Alongside Adam Beyer and Thomas Schumacher, Marco Bailey has pulled up for a breather. That was what was so gobsmacking about the mix CDs '160 Minutes of Marco Bailey' and 'Positive Disorder' -- here was a DJ who had made a name for himself as the go-to man for hard bangin' techno cozying up to the sensitive likes of Board of Canada and Mathias Schaffhauser. Is this what the hippies used to call mellowing out? Was the lion revealing his inner pussycat? Or was Bailey simply smarter than most and quicker in on the ground floor as the winds of European techno shifted direction?
Yet it's not all as easy as that. Insert CD2 of 'Positive Disorder' and Bailey is back to his old banging ways. With a reputation grounded in hard techno productions championed by the likes of Carl Cox, a discography that reaches back a decade, and an established reputation as a workhorse of big room techno on the DJ circuit, Marco Bailey is in this for the long haul.
In the midst of his busy schedule, RA was lucky enough to catch up for a chat.
So, where have you just travelled from?
I came from Estonia near Russia. In distance it's maybe not too far but it's a long travel day with planes and waiting and so forth.
You played as part of the Carl Cox & Friends gig at the Miami Winter Music Conference alongside Cristian Varela and of course Carl Cox and Loco Dice. How did that go?
Oh it was really nice. Miami is always fun. It's more like a hangout than a gig since everybody is there. Many DJs come from all around the world and it's always nice weather. Everybody gets to meet each other and have fun. You get to talk with people who you only see maybe once a year. It's great.
Were there any other developments for you at the conference? There's always talk of signing new records and artists.
Yes I have a lot of new things coming out on my own labels. Two new releases on MB Elektroniks. One release is with Phil Kieran from Belfast.
If you were to look back briefly on your early electronic music influences what would they be?
I don't really have any heroes that I can point to. I just try to do the best that I can. I try to make innovative music when I can but I hate the attitude of producing the same type of music for years and years. Like people still really know me from the harder side of techno but I think you have to change...not all the time. But you have to innovate and try to be creative, try to make different stuff.
I really love to make electro and also house but of course I am still primarily techno. I rarely listen to techno at home, more Warp type stuff like Boards of Canada and Chris Clarke, Aphex [Twin] of course. I really love the ambient side of things. I really like to listen to many things and try to produce many things.
After getting your own tracks released on Intec, Primate & Tortured you set up MB Elektroniks and MB Selektions. Was this a difficult step to take? Were there any sacrifices or major decisions you had to make in order to fully initiate this project?
Yeah but I started my own labels when one of the best distributors for techno, Prime, was still going in London. It really helped and it was like about 5 years ago when techno was really, really hot. It was a nice period but then unfortunately Prime went bankrupt and so we had to move on to other distributors.
It is harder nowadays because many people download stuff from the Internet and it's not like 5 years ago, which is good and bad. We have to look more into the digital download market. I think two years from now everybody's gonna buy their music from the internet. Vinyl sales are really going down which I cannot support as vinyl is my love. But what can you do, you know? You have to follow the rules and the laws.
Are your labels separate in terms of the approach to the music they release?
With Electroniks it's just dancefloor, really only dancefloor. With MB Selektions the idea is to have one or two dancefloor tracks on one side and on the other, one or two tracks that are completely different, music to think about. It doesn't have to have a beat like people are used to, some ambient or weird stuff, really. This is what I want to do with MB Selektions.
You also set up Pornographic Recordings with Cristian Varela. Are there any current developments on that label?
Yeah number 17 is coming out soon. But Pornographic is actually to give new talent a chance; people who have never released something before, for example.
Your style appears to have changed from mainly loop-driven techno which you primarily played before, to the minimal-influenced sound, as heard on your 'Positive Disorder' CD for example. Your previous 160mins CD also explored some deeper, melodic sounds. How did this change come about? Was it a gradual thing in general with the music you listen to?
Yeah in general. I also think it was time for a change. People still playing the loop thing are still playing 3hours non-stop, all the time hard and looped techno. I think it's a little past it. It's time to bring a little melody back and it's time to have a little bit of everything in your set: a little minimal and also some hard records. I still love hard records, love them, but it doesn't have to be 3 hours of all the same stuff. I love to have a line running through my set and not just bang it for 3 hours. Like shranz, I hate this.
On your 160mins CD you make use of a couple of Boards of Canada tracks which may have surprised people in terms of the almost ambient
sound. Indeed the closing track (one of your own) 'A Tale About Me and Myself' is quite chilled. Is this a side of music that you're currently interested in? Have you any more plans to explore deeper electronica?
Definitely, 100%. It's time for a change sometimes.
On both of these mixes you lift the tempo with the percussive stuff. Is that something you're glad you've kept in your sets?
Of course, I try to vary the sounds but keep the energetic stuff too!
On some of your tracks like 'Spiderweb' and 'Siestanyol' it also credits Tom Hades. How did this collaboration came about?
It's amazing really. He's my best friend. Before, I had my own studio and he also had his own. But because he was only living a mile away, one day we decided to put all our equipment together. Now we sit and hang out and work together quite a lot. It's going really well.
If you look around at the scene at the moment, who continues to catch your interest either as a producer or a DJ?
There are so many good producers around right now. I get so many good things sent to me. It's really difficult to single out just one guy, to say this is the best talent in Europe or whatever or the newest talent. I think there is still a lot of good, new talent coming out all around Europe and all around the world.
Have there been any major changes in the way you perform as a DJ?
Well the major change is using downloaded stuff. I use CDs a lot more and the sound is actually better than on vinyl. The spectrum is bigger, from the wave. It always has a cleaner and a louder sound than a vinyl.
As an in-demand DJ on the circuit you're very involved in the scene and I presume this is largely an enjoyable experience. Is there ever a case of electronic overload?
Yeah for sure. What I've been saying recently is that there are too many records coming out every week. Thousands of records come out and I think it's kind of a nightmare for the distributors to sell these records well. People have to choose between all this music that's coming out every week, like each DJ may choose 15 or 20 records a week. You cannot expect all these records to sell so I think people should just concentrate more on what they do, release less and not just release music for the sake of it.
The stresses with the travel involved must catch up with you. Outside of DJing do you find it hard to get the time to relax?
At the moment I am so, so tired. It's unbelieveable. In January I take 2 weeks off and thats it! It's not much is it? (laughs)
You have DJed at many of the big festivals and in so many countries across the globe. Have there been any new ports of call recently?
Well maybe soon I am gonna go to Amman in Jordan, which I'm really looking forward to because it's in a country that only ten years ago, electronic music didn't even exist. Apart from that, recently I have been to Chile and Venezeula, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. Brazil has had a scene for many, many years already. But i think countries like Chile and Venezeula are quite new still.
Finally, any plans for the rest of 2006? Do you have anything in the pipeline on the mix CD side of things?
I am gonna do a mix CD for DJ magazine. It's like a bonus CD, not just a mix CD for the mag. And then of course I am gonna be concentrating more on producing music in the studio for my own labels. I'm also gonna try and get a new release ready before the summer for Carl Cox's label, Intec.