John Digweed is a name that few and far between would be unfamiliar with. With a staggering 28 albums and compilations under his belt, some fielded with fellow prog-veteran Sasha, others on his own Bedrock imprint and a few that cracked Billboards ‘Electronic Charts’ – it’s hard to ignore the sheer influence and power the UK producer has.
I was given the chance to ask the living legend a few questions and this was the result…
Bedrock has been going from strength to strength for one and a half decades now. How do you feel about Bedrock’s amazing progress over the last 15 years and where do you see it in 15 years time?
I think as a label and club night we have been consistent with our parties and with our releases, introducing new faces as well as the firm favourites. I try not to look that far ahead as things move so quickly you need to put all your focus into what’s happening right now
You’ve been noted as a pioneer of progressive house music through the 90’s and early 00’s so how do you feel about the progression of electronic dance music and today’s ‘EDM’ generation?
The electronic scene is now split down the middle with the more commercial DJ`s having great chart and touring success and on the other side you have a really healthy underground scene that is all about pushing the boundaries and creating parties where there is alway a element of surprise with the music. You can never get everybody to like all the same music so it`s good that people have so much choice and can make there own minds up.
On this side of the world, Carl Cox’s 12 week ‘Revolution Recruits’ residency at Space is something that is virtually a dream. You recently were a part of this, playing alongside Heidi, Yousef and of course Carl Cox. How was that experience?
I have been lucky to play for Carl for many years at his Space night and I love it. Carl has worked really hard to make it one of the best nights on the island
Your and Sasha’s residency at Twilo is arguably part of the reason it is now deemed as a ‘legendary’ part of club history. How does a club like Twilo compare to other clubs you’ve played at, such as Space or Renaissance?
The original Renaissance and Space still to this day are amazing clubs but Twilo was by far the best club in the world with regards to layout, sound system and lights plus we grew our night from the start in a very organic way that helped create something very special. It`s a shame that the kids today did not get a chance to experience Twilo as it was all about the music.
In recent times we’ve seen an influx of people who are famous trying their hand at djing and at times even going as far as kicking off booked djs to have themselves a casual spin. What are your thoughts on this considering you established yourself during an era where dj’s were essentially seen as Gods?
I try not to focus on the celebrity nonsense thats going on. People that come to hear me want good music they are not trying to get a into hello or heat magazine. We live in a world where everybody wants to be famous and sometimes you don`t even have to do much to achieve it. The hard thing for them then is to hang onto the spotlight, So with DJ`s seen as popstars these days it explains why they want to try it. I have never chased the spotlight as I always want the music to be the star of the show.
Being no stranger to an 8-10 hour set, how on earth do you do it, keep it varied and keep the crowd entertained?
Well a good idea on how to build and pace a set over 8-10 hours is essential to make sure you don`t wear the crowd out too early. Of course you also need 8- 10 hours of great music.
Considering you produced one of the biggest mix CDs ever, what are your thoughts on the proliferation of podcasts, online radio mixes and the general demise of mixed albums?
You have to move with the times. When I did the mix CD`s when they first came out it was the only way that people could get a decent recording of a club DJ as it was mostly crappy bootleg tapes then. Now DJs and acts can get their music showcased around the world in minutes, giving them great exposure to new fans which in turn helps get them gigs. On the downside the music industry has taken a massive hit as less people buy music even though more people listen to it now.
You were in Australia earlier this year so how do Australian crowds compare with the rest of the world and have you seen a change in crowd appreciation, excitement or knowledge over the years at all?
I have been very lucky to have been playing in Australia for many years and always have a great time. The last time I did just club shows instead of festivals which allowed me to play longer sets which I really enjoyed, Billboard in Melbourne and the 2 shows in Sydney ( Greenwood hotel / Chinese Laundry ) were the stand out shows
You’re a seminal part of music history and I would kick myself if I wasn’t to ask you – just what are your predictions for electronic music and who do you see as future pioneers?
I think the fact that it keeps changing and new and exciting producers keep coming into the scene is what keeps it exciting for me.
Listen to John Digweed’s Radio show ‘Transitions’ here