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Carl Cox Interview

Carl Cox is currently on tour with the Area: 1 festival.

Carl Cox Interview

What do you like most about techno?

I am into things that please people, that make them stand up and listen to what's going on. Tech is a terminology on that technology has allowed us to make this style of music. Without it, we would still be playing guitars and basses. Not that that is a bad thing, but the pumping energy that you hear now is from a machine. To get that sound, there has to be some sort of human input into how you make the machines groove and work, and the feel of it really gets into people's hearts and minds. That's what I like, I have always been into things that push the elements. With that, I have always enjoyed people's reactions to what they are hearing.

What is the positive side to raves over regular club DJ'ing?

With clubs, you get restrictions based on that only a certain number of people with a certain style of dress can get in. Some only work with a Top 40 music policy. You are kicked out by 2 AM, sometimes earlier. Sometimes you get thrown out because of things that are not even your fault. We broke that down in the UK, when the Raves and Dance parties began appearing. You are free in the sense of what you want to have as an experience. Everything in this way was always something to look forward to. Going to a club every weekend, it was never different unless the DJ brought a different record. Club DJ's also do something where they know what records work at a certain time at the club. A lot of DJ's got complacent because of that. With a rave, you never know what people are like or what they are into, apart from what you create. It's a creation that you are trying to develop. To me, I have always flourished in the sense of taking the bull by the horns, in the sense of what you give back to people. With that, week-in and week-out, all I have done is push the elements of that situation. With clubs, it's a little more personal in the sense that most clubs are a couple thousand people strong. With the rave culture and the dance music, you get to play anywhere from 2,000 to 50,000. It's unreal. It's wacked.

How did you come up with using three decks instead of two?

I came up with it really after I had become as technical and creative on two turntables as possible. I was in the hip-hop era. I mixed some soul with hip-hop and rock n' roll with jazz. With two turntables you can do that. With an MC, and you can develop a unique style of music rapping over your music which is a creation. For me, coming through the house and tech situation, you have a 4-4 beat and it's driving hard all the time. For me, I just thought I could use another turntable. I could use another record, or another sound, or another bass line. Put a rhythm on top of that situation of two turntables. All I really did is put it in to prove to myself that I could do this creatively without having to think about it. Now, I do three turntables and wow everybody and it just happened. In 1989, there was a party in the UK called A Midsummer's Night Dream, an illegal/open-air party for 15,000 people. At the time, there was a record out called French Kiss by Little Louie and also a record by Doug Laser, called Let It Roll. I was kind of pulling that back and scratching Doug Laser over French Kiss. The record was driving hard so it all became a remix of what I created there spontaneously. With that, people just turned around because they had never heard anything like that. For me, and as far as I was concerned, I knew I had something to offer in the sense of what I do as a DJ. To push the elements of DJ'ing and creativity within that. Since then, I have always been called the "3 Deck Wizard" and I have never looked back since.

Could you talk about the Berlin Love Parade?

They just had this year's on May 21st. To be honest, there was a lot of trouble with the latest one because of environmental issues. Every year the parade creates a certain amount of mess within the city itself even though we put a lot of money into the city as well. The environmentalists decided to have a rally on the same day as the parade. So the Love Parade organizers had to move the date. Because of the change in schedule, a lot of DJ's including myself weren't able to DJ. I'm sure it was a great success, but again we were pushed out in a sense of the date we have always had, which is more or less the 6th or 7th of July. The last four years, there has been a minimum of 1.5 million people who walk through the Brandenburg Gate where Hitler's troops marched. All you see are colorful people dancing in support of the dance culture. It's an amazing spectacle to see. You just can't touch it. It's unbelievable. It's a shame it has now turned into something controversial. It started with DJ's on two trucks and several 100 people. Then it went to 1.5 million people with 50 trucks.

What has changed through the years you have played the Parade?

To be honest, there's been a lot more corporate empire. A lot more TV and media involved. A lot more sponsors whom show their wares and energy drink's and magazine's. Before, it was just the club owners and DJ's coming together to show people the culture they've created. With that, awareness is worldwide. People come from all over the world for this.

What happened for the millennium show?

