Interview: John Digweed
With a career built purely on substance, perseverance, and talent, John Digweed has become one of the planet’s finest DJs and all around dance music icons over a three decade career.
From ethereal, swirling cinematic soundscapes to energy-infused bass-bothering tech growlers, there’s nothing quite like being locked into a John Digweed set, of which many have been heard in every corner, and on every respectable dancefloor, across the globe.
But there is more to John than just DJ, as his seminal Bedrock brand can attest. A record label, event series, co-production alias alongside Nick Muir, and promotion company, Bedrock has provided a slew of hits from some of the world’s most diversely talented artists: Guy J, Marco Bailey, Christian Smith and John Selway to name but a few.
As for John himself, the list of accolades goes on: top 40 smashes like ‘Heaven Scent’ and ‘For What You Dream Of’, world renowned mix CDs for Renaissance, Global Underground and Northern Exposure, a #1 DJ Mag World’s Top DJ ranking, and a Transitions radio show broadcast in over 45 countries.
Now, John Digweed embarks on a world tour in support of his latest Bedrock compilation mix Re:Structured. Touching down in Amsterdam at Melkweg on 25 March, I managed to speak with John about his relationship with the city, his relationship with my old stomping grounds, New York, and much more.
“I always wanted to be a DJ from the age of 11 so I have and still am living the dream 24/7, 365.”
On 25 March you will be bringing your Re:Structured tour to Amsterdam’s Melkweg. During ADE, you also performed an evening at the venue. What are your impressions of Melkweg as a space? Why would you consider it to be your Amsterdam venue of choice?
I love playing in Holland and especially at the Melkweg, there is so much history at that club and I am proud to have been playing there for so many years.
How would you say Amsterdam stacks up against dance music “centers” like London and Berlin? In my opinion, there is a very educated fanbase with promoters and industry figures frequently looking to expand the artistry and creativity behind their respective roles. Would you agree?
Amsterdam is definitely up there, just look at how many festivals take place there every year and ADE is now seen as the place for the music industry to meet up, discuss and do business, It can only get bigger at this point.
As mentioned, the 25 march date is part of your Re:Structured. As this 3rd edition of your structured series, essentially, highlights the current state of Bedrock as a label and brand. In your own words, what would you say this current state is?
We just try and showcase the latest releases through artists new and established with the label. This album also gave me a chance to dig into the back catalogue and get some of my favourite tracks remixed and brought to the attention of the new generation who might have missed them first time round. We also included a great DVD with interviews with Danny Howells and myself plus some amazing footage from two great Bedrock events.
How has the digital landscape affected Bedrock, as well as your own approach to, for example, mixes. 15 years ago, a Global Underground mix from you, Sasha, Nick (Warren), Danny (Howells) and others was truly an event, but now, with Soundcloud, radio shows (including your own Transitions), mixes are all over the place. Good thing or bad thing?
This is true but if you put something out that captures peoples imagination it will still be a big talking point. We just released the Latest “Live In” album from Montreal which was just under 8 hours of my set spread over 6 CDs and it was crazy the reaction we got selling out before it’s release. We spent loads on the packaging and made it a real collectors piece. You’re right though, people have so much access to free music and mixes if you want people to buy it it needs to have something that is more than just a CD.
How do you walk that line between adaptability and expectation, especially as a label boss, brand manager, and veteran DJ? Do you find there to be an organic balance between what is “expected” of you and the general adaptability needed in such a fast moving (digital) landscape?
I just do what I have always done, give everything 100% have a high standard of what I do and expect to deliver and try and give people the best that I can with everything I do.