Carl Cox turned a very respectable 52 yesterday. He got his start in the 1980s British rave subculture, meaning he’s been bumping every variant of house music for three decades. Even after such a formidable span of time, he remains affable and enthusiastic. Cox’s eclectic sets are catalogues detailing the evolution of dance music. He mixes everything from techno and break beat to tribal and reggae. Sometimes he borders on funky sometimes he goes disco. He carries you through the epochs with ease.
In a March interview for Dancing Astronaut the veteran imparts some wisdom about the electronic music scene, its festival headliners, and where the real value of the culture lies.
Insightful excerpts below, and watch a replay of his birthday shenanigans over at be-at.tv
“I don’t think it’s ‘underground vs overground,’ I just think it’s pop culture versus people who actually love the music. Some of these people have no clue why they are standing in front of these DJs in the first place.”
“I was not involved in the growth of the commercial. I still play what I believe in. On the other side, the pop culture stuff — I don’t think it’s damaged anything. It’s opened people up to a whole new sound and eventually they will grow out of what’s commercial and pop and find the thing that keeps them coming back for years and years. As long as you have a heart and soul and a passion for what you are doing people will find you.”
“The tracks you love the most are the ones you don’t know,” he says. “It’s that experience of discovery — that’s why you go to a festival. There’s been plenty of debate about this; why would you go to a festival to hear a bunch of music you already know? If you’ve been going for the last three years and you see the same guy play the same records you’re going to want to find something else and no one wants to see that happen. Me, I’m going to be just fine, but some of these guys need to think about what they are doing and really change the status quo. This whole thing is just not sustainable if they don’t.”
“I have always worked hard at making sure that the records I play are records you’ve never heard before because the person who made those songs made them for no other reason than to express themselves. I don’t want to be involved in making music that just makes people put their hands in the air. I want them to feel something in the first place. You can call me old fashioned, but it is this type of music that has longevity.”
The ease with which one can discover new and interesting talent in the various electronic music genres is unmatched in other areas of music.
Barcelona export, Raul Mezcolanza, is a prime example of this and one of those artists that I’ve been really fucking excited about lately.
I heard his track “Expresiones Subtiles” on Umek’s radio show awhile back, found it provocative, yet failed to do any further inquiry. But after finding one of his clips from this year’s Monegros it’s a wrap.
He’s just SO nasty with it. His sets are hard, and he punctuates them with these intriguing cerebral elements. Some are trippy, others just outright delightful, and still others completely unexpected. Like this minute-long slightly eerie classical-style opening:
Now the challenge lies in getting this genius to the United States, and to Output ASAP.
This set from July is massive, no other word for it.
The Stereo Productions showcase at The BPM Festival this year was punctuated by truly tight tropical sets. Although Arjun Vagale and Christian Smith were phenomenal contenders, the award for best beats of the day no doubt goes to Rafa Barrios, with his heavily percussive and effortlessly fun set.
It’s one of those bouncy pick-me-ups that you can listen to on repeat and thoroughly enjoy every single time.
Check it out below. I defy you to stand still even for a second.
(FYI: In the first few minutes and towards the very end or so there is a short audio incongruity)
If you want to try and find me dancing in the crowd, peep the video here: http://www.be-at.tv/aJMFAA
Monegros is a rave set in the desert of Spain attended by over 40,000 revelers. It has been awarded best festival for three years in a row by Vicious Magazine. Pretty impressive for a festie lasting only one day; 20 hours to be exact. It took place this year on July 19th.
The Spanish talent was out in full force. Peep this image of Paco Osuna’s set and below a clip of Raul Mezcolanza getting dirty.
Avenue Beach Club in the Dirty Jerz hosted Toolroom Knights this past weekend. Although Peter Bailey was by far the standout, the bros were enamored with Knight.
Check out this guy:
In terms of live performance, Mark Knight is another cheesy house DJ in a world already overrun by unoriginal electronic drivel. He doesn’t curate an experience or a mood; he doesn’t riff nor even appear to have any fun. He plays his uninspired gigs without passion or inventiveness. His sets are the most popular tracks from last year regurgitated for the masses, over and over again.
But in terms of production, he has released several memorable tracks with irresistibly infectious melodies. Many times I’ve been shocked to discover these are his creations. Case in point: the sax-laden, very soulful “Man with the red face.” Watch Steve Lawler drop this track at sunrise to groovy, heart-warming effect.
There are many other tracks of his that make the rounds, which at the hands of more inspired DJs, add the perfect funky touches to their sets. You’ve probably unknowingly heard all of these several times.
And of course a personal favorite from back in the day:
I suppose I can’t be too hard on someone that creates such ubiquitous tracks that even I have enjoyed.
But I will definitely take great care to avoid suffering through any more of his bland shows.
Who’s ready for this?