First impressions are everything, for some it can be a certain sound and for others a glancing moment - sometimes it might even drift on by unnoticed, a seemingly passive experience which shall later come to offer insight and clarity. Clair Stirling is a Scottish disc jockey whom has established herself as a fearsome force behind the turntables... An up and comer you ask? Little could be further from the truth.
There is a certain sense of heritage to the musical background of Clair, who is perhaps better known as Eclair Fifi. Since a young age she was exposed to club culture and dance music through the somewhat traditional 'passing of the torch'. Most people are offered a musical upbringing via the sounds that they hear played by their parents and family throughout their youth. This was no different for Clair who has long since praised her parents for their profound introduction to dance music and club culture. Rave tapes and music from overseas helped to set the scene whilst igniting a wild and sprawling sense of ambition for Clair, an open door with endless possibilities.
"I remember being around 13, my dad playing Green Velvet / Cajmere and Moodyman tapes in his car which had a huge impression on me. My mum had a lot of amazing records too, loads of disco, funk, new wave and old rock. The tapes they brought back from Pure (JD Twitch’s night before Optimo started) - I think I was only about 9 when I first heard some of those.. I was exposed to artists like Robert Hood, Andrew Weatherall and Juan Atkins, I didn’t fully understand that music at first but I clearly remember listening with full curiosity, on my cassette walkman, sitting on the swing in our garden. I think the only way all of this wouldn’t have influenced me is if I'd wanted to rebel against them and just get fully into emo-rock (which there’s nothing wrong with) or something but my mum and dad were too cool and nice. I would read music magazines religiously. My Uncle put on outdoor raves too, so i got a taste of that from about 15 years old."
Scotland has always played a key role in the progression of electronic music, perhaps the cold nights and pissing rain has leant something to the warm darkness and sense of creativity found within clubs such as Sub Club, La Cheetah, Club 69, The Arches, Soundhaus, The Venue and many others across the years. However, with such a sprawling array of musicality, subcultures and narratives there were a variety of options by which Clair could take.
"When I first started dj'ing in the early 00's I was so into purist techno and hardcore. It sucked me in pretty far and I still have hundreds of records from that era. I loved it all but I guess when I first heard, for example, Dutch electro, Italo disco, grime, garage, idm, etc how could I choose ONE genre? Especially when you’re so young and openminded to so much different beautiful music. It might sound inconsistent to some but I would choose records based on the energy and melodies, not the genre - so to me it didn’t sound all over the place. I’ve still always played house and techno but recently I have been playing a lot more again than usual but it’s not conscious - I’ve been rediscovering old records I used to play when I first started and it’s really exciting, like hearing them again for the first time."
As you begin to explore her musical trajectory it begins to make perfect sense as to the manner in which Clair has formulated her career path and her decisions to date. Now based in London she still holds her home North of the border dear, it would be hard not to given the firm family unit she has established across the years.
LuckyMe has played an important role in the formation of her presence as a disc jockey. The collective based out of Edinburgh acted as a vital platform within which she was able to present and share music with a wide audience. As a key member of the crew, prior to the somewhat meteoric success of the imprint, she's still wholeheartedly thankful for the insight and opportunity the label offered her. The label still continues to inspire to this day as it continues to release music by the likes of Jacques Greene, Lunice, Cid Rim, Sevendeaths, Suicideyear and more.
"I always feel grateful for what LuckyMe has done for me. I was doing stuff before I met them but they were the first crew to really put me on and believe in me. I’d met them a couple of times but about 11 years ago, they first asked me to play room 2 of a club they put on in Edinburgh (room 1 was Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, Rustie, S-type) - I played italo disco all night. After that they asked me back a couple of times and then asked me to be part of LuckyMe, i've been working with them and best friends since."
It has been interesting observing the evolutionary rise of talent emerging from Scottish cities in recent years. There has been a prolific wave of new artists whom have asserted themselves on the circuit as of late, it's fair to say many of them probably spent time dancing under the glow of lights to a soundtrack curated by Clair and this is by no means an understatement. Residencies across the years have offered her a valuable opportunity to broaden the horizon of the Scottish nightlife scene and of this she should be proud. When asked why her home nation offers such a condusive environment for the expanse of electronic music she responds with a sense of gracious awareness.
"It’s important but no one forces it, it just comes naturally. There’s so much talent and different sounds coming out of Glasgow (and Scotland for that matter) constantly, we all lift each other. There’s a healthy competitiveness that is never nasty, it’s like we all inspire each other to go further and that’s perhaps why so many of us do well."
It's been fascinating watching Clair evolve as a disc jockey across the years, from the post bass era through to the present she has remained a consistent presence whom epitomizes the very best aspects of musical curation and selection. Not one to stand still for too long she has moved with the times whilst remaining true and loyal to the roots which have brought her this far in the first place. A disc jockey's favourite disc jockey? No doubt.
"I’m still excited and as in love with it as I was in the beginning. Whenever I do feel jaded I go back to what got me into it in the first place and it all comes back..."