In a day where technology is pushing new boundaries, and DJ’s are often trying to find that cutting edge, it is not often that we get to look to the past to uncover the sounds of where it all began. One such avenue is the ‘Choice’ mix series by Azuli, a series which showcases the sounds that mould some of the finest current talent, and one such talent is the very well respected John Digweed.
When Azuli approached John to do this mix, his reaction summed up the reputation the series had in his mind. ”Did I give it much thought? Well the track list I did – whether to take them up on the offer I didn’t!”. It was a response that somewhat surprised me to some degree as he is a man that is quite selective with his mixes. And it is clear that when he decides to mix a compilation, he always seems to nail it squarely on the head. ”I’m very selective in DJ’ing and even more when it comes to making an album” John states. ”When you receive the most upfront music in the world, you can’t just whack something together as people want to see that you DO put the time and energy in. If you stop doing that, people will see through you pretty quickly.”
Surely making an album with productions from years gone by can’t be that easy, especially when you have been a DJ spanning 3 decades. ”It was hard just because of the volume of music I had to go through. Going from 30,000 plus (records) that I still have, to 28 tracks is not easy.”, Digweed emphasises.”The amazing thing is that most of these records still sound great, they’ve proven why we thought they were so good at the time as they still sound fresh”.
As with many classic records, the strong point about them is the significance they had at a certain point of your life. I asked John if these records brought back great memories. ”Definitely. I’ve tried to find a balance between tracks that were personally significant to me and tracks that were significant to the scene and time that my career was developing in. Needless to say though, I remember a lot of funny and odd things happening during these records as they were the ones I used to play a hell of a lot.” It is not uncommon to see John champion these records from time to time in the current climate as he stresses ”It’s good to remind yourself with some of those gems.”
In a time where making music is so much easier then it was 10 or more years ago, as you have to remember that making music all those years ago required a lot of equipment and a large amount of money as well as patience, I questioned John as to whether he thought the depth and standard of music a decade or so ago was higher as opposed to current times. ”Not really. Perhaps the volume of music is greater now, which is why there seems to be more stuff that isn’t that great. The top end though is as good as it ever was.”. There is hope for the current crop to make some classics that we will look back on in 10 or so years it seems. ”I think right now we are actually in a period of particularly good and varied music, that’s what I’ve found from what I’m playing out at present anyway.” It’s a good point as to why John is still as good as he was back when he started at Hastings.