The UK is such a small territory in some ways and I hadnt actually been playing that much in the UK for many years anyway. Whilst most DJs were doing three gigs on a Friday and three on a Saturday and making loads of money, I preferred to take the offers people were making me to go and travel abroad, which wasnt particularly good financially at the time but the idea f travelling the world was far more appealing. And in actual fact it turned out to be a good thing.
17 years after he started his professional DJ career spinning alongside Sasha at Shelleys, Dave Seaman is doing exactly the same thing at this years Miami Conference and like his old friend remains firmly at the top of the international/ superstar DJ tree. A one time editor of Mixmag, hes sustained his success consistently without feeling the need to reinvent himself or even downsize, even as mainstream UK club culture faltered in 2001.
I didnt have any grand business scheme, but when the UK scene imploded Id already been travelling for ten years and had loads of contacts with different countries that were at different stages of development, he explains.
In some places, the club scene is still very underground and in no way affected by whats going on in the UK. So it didnt really affect me though I know it affected a lot of other DJs who are now starting to travel, or are trying to. But its not actually so easy to get gigs wherever or whenever you want as it used to be.
Daves chatting to Skrufff to promote his new mix CD Renaissance: The Masters Series Volume 7, a double collection his press release variously labels progressive and electro though progressive is the tag hes most happy with.
Obviously people need to sell magazines and CDs and some like to package things in boxes so they can sell them to consumers, but Im getting a bit lost these days between what genres are what, he laughs.
There are so many blurred lines between different genres its hard to say what I play. You could say I play some breaks stuff, some techno-y stuff, or deeper or banging electro in between- it all falls within progressive house to me. Danny Tenaglia and Slam are progressive house to me, its about a spirit. Progressive has been tarred with boring, ploddy, lacklustre kind of tag; sure there are records like that, but there are bad records in every genre. Im in the same place I always have been musically.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Youve done more than a few compilations over the years now, was doing this Renaissance one a fairly routine process?
Dave Seaman: Mix CDs have changed so drastically over the years that theyre actually becoming much tougher to do, its harder to license tracks, for example, which means he process is much more drawn out even before you start actually mixing it. I wouldnt call it routine because everyone throws up different challenges but sure, I start with the idea of trying to gather as much quality upfront music as possible plus hidden gems or lost tracks that people might have missed out on, then try and mix them into the CD as best as possible. People tell me theres a definite difference between the Global Underground ones and Renaissance but there was no intention to do that at all.
Skrufff: Adam Freeland mentioned recently that with so many thousands of releases out there each month, that DJs are taking on more of filter role again, how do you source records these days?
Dave Seaman: The way Im receiving music has changed dramatically over the last 12 months, Im getting over 50% of my music over instant messenger. Im online most days and I have my buddy list which is all my peers and people that I know make great music and I keep in contact with them sending each other tracks. Its a way of keeping in contact with people, so if I go online and I see that someone like Slacker is online Ill email him say hey Slacker, you got any new tracks and that way I end up getting new tracks as soon as producers finish them, which gives you that element of being slightly more upfront. Because everybody else has access to digital downloads these days so its hard to be one step ahead- the only way to do that is to get the music directly from the people whove made it. At least 50% of my music comes that way. I still get mailed a lot of CDs from promotion houses, though not so much vinyl these days. And I keep my ear to the ground too and also buy 20 or 30 records a month which Ill then record onto CD and take the CD out of me, That helps keep labels going, and being a label boss, I know how difficult it is at the moment.
Skrufff: Your biog also says dance music needed to implode and referred to the great acid house detox when do think it reached that point and what happened to take it there?
Dave Seaman: I guess its just fashion cycles and in the UK weve become very adapt at managing them, youth culture is one of our best exports. Its a natural cycle, as soon as something gets too big it becomes mainstream, which dance music did, during the era of the Gatecrasher kid, it became overground. Lots of records were going top 40 and at that point it was 13 or 14 years in, which is how the cycle goes, because you start getting teenagers whose mum and dads were listening to that music and they obviously dont want to listen to the same thing, theres no subversive teenage angst in that, so they go completely the other way. And thats when the new wave of guitar/ indie bands came through which is currently very popular. And that was good for dance music because the only place it could go was back underground and find its spirit again and start all over again. I feel thats happening now, theres more of an edge again.
Skrufff: Former Specials frontman Terry Hall, whos nowadays a DJ at soft rock retro club Guilty Pleasures, said recently Peoples heads have been swamped with bass drums and a few sguiggly bits. They expect very little from dance music: what do you make of this Guilty Pleasure phenomenon?
Dave Seaman: I think its a good thing, the more variety we have in club land the better and its true that a lot of nights do become identikit and the same as each other. If people like it and its a success then thats good. A lot depends on what you want from a night out. He talks about bass drums and few sguiggly bits, well the simpler the better with dance music; it was always about a tribal rhythm. Drums alone can whip you into a frenzy, the music doesnt have to be clever or other the top. But if you want fun and be frivolous and get drunk and do that school disco type thing then theres no reason why you shouldnt.
Skrufff: Asa former Mixmag editor, what do you make of the state of music journalism these days?
Dave Seaman: Errmm, ahhh, I find a lot of it quite disappointing and lazy. If youre going to be a critic I like people to be constructive rather than completely negative and theres a lot of negative stuff around. Anybody can sit there and say this is crap, thats the easiest thing to do. To be constructive and intellectual in your appraisal of things is a lot harder but those are the kind of reviews Id read, about anything to do with the arts. I find a lot of dance music journalism has nothing much to say, plus theres often a lot of history with journalists and sometimes they write too personally. Youve got to be professional, as with any job, and if you want to continue long term and make a career out of it, and be respected in your particular field, professionalism is the highest quality. Dance music journalism seems to have lost its edge in recent years and I think thats quite sad.
Dave Seamans new mix CD Renaissance: The Masters Series Volume 7 is out now.
Jonty Skrufff (JontySkrufff.com)