Dave Clarke has established himself has one of the techno genre’s longest serving pioneers. With a career spanning almost twenty years, he’s evolved without ever sacrificing his musical morals. Whether that is through his White Noise radio show, recent collaborative project with Dutch newcomer Mr Jones or relentless gig schedule, he’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime time soon.
Ahead of his performance at Dimensions Festival 2013 we spent some time on the phone discussing his new ‘Unsubscribe’ project, the future of Croatian festivals and the difference between DJing and playlisting.
You recently collaborated with Mr Jones under the ‘Unsubscribe’ moniker. You’ve always been fiercely independent when it comes to your own productions, how did this meeting of minds come about?
I’ve always worked completely alone in the studio from wiring it up, to pre-mastering, engineering, absolutely everything! I’m so self-sufficient in the studio that the idea of a collaboration almost scared me a little bit I suppose. I have a radio show named White Noise and this guy Jones was sending me loads music via Soundcloud, and they were of such high standard I was happy to play them out on radio. His output was ridiculous as well – nearly a new track every week. I just kept playing them all the time. Then we met at a gig in Utrecht and things just evolved from there.
So it’s been a while in the making?
Yes, I don’t know if you’ve seen the documentary ‘Sound City’ that Dave Grohl put together? Mick Fleetwood was quoted as saying the whole point of making music is to be with someone to make it, and I think he definitely had a point. It’s great to work with someone in the studio but it has to be the right person and I really enjoy being in the studio with him (Jones) it’s fun, it’s challenging, we learn from each other and we take turns with the creative process. Sometimes when you’re on your own you tend not to take a break so you just keep going at it. But when you work with someone you can take a little time out, which gives you space to think, so everything tends to flow more naturally.
Do you think you’re quite different stylistically?
No, not really. We’re quite similar in that respect, Jones even uses the same heaphones as me, which doesn’t sound too weird until you take into account that the headphones I use are around twelve years old and they’re open headphones and no-one DJ’s with open headphones any more. So, stylistically I’d say that we’re very similar, which is really great. But that’s generally within Techno, not so much other things.
Do you think, with electronic music, it’s quite hard to make a collaboration sound distinctive?
Sometimes I think it’s best not to think. And just let it takes it course. Just let shit happen and don’t over think it.
So, you’re playing Dimensions Festival this year. Are you looking forward to it?
I look forward to all festivals, and to be honest I try not to think about it too much in advance, then I won’t really know what to expect until I arrive. The best thing is to go not expecting too much and to take away good memories. With Dimensions, all I know is that the line up is very good, very credible. It’s not just your usual hipster bullshit without weight. It has a lot of credibility and I’m really excited to play it. I think I always prefer the question asked afterwards… how was it?
Croatia seems to be the go-to place for these electronic music festivals. Do you think it’s becoming a bit saturated?
I think that may change a little now Croatia have joined the EU. All of a sudden there will be a lot more expenses, taxes to pay etc. Unfortunately that may affect more of the local promoters rather that the international promoters. I’ve played some great festivals over that part of the world, absolutely beautiful weather.
How do you change it up – in terms of what the crowd can expect from your set? Do you have any surprises in store?
I never really pre-empt what’s going to happen in terms of what I’m going to play. When I used to carry say, 75-80 records with me, you had to be more aware of what direction the set would be going in that night. But when you’ve got a computer with 15,000 tracks, of course you will play similar tracks to the ones played the week before, but you can still improvise a lot more these days. It’s good to have that spontaneity, I love being able to think on my feet. Otherwise you’ll end up becoming one of these dreaded EDM DJ’s that turns up with two mix CD’s ‘put your hands in the air’ style. It’s not DJing, it’s playlisting.
Do you think there are still key fundamentals to adhere to when DJing? Or that the advances in technology have made it easy for anyone to learn how to mix?
Just believe in what you do and be original. I think that’s the most important thing really. Otherwise you’ll just homogenise into one boring pulp of crap, which isn’t so bad if you’ve got a bit of great PR around you. I think the whole point is to think on your feet and to love the music you play and give it to the world. You’re a kind of conduit of music that many people may not be aware of, so just enjoy it.
You’re going to be programming a stage at Tomorrowland for the second year running. How does it feel do be able to curate your own line-up for such a great festival?
I’ve been doing it for a while now at festivals around the world. It’s very enjoyable as I don’t generally go for the purist option, I want waves and vibes! I don’t think I would feel comfortable curating a predictable techno line-up. At Dave Clarke presents at ADE I always try to mix it up in terms of the programming, I’ll have different rooms with DJs such as Daniel Miller through to DJ sneak. There’s a lot of music out there that I respect but I don’t play so this is a great way to showcase credible talent that I know for their own passion and their own belief in what they do.
Catch Dave Clarke performing alongside the likes of Model 500, Mount Kimbie, Theo Parrish and Gilles Peterson at Dimensions Festival, 5-9th September 2013, Fort Punta Christo Pula, Croatia.