Renaissance Masters Tour Blog Part 4 – Japan

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Japan. Just can’t get enough of the place. It’s been this way for the last 20 years and the feeling never diminishes. The buzz I get once another trip is on the cards is akin to when you catch your first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline coming into New York. A untainted kind of childlike excitement. They say you never forget your first time and it couldn’t be truer of Japan. It was like visiting another planet, like walking onto the set of Bladerunner, a culture shock for sure. But on closer inspection, it soon became clear that we English have quite a lot in common with our Japanese friends. Both islands off the main continent protective of our national identities with a history of empire building and cultural trailblazing yet now living in the shadow of former glories anyone? Hell, even our flags are made from the same DNA.

Anyway, my trip this time started, as it always does, with a pilgrimage around the temples of Tokyo, otherwise known as the Bathing Ape shops. Those of you that know me will already know of my love of all things Bape. I’ve been collecting their stuff for over a decade to the point of obsession verging on addiction, so hot footing it from store to store (they have 5 in Tokyo), I’m a bit like a crazed junkie getting his fix. But just walking around the city is in itself such an inspiration. It’s so vibrant and alive with creativity, I can think of few other places around the world that are so stimulating.

My gig this time though was in Osaka, 2.5 hours west of Tokyo on the Bullet train, which like everything else here, runs perfectly on time right down to the second. Japan’s 3rd largest city with a population of 2.5 million, Osaka’s best club for the last few years has been Onzieme. This is my 3rd time here and it never disappoints. The crowd are musically well educated but always so enthusiastic and receptive to lots of different styles. A combination which these days isn’t found as frequently as it should be. This is largely due to an eclectic bookings policy that has seen everyone from Sven Vath & Digitalism to Defected & Dubfire touch down and do their thing. In fact, Onzieme is such a pleasure, it makes me want to paraphrase a popular English football chant, “Can I play you every week?!” And the thing is, I’m only half joking! :-)

Next week, Latvia & Romania.

Bookmark and Share

A transcript (& link) of my recent interview with DJ Mag

DJ Mag logoYou’ve had a long-term association with Renaissance – why do you think it has endured for so long as a respected club brand?

“Renaissance has always stood for quality and they haven’t been fickle followers of fashion by jumping on every new trend that comes along. They do what they do and they’re the best at it. More people should concentrate on their own thing and just play to their strengths rather than worrying about what everybody else is doing.”

Why do you think you have endured so long as an international DJ?

“See above! Ha ha ha. I’ve followed a similar ideology. Of course you progress and evolve as the scene changes around you but I like to think I keep the same principles and not forget where I came from and as I’m still here 25 years later, I must be doing something right!”

How did you approach this latest Renaissance Masters mix?

“I don’t worry so much about every track being a brand new and exclusive these days. It’s all about the quality. Within a few months it will all be old anyway! I find some people’s unquenchable desire for new stuff all the time quite sad really. The minute something becomes available, they discard it. However brilliant it may be. But there are some exclusives on there, yes, and pretty much all the stuff that is out already has been edited or enhanced in some way to make it unique to the album.”

In Dom Phillips’ book Superstar DJs, you talked a bit about some of your demons. Where’s your head at now?

“Yeah, I had some pretty dark periods around the turn of the Millennium, largely down to living a life of excess and not having much of an anchor. But I got married in 2005 and now have two young boys, so my perspective has changed dramatically. I remember reading somewhere that adults might make babies but really it’s babies that make adults, and I can really relate to that.

“Now I take the last plane out on a Friday and the first flight back on a Sunday morning, even if it’s Asia or South America I’m playing, just so I can get back to spend time with the family. I even went to Australia for the weekend at the beginning of the year, although that was stretching it a bit.”

Have you ever wanted to do something as obviously commercial as your early ‘90s Brothers In Rhythm stuff?

“I would love to do some more pop stuff again but it’s all a question of time. As I just said, I want to spend as much time with my family as possible and just keeping up with the demands of being a DJ these days is so time-consuming with the amount of music being released and the advent of social media. It doesn’t leave much time for the studio, but it is on my ‘to do’ list and I will get round to it sooner or later.”

