Pioneering UK DJ John Digweed has just released a follow-up to last years ‘Quattro’, ‘Quattro II’ a 4 disc album project featuring a star-studded musical cast.
As UK DJ and producer John Digweed says, his history has “been very well documented over the years”. The short version, according to Digweed is “I fell in love with dance music when I was 11 and I gained access to cassette recordings of the KISS FM show and mixes from NYC. They blew my mind and made me fall in love with electronic music. I started DJing at 15 and scored a gig at Renaissance Club in Mansfield in ‘93. The rest is history.” The rest may be history but it’s quite an impressive history. He’s known not only for his smooth, exacting DJ sets but also the Bedrock label, Bedrock the production moniker, his Twilo residency, his seminal mix CDs, the Transitions radio show not to mention remixes for acts like New Order, Underworld and Quincy Jones.
Next on Digweed’s list is the release of his 4 disc album project, ‘Quattro II’, a compilation of new music from artists including Satoshi Fumi, Bushwacka!, Josh Wink, Quivver, Bedrock artists Lopezhouse and Luke Brancaccio and of course Bedrock, Digweed’s production partnership with Nick Muir. Each disc – ‘Soundscape’, ‘Tempo’, ‘Redux’ and ‘Juxtaposition’ – has a distinct mood. ‘Soundscape’ is suitably cinematic, electronic mood music, featuring some standout downtempo synth epics including the synthapella of Hannes Bieger’s Burn Your Love featuring Juan Hansen and some gorgeous ambient electronica, courtesy of Satoshi Fumi and Ian O’Donovan’s ambient mix of ‘Rising’, the original of which came out last year on Bedrock.
Disc 2, ‘Tempo’ continues in a similar mood but with gradually rising tempos and the addition of more beats so by about halfway through you’re deep in a Digweed warm-up. Disk three delivers dance floor killers like Bushwacka!’s pitter-pattering tech groove remix of Tigerhook and Randall Jones’ ‘Beautiful Thang’ and a Chris Fortier’s remix of Science Dept’s ‘Persuasion’ which features a truly tasty b-line.
The final disk ‘Juxtaposition’ is a set of Robert Babicz ambient and electronica solo material, which would function perfectly well as a single album in its own right. It’s another musical triumph for Digweed, so we had a brief chat with the man himself about how it all came together and about how he approaches DJing.
Attack Magazine: Thanks very much for your time today. First of all, how has your lockdown been?
John Digweed: It’s been alright, thank you. I’ve been trying to keep myself as busy as I possibly can.
So now that ‘Quattro 2’ is finished and released, tell us about the concept behind it:
John Digweed: I have some amazing contacts within this industry of new and established artists and when I reached out last summer the reaction was incredible. I was able to compile and mix this project a lot quicker than normal since I wasn’t touring and neither were any of the artists so changes and remixes were made quickly. I was following a similar vein to the first Quattro release so I knew I needed a certain amount of ambient, club, and remixes done for the project. Once I knew who I wanted to feature on the album it was all about waiting for the mixes to come in then start putting it together.
The final disc is Robert Babicz’s ‘Juxtaposition’ – this is all new music right?
Every track on ‘Quattro II’ is brand new. Nick Muir and I did the Juxtaposition mix for disc 4 of the first Quattro, and the style of the CD is to go a bit more weird, downtempo, and cinematic with its vibe. I’ve been a massive fan of Robert and his productions for many years and I knew he would be ideal for ‘Juxtaposition’ on this project. The result was a masterpiece of electronica, as expected
You’re well known for your mixing style, for layering tracks, using pieces of one track to complement another – can you tell our readers a little more about your style and about the technical side?
I like to make the transition from one track to another as seamless as possible so you can hardly know one track has ended and another has started.
So how do you approach your DJ sets? Is there much planning involved?
The most important thing, as it has always been for me, is to know the music in your box inside out, this allows you to play spontaneously and keep each set fresh and different.
Do you make playlists? Or do you just DJ by the seat of your pants?
I use Rekordbox to organise my music but prefer to play based on the crowd and how they are reacting. It feels more real and for me as every night is different.
Again, you’re well known for your smooth sets but do you ever make mistakes when DJing? Have you cleared any floors in the last few years?
I try not to make any mistakes but they are also important as you learn from them. As for clearing the dancefloor, no, but I have started a few sets when I played open to close so you start with an empty dance floor.
You’ve been at the top of the game for years now, what do you feel about your career, looking back?
I have loved every minute from the hard graft at the start and slowly building my name and reputation makes you who you are. I live and breathe music so feel privileged to have my passion in life as my career also.
Do you still have musical goals? What are they, what else would you like to achieve?
I just want to keep playing all over the world doing what I do and keeping people entertained.
We’re always interested in artists who are successful for a long period of time. Why do you think you’ve been successful for so long?
I think I have been consistent over my career and always give 100% to everything I do, my fans see that I am passionate and care about what, plus I have started from the bottom so I understand the industry, and if you act like a diva you will only last so long.
And looking forward, are you hopeful for returning to DJing this year?
Hopeful and keeping fingers crossed. There is still a way to go but hopefully there’s some light at the end of the tunnel now.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
Let’s see how things go with clubs and festivals opening up and hopefully, the rates stay low so we can gradually and slowly get back to the dancefloor.
‘Quattro II’ is available now on Bandcamp.
Main artist photo by Dan Reid