John Digweed is a living legend of the clubbing scene, one of the main drivers of the development of electronic music in the last 30 years. Born in Hastings (UK) in 1967, the British producer and selector has always been a standard-bearer of the so-called one-way tickets: artists who look ahead, who are always evolving, who are looking for fresh and refreshing sounds and who rarely look back to the music of the past. He himself admits that “if the scene hadn’t changed, I would have died”.
This obsession with the music of the future is not only characteristic of John Digweed, but also of Bedrock Records, the label he founded in 1999 and which has since accumulated over a hundred releases. One of the most recent is QUATTRO, a VA (which responds to Various Artists) divided into four parts, four discs, four mixes that add up to a total of 45 unreleased tracks. The first three mixes – “Soundscape”, “Tempo” and “Redux”- are signed by artists who are really close to the imprint. The fourth – “Juxtaposition”- is the work of John Digweed himself, along with Nick Muir.
John, your new album QUATTRO saw the light more than one month ago. Four discs, four mixes, 45 unreleased tracks from your own label… It is not a common album. Why this 4-mix format?
You know, I have become well-known for my mixing over the years. I think we chose this format because I felt like my fan base would prefer a seamlessly mixed album so that the music flows from beginning to end.
How was QUATTRO born?
At first, I was compiling a double CD album with one CD full of new tracks and another CD with remixes. As the tracks came in, I realized some of them would work well as ambient versions, so I reached out to artists to see if they had any downtempo tracks. Before I knew it, “Soundscape” had come together. Nick Muir and I had already been working on a side project with a more cinematic sound, so we ultimately decided to add that to my album project. I ended up with 4 x CDs of unmixed music that were originally meant to be released as a compilation album. One day, I had a long flight and decided to mix the albums to see what the tracks would sound like. I was amazed by how well they all worked together on each album and it took on a new life: QUATTRO.
Monkey Safari, Raxon, Booka Shade… There are really big names featuring the project. How was the approach on them?
Yes, they are all amazing artists and producers, as well as an integral part of the Bedrock family, so their involvement in the project was essential. I know all the artists that participated very well. I reached out to them and asked if they would like to be involved, most accepted, and the rest is history.
Could we say that QUATTRO highlights the sound trajectory of Bedrock? How much would you say this album represents your label’s sound?
We have been running for over 22 years now and we like to think that we release forward-thinking music from fresh artists. Our releases reflect only the best music I can find.
How different -or how similar- are Bedrock’s sound and John Digweed’s sound?
I road test and play all the Bedrock releases during my gigs so, if I play it and I like it, I will try also to release it. So, the connection between Bedrock and what I play is very strong.
I guess this one was a big, long and tough project, and maybe you will need some rest now, but: what is next? Are you already working in new music again?
We will be promoting this album for a couple of months as it took so long (9 months to be exact) to put together. We want to focus on making people aware that there is this new project out there and they should try and hear it. We will see what happens next.
You are one of the big legends in the DJing and the underground music industry. How do you think the scene has changed most significantly since you started out?
If it hadn’t changed it, I would have died. The scene needs to change continuously with new DJs, producers, sounds, etc. It keeps the scene fresh, and with so many advances in clubs and festivals over the years it has been an exciting roller-coaster ride for me.
How are you feeling on these hard times amid the pandemic? How is the future looking?
I think we will continue treading through uncharted territory in clubland until there is a vaccine because the scene revolves around socializing and being close to people. We will all have to wait and see how the situation unfolds. For now, people’s safety is more important than a party.
What is the right way to recover asap when all this is over?
The right way is to follow the advice and not rush into anything too quickly, as we want people to be safe and the environment to be OK for people to enjoy a night out. It is going to be a slow process, but it can be rebuilt if done properly.