Bookmark and Share

Renaissance Masters Tour Blog Part 3- London

I know I’m a bit late with this blog but better late than never as they say. To be honest, in the aftermath of Renaissance’s first party in London for over two years, I’d completely forgotten my own name, let alone that I’d ever agreed to do a Tour blog and was far too preoccupied with nursing my sore head through a fireworks night with the kids! Anyway, last weekend saw the London leg of my Masters album tour, the official launch party no less and what a cracking night it turned out to be. Since the closing of the Cross in 2008, which had been Renaissance’s London home for 10 years, London’s clubbing landscape has changed considerably. Gone too are Turnmills & The End and Matter unfortunately never managed to plug the gap. It’s actually been the redevelopment of East London that has provided some of the hottest new nightlife in town with one venue in particular, Village Underground in Shoreditch becoming a home for everything from live shows by the likes of The Horrors, Jarvis Cocker & The Klaxons to club nights with Erol Alkan, Laurent Garnier & Layo & Bushwacka. It was here that Renaissance decided to return to London- In a warehouse style venue that goes back to basics and in many ways reflects where the UK scene is at in 2011. Now I love DJing all over the world every weekend but there really is no place like home. Having so many friends and family at a gig makes it that bit extra special and last Saturday the guest list was bursting at the seams. Also on the line up was Matt Tanner from the Amplify Destroy crew and Spanish superproducer, Henry Saiz who both turned in superb sets worthy of the occasion exemplifying the new breed of Renaissance DJs. The future is bright and it certainly was good to be back on home turf. Hangover and all. Now, on to Japan :-)

Click here for photos..

Bookmark and Share

My interview with DJ Download

DJ Download logoWhat have been up to lately and what can we expect from you over the next couple of months?I’ve just finished my latest mix compilation for Renaissance. It’s my 28th mix comp so I like to think I’ve got the hang of it now. So I’m going to be touring here there and everywhere to promote that right through to early 2012. In between that, we’ve just moved house. The third time in 2 years! But this time it’s for good I swear. It could fall down around me and I’ll be going nowhere!

What do you think about dj mag’s top100 poll? I think it turned into a load of old commercial lowest common denominator codswallop. This opinion coincidentally started to form around the very same time that I no longer found myself in it! hahaha

What’s the first record you bought? I bought Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ with ‘We Will Rock You’ on the other side for 79p from Woolworths.

Are you afraid of piracy? Only if they made me walk the plank 😉

Define yourself in 3 words- Taurus, Virgo rising

Are you obsessed about anything? I’m a little bit excessive when it comes to the Japanese clothing & lifestyle brand A Bathing Ape. I’ve been collecting their stuff for over 10 years now and have everything from the bathmat to the underwear. It they’d made a kitchen sink, I’d have it in every colour!

What’s the most ridiculous promotional thing you’ve done? Top Of The Pops is up there. I did it with Heaven 17 when our Brothers In Rhythm mix of ‘Temptation’ went Top Ten. Standing there in the background miming along badly to a bassline for 3 minutes was pretty ridiculous in hindsight although at the time, it seemed like the pinnacle of chart success.

What are the current top five most listened to tracks/songs on your iPod? Lana Del Rey ‘Video Games’, Bombay Bicycle Club ‘Shuffle’, Massive Attack Vs. Burial ‘ Four Walls’ , Chilly Gonzales ‘Crying’, Everything Everything ‘Final Form’

What is your favourite TV show? Breaking Bad

What would your super hero super power be? Oh to fly definitely. I’d save a fortune getting to gigs!

If you ever walk around the house in pants and slippers and what do you listen to? Usually BBC6 Music. It was a revelation when I finally got round to buying a DAB radio and I discovered 6 Music. I love Shawn Keaveney in a morning and Mark Radcliffe & Stuart Maconie’s show is the best on the airwaves. I couldn’t produce a finer radio station if I did it myself!

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?  Australia without doubt. They’ve just got everything right as far he pace and quality of life but yet it’s still a hotbed of creativity and for an Englishman, full of home comforts. It’s just so far away for me to travel around the world DJing every weekend otherwise I’d be there in a shot.

What was your last thought? God , these questions are random. I like random :-)

Bookmark and Share

My recent interview with Data Transmission

Data Trasmission logoQ. 20 years ago you were working as a journalist for Mixmag, at a time when the only way to receive that kind of information really was through radio, V and print. Since then the internet has come along; just from information stance how has how much we know about music changed?

