“If I had a time machine I’d probably venture back to right after the Big Bang. Just to check it out, smoke a joint and come back”
The Revenge is a producer who understands the past but embraces the future. The analogue approach, forward thinking productions and his versatility as a DJ, has ensured him a place as one of the leading names in House music in recent years. His music has been released on imprints such as Z Records, Needwant, Killing Music and his own Roar Groove. This brief and concise catalogue showcases vocals, dubs and a range of tempos, all reinforcing the breadth and depth of The Revenge’s influences and abilities. The extensive list of reworks and remixes tell yet another story. These remakes have found their way into just about every self-respecting club DJs collection and are a clear indication of the care for the dance floor as well as the artist’s works in question. We talked with The Revenge, aka Graeme Clark, about things as his secret love for 80’s soft rock, the scene in Glasgow and his collaboration with Craig Smith. Check it!
Your DJ sets contain a lot of original disco tracks. When you look deep into your heart, would you rather have lived in the seventies?
I tend to mix it up a lot, house, disco, techno whatever really. The main thing as always with DJing is to make a connection – and every party is different. I love living now. The scene now reminds me a lot of around 1999 when the millennium was approaching, but without the ‘end of the century’ elephant looming large. The scene has really blown up in the last few years, with ‘house’ music really coming of age in a way that rock music did in the 80’s I guess. There’s good and bad things that come with that, but there’s a lot of diversity which is a good thing. Whether you want David Guetta or Joy Orbison.
Suppose you had a time machine. What era would you go to and what would you do?
I’d probably venture back to right after the big bang. Just to check it out, smoke a joint and come back.
If we may believe the blogs and magazines the dance scene in Glasgow is booming. I don’t believe everything I read though and rather ask a local. How would you describe it?
Yeah it’s happening here. But it always has been as far as I’m concerned. I’ve lived in the city for about 12 years and I can’t remember a time during that when it wasn’t happening. You’ve got so much diversity in a relatively small footprint. I mean if you look at all the stuff going on, Optimo, Numbers, Subculture, Slam to name only a few – there’s about 5 or 6 great parties on every weekend plus loads of mid-week stuff. Great resident DJs playing alongside internationals keeps the scene fresh and keeps everybody upping their game.
After a weekend of long working hours and little sleep, when you get back home, what do you do and/or where do you go to wind down?
I’ll usually just cook some food and listen to the radio.
What music do you play when you are not ‘at work’?
Generally I’ll just have the radio on in the kitchen. It’s not a digital radio so it’ll just be some middle of the road stuff from the 70’s or 80’s or some classical stuff in the afternoon. Then maybe some talk radio. Nothing banging generally.
Do you have a guilty pleasure (music wise)?
Loads of 80’s soft rock.
Can you imagine what your life would look like if you hadn’t been a dj/ producer?
I reckon i’d still be doing something creative. But would probably need a shit job on the side to pay the bills.
Together with Craig Smith you form 6th Borough Project. When was the idea of teaming up born?
I met Craig around 1999 and we started working together not long after that. We just clicked even though we were a generation apart. It was a good fusion though musically and has always been effortless in the studio with interesting results.
What do you see as the biggest advantage and disadvantage of DJing as a duo?
The advantage is that there’s less pressure and that the results are always unknown as I’m always surprised and excited by records my partner plays. The disadvantage is usually not having enough time to explore those results.
More than once I saw a DJ duo playing when one of them was actually too drunk to DJ and his partner did not know what to do with him: push him away from the decks or not make a scene and let him ruin the set. Have you ever been in a situation like this and if so, what happened? If not, how do you think you would react on a situation like this?
I’ve never been in that situation. I mean there has been times where I’ve been pretty wasted afterwards, but I take a lot of equipment with me to shows and that is a big motivating factor to remain pretty level-headed. The guys I DJ with trust me and vice-versa, so if it ever got to that I guess we would know and step aside.
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You released your Bugles of Truth EP last September. When you started the process of producing, what was the idea behind the four tracks?
I had been working on a lot of tracks for a one-off live set in Glasgow a couple of years back to celebrate the end of my previous label, Instruments Of Rapture. So I had lots of material which felt fresh and ready for a new home. It made sense to start a new outlet, rather than trying to get it signed somewhere else. I’ve always had strong ideas of how I want my music presented and delivered so I really wanted to create a home for the new productions and collaborations where I would have the control and freedom to do how I pleased.
By now you must have got a lot of feed back on them, both in the clubs from the crowd as via different channels from colleagues and followers. Looking at those reactions, do the tracks bring the desired result?
I actually try not to look at the feedback so much. We do our own promo service for my stuff and some other friends so it’s difficult not to look. It’s nice when people give good reactions, but I think it’s important not to attach too much importance to that, because then you also have to attach importance to the negative feedback. Ultimately it shouldn’t affect my desire to make music for me, not for other people.
2013 has seen the return of the producer The Revenge after two years of working under other aliases. Why the change?
I am really keen to do some live stuff next year when I’ll put out The Revenge album. I wanted to get the label up and running before I do that, so it was important to get some of the new stuff out of my system first.
This was also the year your own label Roar Groove was born. What is the philosophy of the imprint and why did you start it?
The only criteria was that it would be a label for my own stuff and collaborations.
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Now, a new year has just begun. What can we expect from you and your label in 2014 and what are you most looking forward to?
Well after the 6th Borough Project album drops in a couple of weeks, it’s all really focused around Roar Groove. The next single is with Harri from Sub Club under our Burnt Island Casuals alias featuring Esa Williams from Auntie Flo. And then there’s a new Glasgow band I’m executive producing and mixing called Globules coming with a Konx Om Pax remix. There’ll be a new Revenge EP in the summer and a collaborative 12” with the Lets Play House guys from NYC after that.