dj to dj: marco shuttle & nick craddock
Nick Craddock and Marco Shuttle caught up with one another to discuss everything from favourite Jeff Mills records to the hazy mid noughties via gentleman’s shoes and spinbacks…
Nick Craddock Asks Marco Shuttle
NC: As long as Ive known you, youve pursued a quite singular path when it comes to your DJing style I wonder if you can chart how thats changed over the years and what kind of sonics or aesthetic you look for in the tracks you play.
MS: I have always been very much into the deep hypnotic side of electronic (and non electronic) music…and that’s the side of it that first attracted me to it both as a clubber, as a deejay and later as a producer, so i would say that although my style has obviously evolved during the years..i have always kind of leaned towards that musical mood. I went through phases of course when i was into different stuff…from electronica to electro, house…(even drum and bass actually at some early stage!), jazz, psychedelic, dub and of course techno, which in the end has always been always and will always be there as common layer and which probably embodies in the best way this approach. So I would say that i have always looked for that particular journey no matter for which kind of music i would play or listen to…or maybe to say it in other words i have always tried to dig out the “techno soul” also in non techno related types of music.
NC: You seem fond of producing long tracks can you explain a bit why you favour that approach do you have quite a jammy way of producing, for instance?
MS: That has a lot to do with the answer i gave to the previous question. music for me is a journey, and i do approach my musical work very much with this mindset. as if music was a kind of medium that will take you from one place to the other through landscapes that unfold during its progression. More technically speaking i do have a very jammy way of producing also thanks to the fact that i use machines rather than software…so i end up doing long recording sessions in which i record every single sound manually modulating parameters live. The length is a consequence of all this as i do need that kind time to tell my story, almost to allow the drama to happen, to build that balance between the monotony and the morphing progression of the sounds…also i don’t really approach music in that kind of utilitarian dance floor oriented approach…I mean, nothing wrong with that, obviously, but the music i wanna make is techno you also wanna listen to and not just dance.
NC: Your background is in art and fashion to what extent do you approach your music as art?
MS: As i said before, music has to me a lot to do with “unfolding landscapes”…I think there is a strong visual side of music which i am very driven by and is as important as its audible one…and especially with this music. I think electronic is the one that has more in common with classical music in a way… which to me is the most visionary emotional and at the same abstract genre of all. (in fact it is very much used in soundtracks). Also what you listen to, play, make is an expression of an aesthetics, a taste level…mine tries to aim to elegance, beauty, modernity and individuality and my education and activity as a designer inevitably makes this omnipresent values in the way i think and look at things.. this reflects also on my music as I want it to be elegant, beautiful, modern and individual other than anything else.
NC: The last Eerie release obviously featured those great remixes from Joey Anderson and Pangaea I wondered if there are other people youd like to work or collaborate with on the label, or are you keen to keep the focus on your own work?
MS: At the moment there are no releases by other artists planned. I’m not excluding the option of keeping eerie as a solo label (in the same way jeff mills does with axis) which i dont mind as a statement either. Eerie was born that way, as a platform for me to release my music the way i want and when i want, without other people telling me how long the tracks have to be, or asking me to change this and that etc. etc. So if that was the purpose i don’t see at the moment a reason why i should change it although we shall see how things will develop in the future. i do approach this industry very much as a music maker other than a label owner, so the label is for me more of a channel to say what i want to say when i want to say it. EE03 is a bit atypical as a release for the label also sound wise and it was somehow a tribute to a track i owe a lot to and that was screaming to be repressed…i thought though that just repressing would have been quite boring and involving Pangaea and Joey Anderson as remixers has been the best way to honour it and make the whole package more interesting and fresh…and i think i made a very good choice, as the release sold out in 3 days.
NC: Youve lived in a few places in Europe but gravitated back to London are there musical reasons behind that, or what other things drew you back here?
MS: erm…there are various reasons why i came back to London. It is a city that means a lot to me in a lot of different ways…it did definitely play a main role in shaping my musical taste and it made me meet people that have been crucial in my maturation as a dj and producer. I felt the need to come back here to re establish the bond with this city from where i left it when i moved. I think what attracted me back to London is quite simply the need to be again part of its unique social cultural urban environment.. On the more practical side London is a very strategical spot for someone like me that is professionally involved both in music and in fashion as a designer…so for sure there is also a very relevant practical side of this move back.
NC: Weve DJed together quite a few times, but not for a while. What was your most memorable party from those hazy mid-2000s days?
MS: hehe…those days are hazy indeed now, although they are very vividly stuck in my memory…i wouldn’t be able to quote a particular occasion, but i think those sud ones have been a very important playground for us to meet our musical selves and establish a connection both as friends and as “collegues” let’s say. Still i think when we got to play together at cafe 1001 for my sunday all dayer Guerrilla Lime & Soda it’s been probably the best outlet for us to extensively perform together in front of a crowd…at the same time those crazy after parties back to our lovely friend Stefano’s were an exceptional and unique occasion for us to play, dicuss and actively learn each other’s point of views on “the business”
NC: Producing or DJing? Pick one.
MS: Gosh! that’s a difficult one…production is definitely my deepest and intense musical expression, but i was born as a deejay and i still think it is my natural way to perform in front of a crowd and to express my taste. i still cannot think of anything that is more enjoyable and full-filling than mixing tunes in front of a crowd that loves what you are playing and dances to it…quite simply.
i do enjoy “the making of” too..but i do like to do that alone with my machines in the darkness of my studio. it’s almost an escape from reality..it’s about being deeply and uncompromisingly honest to myself.