A. I don’t think we’ve truly grasped yet just how much the internet has changed everything. Not just music. And I think we’re still only at the early stages of the digital revolution. Back when I was in charge of Mixmag, we didn’t even put the magazine together on a computer. I used to cut and paste with a scalpel and glue to make up the template from which the printer then made the magazine. Imagine that! Nowadays, there’s no air of mystique to music anymore. Everybody has access to the same information literally at their fingertips. It’s made for an instant gratification culture. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.

Q. And whilst we’re on the matter, the music itself? There’s definitely more of it available, and the barriers of entry are lower. But is this a good thing?

A. No. The combination of diminishing expectations and lack of any quality control has turned into real burden for the scene. Everything is so disposable now. We drowning in a sea of so much stuff lacking in either imagination or technical ability or even worse, both! There is still good music out there of course but you have to be an excavation expert with immeasurable patience to find it!

Q. Where do you see the format of mix compilation going? As someone who has been at the forefront of the glory years of its previous days, both with Renaissance and Global underground, where does the modern compilation sit now?

A. For me it doesn’t change, a compilation should still be much more than just a bunch of tracks segued together. It should be an audio collage. A piece of art that will last for years. I spend weeks crafting my albums and although nothing like the glory years of the nineties, still do good numbers. How long the physical format of the CD will last remains to be seen but I’d still approach it the same way if it were to go digital only.

Q. Tell us about your new Masters compilation. How pleased are you to be working with renaissance again and can you describe what you’ve tried to achieve with the release?

A. It’s so good to have them back. For a while there was a big Renaissance sized hole in clubland. And it’s fitting that they’re back up and running in time to celebrate their 20th anniversary next year. As for the album, like I just said, there was a lot of care and attention to detail went into making it. It had to be something that which captured where I’m at in 2011 but will stand the test of time and which is befitting of the Renaissance brand. I hope all that has been realised.

Q. And you’re playing a launch party in Shoreditch for the album at the Village Underground. What can we expect from the gig and your set?

A. I shall be attempting to seamlessly segue from one track to the next without the aid of a safety net whilst simultaneously creating a atmosphere of enlightened rapture on the dance floor 😉

Q. Henry Saiz is playing alongside you. Are you a fan of his music?

A. A big fan yes. I thought his Balance compilation was fantastic and we played together with great success earlier this year in Buenos Aires. He’s one of the most exciting new DJ/Producers out there.

Q. Speaking of fans, we’ve also heard you’re a follower of Leeds United, a shared curse! How has their topsy-turvy trajectory dovetailed with your DJing career?

A. I’d never really thought about it but I suppose you could draw some parallels between what was going on in clubland at the turn of the millennium and Leeds United’s own trajectory. A period of success that turned into excess that culminated in a spectacular fall from grace. Just like Leeds though, we’re rebuilding for the future and things are looking up! :-)

Q. And finally, dream situation time. You can go back to any period in clubland history, and play at any club. Who would you have playing alongside you and what record would you drop that would define the evening? Or have you been lucky enough to have had this moment properly?

A. It would have to be at the Hacienda in 1988 but with Fabric’s current sound system playing alongside Graeme Park & Sasha and I’d drop ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer for the very first time ever in a club having had a Back To The Future moment and gone back and stolen it from 1977!! Orgasmic :-)

Bookmark and Share

My recent interview for DMC World…

DMC World interview screen shotIt’s incredible to think Renaissance are Twenty years old next year. Back in 1992 – did you think that you would still be here today, still at the forefront of this global takeover otherwise known as dance music. Back when you began your career, we all jumped around when we heard a Unique 3 or FPI Project on daytime radio!

It is incredible isn’t it. I don’t think any of us that were involved in the acid house explosion of the late eighties ever in our wildest dreams thought we’d still be going strong over 20 years later. Most youth cultures that the UK had produced that had evolved from a music scene such as mods & rockers, punk, new romanticism, etc had all lasted only a few years before dying as off with the clothes they’d fashioned. But acid house transcended all that. The clothes & style may have changed but the music just continued to gather pace. A huge snowballing juggernaut that, like you say, just spread across the world like wildfire. Not even rock n roll had managed to cross borders and language barriers like acid house. And looking at it right now, i can’t see it ever it going away. It’s here to stay, to be passed down from generation to generation. I feel very privileged to have lived through it’s first two decades.

