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Interview with Dave Clarke ::

Reported by Olly @ Trackitdown on February 5, 2007

“I’m feeling very optimistic and excited about the future of music, the dinosaurs are losing their stranglehold, the superstar DJ is dying and there is shitloads of great music out there. And Myspace enables artist to talk to artist unimpeded.”

Chatting to Skrufff from an undisclosed location, British techno icon Dave Clarke admits he’s starting 2007 feeling rejuvenated about changing the habit of a lifetime and taking his longest ever holiday.

“I always thought holidays were decadent, as a kid I only had two holidays abroad and a few day trips to the Isle Of Wight or Blackpool, so I was never really used to them or the idea of them,” he admits.

“I love work, but always found it difficult taking time off, but I suppose that depends who you are with and what stage of your life you are at,” he continues, “But I am learning to relax and on my last holiday I didn't check emails or the web once and took my most private phone and switched it on ten minutes everyday. So I'm learning.”

Growing up in the British resort of Brighton he had little time for traditional seaside pleasures, he recalls, viewing vacations as providing time to be killed rather than filled.

“I was the kid that had nothing to write about at school about what you did in the holidays; I bummed around Brighton mostly and played space invaders or went skateboarding, which was not really what the teacher wanted to hear,” he laughs.

“And there’s no sand in Brighton, either, just large stones and very cold water, but that left a lot of time for developing a musical taste, going on anti Nazi marches and being in the arcades smoking cigarettes, listening to punk and later hip hop.”

“This holiday I’ve just taken was really necessary though,” he adds, ”It was the longest I’ve ever taken- 12 days- and I feel great from having one.”

Turning down gigs for his break (‘hey, I'm a person and not a commodity’) he admits to being super- stimulated by the escalating transformation of both clubland and the music business, with digitisation being an issue he’s particularly interested in.

“Vinyl is dead, there is no future on a sustainable commercial level,” he asserts.

“There will be 7inch releases for the odd guitar band and vinyl will be around in Berlin and Germany for a while, but everywhere else it's already history. It's also becoming more and more impossible for the parts to be found for the lathes”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): When was the last time you played an all vinyl set? And the last time you played a record in a club?

Dave Clarke:” About three years ago, maybe longer, it was for a boat party, they didn't have the budget for CD players, but that was a rare vinyl set as I’d formally stopped 6 months earlier. A lot of venues don't even have vinyl decks installed anymore either.”

Skrufff: What are the implications for the DJ world of vinyl disappearing?

Dave Clarke: “Adapt and survive is the message from evolution . . . that can also be applied to technology. Most DJs I know already have a lot of music on CD, so it's no great shakes, the losers will be the guys with their heads in their sand. For the past five years I have been gearing up to and implementing a digital solution, which means going from vinyl to CD so that all my music is then in the digital domain. Ecologically it also makes sense, I try to be as green as possible within the confines of my work, now I don't burn needless carbon tonnes carting around 30 kilos of vinyl every week. Vinyl is ecologically irresponsible, CDs are better and hard drives are better still on a weight and manufacturing basis. There’s no longer any need to have records driven around to stores or delivered by the postman. The winner is the environment and the DJ for having to learn new skills.”

Skrufff: Laptop programmes mean every DJ can beatmix perfectly and with not much effort these days, what impact is that process having on the role of the DJ?

Dave Clarke: “There were always skill-less DJs before, the ones that raise their hands after they pretend to EQ something or put beat-matched CDs in so they don't have to touch the pitch control and that won't change despite the democratisation of music technology. Some DJs talk gleefully about Ableton and some of those DJs couldn't mix before and now don't have too, but they are commercial and stand for nothing. Some other DJs are genuinely creating new musical soundscapes to get excited by. My personal choice is Serato because it allows seat of the pants mixing, Ableton in my eyes is a production tool and not a DJ tool.”

Skrufff: How much do you see yourself as a brand?; how much do you have to   consider what Dave Clarke stands for?

Dave Clarke: “I don't see myself as a brand at all, but other people do. I stand for playing groundbreaking and exciting music, the kind that doesn't appear on the BBC, and playing it to open minded audiences. I also take great enjoyment in breaking artists just for their music alone, not because they are managed by the same manager or agent as me.”

Skrufff: Turning to dance music albums, dance music continues to be dominated by singles with hardly any albums surviving the test of time, beyond the likes of Leftfield, Underworld, Orbital and The Prodigy, why are so few other great ones emerging?

Dave Clarke: “Almost all dance music albums were pish, partly because it was a way for a lot of honest artists to finally get paid for some great singles, and also because it was a way for a lot of dishonest artists to have their album ghost-written by talented (and not always name-checked) producers. Albums were made primarily for rock acts, but even now the whole album concept is on the way out, because most people do not have the attention span anymore to sit through the duration. Which is a shame, because you learn to love the less obvious tracks more that way.”

Skrufff: Digital downloading is transforming the music and club business incredibly quickly now, is the future of music free?

Dave Clarke: “That's a hard one, I still enjoy buying music even though I know that a lot of the money never makes it through to the artist, but increasingly I find I cannot find the music in a shop, even if I order it, so I buy it online. I don't believe music should be free, unless the artist wants that to happen. Music has a value. The artist has shown commitment and should be rewarded. If a bricklayer pirates music does he believe his own services should be provided for free? The downloading for free issue is down to the labels taking the piss financially for too long but ironically it's the artist who is also hurt.”

Skrufff: Talking about the future, what’s your position on global warming and gas guzzling cars?

Dave Clarke: “I drive less and less (even though I have a penchant for V8/V12 cars) and I recycle everything I can, which is really easy in the UK, though surprisingly difficult in Holland. I think that the government should subsidise all personal renewable energy, there are millions of rooftops that don't have solar power; why not? I think the government should renationalise the railways and have decent tram systems in all metropolises that can handle them and subsidise public transport. There should be no more runways either, it seems silly to invest in all that airport infrastructure if we are running out of oil.” (Tune into Dave Clarke's new radio show, every Saturday night)

Jonty Skrufff (