I heard you got into music at a very early age.
Yes I was! I remember when I was around eight and my dad would play his records in the house for a little party with his friends. They were making an absolute ruckus, screaming and dancing to the music (laughs). The noise would wake me up from sleep and I’ll be standing upstairs looking down with a frown on my face. All my dad could say was, “You can either go to bed or play some records.” So that was it; I played the records (laughs)!
What kind of tune was it?
Oh, dad was a funk and soul man. He also had a collection of old school R&B lying around and through what he played, I learned how expressive music is and how it affects people. Take a listen to Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman”—that’s the kind of song that releases people into the music. It just opens you up.
How has your experience of music evolved since then?
Early disco music did it for me and it went on to early acid house. Later on in my career, I went all over the musical soundscape, from hardcore breakbeats to trance. It has always been about the 4/4 beat for me. I could branch out to techno and soul and funk if need be because these sounds come from house music anyway.
Do you think music has somewhat lost its organic side?
That’s a really good question. I have to agree. Everything is computerized now and the construct of music is overtly formulated; there’s the beginning, middle and an end. Back then, bands would just jam it out in the studio with all the raw emotions and energy they could muster which you could actually hear on the records–everything still intact. Even if they were drunk, you could probably hear it!
What about the London sound? Gavin Mills and Sam Holt of Copyright told me previously in an interview that the city has lost it.
Ahhh, the London sound … it’s hard to say really. Particularly, if you look at how the music coming out from London have naturally stayed in London. If you look at the industry here, clubs are closing down, pirate radios are popping everywhere and file-sharing is a daily fix.
Care to elaborate that?
See, none of the music happening in London ever crosses out of the city, it stays in the city and therefore no one outside of the city have ever heard of its sound. In the end, there is no “London sound,” unless you do come to London and experience it yourself. People like Laurent Garnier have planted his musical seeds out of Manchester and slowly across Europe. It’s tough for DJs to do that anymore. The whole file sharing thing doesn’t help anyway; people will just be cooped up at home listening to a tune that seems to be representative of a city but unfortunately is not. At the end of the day, good music is just good music.
True. You are known for your discerning taste in music. What about your sets that has been so widely respected for?
I give everything for the music and that’s a start. I like to take people in on a journey and find elements of sound that does that. Picking their senses and ultimately, driving them insane.
I heard about this gig you did in Romania that went absolutely mental.
You mean the beach party? Yes, that was a mental night but I forgot which year it was and I was asked to do the last set from 3am onwards. I asked the organizers how long I had, and they told me however long I want. I went from dropping old school house classics to techno and even dropped a bit of trance. I was initially given two hours but we went on for eight hours!
So what’s new for Carl Cox?
All Roads Lead to the Dancefloor -my latest album after 4 years. It’ll be out in early 2011 and I have been secretly dropping the tracks from the album during my sets. The album sees me collaborating with an incredibly talented list of artists and producers. These same people will be playing with me live in some of my appearances this year starting with Stereosonic 2010 in Australia.
We’ll definitely look out for it at Zouk! What can we expect this time around?
This will be the first time I will be playing outside of the F1 after 2 years, so it’ll be definitely different. Zouk is one of my favorite clubs in the world; the people are just amazing! I’ll be dropping some new and old records and the Carl Cox spirit of course!
Experience the legendary sounds of Carl Cox on Oct 9, 10pm. Zouk, 17 Jiak Kim St., 6738-2988. $28-33 includes two drinks.