However, it was plain to see, Renaissance was different from the rest. It oozed quality and there was never any cutting corners, it must have driven Geoff Oakes’s bank manager crazy. What have been your favourite 3 moments at Renaissance over the past 2 decades…?

Oh God, there’s so many to choose from. We had a couple of Asian/Australian tours in the mid/late nineties that will always remain dear to my heart. It was really when dance music was at the height of it’s powers and we had the likes of Bono & Helena Christensen dropping by our gigs. Also, playing alongside Kylie at Privilige in Ibiza was another special Renaissance night. And I don’t think anyone could forget the 2nd birthday party at the Que Club where the production really must have given Geoff’s bank manager a heart attack. That was the moment that I realised dance music had well and truly gone big time. The last night at the Cross in London was a special night too.

What are your all time 10 Renaissance classics?

M People ‘How Can I Love You More’ (Sasha Mix)

Bedrock ‘For What You Dream Of’

Shawn Christopher ‘Another Sleepless Night’ (Morales Mix)

Sounds Of Blackness ‘The Pressure Part 1’

Leftfield ‘Release The Pressure’

Pete Lazonby ‘Scared Cycles’

Way Out west ‘Mind Circus’

Luzon ‘That Baguio Track’

Blast ‘Crazy Man’ (Fathers Of Sound mix)

Hysterix ‘Talk To Me’ (Sasha mix)

Why do you think Renaissance has stood the test of time?

I think that care and attention to detail has always been their strength. They’ve always put quality of product & experience before the bottom line which has been very much to their detriment on occasion. But they’ve always stuck to their guns. Never sold out or followed the latest trend. They just do what they do and they’re the best at it.

This is your ninth Renaissance mix CD – how has your style changed over the years?

I supposed like most DJs it has evolved with the times and with the advancement of technology. Things have definitely gotten slower recently though. House music is groovier again which is probably a back lash against the bang, crash, wallop aggressively mid range music that has dominated the last couple of years. But It’s getting more difficult to describe what I play. Music is harder to pigeonhole and besides, people have such different ideas of what the genres represent these days, it can be more misleading than helpful a lot of the time.

You were the first Editor of Mixmag when it became available to the general public after being on subscription only for years. You once said in an interview when asked if you thought there was space for actual music magazines today in light of the hundreds of on line magazines…

“There is room for maybe one, probably DJ, but I think Mixmag will go. I don’t read it anymore. There is nothing to read in there anymore. It is the same stories repeated over and over again. They are cornering themselves into a very niche market with the music they cover – that trancey stuff. They’re going towards a bad end for me.” – How did that make you feel knowing it was your precious baby once in your life?

It wasn’t very nice to see Mixmag go to the dogs at that time. It just turned into a rag. Nothing but tits and pills. It lost it’s spine both literally and metaphorically. But I’m happy to say that it’s now back in the hands of a publisher that knows what to do with it and it’s a much better magazine than when I said what I said. I do still read it from time to time.

You left a very good job in advertising up in Leeds to follow your dream down south – what did your mum and dad think of your new career choice?

They weren’t very impressed when I told them I was going to give up my highly paid and promising career in Advertising to go and be tea boy at some fledgling DJ organisation. There were some heated exchanges shall we say. But they’ve since admitted they were wrong about my decision and are now very happy that I chose the path I did. I think like any parents, they were just worried about me. I try not to remind them about it too often! hahaha

Are you looking forward to the huge Renaissance 20 birthday plans…?

Of course, I’m so pleased they’re back in the game just in time for the 20th anniversary celebrations. There’s gonna be some big shows all around the world and some very special accompanying releases. I’ve been chatting with Geoff & Jo about it and I think it’s only just now sinking in what they’ve accomplished over the last two decades. 2012 is gonna be big 😉

What are the big 10 tunes you are smashing out right now?

