“I can´t work from a laptop. I need my room which has all of my toys and buttons and knobs and sliders and secrets. I close the door, which is hidden behind a false wall, and get to work in my secret lair…”
Ahead of his much anticipated A Night With… in just a few weeks time, we caught up with Mr Derrick Carter to hear his thoughts on Keith Haring, Warhol, all vinyl sets… or not, not really agreeing to remix Percolator and the fabled Ewan Pearson remix on Classic plus a whole lot more besides.
Hi Derrick, I was reading recently that you´re a big Keith Haring fan. I saw a great pop art exhibition recently where they´d recreated his shop in NYC. What are your thoughts on his recent resurgence. Why do you think he´s become so popular again recently?
I have no thoughts on it. I´ve liked Keith Haring since I went to NYC as a teenager in ´87 on a choir tour and saw some of his work around town. I suppose it´s because though truly rooted in an era, it is a bit more transcendent than that. It´s visually appealing, done well, and usually witty which are all things that I like. It just works for me.
You also talk of a great respect for Warhol. I have to say that I´d grown a little tired of him of late – over exposure one could call it – but when I was in NYC recently I went to an exhibition of his portraits ´Motion Pictures´ at MOMA as was really struck by the strength of the images. What´s his enduring appeal do you think?
No offense but I think that says more about your changing tastes than his art. Since he´s dead and all.
I´ve like Warhol for a while though. I was initially turned on to him by my friend Michelle when I was in high school and it just so happened that when we were in NYC on that very same choir tour, he passed away which I always found a little touching. As I´ve mentioned in interviews before, the thing about Warhol was that he was more than just Campbell´s soup portraits. He was a commercial artist, a film maker, a portrait artist, and a distiller of culture in general. His collabs with Jean-Michel Basquiat (another favorite), his polaroids, and his general eye for art was amazing. He was art in the ´80s and along with Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, Francesco Clemente, Robert Mapplethorpe and others like Sandy Calder and Stuart Davis, informed my appreciation of the “power of the image”.
There´s been a fair few Percolator remixes doing the rounds of the late, Jamie Jones and yours being the standouts. What´s the enduring appeal of Cajmere and why did you agree to remix it? It’s always a challenge to bring something new to a classic track.
More “enduring appeal”? (I kid because I am…)
A good track is a good track. Simply put. It´s one of those “Super tracks” that spawned a dance craze and a thousand imitators. Plus, I´ve known Caj for a long time as I used to be the “Prime Minister of Hype” at Cajual AND I kind of didn´t agree to mix it…I´d heard that there were some remixes being done and wanted in. I originally planned to do my own renegade version and make it so dope that they would have to put it out!
But then I happened to mention it to Jon @ Cajual and he asked if I wanted the parts to work on it “officially”. So he sent over that and the parts to “La La Land” which I´ve also always liked. I was asked to remix “La La Land” a few years back when it was licensed in the UK but I think Caj wanted to go in a different direction with the remixes at the time so it didn´t happen. This time, I was determined to show that the time had come!
Is this A Night With… concept something you’ve ever attempted in any form before? How are you going to go about distilling Derrick Carter into just 8 hours?! I know it’s not a business plan or presentation but can you talk us through some of what we can expect? Will it be all vinyl?
All vinyl? HELL NO! As it seems that lots of people are going crazy for “all vinyl sets” I´m heading in a different direction. I don´t care about this whole purist vinyl movement at all. I play music and try to make parties happen. I´d always thought vinyl, though decent, was far from perfect. records skip. They´re sometimes subject to bad pressings and being cut slightly off center. They are functional but often not optimal. PLUS, what do they press vinyl from? CD´s or emailed files! The shit is digital from the get go! Why transfer a digital master to a piece of old melted dinosaur remnants for the sake of keeping it real. It´s just keeping it real tired. Thing is, in my era, people played reel-to-reels, cassettes, records, whatever they had the hot shit on. I´m working from that point of view. The hot shit perspective.
I don´t worry about distilling Derrick Carter into 8 hours because you can´t really take 30+ years of music and reduce it like that. I´ve played 6 hrs recently and I used to have a residency at Shelter here in Chicago where I´d play 9-5 every Saturday night. I´m just going to bring some heat, some classics, some fun stuff and some surprises and do my best to put it all together in a way that is funk-tional and has that DC stamp. Put some stank on it!
When you make music are you largely a hardware traditionalist or are you comfortable working from a laptop?
I can´t work from a laptop. I need my room which has all of my toys and buttons and knobs and sliders and secrets. I close the door, which is hidden behind a false wall, and get to work in my secret lair…
Turning to Classic, the legend goes that you and Luke really didn´t like the Ewan Pearson mix of Freeform Five way back when it was delivered. It then went to, some would argue become one of the defining tracks in the whole ´electro´ scene of the time. What´s your views on that track in hindsight?
I think Luke didn´t mind it. And truth is, it was released behind my back. I still don´t care for it at all. Sorry Ewan…
Have you ever done Radio on a serious level, if so why not?
I used to do a college radio show for a while which for part of that time was done in conjunction with Mark Farina. We were “Happy Family, Inc.” and used to rock a mean hour mix. Other than that no. It´s never really been my thing. I need the feedback that a crowd offers and the feelign that I am also at the party. Not just making it all up in my head.
I´m a little behind on my books and literature of late… anything you´d recommend?
Check out “Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey, “Hold On To Your Dreams” by Tim Lawrence, and “Changing My Mind” by Zadie Smith.
Your music´s always been informed by the disco aesthetic. What´s your thoughts on the recent disco revival? Has it permeated your sets?
I guess to some extent, but it´s more than just the disco aesthetic. It´s funk, ´70s R&B and some new wave as well. Things like Ministry´s first album sit well along side disco and Parliament in my mind. As for this revival, all of this just seems to be a popularity contest. I´ve always tried to sneak in some disco or other “non-house” whenever I could. Like, If I was scheduled to play for three hours and I went over because they extended the club hours or something, I would think, “alright, that was for them, now this is for me” and drop a few odd things. I feel it´s a little easier now. That´s about it. I can definitely get away with a bit more than I used to be able to without freaking people out.
Why are you such a fan of Gizmodo? What´s it done for you lately?!
I, like a lot of guys, am a bit of a tech geek. I like to keep up on new gadgets and tech rumors.
If there were one or two classic tracks by other artists that you wish you could have produced what would they be? What is it about those particular tracks that resonate with you?
I don´t have any of those kinds of fantasies. Sorry.
Care to share any of the new Artists or labels that are grabbing your attention lately that must be heard on the dancefloor?
I just find things. I´m not following the new guy. I´d like to say, “yeah so and so is amazing” and some names do come to mind, but I´ve never really felt like that. Apart from Basement boys & Spen and a very select few others, I just don´t roll like that. All new flavour-followy and shit.
What else should I have asked/would you like to talk about?
Nothing. This is already too much for me…
Interview by Wil
Derrick Carter plays A Night With… on the 19th March.
A Night With…Derrick Carter
Saturday 19th March 2011
**Secret London Location*
10pm – 6am
Advance Tickets £10 – £15
Only Available from:
Check the rather interesting video done for Derrick´s fabric56 mix. Trust all those who won the album a few weeks back is now enjoying it in all it´s glory…