In Daniel Avery's studio space the producer has an area set aside for his mix collection.
Using them as points of reference, as items of inspiration Daniel Avery can leaf through style, genres from across a decade. Top of the pile, though, is his nigh on exhaustive spread of Fabric mixes, with the metal tins glinting out over his keyboard and speakers.
Now his name has become the latest to add to the pile. Ditching his STOPMAKINGME moniker at the tail end of last year, Daniel Avery has not once looked back delivering a stream of re-workings, original cuts and often devastating mixes.
A resident at the London club, Daniel Avery is an obvious - yet still rather unexpected - choice for the Fabric series. Responding with an intriguing mix which skirts at the edges of house and straight up techno, 'FABRICLIVE 66' has more than earned its place on Avery's pile of shimmering tin boxes.
ClashMusic spoke to the Peckham based producer to explore his stunning year.
- - -
Where did the decision come from to use your own name?
Well there’s a few things that happened. Basically, first off I need to say that when I started doing the whole STOPMAKINGME thing it was just my first attempt at doing anything like that. I never thought it would turn into something serious, it was just something I came up with at university for fun, as a hobby. Then as time went on things began to get a bit more serious. It was like my first band, basically, I spent a lot of time just trying things out. Then it reached a point at the end of last year where I realised that I had kind of stumbled across a sound that I was really confident in calling my own. At the same time I could see that.. basically I thought it was time to take things a bit more seriously because it had reached a breaking point. That’s all it is, really. I had decided that my sound had become a bit more refined and defined, maybe, so it felt more natural to start using my own name. That’s kind of it, really.
By sound do you mean production or your DJ sets?
Both, actually. I mean, mostly in my production because I had just kind of got better at it and I realised more of the influences. I just basically.. in terms of both things. I’ve always counted myself as a DJ first, and so I think that the DJing side of things had got good. I knew that a lot of people had started to mention my name here and there so that was all cool. Then in production I realised that I had got to a stage where my sound was.. to go back two steps I said to myself, instead of trying to make music to please anyone else – which is think everyone does in their first attempts – I had reached a stage where a couple of people who I really respected mentioned my name. I thought, you know what I don’t come from that dance world at all. I come from a much more guitar based background, or an alternative – in inverted commas – background. I just decided to let those influences flood through my music a bit more, rather than think about anyone else. It seemed like the right time to do something.
Did you begin the year thinking, this is when I take it seriously?
I think a defining moment was when Weatherall chose me as his One To Watch in Time Out at the very beginning of the year. It’s funny, because it had been my hobby since I was 18 I had never really thought of it than much more than that. But when people like that say things about you – and Erol had said nice stuff about me around the same time – it was never a conscious decision to be like.. this year we try and take over the world. At all. I don’t have a manager of anything, I just kind of stick to what I’m doing. What’s really nice is when people like that support you in that way you feel like you might be doing something right. Rather than say let’s go up a gear I said to myself, just keep doing what you’re doing because obviously a few people are listening to it. That’s how I felt.
Weatherall retains that aura, doesn't he?
Yeah. He’s a total hero of mine and a complete inspiration. It was an amazing thing to happen.
You both seem to share a commitment to playing small clubs.
Yeah I think there must be. It’s something that I love doing. I still think you can’t really match the energy of a small club where everyone is right in front of you. Obviously I think places like Fabric are very good at re-creating that on a larger scale but then again personally.. nothing against all those people who are aiming to play stadiums with their dance music but it’s really not me whatsoever. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest to play in front of 10,000 people. I mean, my music wouldn’t translate to that. I know that I could if I wanted to attempt to make and play that music but I don’t and I know that my bank balance is going to suffer because of that but it’s not really one for me.
Have you always been a Fabric clubber?
