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Interview - John Digweed

Author: Aaron Roach
Friday, 19 October 2007
It's only been a few days since John Digweed's recent Essential Mix started raising desktop skirts throughout the nik-a-nak. Unsurprisingly, it's a reflection of what 'Diggers' is renowned for - entertaining and educating the masses on how it's supposed to be done.

While many get lost in the now of electronic music, opting to define themselves as 'one sound' producers and deck techies, Digweed is still doing his utmost to ensure people have a good time, a rare stance when dark, twisted records are back on the brink of creating another 'bog prog' saturated market.

Digweed is both cynical and optimistic about the phase, saying "…dark, twisted records are mostly coming out of Europe, and they're going to great lengths to insist these records aren't 'prog'.

"Go on any of the download sites and there are a handful of labels that usually comprise the Top 10. Saturation can be a bad thing, but right now there is clearly a demand for a specific sound."

At a time when 4/4-based electronica is, arguably, becoming stagnant, will the antithesis supervene so that we can enjoy dance music again- Listening to the Essential Mix, and, more importantly, Transitions 3, the answer is a two thumbs-up. Both compilations reveal the nature of someone who still enjoys making the enthusiast and the traditionalist rock to good music.

Digweed's latest 78-minute wonder is all about the 'peak time experience', to which he states, "I was after the atmosphere and intensity you get in a club or festival at 3[am] or 4am, but thumping sound-systems and 2000-plus clubbers are a totally different environment.

"To recreate it on a CD, I had to take a slightly different approach. It became a 'conscious' 20 tunes, exclusively editing each for the mix. In doing this, I had to avoid the trap of doing too much. I don't think it's any secret programming is very important to me, [so] I hope people who buy the album feel the balance just right."

Moreover, Digweed had to ensure he didn't leave both old and new fans out in the cold with the latest series instalment: "As an artist, you never want to alienate or upset anyone, but you can't let one view dictate what you do.

"Consequently, my brief to self on T3 was musical, not market-led."

The CD is a reflection of what Digweed's Essential Mix is all about: a set that rocks out, while at the same time allowing room for something organic to happen. It's a big enough challenge in a club to make this happen, which usually leads to a lot of frustration when things need to be condensed to one disc. Digweed, however, loved the vertical, saying "It was a challenge I enjoyed, plus records are a lot shorter these days, so the editing wasn't about shortening them to fit the timeframe [of the CD].

"It was more about creating the passages, flow and consequent energy in the overall mix."

Complementing the release of the new release is a bonus disc comprising a 25-minute record Digweed worked on with long-time producer partner Nick Muir, which they have since separated for both clubs and home use. Digweed is a fan of the record's new evolution, reinforcing the notion that there is always something to step up to for the challenge-loving artist. "Nick and I originally began work on the track and it grew to a whopping 25 minutes," he says, "so we hit upon the idea of setting it to exclusive unseen footage I had from a Mayan show in LA.

"We soon realised it would be a shame to only profile the extended album mix, so we went back into the studio to lay down shorter versions more suited to clubs.

"I road-tested one of the mixes throughout my American tour in September and it was very rewarding to get such a great reaction from a crowd who didn't yet know the track, let alone [know] it's my latest offering."

Transitions Volume 3 is out now through EQ/Stomp.