On Friday October 10th, John Digweed touches down in Vancouver to headline the #BP17YR kick-off party at Celebrities Nightclub. From his humble UK beginnings some twenty five years ago Digweed has worked tirelessly and to this day remains in legendary form. From his progressive days with Sasha, to his DJ Mag number one, and through to his current state of complete freedom—Digweed’s humility, work ethic, and unbridled passion have remained a constant.
This year’s anniversary kick-off surpasses a regular Stereotype Fridays and reimagines Celebrities in Digweed’s image; a safe haven for new beats, unexpected musical turns, and the artistry of a true legend. As long-time fans we jumped at the opportunity to sit down with Digweed and skim the surface of his years of experience—undoubtedly the hype is real.
Blueprint: In an interview with Thump you said: “I’ve pretty much ‘ticked off all of the boxes’ as far as DJing and my career, so I’ve been able to pick and choose the gigs I want to do.” With that in mind why have you chosen BC to play twice in one year—specifically why Vancouver and Celebrities?
John Digweed: Well, normally I only usually come to BC once a year but as my most recent gig was at the amazing Squamish Festival there is still room for me to come and play a standalone club show. Every time I have played Celebrities it has been a great party so can`t wait to get on the decks again in BC, the crowd is always great.
Blueprint: What makes a record timeless?
John Digweed: It`s a track that can be played a year / 5 years / 10 years after it was released and still sound as good as when you first heard it. Timeless records are harder to come by these days but there are still enough to go in to my future classics folder.
Blueprint: There are two kinds of DJs: superstar showman who want to be seen and music lovers acting as filters for the dance floor. First off, do you agree and which category would you slot yourself in to? Secondly, in today’s dance music landscape do you think up and comers are more concerned with showmanship or artistry?
John Digweed: I never got into DJing to be a superstar or a showman, so for me it`s always been about putting great music front and centre. I don`t need any gimmicks with what I do, I let the music do all the talking. I am sure a lot of new DJ`s coming into the scene want to be playing the main stages and living that jet set lifestyle that goes with it, so they will probably do what whatever amount of showmanship it takes to get there. But there is still a healthy underground scene of DJ`s that have a passion for great music and would rather work their way up the ranks doing something they love. The beauty of this particular scene is that there are multiple opportunities for everyone who wants to have a go. While only a few really break through to big time success many still have just as much fun playing their own small parties even if they never reach the big time.
Blueprint: What key ingredients are essential to make a truly great DJ?
John Digweed: Passion, dedication, and consistency all play a huge part in making a great DJ. You need all of these while also trying to remain humble and grateful to the promoters and people at your gigs. Making yourself available to play and being in the right place at the right time can also help your career.
Blueprint: Hard work and passion breeds the stamina needed for a long career. In a former interview you stated: “the first five or six years when I wasn’t earning money probably made me who I am today.” Today, with the help of the internet producers make and break their careers at alarming speeds. In the time since vinyl do you feel as though aspiring DJ-producers have become less patient and more entitled?
John Digweed: I think technology has made everyone less patient overall. I mean, does anyone remember dial up connections compared to what we have now? We live in a world where things happen so quickly so I can understand aspiring DJ`s wanting instant success, but, I really think you will have a longer career if you spend more time leaning your craft, then you would be so much better when you finally do hit the big time. Try and be a marathon runner not a sprinter.
Blueprint: Over the years you have honed an uncanny ability to play the right track at the right time. What goes into the art of reading a crowd and how do you go about picking which record to play next during a live show?
John Digweed: That’s down to years of experience playing week-in-week-out and slowly realizing how to work a crowd. This is not something you can read a book on or take a course to learn: it’s about being in 1000`s of different environment’s over the years and understanding what makes a crowd tick.
Blueprint: Many long-time dance music fans credit both yourself and Sasha for jumpstarting the progressive house genre. For newer fans looking to gleam a slice of dance music history can you tell Blueprint readers a bit about that era in your career.
John Digweed: The original progressive sound was Leftfield, Underworld, drum Club and releases on the Guerilla records. To give you a rough idea of the sound, it was the UK`s take on creating our own house music sound. Being there at the start of this new sound I instantly felt connected to it, it just sounded so different from the sounds that were out there at the time. The progressive house sound popular now is a million miles away from that and I have no idea how it evolved to where it is today, nor do I play any of it.
Blueprint: How has your mindset and perspective towards dance music changed since you were voted DJ Magazine’s number one DJ in 2001?
John Digweed: DJ`ing for me is not a race, it`s not about coming first. For me it`s about being consistent and playing 100% week in week out. I love the fact that every week I get to play in some of the best clubs/festivals all over the world to people who want to hear me.
Blueprint: You have stated several times that while you believe EDM is good for the dance music scene as a whole you personally do not enjoy the style of music. What is it that turns you off of the EDM sound, and what role do you see EDM playing within the dance music genre?
John Digweed: Well I am no expert on the sound, only what I hear as I go past the main stage at festivals, but I just wonder if you stripped back all the production—the confetti, co2 blasts, and lasers—would this music have the same effect. Yes it`s full of energy, but it seems to lack in depth and originality, they all seem to sound the same and have the same formula. I think there will be a trickledown effect where the clubbers that are into the EDM sound now will search out something different in a few years’ time. Don`t get me wrong when I see all these kids going nuts to EDM I am happy that they are having the time of their lives. Music gives people the chance to escape the day to day world; what you choose to listen to is down to personal taste.
Blueprint: Is the ability to play an extended six hour plus set the mark of a true DJ?
John Digweed: If you do it well it shows you know how to work and pace a set as well as keeping the crowd locked in for a very long time.
Blueprint: When you have checked off almost every imaginable accolade for a DJ—what do you do next?
John Digweed: You work on an album project with an international bestselling author called John Twelve Hawks alongside Nick Muir and deliver an album based on his bestselling book ‘The Traveler’ with spoken word from the author set to an electronic soundscape. This is not an album for the dance floor, but it is an album to listen to from start to finish.
If you do not have tickets to this year’s #BP17YR kick-off party hurry up and grab them because John Digweed promises a night void of EDM and rife with future classics harkening to a time before the Beatport Top10 and rampant showmanship sought to streamline artists integrity.
– Ryan Hayesget tickets