DJ-producer Carl Cox on stress and improvising

DJ-producer Carl Cox on stress and improvising

DJ-producer Carl Cox, preparing to party under the Dubai stars tomorrow, explains his belief in improvising set lists.

By (Adam Zacharias)

Published: Thu 20 Mar 2014, 10:57 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:12 PM

BORN INTO A Barbadian family, British DJ-producer Carl Cox promises to play a sunshine-inspired set to revellers at Atlantis Beach tomorrow night.

Known for his 12-year residency at the Spaze Ibiza nightclub, as well as his regular work on BBC Radio One’s ‘Essential Mix’ show, Carl offers diverse set lists which mesh soul, techno and house influences.

He has released four albums to date, whilst also hitting the charts in his homeland with tracks like I Want You (Forever) and Two Paintings and a Drum. Carl, 51, also has an extensive remix CV which includes cuts for artists such as Moby, The Stone Roses and Grooverider.

As the founder and head of record label Intec Digital, the cheery music aficionado (who has more than one million Facebook fans) has released material for a host of other acts.

We phoned Carl at his Australian home to learn about his busy life as a music industry powerhouse.

What made you decide to relocate from England to Melbourne?

I bought a house here 10 years ago. After I’ve done the summer season of gigging in Europe, I get myself back to Melbourne in October (ready for the Australian summer). I love being here, it’s an awesome place and I don’t have work too hard – but hard enough! Plus the city has a really creative community. There are so many talented musicians here, it’s not even funny.

Would you say that the Aussie lifestyle has made your music happier?

That’s a good question, because a lot of the music coming out of the UK can be depressing. I love the beats but man, they just need to cheer up a bit! I come from a happy place – my family is from Barbados – so when I play my music there’s always an element of sunshine to it. That’s probably why I haven’t done a UK winter for the last 15 years!

Do you keep up with modern technology both for your live sets and your studio work?

Absolutely. You have to keep in front of what’s going on out there. One of the maddest things is that when I built my first studio, I rushed out and tried to get as much hardware as possible. Then somebody decided they could put it all on computer – with software that sounds exactly the same but takes up no room whatsoever! I actually applaud it – the technology nowadays is so detailed, it’s amazing. This software has terabytes of memory. When I started, I had four megabytes!

As well as making life easier, can the same technology also promote laziness among DJs and producers?

It has created a certain laziness. DJs now can’t play past one and a half hours because they’ve pre-programmed their sets and pushed play. Every single time that I DJ, I have 4,000 tunes to choose from and no clue what I’m going to play. That works really well for me, because I’ve got to create something. I’m flying by the seat of my pants on every single set, and that’s what I’ve always done. People don’t know the stress that I go through!

So you don’t have any secret musical weapons to pull out?

Not really, because maybe last year’s hit record isn’t this year’s hit record. Also, there are also so many great new records out there, you don’t have to do that. I always make sure I have good wholesome records that will rock the floor anyway.

What’s your definition of a wholesome record?

There’s a house track Finder by a guy called Ninetoes. It came out last year, and there’s a beautiful Caribbean steel drum sound. It became a hit, because the sound was so organic. For me, that was a wholesome record because he didn’t make it because he knew it was going to become popular, he made it as an expression of how he feels. It was a breath of fresh air.

When you show up at a venue and see the crowd, how good are you at predicting their mood?

I can do it instantly. I don’t even have to play a record. I’ve done thousands of parties over many years, and I can tell you exactly which way a party’s going to go. As soon as I go on, I can feel the essence in the air every single time. It’s a high expectation on myself, but I love it. I know I’ve got the tunes and the passion to have a good time from the very first record I play.

More news from City Times