Dark techno don Dave Clarke steps up for his Clash mix, triumphs, and learns us all a thing or two about innovating while he’s at it.
Being nicknamed The Baron of Techno and having it stick is pretty admirable, but when that nickname was given to you by John Peel, you know you’re on the right track. Clarke has been DJing and releasing tunes since the early ‘90s and few, if any, can match him when it comes to heady, raw techno mettle and energy across those decades.
But make no mistake, though he excels at crafting huge, sprawling tracks with enough bite to snap your spleen, he’s far too musically savvy to have ever played at being a one-trick pony, as his radio show, White Noise podcasts, and now his Clash mix, demonstrate, with the producer choosing to innovate and offer a platform for new techno sounds, rather than sticking to the same successful formula time and again.
There are certainly a few fearsome sonic assaults in there, of course, but Clarke’s mix is a fascinating picture of some of the many directions that techno is headed in, rather than a misty eyed look at where it’s already been, as the man himself explained when we caught up with him.
What were you were aiming for with your mix?
To try and show how wide techno is these days. There is so much out there with different flavours that to go in one direction for this kind of podcast would be a wasted opportunity.
You’re playing Eastern Electrics next weekend. What’s the best or most fun festival set you’ve played?
Actually too many to mention. I am lucky enough to play at some of the best festivals the world has to offer. While some forms of house have drifted into the mainstream again recently, techno – by and large – remains steadfastly in the underground.
Do you think that helps the scene to grow and keeps it fresh?
I wish I could be that optimistic. Quite a few [people] seem hell-bent to cash-in and destroy a valid and important scene by pretending to play techno by re-branding weak tech-house or by coming off that three legged donkey, minimal.
Give us a few tip-offs for some new techno producers you’re enjoying at the moment:
Best check my radio show, as I try and give space to the best up-and-coming producers that are out there every week.
Your White Noise podcasts have been running for a good few years. Does having a constant like this help level things out in an unpredictable schedule?
It can be a real pain sometimes, it still takes time out my studio schedule, but every time I have done it I feel immensely proud of how healthy this music really is. There are so many up-and-coming talents and quite a few who have being doing it for years that still give a damn – that gives me strength when I finish a show. If I didn’t stop doing radio for my ‘Devil’s Advocate’ album I would be up to show 700 by now. I feel it would be criminal not to give this music a stand and my show isn’t about pushing my friends or my own label, just about the music.
What have you got coming up over the following months and beyond?
A remix for House of Black Lanterns, as Unsubscribe, for Houndstooth comes out on 12 August. There’s a new Unsubscribe record coming, a collaboration, a Marcel Fengler remix, etc.
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1. House of Black Lanterns - The Walls Are Closing In
2. Corax - Corvus
3. Christopher Kah - Hunger
4. Green Velvet & Phil Kieran - Birds and Bees
5. Strip Steve - All The Time (Gingy Remix)
6. Josh Moseley - Chicago Jack'D
7. The Artist Formerly Known As 19.4220.127.116.11.5.18 – (Spadesdance S&T Remix)
8. Housemeister & Dave Tarrida - Twerk that Shit
9. DJ Nehpets - BAP [PA & Atom Pushers Re-twerk]
10. DJ Nehpets - Bomb Ass Pussy (Ryogo Yamamori Remix)
11. Gingy & Bordello - All Day (Robert Hood Remix)
12. Jeroen Search - The Future Is Ours
13. Aufgang - Barock (Robert Hood Remix)
14. Charlton - Chaotic Behaviour
15. Ben Sims - Spectrum (Jonas Kopp Black Mix)
16. Bunker44 & Jeaven - Cardiology (Black Asteroid Remix)
17. Erphun - Caged Lust
18. Miss Djax & Patrick DSP - The Rock (A-Brothers Chilled Iron Remix)
19. Diamond Version - When Performance Matters
Dave Clarke plays Eastern Electrics festival at Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire, from 2-4 August. Visit daveclarke.com for more details.
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Words by Tristan Parker