It’s not often you can label DJs legendary without having to back up your statement, but when it comes to Optimo, there is no need. They’re key figures in the rise of Glasgow’s club culture. With their famous residency at the iconic Sub Club, the duo shaped the club night around a ‘no genre’ policy. Now touring across the globe, they are still keeping things consistent with their fabled Optimo Music imprint. Expect big things from these guys in 2017 as it’s their 20th birthday and a celebration or two will be in order, starting with Irish festival, Body&Soul. Our editor Jordan Kinlan caught up with JG Wilkes and JD Twitch of Optimo recently for a chat.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to us guys, how was your 2016?
JG WILKES: Still alive in spite of it.
With over 60 years experience between both of you, it’s obvious you’ve seen things come and go. Has the sound in Glasgow changed over this time?
JG W: Glasgow never had “a sound” and still doesn’t, thankfully. We have a breadth of talent and diversity to rival cities ten times the size of our’s and what I see (and hear) is that energy getting louder, more diverse and rightfully being acknowledged further afield.
Speaking of Glasgow, there seems to be a revolution of talent coming from the city at the moment with the likes of Denis Sulta, Jackmaster and Jasper James being examples of that. What are your views on this?
JG W: I’m happy for them. They are super-talented great lads and we’ve watched them come up and now enjoy tremendous success – we even get to warm up for them sometimes!
Obviously you guys have been friends for many years now. Flights, gigs, labels etc… Is your friendship still as strong as ever?
JG W: I think it gets stronger as the years go on. It feels that way. I believe we respect one another, that’s fundamental. We have fantastic communication through work but I think we’re also very aware that we’re different animals, with different strengths, different lives outside of music and touring, different routines, different habits and sometimes different tastes. When someone accepts that about you, acknowledges it and then can work with you to build something you both love and can be proud of then I consider them a true friend. It’s by far my longest relationship.
Let’s talk about your weekly residency at Sub Club that ended in 2010 after 13 years. You were known to be different, people could go and hear multiple genres. Why was this?
JD TWITCH: We always get asked this, as if it is a weird thing when it just seems totally normal to us. I guess we were bored with the music in clubs at that time, wanted to play lots of music we liked and felt it being on a Sunday would allow more musical freedom.
You’ve had regular features on Boiler Room, including the latest one at AVA festival in Belfast. How did you approach these sets, and all your sets in general. Do you plan ahead?
JD T: We will often think about what kind of event it is and who else is playing when packing music but never, ever plan a set. At that AVA Boiler Room someone asked me what my first track was going to be five minutes before we started and I had no idea.
Optimo Music is one of the most consistent labels out there, which makes me wonder, how do you keep it so dependable while adapting the ‘no genre’ outlook.
JD T: Simply by releasing music I like without thinking about how it fits in to the general scheme of things. I look very hard for the music I want to release and am also fortunate that a lot of great music makes its way to me.
I believe you guys are responsible for the likes of Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin making their first appearances in Glasgow? How did those gigs come about all them years ago?
JD T: It was actually in Edinburgh at a club called Pure. I was really into their early records so got in touch with them and invited them to play. Simple really!
What’s the plans for 2017? More label work, maybe some festival shows. What can we expect?
JD T: It is our 20th birthday. Expect a big party!