We caught up this past week with the legendary John Digweed, owner of Bedrock Records, and a monumental force in the underground techno world for the past twenty plus years. The label has obviously evolved over time, yet remains an incredibly influential label in the electronic music scene. When asked which are some of his favourite releases or moments over the years, his excitement is obvious. "This has been a big year for Bedrock celebrating 20 years, which we recently marked with the release of Bedrock XX - our twentieth anniversary vinyl and CD box set compilation with brand new and exclusive tracks from my favourite artists. We also just released ‘Live In Tokyo’ which is the tenth instalment of our ‘Live In…’ mix series. I am very proud to have been involved in a label that is held in high regard around the world, from fans to the industry. I have always tried to do what I thought was right in my mind and not follow trends. I follow my heart and passion with music. If it feels right let's do it."
With such a long backlog of DJing, the entire scene has changed. When comparing the past and present, John states, "The shift from vinyl to digital has obviously been a massive change. Also there are so many more countries around to world to play nowadays, when in the early 90’s it was mainly the UK. Now it's South America to Asia, USA, Eastern Europe and so on.
No place on the planet has not been touched by electronic music. It's been an incredible journey for the scene that shows no sign of slowing down and as long as new talent comes through with inspiring music it will constantly evolve and change for the better.
John's view of the label runs in a similar fashion, as he says "I try and find interesting and good tracks for the label. I don't want to be signing tracks that all sound the same. We release everything from ambient to techno and everything in between. I think that is one reason why we are still here after 20 years." Surely he's doing something right to be able to keep up with the changing electronic music landscape today.
In addition to Bedrock's releases, John Digweed's infamous 'Live In...' mix series has been one of the most impactful and longest running series of its kind on the planet. We wanted to find out where the idea came from and what his plans are for the future of it. He states, "There was no real plan with the concept, it just seemed like a good idea after one party and has grown and grown. In a period of free mixes online I think people have warmed to a high quality package CD from and incredible party around the world. If you attended the party this is a great memory of the night and if you're a fan of myself it's chance to collect a snapshot of my music over the years."
Speaking about a current snapshot of his music, we spoke about his production and how much time he's spending these days. "Not as much as I used to but Nick Muir and myself have still managed a track with Eagles and Butterflies, and Organia for the Bedrock 20 album, plus a remix for Luke Brancaccio & Simon Berry this year." John states as if an output like that is considered anything but impressive, let alone that he's been doing similar if not more work in the studio for the past 20 years..
John spent some of his early years playing with Sasha, however he's quick to point out his solo career has been equally as important to him. "I have always played solo gigs even when touring extensively with Sasha so nothing is different really. We both have successful solo careers as well as legendary B2B sets." Those legendary sets were partially a product of their time in NYC in the 90s and specifically, their residency at Twilo. We had to ask about those days and the answer was to be expected -
"Best clubbing days of my life. Twilo was, and still is, the best club I have ever played at"
Those days are long gone now, and yet so long into a globe-trotting career, John still maintains his energy and good health over the years. His words are nothing new but clearly, he's taken them to heart. "Try and eat healthily, exercise regularly and have a decent amount of rest when you can." Although it seems like he can go forever, one has to question how much longer one in his position wants to live the sort of life he does. However, he states,
"I love DJing more than ever so I can't see myself stopping anytime soon. I have taken more time off this year than ever before but after so many years of being flat out all the time - it's nice to have some quality friends and family time, without having to rush off to a gig."
The balance that he's able to maintain likely comes with decades of practice but no doubt this comes as wise advice to any touring professional artist.
Lastly, we spoke about anything on the horizon that John is looking forward to. He mentions "Bedrock 20.5 In London on Oct 5th will be a very special party. More details on my Facebook page." You can find more info here about that event.