Welcome to my Q&A section where you'll find the answer to loads of your questions. I've put them into categories to help you find what you're looking for.
If you have a burning questions you'd like to ask me about DJing, writing, producing, the music industry or whatever just email me firstname.lastname@example.org I do my very best to answer every email!
I'm lucky, I can be selective with my gigs so I'm not working every week. I'm very much a family man, so that time at home is vital for me to recharge my batteries.
The music. I loved clubbing and created basic mix tapes in the mid 80s which I handed round to all the DJs. Eventually I fell lucky and was offered a residency in '87, and once I'd tasted the limelight it was difficult to stop. On the plus side, it paid for my vinyl habit!
It's easy to say my tracks, but in real terms it's my iPhone which is invaluable to me. I can look after the business end of the DJing, stay in touch and relax and play games or listen to tracks when I’m travelling.
I think you never stop being nervous, but it's the adrenalin rush that's the reason I keep doing what I'm doing.
New York. I lived there for a while and I’d go back there like a shot. Saying that, now I have kids Florida’s Gulf Coast would be better - that's if they’d have me!
Erm... I’ll take that as a compliment! I have to say the change to digital. The fact that you can create a track on your Mac drop it on to CD and play it that night is incredible. It's turned the industry on its head. The only way you could realistically get a track out BITD was to get a record label behind you and that took work and meant that the record industry had ultimate control of your artistic talent. We were deliberate in signing to Vinyl Solution who were a maverick independent label in Portobello Road run by two French guys. They never wanted to know what we were recording they simply pressed what we gave them. Without them 'Playing with Knives' would never have happened. With the onset of digital the power is back with the artist and that can only be a good thing.
I suppose it had to be my house at that time, but that's not that interesting an answer, so I think it had to be a vintage Tag watch
I work very hard deciding what I'm going to play, after all what you play defines a large part of your style. I tend to plan my set way in advance of the night, selecting tracks, which will lift up the tempo and vibe exactly when I need to and categorising them accordingly. Once I have selected my tracks I group them into genres… 'House', 'Tech House', 'Trance', 'Vocals' etc. then burn six or so tracks as a 'group' onto a CD and then make a copy. This second CD not only acts as a backup but allows me to mix between tracks within a 'group'. If I'm working in vinyl I will even go so far as to work out where the mixes will be and also time my set so that I can build to a high at the end. With Ableton I tend to pre-build a base mix which may include beds that I will write myself, this allows me to drop tracks and effects over the top as I go. The trick here is to get organised, trust me when you're mid set and you can't find that killer track to drop cos you've filled it somewhere you'll know what I mean.
Firstly congratulations! My best advice is to be prepared. If it’s a club you're not familiar with then get there early and do a sound check. Familiarise yourself with the equipment and get a feel or the monitoring (the balance of sound you hear between your headphones and the speaker which is normally by the DJ). Also double-check their music policy. Chances are they will know what you play but worth checking in case it's a hard house night and you turned up with a minimal tech set - I don’t suggest you change your style but you might choose harder edged mixes for example. And finally drink water! Save the beers till you come off the decks - When you’ve had a couple it might sound good in your head but it won’t be fun for the clubbers!
To be honest I don't charge one single flat rate, it all depends on the club, its size and travel expenses, but as a guide I would say for a newcomer you might just want to get established, but never undervalue what you do. As a guide you should be looking at a few hundred pounds at least!
Glad to say never, but I have done in the early days. I remember once I intended to drop a vinyl track straight in but as I let go my sleeve caught the needle and took the arm off the record with an almighty scratch. Try and hide that one in your set!
Firstly you have to be prepared. Recce the venue, if possible do a sound check beforehand and get familiar with the equipment the sound system and the monitoring.
Next get organised. Know what you're going to play. You may not have decoded on every track in your set but you will have a feel for what will work and when you need that killer track you're going to need to know exactly where it is and what CD or hardrive it's on.
Finally stay focussed. I'm sure you're going to enjoy the attention but you need to concentrate on the feeling you get from the crowd, what's working and what's not. You're also going to need to get those mixes right so time to lay off the beers till it's over.
My main gripe is sound quality. Volume doesn’t mean quality, so watch the output levels. So many times I step up to the mixer and all the volumes are up and every channel is clipping (i.e. all the little flashing lights stay on and don't flash anymore!). Whack everything up and all you get is distortion, so watch them levels.
