| Band: Dave Clarke|
Interviewer: Jez Porat
For Dave Clarke, Techno and electro isn’t just dance music, it’s a way of life. Dave Clarke is without a doubt one of the most respected masters of techno and electro DJ mixings and producers. beginning his music career as a hip-hop DJ in the mid-'80s, then shifting to acid-house and later rave, then finally by the mid-'90s, moving to a brand of straightahead techno, Dave’s knowledge of cutting edge music remains till today honed and tight, If you want to have a good reference point for underground british dance music today, then always have a listen to whay Dave has to say. The irrepressible Dave Clarke follows his 2003 Devil’s Advocate album, with a brand new part 2 mixed compilation of his series World Service. “If I don’t do this,” says Dave Clarke of his music and DJing, “I can’t even judge myself as a human being – it’s in my blood and bones”.
Jez Porat: People have been waiting around for the past four years for the next installment of the World Service series, and now it's finally out. Would you tell us how do you pick up the tracks for the series? How involved is the label in that process of putting up a mixed session CD? Do they have any say at all?
Dave Clarke: The whole point of getting an artist/dj to do a mix compilation is to have their input taken seriously, when a compliation starts going to comittee then it's not something I want to get involved in, the only limitation that was presented to me was to not exceed 50 tracks for 2 cd's. The label's whole purpose is to act as a conduit and try and make the whole process as transparent as possible and not bog the artist down in paperwork. Very occasionally a track can be hard to license due to manager or label control, that can usually be resolved by artist to artist contact.
Jez Porat: When putting out a new album, is it important to you to deliver a message to the listener, something that people can interpret on their own or maybe it's all about having fun and that's it?
Dave Clarke: I would say it's mostly about enjoying yourself and presenting something that is very you and yet different than other mix lp's.
Jez Porat: You are constantly referred to musically as being "very dark and challenging." You have influences that go back to punk with bands like The Damned, Devo, T-Rex, The Ruts and The Stranglers. What other music has influenced you? How about new wave, darkwave, EBM, electro and industrial?
Dave Clarke: Die Warzau were an influence as of course was the whole electro movement from the late 70's onwards, I have so very many influences that I tend to group a lot together to inspire something new. I am listening to Mercury Rev as I type this, I never want to be limited to one or two genres for inspiration, my ipod has punk to funk to rock to electronica to hip hop, I could never just have an ipod filled with electro and take that with me on the road.
Jez Porat: With such a diverse array of musical influences, have you ever considered partaking in another project with a completely different style, punk-based for example?
Dave Clarke: I would love to at some point for sure.
Jez Porat:You find England a rotten place musically. You call the music and the industry shit in your own words. Are you only referring to pop music and dance or also referring to indie and rock? What caused that? Don't you play any British artists on your set?
Dave Clarke: Hmmm, I wouldn't say England is rotten place musically, against all the odds there is still some incredible music coming out of the uk, from techno to pop, but there is a decline in how that is serviced, radio stations, both private and public, have so marginalised good music that the public "think" that the music they play is the only music that is out there. The pop music industry is terrible now no one is interested in TOTP because the music generally is dire, very little comes out that is clever or wry, it really is just manufactured, people like joe jackson, elvis costello wouldn't stand a chance if they were new now, and that is really very sad. I will continue to support artists that make good music and that still includes british ones, but the whole radio industry needs to be overhauled to once again influence musical culture, it has just spiralled into characterless broadcasting, France, Belgium and Holland are so much better in this field especially in public (not p rivately owned) radio broadcasting. I mean techno has never been represented on public radio in the uk consistently,I seem to remember Pete Tong being quoted as saying there was no place for a techno show on the radio (despite a huge following), but there was for drum and bass (and of course there should be for drum and bass, but techno has been around for longer and even influenced drum and bass), I found it so easy to get a weekly techno show broadcast in Belgium, Portugal even Istanbul etc, I had the first terrestial and web broadcast techno radio show, but could I get a foothold for that music on the uk airwaves? That makes me sad, but anyway good things come out of that as I gave up my show to concentrate on making music.
Jez Porat: You have been there, Dave, playing electro way before anyone else and there seems to be a hype about electro now all over Europe. Where do you think electro music is heading; is it as good as it used to be several years ago? Where do you see the future of dance music in general? Do you think people will squeeze electro to the max and then what comes next?
Dave Clark: I cannot predict but I can follow passionately music I care about, Electro still does it for me, and it is different to the past generation in many ways.
Jez Porat:You play a lot of 80s electro and synth/new wave on your sets. You are constantly keeping the music alive, reviving it on each and every set. Do you find ?80s music timeless? What do you think is so unique about this music that still burns dancefloors on your sets all over the globe?
Dave Clarke: I find good music is timeless, it doesn't have to come from the 80's to qualify, it means more to me as I grew up in the 80's, but some 60's music still blows me away as does some music released across the past few months across various genres.
Jez Porat:You are a die hard fan for covers and remakes aren't you?
Dave Clark: Not really, I like the juxtaposition sometimes, like Nouvelle Vague with a cliche french innocence covering punk/new wave classics, or ciccone youth.
Jez Porat:So what basically are you looking for in a track, Dave? Is it specifically music that will have a good groove for the dancefloor?
Dave Clarke: Something that taps into darker energy, that has depth and powerful production, the music I listen to always has to have some sort of depth that makes you want to play it again and again.
Jez Porat:It seems you have a big problem and concern with the music people listen to these days. You don't want your albums to be presented in stores next to what you call "opium music." What is the problem for you with today's music? Do you feel the music that people are listening to doesn?t give them a chance to explore themselves? Who is to blame? What can we do about this? Do you find the alternative you offer musically to be an answer to that?
Dave Clarke:"Dance Music" in itself is such a wide genre that I really cannot see what I have in common 90% of the artists, the way the uk commercial dance music industry has mostly been run is just to capitilize only on money, not creation, that makes me sad. I have been lucky enough to have people want to interview me,yet the majority of interesting questions come from European journalists outside of the uk, how am I supposed to answer questions that aren't presented to me, if it's just a rehash of an earlier "intresting question" defecit interview how am I supposed to convey anything????? So many people are to blame, but it still challenges me to carry on.
Jez Porat:It seems that so many people are in the industry today not for the right reasons. We've lost a lot of the passion in music and people who produce today are there not only because music is all they care about. What is there to do about that?
Dave Clarke: I don't believe we have a lost a lot of passion in music as a whole, it's just the public are less aware of it. This is for many reasons, commercial record companies would generally have someone without passion as passion can't be controlled, we have lost a lot of smaller labels who understood passion, I believe when the business model for selling music has reestablished itself that we will have cult portals that will have the same empassioned folllowers like Stiff Records/ UR have. I really am not too worried about the future as I see a rebalance is very possible.
Jez Porat:You have always been rebellious even in your young age. In the music industry you?re kind of an outsider, you tend to do things in your own way and you have your very strong opinions about all sorts of things and you are saying them loudly. Do you feel this unique attitude of yours helped you along the years to achieve your goals?
Dave Clarke:Maybe I am a Sith! I do what I do, I'll let others judge.
Jez Porat:Let’s say an amateur DJ or producer approached you. What would you say to them, what advice can you give them?
Dave Clarke: Unfortunately I would say make a great record, because that seems to be the most likely way to cross over even though the two talents are so different, other than that I would suggest carving a niche for yourself in the biggest nearest town and build up confidence before try to break out of that scene.
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