely a part of my life and the thing is, it wasn’t just a part of my life, the kids that I was growing up with, it also was a part of their life as well. We’d be swapping tapes at school and I went to a very, very white school. My friends were white because there weren’t many black kids at my school. We were really, really into the music. I’d go on holiday with friends and we’d body-pop and breakdance and shit like that and it was just something that meant a lot to us.
GW: I think the important thing that happened was that it brought a lot of young white kids, who weren’t exposed to black culture, into that. It was very much a catalyst. Well, it was the catalyst, obviously, for the formation of the British Hip-Hop movement. Now, you look at the culture we live in and the way I see it, on a youth culture side, is that it’s very much Hip-Hop culture based, and it was all ingrained at that moment in time. It was that switch over point.
GW: Coming more up-to-date, you were heavily involved in the nu-skool Electro side of things in the 90s and bringing that through. Can you explain how it all came about?
DC: To be honest, I wanted to re-do “Street Sounds Electro” but with a modern edge, because I felt that had been lacking, it hadn’t been around and I just wanted to do something like that, especially with the clear vinyl EP that came out. I just wanted to do an Electro megamix. It just was in my system and my soul to do it, to sort of pay homage to Mastermind on his GLI. It just had to happen and, again, there was a lot of great music out there, which I felt wasn’t being given the chance to breath, and I thought
well I’m passionate about this. I wanna do this. I’ve always musically led with my heart and I give people a very, very hard time, wrongly, when they don’t lead with their heart, because to me you don’t get any second chances and if you believe in something, you should go with it. With the Electro music that was coming around then, I thought,
this needs to come out, this needs to have some sort of attention brought to it. And that’s the whole point of the DJ. People forget this. People raise their hands when they do some fake EQ switch. People raise their hands when the crowd are on a high and they haven’t done anything, apart from just play a track with the cheesy crowd-filling drum snare, and it’s not about that. The DJ’s job is to enjoy their life, but also to bring attention to exciting new music that they feel passionate about, and what I’m trying to say is that it’s just really fucking annoying when you see DJs raise their hands just to one record and they’re not really doing anything. If you’re working the decks in such a way, which is really, really exciting for you and the crowd, that’s also a way of DJing as well.
GW: Now. With regards to what’s called the Electroclash movement, what are your feelings?
DC: Erm… I’ll play a record if it’s good, or if it’s bad I won’t play it, and that’s on personal taste, it’s not on definitive taste, and the majority of Electroclash that I’m getting now is pretty boring. When I was paying things like Fischerspooner and Adult it wasn’t called Electroclash then, it was called good music and if those guys are still going to make good music I’ll play it, and if they don’t make it, I won’t. I have to admit, I’m not that keen on the actual name of the genre, Electroclash, and I didn’t want to make too much Electro on my own album because of fear of actually being put into a fashionable genre. I don’t like fashion cos fashion is always way, way behind what’s really, really happened out in the real world.
GW: That’s a good way of seeing things. It is that way. It was the same with the original Electro scene. Now, looking back, people always talk about The Face, and how The Face was on the cutting edge, but The Face didn’t come through with it’s Electro front cover until May 1984 and that was two full years after “Planet Rock”.
DC: Exactly. I never read The Face.
GW: It’s like what you say. Fashion is always following what’s been happening on an underground level. From my point of view, with the Electroclash thing, I found it really interesting, just the idea of mixing things up again. I was quite inspired by 2 Many DJs, the “Radio Soulwax” album.
DC: I didn’t like that.
GW: I know that it’s one of those things that people either love it or they hate it.
DC: I think Soulwax is really good but it sort of reminds me of Glenn Tilbrook a bit too much, you know, Squeeze. I like it but the 2 Many DJs thing just does my nut in. It’s not what, for me, the musical scene is about. Anyone can be clever and mix Dolly Parton with shit, but I don’t want to hear Dolly Parton in a fucking club. I really don’t. I don’t care how clever it’s done, I don’t care if it’s done with the best quantization in the world on Blu-Ray DVD, amazing technicality shit. I just don’t wanna hear it. For me it’s not big and it’s not clever. I mean, technically, the whole album is very, very clever, but I don’t want to hear that sort of shit anywhere.
GW: I actually enjoyed the humour of the whole thing. And also there were parts in it, like the Destiny’s Child and 10cc like mash-up thing, that I just thought were very, very creative useage of two tracks. I do think it’s one of those things that splits opinion. I’ve spoken to people who, in other areas of music, we’d probably be in perfect agreement, but this album draws the battle lines in a sense. When I first heard it, and this possibly has something to do with me not having any preconceptions of it, I didn’t know about Electroclash. I heard it totally in isolation, somebody sent me a copy of it and I just heard it purely as it was. It’s only since then that I’ve realised more about what’s going on, that there’s a scene around this. The fashion aspect of it. The negative sides of it; the positive sides of it. All these different aspects around the scene. I just see it as a reaction to whatever’s happening and it’s obviously got a retrospective angle and it links in very much with the way I look at the Futurist scene from way back then. I think it touches on that. Maybe what it’s lacking is the black input musically, this is what I was talking with Norman about. But hopefully it will open things up for certain people to start listening to the early Electro stuff and also bring forward new ideas. I think, ultimately, we’re talking about something that happened 20 years ago, which is very important in the whole history of things and I think people need to have some kind of level of understanding about it, but ultimately, it’s all about moving things forward. It’s what we do with it. It’s no use just being retrospective and wasn’t it great in the old days?. Obviously, you’re not like that, you’re continuing your thing. You’re doing your thing and you’re moving it on, but I think a lot of people do get wound-up in their own nostalgia and everything. I just feel that this is a point in time when it’s quite important to go back to roots, because there isn’t really anything solid for people to move on to. It’s almost like the House thing has run it’s course and where do we go from here? A lot of people are stuck and when you can’t go forward, going back’s the place to be, and these are things that I touched on with Norman. But ultimately, to take from that and to find new influences and put them together with where we’re at now, in order to move it on from here, is what I sincerely hope is the next step along the way.
GW: So…you’re thoughts for the future? How do you see it yourself?
DC: Even though I like to plan well ahead, I don’t like to plan ahead in terms of music. When it comes to making my own music, I like to make it as I make it. I don’t really like to have a big game plan because I like to leave big game plans to the people that have to market it. It’s not for me to think like that. It gets very dangerous for an artist to be completely wrapped up with thinking about what’s going to happen in the future? I think you should always follow your heart.
GW: For sure. Really good talking to about all these things. All the best with what you’re doing and everything and I look forward to hearing your new stuff when it comes out. So you take care.
DC: Thank you.
© Greg Wilson, 2004