I’ve been doing there for a bit. I’ve been playing there for three years now. I started off as the warm up for the Kill ‘Em All night and they’ve always been really good to me. They said to me for a while that they’ll always support me. I think basically once again everything seemed to happen at the right time as a happy accident, so I changed my name and it seemed to be a bit of a mini-statement from me. Then people started talking about me and then my remixes started to pick up a bit of traction. At the start of the year I felt like.. it’s great to have them on my side, I think as soon as I started pushing a bit harder it seemed like they did too. I actually love being in Fabric let alone playing in it. I think it’s an amazing place to get lost within – both the music and physically! It’s a fantastic institution, really, in London. They’ve always supported underground music but on a big scale – they’ve never done that selling out thing where another group of people could easily have gone down that route of booking huge, celebrity style DJs but they’ve managed to support the underground in such a way that it’s found its own audience.
How about the mix series?
Yeah. I’m sat in my little studio right now and I’ve got a whole shelf-full of just Fabric CDs that I’ve just collected over the years. I kind of collect DJ mix CDs anyway because I find it a really interesting form to collect and study. My Fabric CD collection definitely outweighs the rest of them, I’ve collected them for a few years.
Any favourites stick out?
I love.. the Ewan Pearson one I think is really amazing. I think the Death In Vegas one is really great. The Four Tet one from last year is really wicked. It’s just a really smart.. I think Four Tet is great anyway. He has so many ideas which seem really simple but when he does them he executes them really well. I actually listen to some of the really early ones as well. James Lavelle’s name isn’t particularly trendy anymore but I was listening to it the other day and it’s actually a fantastic mix from that time. I’m super happy to be part of the collection now.
How did you approach this mix?
It was something that I thought about and troubled about for a few weeks when I found out I was doing it. I thought, I tried a few different options. I thought maybe I could build it up or maybe I could do a really eclectic thing. When it came down to it – I spoke to the club and I decided upon doing something that would be a club mix. A document of where I am right now, if you are to walk into Fabric at peak time and see me playing. So that’s what I decided upon. That’s very much it. At the same time, once again another happy accident is the timing. I think right now, for me the past few years of finding club records which I really love has been a little bit tricky. But this year, probably the past 18 months I think things have just shifted immeasurably. I think underground club music has got really, really exciting again. That includes loads of labels doing exciting things and artists taking chances. As well as my stuff and a lot of new names there’s a lot of brand new things on there that I feel really passionately about. I knew I wanted to include a lot of that stuff.
There's a lot of UK techno on here.
I think it’s sort of interesting how.. Once again, I like some of that UK bass stuff but it’s not my.. I don’t feel at home within it because I didn’t grow up within UK garage or anything. Nothing against it, it’s just not my thing. There’s some interesting stuff. What’s interesting is that a lot of these genres are now interacting with each other and not in a contrived way either. You’ve got Blawan making what is basically 4/4, Dave Clarke style techno. I think there’s just a lot of genres mixing together, and I think a lot of the slower stuff like that Weatherall vibe is exciting at the moment. If you can get a crowd dancing at like 110BPM then it creates an amazing atmosphere. Labels like Join Our Club or Tiga’s Turbo has got really interesting again or Matt Walsh’s Clouded Vision. There are loads of vinyl only releases that are coming at the minute. I found record shopping has become much more interesting again, like physical record shopping, over the past year or so. I’m actually really excited again.
How are you finishing the year?
I mean I’m playing every weekend at the moment – I haven’t really got the weekend off for a while. I mean, I’m going everywhere. I’m doing a mini-Scotland tour next weekend. I’m playing a lot at the moment and what I’m doing now is starting to work on a lot of new music for Phantasy that will all start to come out next year. That’s what I’m doing, basically just getting my head down and doing more of the same.
Phantasy seems to be a natural choice for you.
I feel totally at home on Phantasy. Basically because Erol has been one of my favourite DJs since I liked DJs. I think he’s always been able to do that, just kind of not be like everyone else. Even when people would think they had him pinned down he would show a different side of himself and I really like that. As for his label.. once again, I knew that if I was to sign with someone I didn’t want it to be someone who just stuck out digital downloads of my tracks once in a while I knew that.. I think Phantasy is the perfect example of a label that isn’t just a dance label. It’s just a label with a track record of putting out good records – and some of them happen to be dance things. I feel that I can push quite hard with what I’m doing for them, so I’m really excited about what I’m doing next.
- - -
'FABRICLIVE 66: Daniel Avery' is out now.