Interview: John Digweed on America, the ‘Bedrock Sound’ and That Time He Played for Over 13 Hours Straight
By Scott T. Sterling
Long before EDM rose up to assume the mantle as the de facto sound of young America, Britain’s John Digweed was touring the world as one of the first bona fide “superstar DJs” back in the ’90s alongside the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and Paul Van Dyk. For years linked to longtime DJ partner Sasha, the two would help dance music establish a beachhead Stateside with a residency at New York mega-club Twilo towards the end of the decade.
Going on to carve out individual careers at the advent of the new millennium, Digweed would establish the influential Bedrock record label and launch the long-running Transitions radio show, releasing a string of mix albums including the Live in… series, which debuted in 2012. Voted the world’s #1 DJ in 2001 by DJ Mag (a distinction currently held by Hardwell), Digweed is diplomatic about his place in the relatively new world of EDM in America, now marked by huge festivals and pop crossover success.
“It’s their moment. It’s their Woodstock, it’s their Twilo,” he said during a recent interview with Radio.com about the current generation of dance music fans. “I think it’s great they’re getting their experience in electronic music. It’s not the music that I play, but you can see how much fun they’re having and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was the same when the raves first started in England. Some of the music and some of the people…it was just terrible. But their musical tastes changed. Everyone wants to be at the biggest event. and then suddenly after a while they want to go somewhere…where the music’s a bit cooler, to something a bit more edgy to what’s happening in here. I think it’s a balance, you know.”
When asked to define music released on his own label, known as “the Bedrock sound,” Digweed described it as a conglomeration that runs the gamut of electronic music, yet still works together as one.
“It’s kind of from deep house to techno and everything in between,” he offered. “We don’t try to have a specific sound. We want the label to showcase new artists and new, original sounds…everything’s unique in its own way and I think that’s what I like about the label. Each release has got its own little sound, but it fits. I can play all the tracks. That’s the key. I road-test them all. I’d like to think with a DJ, variety makes you stand out. If you just play the same sound for three, fours hours, it’s boring.”
Digweed’s love for DJing shows through his often marathon sets, including a night where he manned the decks for more than 13 hours.
“To be honest, if you enjoy something, you don’t mind working harder at it,” he smiled. “If you’re having fun and there’s a few thousand people in front of you all going crazy, you’re not thinking about the time. If you’re doing something you don’t like, you’re looking at your watch like, ‘when’s this going to end?’ So it wasn’t for the fact that I had to play 13 and a half hours, you know. I could’ve finished at eight. But the party was so good and there was no time limit and we just kept playing. It seemed to fly by. I’m not paid for the hour, I’m paid by the gig. The promoters were happy because they got an extra five or six hours out of my set.”
Tune into the exclusive video interview above to watch Digweed open up on how he chooses which cities are graced with Live in… releases, motivation behind his long-running radio show and much more.