Dave Clarke: “I started with a single sampler and an Atari”
Known as ‘The Baron of Techno’, Dave Clarke has been a pioneering force in electronic music since the nineties. With countless outstanding releases from his alias’ _Unsubscribe_, Hardcore and Pig City, as well as his reputation as perhaps the most consistent DJ in techno, we were honoured to talk with Dave backstage at a recent Dublin show.
Q: Your radio show ‘White Noise’ first launched back in 2006 on a Dutch radio station called VPRO, before moving over to RTÉ and then to Digitally Imported. What motivated you to first start this podcast and at what point did you realise it was going to be a well noted around the world?
A: I had a radio show before that ‘Technology’ which was on studio Brussels and a few other radio stations. I had to stop dong that because I had to record an album and I was starting to go backwards and forwards to Holland, the lead guy of VPRO came up to me and said to me ‘Do you want to do a radio show’ and I never really considered, so I thought about it for a long time before I said yes. I started it and now it’s ten years later.
Q: The world saw your debut release in 1990 on XL recordings before being approached by R&S in 1991. How much has your sound changed since and who were your main influences to keep evolving your sound?
A: Well my sound was changing just through ability of how to make music because when I started it was all very rudimentary, I started with a single sampler and an Atari and two seconds of samples and it just changed more and more as time went by with the equipment I had. It’s hard to believe now what you can do with different pieces of technology but I had very little and I just tried your hardest to work hard and that’s how things changed.
Q: Archive one released in 1996 on Deconstruction records and still to this day is one of the most influential albums in techno and electronica. What was the main reason behind such a variety of music in an album?
A: Well I come from listening to albums being albums so I couldn’t make an album with only techno because that would be quite boring for me. I like so many different types of music that I thought this would be the perfect vehicle to carry that. I’ve always found that a large amount of albums that I used to buy, your least favourite track from the first time you listened to it starts to become your favourite one, and if you start doing more obvious sounds its all the same and I just wanted to vary it.
Q: You’ve played at the biggest festivals in the world from I Love Techno to Awakenings. Which was your favourite or most memorable set and why?
A: It’s hard to say, but playing live in front of 25 thousand people in Sao Paulo, that was interesting, but yeah it’s tough to say.
Q: Being at the forefront of the underground scene for over two decades what significant changes have you noticed in both DJing and producing?
A: Well there are more DJs because it’s just more accessible for people to do that but also because there’s less money for making music so more people seem to think they have to be DJs. There’s less camaraderie now around most DJs compared to what it was let’s say 15 years ago.
There’s a lot more importance placed on marketing above actually what a DJ can do. Yeah, I could get really political but I’d rather just take it out on the people.
Q: We’ve seen you produce techno, electronica, remix for the likes of Depeche Mode, New Order to The Chemical Brothers and Underworld. When you’re in the studio where do you take your inspiration from before starting a track?
A: That’s a tough one because when you’re in the studio sounds lead on to sounds. I’m not musically trained at all so I struggle being in the studio till I get a certain momentum in the track and then it’s really just the music talking to itself, it’s almost like a medium then for the music to come through.
Q: Over here in Ireland the crowd loves you and every time you come over to play it’s always an occasion. What’s it like to play over here and is there anything in particular about the Irish crowd that makes them stand out?
A: Yeah the Irish are always pissed off about having to go to bed early. I’ve been playing here since Temple of Sound and the Irish and Scottish crowd have always been my favourite in terms of just ‘Fuck-off-ness’ and just wanting to really go for it.
Q: You’re known as ‘The Baron of Techno’ and definitely a living legend. How do you stay so grounded whilst being a pioneering force for electro and techno?
A: Because I just don’t really give a fuck. I just want to do what I want to do and I never did this for being somewhere. Otherwise I would have just sold out or changed but I just want to do what I want to do and everything else is secondary.
Q: Your alias with Mr.Jones, _Unsubscribe_, has taken off, seeing you two play at Awakenings last year. Is there any new upcoming artists you recommend keeping an eye out for?
A: Just listen to White Noise.