Exclusive Interview With Optimo

Optimo are the duo JD Twitch and JG Wilkes. They each have over 20 years DJ-ing experience and in the last decade have become both renowned and highly respected for their memorable and ecstatic deejay sets.   

The duo are responsible for the nightclub Optimo (Espacio) which ran from November 1997 until April 2010. Optimo sat at the very epicentre of the Scottish Clubbing consciousness in its weekly residency in the Sub Club and is widely regarded as one of the most important and ground-breaking clubs of the past 10 years.

Optimo first came to international recognition with the release of How to Kill The Dj (part 2) in 2004.   This mix, and the critical acclaim that followed, would catapult the duo onto the international gigging circuit. The next few years would see them travel across the world taking the Optimo party aesthetic to England, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Greece, Bratislava, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia, USA, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and Australia.

Subsequent mix releases illustrated their exceptional maverick determination, raising the benchmark for what is expected from a DJ mix and what musical ingredients could be used to create it.   These titles include a tour-de-force mix for the Fabric Series with Fabric 52. The Fabric 52 compilation underlines Optimo’s reputation as taste-makers, achieved through their shared passion for clubbing and their encyclopaedic knowledge of music.   However it also illustrates their skill in assembling sounds from the past and present to create an experience that is definitively futuristic in spirit.

Today we present an exclusive interview with the Scottish house music legends as we lead up to their performance at Buiten Westen on 18 July 2015.  In it you will find information on the early days of Glasgow nightlife, including booking the likes of Richie Hawtin and Jeff Mills in Europe for the first time, the duo’s relationship wo the city of Amsterdam, and much more.  Be sure to catch Optimo on ZeeZout‘s Buiten Westen stage, alongside Lil Louis, ItaloJohnson, Gerd, Awanto3, Interstellar Funk, Robert Bergman, L’Atelier, and Halve Soul.

“Most importantly…it should be down with 100% love and passion.”

When did you decide to work together for the first time? Was there a single moment where you knew you were creatively and artistically like-minded?
JD Twitch: We had done a few parties together with previous nights we had done collaborating together in the mid 90s,  but we started working together as Optimo in 1997. Initially when Optimo started it wasn’t really clear how it would pan out as a long term venture but from the first night it became apparent that we were creatively and artistically like-minded.

Before Optimo, what were you guys doing?  Was it always music-related?
JDT: Yes, always music related. I (Twitch) was studying economics but it was obvious to me I didn’t want to pursue that as a career. I more or less stumbled into DJing accidentally and before I knew it I   was playing at what was Scotland’s first and longest running techno night, Pure in Edinburgh (1990 – 2000) and it became what I did for a living. Jonnie was studying art and was an artist before starting to make a living from DJing in Glasgow in the early 90s.

In your opinion, what makes for a successful club night? Do you hold any parameters or guidelines (perhaps, a general philosophy) by which you consistently abide by?
JDT: Great crowd plus great music plus great sound and a great venue is usually a good combination. Treating an audience with maximum respect is crucial to us so we always make sure the price is fair, that we don’t over fill the club, and try to crete a feeling of community. Production (i.e. who the night looks) is very important to us as is having the right mix of people – not all guys! All guys in clubs is a disaster, at least in a mixed club. Most importantly of all it should be down with 100% love and passion.

You guys were the first to bring such heavy hitter talent as Richie Hawtin and Jeff Mills to Glasgow, in those days, how was this process? Did you find it difficult to convince such artists that they needed to play Optimo and the City of Glasgow?
JDT: Actually that was at the night I was doing, Pure in Edinburgh, way before Optimo started. We had Richie Hawtin in 1991, I think and Jeff mills in 92. It wasn’t difficult at all to get them to come and play. Both were very keen to play in Europe for the first time and Pure already had a great word of mouth reputation as one of the craziest techno clubs in the world. We had them both play many times after that.

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