Those qualities which define John Digweed as an artist and DJ — his perfected art of selection mixed with creativity, passion and precision — are evident in his music regardless of where you’re listening to it. At a time when we’re alone inside of our homes instead of filling up the dance floors his latest album release Quattro gives listeners an opportunity to experience those qualities on an intimate level, and to discover the underground music that has been waiting to surface, reminding us that it will always be there for us when we need it most.
Nine months in the making and released on April 3rd, “Quattro” features four distinctive discs that flow from the downtempo and cinematic vibes of “Soundscape” into a futuristic blend of brand-new originals on “Tempo,” followed by energy-fueling remixes on “Redux” and finishing with experimental ambient mixed alongside partner Nick Muir for the final disc “Juxtaposition.” With each track chosen to complete the greater picture, “Quattro” showcases that which has made John Digweed one of the most renowned names in underground electronic music.
His ear for outstanding music regardless of genre has been one of his defining characteristics throughout his career, and it’s put on full display for this diverse release. Finding the gems within the mountains of mediocre music wasn’t an easy task however.
“I went through hundreds and hundreds of tracks to narrow it down to just 46. They all have something unique that pulled me in.” He has been refining his selection technique for decades, both in his role as a DJ and behind the scenes at Bedrock Records, where each release is chosen for its unique impact and stand-out sound.
With a personal discography of 57 mix CDs and compilations, Digweed has unprecedented experience in bringing together timeless tracks to create albums which inspire deep dives and repeat listens. In order to accomplish this he tells us that “The key ingredients are and always have been patience and a good ear that catches something other DJs might overlook. There is an overload of average music out there so I have to be meticulous in my search and spot the real gems that make me continue to stand out as a DJ and selector.”
I go through mountains of music every day, and there’s always a couple of records that stand out from the rest. These usually have a strong sense of originality and a captivating vibe. These are the tracks I want because they hold the power of longevity.
On what it took to sort through hundreds of tracks in order to decide which make the final cut, he says: “My process for sifting through tracks is pretty simple. I go through mountains of music every day, and there’s always a couple of records that stand out from the rest. These usually have a strong sense of originality and a captivating vibe. These are the tracks I want because they hold the power of longevity; people will always gravitate towards playing them on their sound systems. There is so much music floating around at the moment so I always try to make sure the quality of my projects is as high as possible.”
Once the chosen tracks have made it into the mix, finding the best placement to create an emotional impact and seamless flow was another challenge for which John Digweed was prepared for, as well as one of his favorite parts of the process. Instead of choosing a few favorites, he says that “it’s much more rewarding when a track is sent to you and you can immediately envision where you want to place it on the album.”
Doing so however, meant bringing on a bigger task than he had first intended. As he tells us, “Initially, I planned on only releasing two CDs; one with brand-new tracks (‘Tempo’), and the other with a bunch of remixes I had on the docket (‘Redux’). As the project started coming together, I realized I had a massive collection of ambient tracks and came up with the idea of adding the ‘Soundscape’ mix into the album. While this was all unfolding, Nick Muir and myself were working on a separate downtempo project together. It ultimately made sense to add this to the project and thus ‘Quattro’ was born.”
This ambitious process ended up being one of the things that has stood out to him about ‘Quattro.’
“I think I’m most proud of the sheer range of styles and genres that are featured on this album,” he says, “as well as how everything flows so well despite the tracks being from different artists. I feel like people will dip in and out of all the different moods showcased on this album for months to come.”
This combination of different artists and energies is one of the defining characteristics of the release, and while the seeking of undiscovered talent was an important part of the building process, the appearance of industry veterans was equally valuable. Artists like Luke Brancaccio, Barry Jamieson, Danny Howells and Quivver bring their experienced perspectives to the experimental “Soundscapes,” new originals of “Tempo” and powerful remixes of “Redux,” while long-time collaborator Nick Muir is featured on multiple tracks and alongside Digweed for the final disc “Juxtaposition.”
On why including these artists is necessary for the overall package, he says, “I’d say long-term producers bring a vast wealth of knowledge and sounds that coexist brilliantly with new producers. Merging the old and new allow projects like these to have a wide breadth of colors rather than maintaining one, singular sound.”
Not only are these time-tested talented artists, but many have been working together since the very start of the electronic music scene, their dedication for the music driving them forward for decades, something which Digweed says he’s not surprised about.
“Having so many old friends still in the game always seemed inevitable. After all, the shared passion for the music never dies.”
One of those artists whose passion has been intertwining with John Digweed since the beginning is Nick Muir. On his collaboration for ‘Juxtaposition,’ John gives us some insight into their creative process.
“I think Nick is an incredible musician and producer who has an unparalleled ear for creating mind-bending sounds and beats. It has always been remarkable to see him work on projects like ‘Quattro’ because he comes into his own, and can stretch his legs both musically and technically. I sit back and let him work his magic.”
Not only providing an incredible depth of brand new music, ‘Quattro’ also stands out in signature Bedrock style by offering something extra in order to take the listening experience to another level. The four discs come in a special die cut slipcase, with box, wallets, and CDs all combining to create “the layers of a vortex.” In addition, 20 tracks from the album have been pressed onto 5×12″ vinyl, in a beautifully designed limited edition signed sleeved spine. A product which will satisfy collectors and audiophiles alike, it’s Bedrock’s dedicated fanbase which allows and inspires them to take things further with this release.
“Since people have become so used to consuming their music via streaming and downloading, we owe it to the longtime loyal Bedrock fan base that has been supporting our mixes and compilations. They’re the reason we continue to manufacture physical product.”
It’s these loyal fans who will keep the industry going during difficult times, and John Digweed provides us with insight on how to stay connected, and how to support the artists you love while you’re not able to see them live.
“We live in a digital world so keeping our fans updated with new music, mixes, and/or streams on our social media platforms is incredibly important. My radio show ‘Transitions’ was a pioneer for a Mixcloud owned service called ‘Select,’ where a good percentage of subscription fees goes directly to the artists whose tracks I play.
“I know everyone loves free music, but at a time like this, it is critical to support independent artists and labels if you have the means. Even the slightest ounce of support goes a long way during these tough times.
“As for the general public and community goes, please support artists via Bandcamp as it pays out a higher percentage of sales and streams than its competitors. We will be releasing ‘Quattro’ on Bandcamp to ensure more money ultimately ends up with our artists. [It’s at] bedrockrecords.bandcamp.com.”
All the time and energy spent collecting, collaborating, and combining each element of ‘Quattro’ has resulted in a release that brings the essence of electronic music to everyone, everywhere, a feature which has left its impact on Digweed himself.
“My favorite part about this entire process has been knowing that we’re giving people around four and a half hours of new and unreleased music,” he says. And while he’s not currently able to share this music from behind the decks, this album proves that all those qualities which have made him one of the most respected and inspiring DJs in the industry can be experienced at any time, and that a never-ending love for the music will overcome even the greatest challenges.
“I’ve been doing this for over half of my life now,” he says. “I hope people continue to see and hear that I pour my heart into everything I do. Whether it’s DJing, my radio show, producing new music, or curating my label, I have and always will give 110% to my fans because it’s what I love to do. I live and breathe music 24/7/365, and my everlasting passion shows no sign of ending anytime soon.”
Quattro is out now on Bedrock Records.