Deeper house and techno from a UK favourite.
Paul Woolford is a DJ/producer who illustrates the difference between following trends and pursuing evolution. Woolford first came to light in the early '00s as an integral part of Leeds' Back To Basics. His sound—as demonstrated on releases for 20:20 Vision as Bobby Peru—was a hip-swinging UK variant of jackin' Chicago house. Then in 2006 "Erotic Discourse" happened. The zeitgeist-capturing track was arguably that year's biggest, affording Woolford new levels of global attention as he continued to hold down his summer residency for We Love Space in Ibiza.
However, like so many smash successes, "Erotic Discourse" seemed to be a blessing and a curse for Woolford. None of his subsequent productions seemed to quite measure up until in 2011 an adroit run of singles and remixes cast him in a completely new light. Carl Craig's interest in Woolford was a large contributing factor—the Detroit veteran invited Woolford to tour with his Planet E imprint during their 20th anniversary tour and signed his Achilles / Razor Burn EP—but it was his flirtation with the UK bass scene that seemed to get the creative juices flowing most freely. Between his collaboration with Psycatron on Hotflush, Stolen, remix of T. Williams "Heartbeat" and support from Rinse FM DJs like Ben UFO, Woolford appeared to have turned over an enthralling new leaf. (Check his new material as Special Request for further evidence.)
The influence of the UK's new school is patent on RA.308 although it always remains as an undercurrent to Woolford's killer house and techno selections, which includes music from Actress, Claro Intelecto, Dario Zenker, Conforce and Kowton.
What have you been up to recently?
Vampire hours. Working around the clock in the studio on everything from jazz-inflected techno for Planet E to deranged jungle and all points in between for the Special Request project. There's been a lot of work on a double CD for The Lab which is coming out soon, and I've also been in talks with some friends on the subject of an intimate London residency with some interesting guests. More info to follow on this. I definitely need more sleep.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The old way, with turntables, a couple of CDJs and a mixer, at home, in one take, with a cup of tea as refreshment. I like to feel the push and pull of someone playing, rather than clinical perfection.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
Purely to create a mix that will stand up to repeat listening. Time will tell.
Your "comeback" has been well documented in the media over the past 12 months or so, but have your DJ bookings—frequency of gigs, type of gigs—been affected much?
I'm not so sure it's a comeback as much as people actually paying closer attention. I have Carl Craig and a couple of well-placed records to thank for much of that. It's often the case that you need to be recognised somewhere else for some people to come around at home. But yes, things have definitely changed. It's in everything from the offers you get to the audience in attendance. In the last year I've had some dream gig situations in amongst playing some of the best clubs you can visit, so places like The Works in Detroit, Berghain and Panorama Bar, Barraca in Valencia, Electric Pickle in Miami, Open Studios in Vancouver, Asylum in Hawaii. I ended up filling in for Harvey opening the main stage of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival which was an honour. Both rooms one and two at fabric recently in one night, and then again in room three for Rinse FM.
This summer I'm looking forward to returning to the residency at Space in Ibiza for the We Love guys—three of the six dates will be playing back-to-back with Ben UFO, Appleblim and Untold, so that has taken on a whole new form. I'm thankful to be able to play in such different situations. The frequency is really good, although I have never taken everything I'm offered, there are many things that are just not appropriate, so often you have to say "no" to things because they're just not right, even if the money is really good. Ultimately, the quality is there.
Do you feel as though there was a turning point in your own approach that led to all of this?
Simplifying things ruthlessly. I think there are so many artists that have the circus around them and it actually skews their message, if there is one underneath. I'm not interested in treading water in the middle ground and having a generic approach to things which ultimately says nothing. I'm hoping to carve out a body of work over time that means way more than just feeding the diary/touring machine. There's more sacrifice there than some people imagine.
What are you up to next?
More, more and more.