Not many DJs can say they’ve endured the test of time, keeping a constant flow of international gigs and maintaining their relevance in electronic music to decades of club and partygoers. Not only has John Digweed done that – he’s also managed to be one of a few to be able to cross boundaries and gain respect amongst artists and fans alike that often have purist tendencies. His accolades could make up a book – from ranking as Number One DJ in the World by DJ Magazine in 2001, his infamous Global Underground & Renaissance mix CDs, his ever popular Bedrock imprint and Transitions, his weekly radio broadcast now heard in nearly 45 countries worldwide…
How has Chicago and its roots in House Music directly influenced you?
I remember when I first heard all the early DJ International and Trax Records tracks and being blown away by how fresh it sounded. I was lucky to play in Chicago in ’89 alongside Derrick Carter and Mark Farina who blew my mind with their creative DJing. In the early days I also got to meet some of the Hot Mix 5 DJs whose radio shows were the hottest things around back then with their non-stop mixes.
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] [EDM] is not something that sounds all that groundbreaking. It’s great that so many young kids are getting into electronic music through EDM, and hopefully some of them will search for something a little more intelligent-sounding. [/quote]
At what point did your DJ career reach global status?
I suppose when I started getting booked to play in Australia, USA and Europe on a regular basis and people had heard of me in all these far-lung places. I thought – Wow, this is really cool that people want to book me 12,000 miles from my home.
With your extensive touring schedule what do you do to stay healthy? What motivates you to stay on the go constantly?
I try and cycle as much as I can and eat as healthy as possible when I’m on the road, which on planes and in airports is sometimes very hard. I love what I do so no matter how tired I might be, when you turn up to a gig and there are thousands of people excited to hear you play – it does not get any better than that.
You’ve always been able to seamlessly incorporate several styles of electronic music into your sets. How do you go about selecting music and making sure it works to make the perfect blend?
I just try and play music that moves me and I think has a certain quality. After DJing for so long I feel I have a great ear for how to blend different styles of music together.
America’s pop culture has accepted this term “EDM” and it’s become a craze. How do feel about this music and the direction it’s taking?
It’s not something that sounds all that groundbreaking in terms of the way it’s put together. It is made more to get an instant reaction rather than make the crowd think about what they are hearing. It’s great that so many young kids are getting into electronic music through EDM, and hopefully some of them will search for something a little more intelligent-sounding.
Intimate club gatherings or mega festivals, do you have a preference?
I am lucky to play both and enjoy both. It keeps you on your toes and makes me play differently at every gig that I do, which is how I like it.
Staying relevant is very difficult and you’ve managed to span a successful career over several decades. What’s the key to keeping yourself cutting edge and at the forefront of the ever-changing electronic music scene?
Well I enjoy what I do and still have a passion for music and I give 100% at every gig. I think if people see that you are just doing it for the money and not putting any effort into your set they will find someone who is. I live and breath music 24/7/365 and I love it.
A lot of the big room music out now is harder and more aggressive than it’s been in a long time. Playing after some of these acts at larger events, has it changed how you prepare your sets?
It all depends on what the gig is and what time I am playing. I can happily play a cool deeper vocal afternoon beach time vibe alongside a full-on banging techno set. I don’t just buy one style of music and I don’t want to play the same style everywhere.
What do you feel is the next logical progression with dance music culture?
I have no idea. It all really comes down to who starts producing some tracks that shake the tree a bit and take things in a different direction. At the moment there are some amazing producers out there creating futuristic tracks so there will always be something new around the corner. The good thing about the electronic scene is that nothing stands still for long.
Tell us about your new mix CD, Live In Slovenia…
The idea behind these “Live In…” albums is that I never know where they are going to come from. I record every gig I do and there is always one gig that just seems to pop that little bit more than some of the others. We live in an era where people expect free live mixes on Soundcloud, etc. The artists never see any money from those mixes, so at least by releasing legit mixes there is some revenue going to the labels. I also think that people still like to have a physical CD, especially if they went to the party or are fans building their collection. The party in Slovenia was really good and showcases my more peak time, heads-down style, I think you can feel the energy of the room in this mix and that’s why I decided to release it.