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Interview With Dave Clarke: Remixes, Rarities & Rampant Egos ::

Reported by Olly @ Trackitdown on December 11, 2006

“I have never seen any link between religion and clubbing, only DJs with massive egos who have a God complex (and yes, there a lot of them out there). The true saints are those people who work in hospitals or selflessly help people not DJs or artists.”

With his frequent, often ferocious, rants against over-sized DJ egos and equally overrated musical mediocrity, UK techno icon Dave Clarke fits the expression ‘doesn’t suffer fools gladly’ to a tee, though beneath his uncompromising stance is a man who cares deeply about his music and the role DJs play in 21st century life.

“We help people deal with the stresses of day to day life, and give an escape that can hopefully inspire others,” he muses, adding that his own beliefs remain strictly rational.

“I have never considered becoming religious, however I can certainly spend a lot of time thinking ‘why are we here?’,” Dave adds.

“I still don't have the answer to that one, so in the meantime I try to appreciate what I have and learn from new experiences.”

Chatting to Skrufff this week about his soon to be released retrospective compilation (‘Dave Clarke Presents Remixes and Rarities’), he’s upbeat and expansive, concluding a year that’s seem him maintain his position as Britain’s most influential techno figure, enhanced by his new weekly radio show White Noise.

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Starting with the album- how did you go about choosing which tracks would be included?

Dave Clarke: “Firstly you have to see what’s available, because not everyone is up for a reissue. In fact only two released remixes were refused and one you can get via Itunes anyway (the Mission Impossible Remix from the first Tom Cruise film). Then there’s a conference between me and the record company News about which ones we include, The only one I gave in on was Moby as that is my least favourite remix, but to be honest, it was a tough process because it was always going to be a double CD and you can only get almost 80 minutes per CD. if it was triple then we could have got everything on, but sometimes having to choose is a good thing and I'd like to think this represents a great bookmark in my career.”

Skrufff: Where do you start when you’re commissioned to do a remix; do you always have carte blanche or are you ever given briefs?

Dave Clarke: “I have never been given briefs (pants) I usually get paid via cheque, but it's an interesting option. I always have been given a carte blanche. What's the point of asking someone to do a remix if you don't let them do what they like? Whenever someone does a remix of my material I never get involved in how it turns out. I will always try my best and accentuate what was good from the original.”

Skrufff: What was the easiest remix to do and which one the hardest?

Dave Clarke: “I'm not sure about easiest, though the hardest might have been Slam, just because I wanted a very smooth sound. Sometimes you get masters sent to you with solo tracks split down separately in terrible sonic condition, full of jitter, or vocals recorded above 0db in digital (which gives a terrible clicking sound). Vocals recorded with a G4 fan in the background aren't too much fun to clean up either, it's surprising what comes through, and I spend a lot of time cleaning things up, but in a way that helps you get even more intimate with the song. When those things happen then it can be hard but ultimately rewarding. Sometimes there is nothing you can add to the track because it's so perfect and those are the ones I refuse to do.”

Skrufff: Are there any basic techniques you apply consistently?

Dave Clarke: “Accentuate the best qualities of the song, only remix things you feel (very occasionally I didn't follow this rule), make it strong and respect the artist.”

Skrufff: How much of an issue is it, to think about saving ideas for your own productions or tossing them away on a remix?

Dave Clarke: “I have never felt that way, whether I got paid big fees or very small fees for friends, I always enjoy being at the desk seeing and hearing it take shape, I have never once thought ‘damn, I should have kept that for myself’. If you feel like that then don't do a remix because you obviously don't have too many ideas.”

Skrufff: Looking back on your career,, how big a role has fate and chance played in your life?

Dave Clarke: “I worked hard to get where I am, in the beginning every waking hour was spent on music, I earned nothing from it but still carried on, I'd like to think it was pure hard work and perseverance that broke me through, but the ego has to accept that fate and luck play their hand. Red Two was the biggest selling Techno 12 inch, would my career have got to where it is without it? Who knows? In a way it serves no purpose to look back to see how it all came together, but that is human nature.”

Skrufff: You recently described most modern pop music as ‘Opium music . . . music that bleeds kids dry’: why do you think it’s so popular?

Dave Clarke: “It’s popular because of marketing and media manipulation, lazy journalism and paid press coverage. To give you an example, the other week I was playing in Austria with some other cutting edge acts, while across town a well known commercial DJ was playing on behalf of Bacardi on the same night. The event I played at had over 5 thousand people, whereas the other event didn't fare so well, however, there would be loads of paid press at the other one reporting ‘what a success it was’. That is the problem with the music press in general, certainly in the UK; no one seems to chase a story unless it's paid for and then it's not a story it's an advertisement. With marketing you can sell cheap burgers and cheap music, it just becomes a product, there are no higher values contained within." (Dave Clarke's radio show "White Noise" broadcasts weekly every Saturday night from 23h-01 CET on Dutch radio station 3FM)

Jonty Skrufff (