There is a guy called Eddie Gordon who works for BBC1 (the radio station). He had the idea of a 24-hour broadcast on BBC1 and to have me headline and be in charge of the whole broadcast. By having me start at Sydney, organizers had got the license to have a party on Bondi Beach. The area they had was amazing. They had to shut part of the beach. They did it the next year too, but people weren't as happy about it. I went on at 11:00 PM. There were about 17,000 people on the beach. It was a great production and the sound system was amazing. Not only that, we were broadcasting through satellite link-up to the UK and beyond. When the clocks went down, I have never seen the roar of people laughing, crying, and smiling because of the turn of the century. People were going crazy around me. We had some issues with the wind as well, because it was scratching the needle across the record. That was fantastic, I played three hours into the New Year. Meanwhile, I had to leave at 5:00 AM to catch my 6:30 AM plane by Quantas to fly to Hawaii. I've never been there before. I had no idea what the culture of dance music over there was like. I t was great to be able to give something to a country which hasn't experienced this sort of thing. We did it for nothing, too. It was a free party. I was expecting 5,000-6,000 people but there were 10,000 people going crazy. We broadcast that too back to the UK, so it was Carl Cox at the beginning of the millennium in Sydney and then Carl Cox at the end of the millennium in Hawaii.

How did you get into DJ'ing?

I got into DJ'ing through my family and friends. My father was having a lot of parties at home. This was like in the late 60's and early 70's. I was about 8 or 9. My dad just told me to sit down one day. He told me to sit there for a couple of hours and play a selection of records. I was just going through my dad's records. My family and friends had a really good time with the selection that I played and I really enjoyed that. The bug caught me right away. I wanted to find out more about the artists. The list goes on, but it was always a little funk and soul oriented with a little rock n' roll, and country and western. Playing music always changed the mood of the night. So I chose music carefully. But with that, I would go with my dad to the record shop and I got some of the records that I thought were great. I would go to a friend's house and fire up the records. People wanted to see Cox's son perform sort of. With that I followed the destiny of finding out more about music.

How have you seen tech change since you began?

There was barely a culture to begin with. There was hardly an understanding for it except with guys in Detroit who were making their music. It was just something they had their hands on. But if the UK, it was a completely new phenomenon. People were saying, "Wow, I've never heard this before." We were getting a lot of electronic music from Germany. Such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, They were kind of like electronic dance music or electronica. It wasn't the pumping funky edge of tech in Detroit and Chicago. A lot of people in America were experimenting with this sound and it got pushed to the elements even more so. I just got on it straight away and had an understanding of where it was coming from. The culture of it was understood more when it came to the UK. The raves allowed that music to come through and flourish. For me that was great to see the creation of this sound develop in front of my eyes. Now people are dancing in the streets. For me, that was a moment in my life I will never forget. The record was made with no direction of where it would end up. People who enjoyed the future of music just accepted it and there it was. Now everyone knows hot to make a good house track you go here, if you make it this way you get on Billboard. You can make it really hard and funky and end up on Kerrang! There is a way now to get a record out to people who understand it. Before, the only people who understood it were the people that went to these underground parties. Then it went all over Europe, and now it's being accepted in the US. If you asked me 12 years ago to do a party like this in the US, that place would be empty. "What the hell are you doing? That's completely crazy." But now it is accepted.

What kind of response has there been to the Area: 1 tour so far?

The response has been absolutely phenomenal. I think this is definitely the best thing that has happened in the US in the last 10 years. People have really been enjoying the Area: 1 tent without a shadow of a doubt. I think it's about time that people from the other side in the sense of corporate companies can see that it's not just about the big bands or being successful in the sense of record sales. We go right to the people and they are the ones that listen. With that they come and enjoy themselves fully. I can't wait to get back on the Area: 1 tour next year if that's possible.

How were you asked to join the tour?

Moby asked me himself. I've known Moby now for the last 12-14 years. He had a record called "GO" which came out in the UK. It was absolutely amazing. For a while we were always on the same bill. "Carl Cox/Moby, Moby/Carl Cox." Moby would see me rock the crowd and I would see him rock the crowd. Then for a while he stayed in the US. We kind of worked his album touring. He is more a performer than he is a DJ, although he was DJ'ing as much as he was performing. A door opened for people like Moby, Paul Oakenfold, and myself to just come through and flourish. With that he went back to whom he had seen and he still saw me and gave me the opportunity to join this tour. It gives him self-satisfaction of knowing that he chose wisely.