Of course, it happens to the best of us! The biggest mess was when I was DJing in Paris and was also booked for a live mix on a major french dance radio show. Got to the luggage carousel at Charles de Gaulle Airport and sure enough no record box! Luckily for me Laurent Garnier was kind enough to lend me his vinyl and the show went on. Of course the clubbers were none the wiser but it was a close shave!
If you are also DJing out I would recommend Ableton Live. It's reasonably cheap and you can use it to DJ with if you want. If it's pure production and writing you're going to do I would use a full-blown studio programme like Cubase or Logic as they're designed for that purpose and they won't hold you back creatively.
Send them to DJ's and hopefully they will drop them into their sets. I'm always looking for original tunes and so is everyone else so that’s a good place to begin. Also have you tried sending them to radio stations? Radio 1 have a progressive policy on new music so choose a DJ who would like your style and send it in. Another avenue to try are record labels but be persistent, if the tracks are good you’ll get noticed in the end!
In short yes, there's a good chance you will. Whether it's an accapella, a track or sample you will eventually need to negotiate a deal with the writer and publisher of that work and they in turn will probably want what's referred to as 'Points' (or a percentage on your track) prior to release or you could get sued! A good place to begin is by talking to PRS (Performing Rights Society), they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Good point. It's not easy being a deaf DJ - those who have seen the film 'It's all gone Pete Tong' will know what I mean. I have a set of handmade earplugs which you can get from most music technology suppliers online. You’ll pay between £80-120 quid but your ears are the most important tool you have as a DJ/Producer so look after them. If your ears are ringing the next day that's a real concern and a good indication they are being damaged so if you're clubbing all the time think about some good quality plugs.
I've loads of favourites including the Albert Hall, but a few in particular stick in my mind. There was the one in Rome in a massive amphitheatre, or in Columbus Ohio where we got mobbed but I think the one that really sticks in my mind was in Jersey, at the Fort Regent Leisure Centre when we decided it would be a good idea to go for a drink first. Of course it wasn't long before we were chatting to the locals and after a while we were having a great time with about 20 other clubbers. We then thought it would be a good idea to smuggle them into the gig as part of our 'entourage' in our gig bus!
I always look back to TOTPs with fond memories. When we were first asked to appear we were concerned it would ruin any credibility we had but when we thought about the acts that have appeared we couldn't imagining not doing it. I was such a massive part of growing up and to actually have the opportunity to appear was a dream come true. Sad they scrapped it and I hope they will bring it back one day.
They both have their place. In some sense with vinyl there's a real vibe that it's live and could all go wrong but digital allows you the flexibility to be able to expand your creativity and test tracks you've written that day on a crowd that evening so in that respect digital has the upper hand. As for sound quality vinyl has the edge, it just sounds so rich in a club it's hard to beat.
Never say never, but in real terms I doubt it. They were great times but like everything things move on and I prefer to look forward to new projects.
Trust me there were so many I could write a book about 'em! If we weren't giggin' we where having crazy things happen to us! There was the time we did a gig for the Mafia and our manager had a gun pulled on him, there was the Dutch gig when no one turned up and we played anyway to the bar staff, having the Prodigy as our warm up act (more than once!), giving Kylie a kiss, getting drunk with a famous rock band which I won't mention, accidently trashing a limo, sleeping in someone's moored rowing boat cos we couldn't remember where the hotel was, loosing band members at gigs, hotels and airports, being called a 'Bum-looker' by RuPaul, a 7ft transvestite (worth a Google if you don't know him/her), having lunch while sitting in between Ian Beale and Pete Beale from Eastenders, driving all night across Texas with a girl who had a gun in her glove compartment and of course there was that time we got snowed in at the Marriott, Times Square with a little known band called Take That and ending up sharing a bed with Mark (as you do). All pretty surreal, but I think my favourite one was when our MC at the time swapped his VIP entry pass (probably for suspicious substances) and then couldn't get into the gig!
I think it's unfair to just tag the clubbing scene when drugs are endemic within society. To be honest I've always got my high from the music, so never seen the need but people will inevitable experiment. If that's the case we need more education so people can make an informed choice.