Few would argue that the Carl Cox Global Arena tent at the Ultra Music Festival at this year’s Winter Music Conference was one of the standouts of the weeklong music mayhem. Organised by his own team of people with the line-up handpicked and programmed by Carl himself it was clearly evident that great lengths had been undertaken to give festival goers a truly memorable experience.
In the next installment of our WMC Perspectives series, Carl reveals why it usually takes him 30 minutes to “do” his head (not hair) before his Global Arena performances: the importance of getting in Miami clubs and especially BED, before ten; why he won’t be getting any free Pussy in the near future and last but not least, why you shouldn’t believe everything you read - think flyers not RA.
This weekend Carl will be doing his first ever Carl Cox Live Performance show at The Ahoy in Rotterdam, which will see him play on the decks and also perform some of his own productions live.
Sum up what you’re like in bed the WMC 2005 in five or less words:
- Carl Cox, WMC 2005
What was your best gig at this year's WMC?
If you want me to be as bold as brass I think Ultra was absolutely amazing. I really thought the crowd, even in that heat, really stayed with me and the other DJs and stayed with the concept of the tent - the music that I wanted people to listen to.
The last two Ultras I’ve played I’ve had a good time but at this Ultra I was able to control exactly what I wanted people to hear; people who were paying good money to come and hear great DJs. You need a good sound system, a good area to dance in and they need a place where they can feel safe and know they’re going to get great music all day along.
As far as I’m concerned the Carl Cox Global Arena at Ultra was by far one of the best things about being there and that’s just not my point of view. I think everyone would say the same. I gave the very best performance I could at the Winter Music Conference at Ultra that you couldn’t see at my performance at Crobar. They’re two different animals. I was a bit more subdued then and probably a bit tired cos I gave all my energy to the Ultrafest. So out of the two, my gig at Ultra was the best for me.
What other party or venue would you like to have played at?
I do like BED. I do like the concept of that whole club. From a DJ’s point of view you’re right in the middle of it all. People can see you; there’s no hiding from anyone there. Everyone goes into that club; from people who can afford to be there to people who can’t afford to be there but are there anyway and are there for the music more than anything else, rather than the food and the women.
It’s something that a DJ can totally get their teeth into. You can sway a lot of people’s ideas about what a DJ actually does because you’re creating the atmosphere for that night. BED for me is an outstanding venue. I just like it cos it’s a cool place to be as well without being too snobby. People are still dancing, getting up and enjoying themselves and that’s what I like to see in any club but there, in particular, is just outstanding.
Which track do you remember going off the most?
I didn’t really get around to much so I didn’t really hear too many people playing different things. From my point of view there was one record which I really really wanted people to hear at Ultrafest by this Japanese artist called Hiroki Esashika which I’ve signed to Intec Records. The record is called Kazane. He made this record about 4 or 5 months ago. It’s the first Japanese artist that I’ve signed and this record is kind of like electro-clash but has this amazing sound in the middle of it.
It really did absolutely rock it at both venues and so showed me from a club point of view or from a stadium point of view, that this record works really well. This, for me was the record which really kind of nailed it, in the sense of hearing something new and fresh out of all the records I played. There were other moments as well which were fantastic but this record, I have to say, made DJs come up to me and just ask me what it was, something which also made an impact.
- Carl Cox, WMC 2005
What kind of music, events, DJs or live acts would you liked to have seen more of at this year's WMC?
I would have liked to have seen a few more live performances cos the conference is very DJ-lead. I think that’s something that should always be a staple diet of showcasing new music, new talent, new artists coming through. There are millions of DJs but I still want to see the next Aretha Franklin, the next Prodigy, the next Moby and there are not many people who are actually, from a band point of view, showcasing themselves well. It doesn’t matter if ten people turn up. As long as you perform it’s OK.
What I’m going to do from next year is have a Carl Cox concept where I’m able to perform some of the records that I’ve also created live - just turn off the music and go right, here’s the performance - in front of four, five thousand people and just see what happens. It’s an experience and that’s what I’d like to see more of, so if no one does it then I will.
In fact I’m already doing it this weekend where I’m playing for 10000 people in Rotterdam and doing a Carl Cox Live Performance show; something I wasn’t able to do this year at Ultrafest cos I wasn’t ready. But next year, I certainly will be.
How much would you have been prepared to slip security to see yourself play?
If it’s already packed and you’re still paying three times over the odds to go into a place which you won’t be able to see the DJ, can’t get a beer and can’t go to the toilet that for me doesn’t sound appealing.
Carl Cox or not, I’m not paying!
All I can say is going early enough is the only thing you can do to make sure or guarantee yourself getting into that night because most of the problems only really happen over 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning since the club has been open since 9 or 10 o’clock.
A lot of my friends didn’t even get into my night even at Crobar and ended up partying somewhere else. The one’s that went early did but the ones that rocked up and wanted to get in were subjected to paying the doorman. But they didn’t do it; they went home!
Who has the honourable task of inflating that enormous head of yours on stage at Ultra and how long does it take?
There are actually two of those heads, which we had built for our party that we did at Dance Valley in Holland last year, which floated above the stage. I think both of them take about half an hour each and a guy called Jim Baggott, who is my production manager on-site, has the task of doing that.
Even so they don’t actually look like me. From a distance they look OK but close-up look completely like someone else. Can you imagine actually having the task of making that? You know trying to get it right. And obviously they didn’t get it completely right but it’s kind of close enough. The idea is that it’s a bit of fun and it’s nice to put a bit of fun back into the room.
- Ultra Music Festival Clubber
There was one rumour - and there were flyers as well - that I was doing a pool party and people had to pay $15 to get in and the money was going to some sort of charity. I was in Minneapolis, not even anywhere near Miami at the time but I actually know who did it and how it all happened.
I was speaking to Danny “LTJ” Bukem, who’s a very good friend of mine, and he was involved in this party. It wasn’t that he wanted to scam this party at all, just that he thought that I would be there at the conference and would be able to do that party. But what he didn’t do was speak to my management based on if I could actually do that party. They took it as gospel and that I was going to be there so they put these flyers out and I became the headlining DJ for this party!
To tell you the truth I had people ringing me up and people going down and ringing me up and asking “What time are you playing? ”. I was like “I’m in Minneapolis!” It was ridiculous. It was just miscommunication on their behalf based on that they should have checked with my relevant people before putting out such a campaign.I didn’t say, “Yes I’ll be there and I’ll do it.” It was more like “I would like to do it but speak to my management. So that’s what happened.
What was the best comment said to you by a random clubber or fan?
I had some really great comments from fans and people who really enjoyed me being there. But there was one guy that came up to me and was asking me about getting involved with a thing called Pussy Vodka. And how it would be a really good idea for me to get involved because you can earn ‘Pussy Points’ by how much vodka you drink.
[Carl is also known to drink Bonk coffee... – RA Ed]
It’s unbelievable, completely, based on the fact that someone came up to me and said “Great music, great set but I’ve got this great idea for you. I’d like to get you involved in a concept of mine called Pussy Vodka.” I was like where does this all come from? What can you benefit from by calling a vodka Pussy? It was a no-go from that point but he was adamant that this was a really great thing. It’s kind of like calling the next wave of computers, Orange instead of Apple cos it’d be a great idea. So that was incredible and kind of interesting to say the least!
Sum up the WMC 2005 in 5 or less words.
Hot. Excited. Lovable. Dark. Interesting.
Photos: Patrick Munoz