Anyone that’s been DJing for over 20 years, runs two record labels, and has written seven albums and tens of records under multiple aliases, deserves to be listened to. It is these characteristics that give Anthony Child, aka Surgeon, as strong a claim as anyone to be the innovator of UK techno.
All these years on – he remains one of the genres most high-profile artists and in-demand DJs, there is an almost ‘cult’ following for his records, and possibly most importantly, he’s shown a loyal ‘faith’ towards his particular style of techno and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
We spoke to Surgeon about trends, Dimensions Festival, contemplating retirement and what to do when Scuba plays pop…
What do you like to listen to when you’re being Tony, not Surgeon?
I love to discover music from many different places and times. Indian classical music, Japanese pop, free jazz. There is so much exciting music to discover, often from the most unlikely times and places.
Which dance labels have impressed you most with their output this year?
Hemlock, Sheworks, Hessle Audio, Livity Sound, Semantica.
What, technically, do you see as the differences between typical UK and typical German techno.
A different feeling I guess. More what’s going on beneath the surface. UK techno can tend to be less straightforward unless it’s trying to sound German.
Do you think clubs such as Berghain would work in the UK or do we go out with too much of a different mentality to the Berliners?
The main factor here is the club opening hours. UK crowds don’t tend to pace themselves and peak too soon for a 24 hour party. I actually prefer that concentrated energy in a club night that runs from 10pm until 6am.
On a boat party at Dimensions, Sigha and Untold played techno either side of Scuba – who played an hour of pop music from the likes of Prince, Madonna, Notorious B.I.G and David Bowie. If you were following Scuba, would we have heard any similar surprises?!
I would have jumped off the boat and swam for the shore.
Your set in the moat out there was a definite highlight. How did you find it? What’s been your most enjoyable DJ set in recent memory?
I really enjoyed playing at Dimensions festival. I felt very comfortable playing with the other artists there and felt a great new creative energy from them. My most enjoyable recent set without doubt was Club Museum at Unit, Tokyo in May 2012. I played a 5 hour set to celebrate 20 years of DJing under the name Surgeon, playing some of my favourite tracks from those 20 years. It’s was so special, emotional. So much love from the crowd who trusted me and followed for the whole set. I was actually tempted to retire from DJing after that set as I couldn’t imagine anything being better than that. (I still really love DJing, so I’m not ready to retire)
Over those twenty years of DJing how much has your standard set changed? is it necessary to evolve to stay relevant?
There’s never been a standard set that I’ve played, I’ve always decided what to play at the moment I’m doing it. Jumping wholesale from one trend to the next is a cowardly move and shows no faith in your sound. Being aware of new music is very important to me, I cherry pick what for me are the best parts and incorporate them into my sets where appropriate, always assimilating them into my sound.
With seven albums to your name, you’re no stanger to the format. How much has your approach towards writing a full-length changed since 1996’s ‘Communications’?
Each one has a totally different approach. For example the last one ‘Breaking The Frame’ was about transformation rather than entertainment.
What is your release schedule for the next few months looking like? And, how do you distinguish between what you want to release on your labels Counterbalance and Dynamic Tension, and other labels?
Between 2003 and 2005 Karl (Regis) and I released music as British Murder Boys. This year we’ve been working together again and will release a 12″ as BMB on the Mute sub label, Liberation Technologies called ‘Where Pail Limbs Lie.’ I mainly release on my own labels yet there are some projects which deserve a larger platform.
Surgeon will perform at Dystopia, alongside Perc and Peverelist, on the 13th of October. Tickets are available from Resident Advisor and Ransom Note. Further information can be found via the Dystopia website.