So Lee Burridge is a tech house DJ then. Well, not really. Sure, London tech house was part of Burridge and Craig Richards' acclaimed Tyrant sound, but Tyrant never were very purist about the music they played: You were just as likely to hear dub, deep house, bleepy electro or techno in Tyrant sets as you were tech house, and anyway, if anything, Craig Richards was the tech house half of the duo. Not exactly Terry Francis or the Wiggle crew as far as pushing a singular aesthetic goes.
Well, we can be certain Burridge was never a trancer at least. Think again. In the mid-nineties, Burridge actually started out in Asia spinning trance at superclub nights like Cream in Hong Kong and to beaches full of hippies at full-moon parties in Thailand. It wasn't until Sasha and Craig Richards invited him back to England that Burridge and Richards' sound became a staple of Saturday nights in the capital.
But that's all history now. What exactly does Lee Burridge play these days? Well, if you're thinking of going along to a Burridge night as an escape from the tsunami wave of minimal and neo-Detroit hitting clubs, think again. These days his box is packed with the techier end of the latest hot young things: Audion, Exercise One, Martin Buttrich, Donnacha Costello, 2000 And One and Fuckaponydelic to name a few. Even his own new track 'Treat 'Em Mean Keep 'Em Keen' – yes, he's started dabbling in production again - is a messy minimal affair.
Maybe Burridge is so misunderstood because he never stays in one place too long. Instead of releasing mix CDs to capture a particular sound, he spends most of his time travelling the clubs of the world on a seemingly neverending 365 tour. RA caught up with one of dance music's most misunderstood men, and found him in a jolly mood. Our tête - à - tête went something like this:
New year, new music. At the start of a new year, do you clean out your record bag and biff the tracks you hammered in 2006?
I don't really use the new year as a defining record bag point. I swap my records around a lot all year long. I play some tracks for a while, take them out for a bit then go back to them later. Some I only play once or twice. New Year's Eve is actually probably one of the worst times to empty out my bag as most label's don't release a lot of music in January.
New Year's Eve can be a DJ's most lucrative night of the year, but sometimes it's not always a musically adventurous one. How was yours?
I had one of my best New Year's Eves for ages. I was in Romania and played for about three days. The great thing about Romania is they have a passion for good music not 'hits'. I didn't have to drag out any old faithful tracks. There were no 'Beachball' or 'Insomnia' moments for me. Thank fuck!! We were all standing on the hotel balcony (stoned and thinking about eastern European workmanship) in front of a crowd that weren't only welcoming in 2007 but also entry into the EU. As midnight passed they set off a massive firework display just in front of the hotel. Suddenly thousands of fireworks were screaming up in front of us, seemingly about two inches from our faces so we joined the stampede off the balcony and into the dining room. The "tourists die in collapsing balcony firework bombardment” headlines were flashing through my mind...until the next Jack Daniel's anyway.
You're heading back to Asia soon this year as part of your 365 trawls. You've lived in Hong Kong and also toured quite a bit there before so can you tell us which country has the best err... noodles?
For noodles you either want to go to Singapore (generic answer), or if you're in Hong Kong there's a specific noodle shop in Chai Wan that employs one of the world's finest (apparently) noodle doctors. They have a 'special' sauce that causes men and women alike to be transported into a tranquil state of bliss.
What other cities or countries are you heading to in the first part of 2007?
I'm going back to South Africa for Global Breakthrough, which should be excellent, as well as China, Singapore, Turkey, Hungary and Italy. Richard Branson is also firing me into space to entertain Steven Hawking.
Why do you choose to play under the umbrella of a clubbing brand/concept like 365? Is there much difference between your sets at a Burridge Barrage gig or a 365 gig? Are you a brand conscious kinda guy?
The sets themselves are only different when I either get to play for longer during events, such as my 'Barrage' party at the Miami Winter Music Conference, or if I am in one of the 365 cities. 365, I suppose, is now a 'brand'. It was initially a kind of experiment though. My sets did adapt in certain cities as I grew to understand what worked best with each specific crowd. The 365 party umbrella is used when I'm staying in a city for one to two months. It gives some separation between that project and when I'm simply playing one off parties.
Given all your travelling, how long does it take for your passport to fill up with stamps? Have you had any major dramas going through customs or immigration? In your experience, which country has the least friendly Passport Control?
I go through about two passports a year. As for mean immigration people, it really depends on the person you get. The last time I went into Canada the girl who was dealing with me was wonderful. Somehow my visa hadn't made it into the system. She could have refused me entry but decided to google me and made me a new work visa there and then.
