Dave Clarke presents his own stage on Tomorrowland. An interview with Dave, the Baron of Techno.
First of all, it’s your 3rd time in a row, that you’ll be able to host an own stage on Tomorrowland, feeling blessed?
Dave: Absolutely! To be given the 2nd biggest stage and have freedom to choose a line up is a massive honour
Let’s go back in time. When you were a teen, at the age of 16, you left home and discovered the ruff life in Great-Britain. Did those dark days inflect your music production?
Dave: Not sure about affecting my music production, but it really affected my view on life, when you have nothing or little and loads of insecurity, it makes you value your successes that much more, but also I feel it helped shape my integrity as I wanted to do it my way without selling out my core beliefs.
A bit later you got the chance to DJ at Brighton’s club, Toppers, which was a success. People around the world know you had a residency there and rivaled John Digweed. When you look back at this period, do you still think of an apprenticeship?
Dave: Well, all those years were an apprenticeship , making music, being a journalist, dj’ing, hardly making any money if any at times…..that counts as a long apprenticeship for sure.
John Peel, radiohost and DJ at BBC Radio, gave you the nickname, Baron of Techno. How do you feel about this and does that nickname suits you?
Dave: Well I’m sure it just came off the cuff from John as it was during my ‘Red Series’ and he probably thought of the ‘Red Baron’. I carry that nickname with pride, it doesn’t give me any delusions of grandeur just a big smile.
Your radioshow, White Noise, ran for a couple of years on our National Radio, Studio Brussels, as guest in the radioshow Switch. We remember that White Noise wasn’t about techno only, but had a wide range of electronic music. Can we determine that you have a very broad interest in electronic music and which subgenres do you prefer the most? Where’s the radioshow broadcast now? Can youngsters listen to the show online?
Dave: Don’t forget my radioshow ‘Technology’ which was also broadcast there for about 4/5 years. I had to stop that to concentrate on doing ‘Devil’s Advocate’… The show broadcasts to many places, I think over 60 stations carry it now, new stations just popped up in Brazil and Spain. It is only about Techno/Electro now, I had to reduce it to 1 hour as it was eating a lot of my time up and I didn’t want to stop as I owe it to the scene to get great music broadcasted. You can get the download links by going to www.whitenoiseradio.net. But yes I have a very very broad view of music, love so many things, from the mellowness of Nick Cave‘s last Album (my LP of 2013) to the brutality and beauty of the ‘Amazing Snakeheads’ (most likely to be my album of 2014). BTW StuBru kicked me off in favour of ‘FidgetHouse’, never even wrote me a nice email to thank me !
In the early Nineties you managed the label, Magnetic North, which burned out and had a last compilation release in 1996. Do you think it’s still interesting for young artists and managers to start their own musiclabel and have an own mark on the electronic music scene?
Dave: For me it is somewhere I don’t want to go anymore, there is a lot of cheating to get profile, or buying your own tracks in quantities to be assured ‘chart positions’ in some online shops. Also if you release other people’s music it is not a tool to further your own career as we see from some Technolite labels….you owe it to promote the artist and support them and help develop them like Daniel Miller‘s school of label. I simply do not have the time or capability to do that….I tried to do it with the label ‘White Noise’ that went out briefly through ’News’ and ’Kr!z’, but I couldn’t give it the full attention it deserved. I A&R’d some great tracks, but a taste in music is not enough to run a label properly. Lesson learnt. I think for new ‘unestablished’ artists it is a necessity as the likelihood of getting label interest, as the financial returns are extremely small, it is a must.
Did Belgian labels such as R&S Records and the musicgenre New Beat influenced you?
Dave: Well I was on R&S quite early on so there wasn’t much ’influence’ there but it was a great stable of artists and licensing from the US. New Beat really influenced me, loved most of it, also ‘The Neon Judgement’, ‘SA42’, ‘Front 242’….the whole Belgian scene was on fire back then, but then it got ridiculously cheesy!
Back to 2014. How do you feel about the electronic music scene in our, rather small, country?
Dave: It has everything, from the mighty ‘Fuse’ to ‘Kozzmozz’ to, of course, ‘Tomorrowland’, not bad for a small country. I cannot speak about ‘Cafe d’Anvers’ though as I have never played there.
One of our established, maybe still a young DJ and labemanager at News Distribution in Ghent, or Kr!z, is managing the Token Records label. What do you think about the rather underground techno music being released on Token?
Dave: He has done a great job, not easy keeping an identity in this day and age. But Token gets my full support. The latest ‘Indigo Kennedy’ is ridiculously good.
You are also a longtime guest on the biggest indoor party in Europe, or I Love Techno. But these days the event is giving other electronic music genres a full room, even house is getting a ‘color’ in the last years. Does this means that Techno is losing a bit of popularity in the world or Europe?
Dave: Yes it does hurt to be brutally honest, I have no issue with ‘House’ being there as it’s part of Techno as Techno is part of House. Having one room out of 6 dedicated to dubstep or drum and bass is not a problem for me, but if the genre is the smallest representation in a festival called ’I love Techno’ then it feels wrong, there I said it. Techno is a massive scene worldwide, in some ways the last few years has seen a resurgence with newer names coming on the scene. So Techno, in 5/6 rooms for me.
And will you be back at I Love Techno this year?
Yes, and I will be playing, Techno!
How’s the electronic music scene in Britain these days? Are clubs still popular or do music fans choose for huge events and festivals?
Dave: Not sure, very rarely go there and I live in Amsterdam. ‘Fabric’ is still full on committed to the ‘credible’ scene and of course there are a few promoters that still care, but it has gone very commercial, and that saddens me. Scotland still has it though, got to love ‘the Celts’.
Marketing has been taking over the electronic music scene. Do you feel that unique and real DJ talent is being pushed aside? And does an upcoming DJ talent need to produce or search for a marketing agency to cope with competing artists?
Dave: Ridiculous that some promoters put such value into ‘Facebook likes’, they know that ‘those’ artists have bought those likes and that their real fan base is much smaller. Yet, they wear blinkers and want to believe the bullshit so bad that they do believe. Stupid situation. I am real, market that as you want, I really don’t care, seriously!
What can visitors expect from a Dave Clarke performance on the 10th anniversary of Tomorrowland?
Dave: Some good ‘shizzle’ from some great artists with an excited Belgian crowd.
Thank you Dave for the interview. (JL)