1. Butch ‘Big Futt’

2. Oliver Huntemann ‘In Times Of Trouble’

3. Henry Saiz ‘La Marea’

4. Trentemoller ‘Moan’ (Radio Slave remix)

5. Egbert ‘Vrijheid’

6. Sian ‘Sacred Geography’ (Guy J mix)

7. Boys Noize ‘Adonis’

8. Slam ‘Black Arts’

9. Dapayk Solo ‘Nneka’

10. 2000 & One ‘Tropical Melons’ (Kaiserdisco mix)

In today’s modern times, fans know everything about their heroes thanks to Twitter and Facebook – doesn’t this frighten you knowing people know your every move? We knew last week for instance that you were on the A380 driving home from the airport and at 5am you were “relocating goldfish”. Do you think things have gone too far in this obsessive world?

Hahaha. I wasn’t driving on the A380 (wherever that is!?). I was coming home on an Airbus 380. The huge double decker plane that Emirates use between London & Dubai. Hahaha. So much can get lost in translation. I take the position that if people want to know what I’m up to then I don’t mind sharing some information. But I only pass on the stuff I want them to know. I still keep a lot of my private life private. I don’t think people need to know every little detail.

You were once the boss of the mighty Stress  Records where the likes of Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and John Digweed released dancefloor monsters. What was the biggest song you signed to Stress?

Probably Bedrock’s ‘For What You Dream Of’. It was Digweed & Muir’s first release and when we re-released it after it went on the Trainspotting soundtrack, it went Top 40.

So we come back to yours after a club (we sit in the garden so as not to wake the kids!) – what are the (quiet) 10 Back To Mine tunes you spin us…?

Lana Del Rey ‘Video Games’

Jamie Woon ‘Spirits’

Sara Bareilles ‘Gravity’

Flowers & The Sea ‘A.M’

Everything Everything ‘Final Form’

Bon Iver ‘Perth’

James Blake ‘Limit To Your Love’

Clare Maguire ‘Ain’t Nobody’ (Breakage mix)

Gonzales ‘Crying’

Bat For Lashes ‘Moon And Moon’

It may not be very good for  my image, but I really like…

A Saturday night off at home in front of the telly. Harry Hill’s TV Burp, X Factor, Match Of The Day with a curry and a couple of cans. Boom! Get in!

So Dave, a family man now. It’s fair to say that the style of music you play took a dip in the UK a few years back with the emergence of trance and the harder beats, whilst the demand for your decksterity abroad just got bigger and bigger. It just shows foreign shores have better tastes in music. How though has the incredible air miles accumulation had an affect on married life – is it not impossible sometimes to get onto yet another plane?

It is a bit of a juggling act trying to be an international DJ and a good father and husband but it’s something I like to think I manage quite well. I very rarely go away for more than a weekend, always take the last flight out and the first flight back and try to not work after I’ve picked the kids up from school during the week. My job has also had lots of benefits for them too though. They’ve all been round the world several times on my air miles. It’s already played a big part in shaping their characters.

You also once lived in Ibiza. What are your thoughts on the wicked white isle these days?

I still love it although it’s a very different island for me nowadays. I took the family there in August and we had an amazing time. We did loads of things that in all the years of going there I’d never got around to doing. Taking the ferry to Formentera. Visiting the church at the top of Dalt Villa. Swimming at Es Cavellet. I only went out once to Ushuaia & Pacha and even then I was home in bed by 2am!

What one record would you never sell?

Everything has it’s price 😉

Not a lot of people know this, but Dave Seaman is very good at…

I can sit on a unicycle juggling 3 dwarves whilst playing the theme from Thomas The Tank Engine on the piano with my left foot! True story :-/

An increasing amount of DJs today are only playing their own bootlegs of people’s tunes throughout their sets – thoughts on this?

I’m all for it although I don’t think you should just exclusively play your own edits or bootlegs. Some tracks are perfect in their original format and don’t need messing with. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But bootlegs & mash ups are a great way to make your sets unique when music is so easily accessible these days. It let’s a DJ really stamp his own identity on a set.

What is the weirdest request you have ever had from a fan whilst DJing?

‘Have you got anything we can dance to?!”

What is your guilty pleasure song?

Oh God, there’s loads… In the last year though I would say Nicola Roberts ‘Beat Of My Drum’ & Rhianna ‘Only Girl In The World’. A good pop song is just a good pop song. Period.