NC: Im in the market for a pair of smart mens shoes. Can you recommend me some?
MS:…erm some raving kickers would really suit you mate! Ha!
Marco Shuttle Asks Nick Craddock
MS: When and where did you perform your first backspin? Did it feel good? And when and where was the most successful one ever?
NC: Hmmm possibly the basement of a student house in Preston, around 1997. Spinbacks were definitely being performed a long time before I nailed beatmatching. Im sure it was pretty exciting, and from the look of most of my older records from that time, I did plenty of it, as theyre covered in finger scuffs. I couldnt possibly single out a most successful or favourite ever spinback. Theres a spinback for every occasion, every mood. But I also want to shout out stop button kills. They dont get as much props, but theyre equally satisfying when done right.
MS: You were “born in The North” to quote the title of the wonderful UK acid track BY Us. How did the 90’s Leeds scene influence your approach to electronic music and yr djing?
NC: Well, the first proper clubs I went to were in and around Leeds, starting with Back to Basics at the Pleasure Rooms in 1995. I was fairly clueless about dance music at that point, but I knew about Justin Robertson as hed just done that Select Magazine covermount tape, which I loved, and Id heard of Weatherall, and the first two times I went to Basics, it was those guys playing. The Pleasure Rooms was cool because youd have three floors up top was like vocal house music, the middle floor was chunkier US style house, and then downstairs was just this dark room with loads of dry ice and a strobe and this harder, darker music. I didnt have the vocabulary or breadth of understanding to know how or why it was different, but I knew I preferred it.
Then I went away to University and started going to places like Voodoo and Bugged Out, which I loved, but then when I dropped out of Uni I was back in West Yorkshire so I was closer to The Orbit in Morley. I was a bit friendless at that time, and living back with my parents, so I would just turn up at The Orbit on my own, when the doors opened at 8pm (it shut at 2am). I went there pretty much every week for about six months, so I got to know a lot of people very quickly.
It was an intense place hard techno all the way proper heads-down, tops-off, shaved head, fist-pumping techno, but the music that worked there was quite narrow – very much 4/4, 136-142bpm type stuff, and the crowd could be pretty intolerant to anything that deviated from that. I was a fiend for it for a while, but after a bit it would bum me out when Dave Clarke would drop Dance Mania gear or Electro and people would just be complaining.
When I got into DJing all I really wanted to do was play really slamming Techno and I would say Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke and Claude Young were probably the key influences.
MS: How many Jeff Mills records have you got and which one is your all time fav?
NC: Oh, god. I dont even know. Lots. Let me put it this way, the first two records I ever bought were Jeff Mills ones, and Im still buying them as theyre released. There isnt another producer I could say that about. As for favourite, that should be a hard one to answer, but this question has just reminded me that I had a big rant about the track Casa (from Axis 11) at Freerotation last weekend, so Im gonna go with that. Its just a perfect, neck-snappingly funky Mills groove.
MS: When and how did we actually meet?? I cant remember…
NC: I think maybe 2005 or 2006? I started playing regularly for Sd Electronic in 2005 and I remember one day Lerato telling me that she was bringing a new DJ on board she was bigging up your DJing and I was like whos this chancer, elbowing in on my action?, haha. But it was a good move. Our styles complemented each other.
MS: Apart from DJing, how do you see yourself in this industry is there a particular role you would like to have in the future like for example starting a label? Doing your own night? Producing your own music?
Ive played a few roles over the years music PR, writer, label assistant, but I dont really harbour any burning desire to strike out on my own. I like being around the industry, and am happy to help out and offer advice and things, but I dont want to be too close to the politics. DJings where my heart is, but it would be fun to get into the studio with someone who knows their way around the machines.
MS: Which other music apart from house and techno do you listen to? Can you mention some musicians that you really like?
NC: I only listen to electronic/dance music about half the time. My tastes are quite broad, but I really like a lot of bands and guitar-based music. I love Beach House, Kurt Vile, Grizzly Bear, Real Estate, Panda Bear. Recently Ive been listening to The Growlers and Majical Cloudz a lot, but I still listen to old favourites like Fugazi, early PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Faith No More; even some heavy stuff like Sepultura.
MS: Do you think you are a better DJ now than 10 years ago?
NC: I think that Im a better DJ now than I was one year ago! But, yes, Id say so. I mean, I have recorded mixes from ten years ago that I think are decent, but I think as you get more experience of playing out and absorbing new styles of music, you obviously get better. These days, though, I feel a lot more comfortable or confident in terms of being able to just turn up and perform well theres less of that anxiety that there used to be.
MS: House or Techno?
NC: Ha. Theres a very, very long and noncommittal answer I could give to this question, and I am not big on differentiating between House and Techno, but I think were all quite familiar with that heavily-nuanced discussion. So, fuck it Techno. Techno was my first love. If Im back at an after party drawing for old mid 90s Youtube clips, theyll almost always be Techno, which is possibly a good indication of my allegiances.
Catch Nick Craddock and Marco Shuttle this Saturday at the next instalment of the notoriously good Don’t Be Afraid parties. All info/tickets on this here link.