If the name John Digweed doesn’t mean anything to you, go rummage around your CD collection for a while and unearth the copy of Trainspotting we all know you’re lugging around. (If you don’t have a copy of this CD either, well, find someone who does.) That track, “For What You Dream Of” is none other than John Digweed in the studio, making music under the guise of Bedrock. He’s recorded a full-length album under that name, but has become perhaps more famous for his skills behind the decks. As an internationally known deejay, Digweed’s spun at raves, parties and clubs in every landmass and continent, bringing crowds large and small together with his legendary hard house sound. Along with sometimes-partner Sasha, Digweed has held down residencies at some of the U.S.’s largest and most important clubs and released several albums that serve as testament to Digweed’s true appreciation for electronic beats, rhymes and life.
Artsweek got up early to phone Digweed at his studio in England.
Artsweek: What do you like most about your job?
Digweed: Obviously, when you’re deejaying, and the place is going “bonkers” and, you know, everyone’s having a really good time on what you’re doing, you can’t beat that feeling. You can’t beat the feeling of hearing records in a record shop or in your bedroom or in your studio or wherever you listen to a track, and hearing that thing for that moment, and you think, “Right, when I play this later on tonight or the weekend, it’s going to have this effect.” And you kind of feel it in your head, and yet you haven’t even played it out to a crowd. So, having that feeling where you can pick out records that you know are going to have a certain effect, you know, that’s really good.
What do you like least?
Nothing, really. (Laughs)
If you hadn’t become a deejay, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
I have no idea, because I’ve deejayed ever since, well, before I left school. It’s all I wanted to do when I was at school, so it was pretty much all I wanted to do. I think I probably would have traveled. I was never good for nine-to-five, pen-pusher, stuck-in-an-office [jobs]; I was always one that liked to get out and travel and things like that. So, I think I would have probably been one of these people bumming around Australia and then going to America and just traveling around the world, really. I’ve managed to sort of get both my passions rolled into one. (Laughs)
Do you ever get burned out?
Yeah, I mean, sometimes the schedules are really [bad]; I mean, literally, you only get a certain amount of time to sleep, you know, and then you’re straight to the gig, flying for six or seven hours, landing, maybe a couple of hours of sleep, straight to playing, and then the same again, somewhere else again. But that’s a minor thing for what I’m actually doing, because usually once you get in front of the crowd, any tiredness or burned-outness you just override. But what I’ve been doing recently is I’ve just allowed myself, you know, the odd weekend here or there, where I just chill and do nothing. I think you just need to do that. You need to allow yourself time to recharge the batteries, because much as I really love traveling, when you’re away from home so much, all the home stuff just starts to accumulate. So when you’re just coming back for a day or two days and then leaving, you kind of get stressed out with the fact that, “Oh, I haven’t dealt with this, I need to do that that, etc., etc.” So it’s nice to just have those days when you are just at home, and you are just watching TV and you are just doing normal things. It kind of brings you down to earth, really.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while deejaying?
I don’t know, I can never remember. (Laughs) Come back to me with that one, I’ll try and think of something.
Do you listen to other kinds of music?
I like the Coldplay album. I really like Pink Floyd, I like stuff like the Vangeli soundtrack, you know, bits of chilled out stuff, really.
Other than the mixtape that your friends gave you early on, what other albums have been particularly important to you?
Um, albums like Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, I really used to like listening to them a lot and the way there really is a story being told within those albums, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do with deejaying. It’s very important to make things, you know, try and make sense, so, you know, one record that’s following the next one, that there’s a reason for it, you know, building a story, or bringing it down or taking up. So I think, definitely think, both [albums] were very influential in my deejaying career.
Where do you see club/dance music headed in the next year?
I mean, you know, it’s just getting bigger. I think ten years ago you could have asked the same question and no one could foresee that it was going to be at this stage. So, I just think, it’s just become a very global thing now. I mean, I’ve traveled all around the world, whether it be Australia, Asia, South America, Peru or, you know, there’s a party on the beach in Brazil; people are really into this music, you know, it’s a very global thing, so, I think it’s just going to get bigger.
What is your greatest regret?
I don’t think I have any really.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Probably … I don’t know, I think being one of the first deejays to sort of hold down a residency with Sasha in America and, you know, I’ve really kind of dedicated a lot of time to the American scene. I think that’s been a real sense of achievement for me, because it’s great working alongside a lot of American deejays and a lot of American promoters. They’ve all been like-minded and all tried to get the scene going, so from that side of things, it’s great to see that it’s really starting to happen. You know, it’s been happening for the last four years, but in last year and a half, you can really see there’s a lot more attention to the whole scene.
What’s your favorite color?
How’s your hearing?
How’s your hearing?
(Laughing) Are you kidding?
(Laughs) I wear earplugs.
So you protect yourself.
I mean, obviously, I mean, I expect there’s going to be a little bit of damage, but then again, if I worked a job digging up the road they’d be damaged. I know which one I’d rather do.
John Digweed’s latest album, Global Underground: Los Angeles is available at record stores. Look for an upcoming Bedrock album in the next few months.