It’s your birthday, what 3 DJs do you ask to come and spin…

Larry Levan

John Peel


Alas, it might fall on Sasha to do the whole night as the other two are sadly no longer with us.

And finally – what have you in the pipeline for us all in 2012?

I’ll be touring my new Renaissance Masters album right through to spring 2012 and am planning to get back into the studio soon too. I’m going to do a new track with Funkagenda and also another with Andy Chatterley. I’m also going to start doing some pop songwriting again too if time permits. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day. No change there then! :-)

Bookmark and Share

Renaissance Masters Tour Diary Part 2 – Moscow

My very first visit to Moscow was also a Renaissance night back in 1996. I recollect it being quite an intimidating experience. I was stopped by officials twice whilst walking down the street demanding to see my ID & visa paperwork or face the consequences (a common occurence back then apparently) and played my entire set with two armed military men stood, arms folded, staring at me from the middle of the dancefloor. Talk about getting put off your stroke! Since then of course, I’ve been back many times and had some fantastic nights. The legendary Club 13 & also Slava hold particularly good memories. And so to 2011 and the Renaissance juggernaut rolled into town once more  hoping to recapture some of that Moscow magic. The gig also played host to the finals of the Movida Corona DJ Final where several of the best new DJs in Russia battled it out for a trip to Madrid and the promise of fame & fortune. Unfortunately for all present, the MC never shut up over their entire sets. An occupational hazard that I’m sure they’ll learn to eliminate with more experience. I also got roped into doing a press conference, a custom which never gets any less weird no matter how many times you do them. Questions included the usual- What is your stance on illegal downloading? And how does our country compare with the rest of the world? That’s a question journalists are obsessed with but the truth is that these days there’s little difference between club scenes from one country to the next. You can blame the Internet for that! Undoubtedly my favourite question of the night though was “What would you be if you weren’t a DJ?” to which my stock in trade answer is always, a virgin!
Anyway, highlight of the night was getting to play Cirez D’s  ‘Mockba’ (the Russian spelling for Moscow) in the city it was named after. It’s been a huge track for me recently and tracks named after places always hold a special resonance when played on home turf. So spiceba Mockba. I’ll be back! :-)

Bookmark and Share

The Masters Tour Blog Part One- Kosovo

So after last weekend’s warm up down under in Australia the Renaissance Masters Tour got officially underway this weekend with my first vista to Kososvo. I always love going to new places. Virgin territory. The great unknown. And although Kosovo is steeped in a rich 12,000+ year history, it’s still a brand new country in so many ways. So much so that when I tried to post this gig on, Kosovo didn’t even show up as a country on the drop down menu! (Apparently, they need 100 other countries to recognize them as an independent nation and so far, they are up to 86). But despite all the connotations that relate it to the horrible war of the 90s, I found the people of Kosovo to be as warm, friendly & humble as anywhere you’d care to mention. They are proud and passionate and love their electronic dance music just as much as anywhere else. And from a DJs point of view, they have one very important thing going for them… You can still smoke on the dancefloor. Which means more of a captive audience. You’re not battling against a transient dancefloor that’s nipping out for a ciggie every 10 minutes! The local beer does the trick too. Oh yes, the Peja has a lot to answer for. But that’s another story. Thank you Kosovo. You are well and truly on the Renaissance map!

Bookmark and Share

New Renaissance Masters compilation out soon

Masters Series packshotSo happy to announce that my next compilation, a new Renaissance Masters, is completed and due for release on October 10th. After a brief adjournment during a difficult time over the last year, it’s so good to have Renaissance back in the game just in time for their 20th anniversary next year. The planned celebrations are shaping up to be very special indeed. As for my album, I’m very proud to be the one asked to start this next chapter in the Renaissance story. I’m the only DJ to have been with them from the very start, through thick & thin, and this is my 12th album for them. I know a lot of you have you’re own personal favourite and I get many requests to recreate something similar to one of those old albums but they are of their own time & place. Going backwards is not something that interests me and is not what our scene is all about. I believe each album should try to capture the time of which they were made. So this compilation is strictly 2011. A veritable smorgasbord of electronic house. From deeper beginnings through to full on techno, I hope the blood, sweat & tears shine through. They bloody better do! ;-)Enjoy.

Order your copy here..


Bookmark and Share