However, I have met quite a few mean and super 'jobs worth' Canadian immigration officials who love to flex their authority. I got caught up in a bit of a pickle last year going into Montreal. I had been DJing on a boat and was flying in from St. Lucia. As I was due to play a ten-hour set I asked a friend of mine who was driving from New York up to Montreal to bring a second bag of records with her. She had three other friends with her that had decided to go: one was Egyptian, one Pakistani and one from Iran. She is from Long Island. This, I presume, is reason enough to pull over the car at the border for a search (People from Long Island are shady!). They were asked if everything in the car was theirs and they said yes. The search began and at this point I must add that I have two passports and the second one was sitting in a mesh pocket on the top of my record bag. It was pretty much the first thing they found and with me not being in the car alongside the fact it's illegal to transport a passport that's not yours over the border there was quite a scene at the US/ Canadian border. It took hours before they let them go and when I arrived in Montreal airport I firstly had to deal with the grumpy French speaking lady who was angry at me and then to top it off had to drive into the darkness to the border where my friends had crossed to get my other passport back. It was 2 a.m. and the border guard had never heard of someone having two passports and shouted at me, kept me waiting for two hours and told me not to do it again. I think he would have preferred a firing squad if it was up to him.
You started up your own label Almost Anonymous last year. Do you have Almost Anonymous (like Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings? How do they usually proceed?
To keep our anonymity I'm afraid I have to refrain from answering this question.
You implored fans to buy your single 'Treat Em Mean Keep Em Keen' so you could buy a helicopter. So how is she? Does she keep needing new batteries?
I decided in the end to forgo the helicopter as I didn’t have anywhere to park it. I decided instead to buy an ex-military Baltic states atomic submarine to go to my gigs in. The best thing about it is you rarely have to clean it as it’s in the water most of the time. The only time it needs a scrub is when the barnacles build up just below the submerged waterline. It's a nightmare to get to Nottingham in though.
Where are you at musically as a DJ these days? Who or what's doing it for you?
I never know the answer to that question. I'm always looking for the music that doesn't have a particular genre. The ones that step in and out of a few different styles interest me. I liked tracks by Guy Gerber, Exercise One, Ricardo Villalobos, Inaqui Marin, Ripperton and many other producers last year. If music is as interesting as this and DJs are willing to play it, then 2007 is going to be a very good year .
<Deep house, electrohouse or tech house?
Deeplectechtrohouse. Variety is the only way forward.
We like a good joke at RA. Heard any good ones recently?
After repeatedly tapping on her forehead for ten minutes my friend came out a sleep/coma caused by me making her stay up for three days straight partying and the first words out of her mouth were:
Coma Girl: What do gay horses eat?
Coma Girl : Heeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyy ( in a very gay voice).
Now that's a stylish way to wake up! She's my hero.
DJ biographies are a bit like Chinese whispers. Here's your chance to set the record straight. What's one thing journos always seem to bugger up when they report on you?
There always seems to be the notion that I'm a tech house DJ or a progressive house DJ. WHO SAYS SO!!!!!
A lot of DJs, including yourself, namecheck cooking as a favourite pastime. (No mixing jokes, please.) What's your current specialty?
I'm a deft hand at Thai curry but my tastes are at the slightly spicier end of curryland. I cooked one once for Hernan Cattaneo who's Argentinean. I'm not sure if you know this, but Argentina has great food but food without much kick. It's more steak and potatoes than curry powder and garlic. (Un)fortunately I had just received a delivery of authentic curry paste from the southern islands in Thailand. Most excited, I decided to try out the paste alongside many other flavorous ingredients such as chilies (red and green with a few seeds for bonus volcanic value), ginger, garlic etc etc. As it was my first time using the paste I wasn't really sure how much to put in so plumped for two tablespoons (since this I've settled on one teaspoon for the best results).
Hernan is a wonderful person and really polite and because of this failed to mention his delicate palate. He decided to 'try' my food. I was two mouthfuls into the curry and was already sweating from my arm hair. Hernan had placed his fork back on the table, was requesting water repeatedly and had gone into a semi trance like state which I can only deduce was him about to go into a coma. I think I ended up going back into the kitchen and making him Birds Eye Fish Fingers and a jacket potato or something else of the sort to try and make up for the attempted murder by spices I had just committed. My curry these days only produces mild blindness and sweating from all the 'natural' places you 'should' sweat from.
I'm told you're a bit of a gamer. Xbox or Playstation?
Nintendo Wii. At last a controller that you can cause as much damage with in the real world as you can on screen. Waving it around like a pair of Nunchuks and destroying my Mums Ming vase collection over Christmas was so much fun. I think I'll invest in a new Playstation when I'm single again.
Finally, do you know you were recently voted #8 DJ in RA's first ever contributor poll? Congratulations, but tell us, how did you rig it?
I know what you did with that sperm whale...