#4 - John Digweed

So this one’s might need a little explaining. I’ve said it here before, but it’s likely that you weren’t here for that - I went through a phase in college where I traveled all over the southeast going to see shows. I didn’t go to Phish shows except for a few times, and String Cheese was a bit after my time. I and my buddies went to go see DJs. This was the golden age of Keoki, Rabbit in the Moon, Simply Jeff, the Dubtribe Soundsystem, Scott Hardkiss.. My first party was to go see the Dubtribe at some club in Raleigh. I couldn’t figure out where the music was coming from the whole time, but it didn’t matter because I danced my ass off all night long. It was awesome.

After a year or two of this and getting more established in the Boone music scene as a bassist, it occurred to me one night that perhaps I should pick up a pair of decks and figure out how to rock the crowd like these guys do. It was DJ Icey running the show at that particular time. From another post -

I still remember this one record he played that night - the vocal hook was “can you feel the BASS”, and when the record said ‘bass’ there was this note that came out of the subs that can’t be related verbally. It shook the world. It made my hair stand up. It made the entire party, all 5000 of us, stop dancing and look around at each other.

So anyway, pretty much like this whole software quest but somewhat more informed, I began groping about for a style and a sound.

Local influences

I had two good buddies in Boone at the time that really helped inform my direction and encourage me to go for it. Most of these style of music probably don’t really exist anymore or have come to be called by different names, but Matty was into the breakbeats (careful, that link is pretty hard). My other buddy Breckenridge was more into downtempo and deep house. Those two areas being covered, I began to search around for something that wasn’t already being done. There was quite a lively DJ scene in the the NC high country in the late 90s, and there were lots of drum and bass DJs around, so I turned the tempo down a bit. I still wanted to rock the house, but in a smoother more subtle way. Wasn’t long before I found a mix CD by John Digweed.

The build

I’d attribute most of my love for music that “jams” to the crop of progressive house DJ/producers that England was churning out 10 years ago. The main thing with that style of music is to lull your crowd into a trance (not like that circuit-housey gay bar trance, but an actual state of hypnosis). After about an hour or so of playing with them and giving them alternate chances to rest and whatnot, you start building over the course of a few records to a HUGE record. This is where you kill them with your best bass line.

I learned two things from DJing - how to build a set over the course of a night and a metronomic sense of time and tempo. The whole idea of mixing two records together without anyone else even noticing it’s happening is something that really appealed to me, and requires a hell of a lot of skill to do well. Your sense of time has to be perfect, you have to listen harder than almost any live musician has to (just realized that while writing this) in order to achieve the right blend and keep your records together, and you have a to have a good ear for pitch so that you don’t clash two records together that are a minor second apart. There’s also quite a lot of acoustic theory to delve into on your mixer so that your two kick drums don’t cancel each other out. Good times. So help me, some day I’m going to get back over that way musically.

Other notable prog house influences - Steve Lawler, Dave Seaman, Danny Tenaglia, G Pal, Gui Boratto, Deep Dish, Sasha of course…

God, this blogging shit takes forever. No wonder I’ve been so off this year. Later y’all. Thanks for reading…