My inexperienced self used to say that Paris is overrated and over hyped. My parents would always shake their head at my adamant statements and made me go anyway. Luckily, I didn't listen to myself because I ended up falling in love.
The exact same happened for me this past WMC in Miami. I always scuffed thinking why do I need to go to pretentious Miami to experience everything I get here in New York? But now I have come to the conclusion that weather and setting do have a lot to do with it along with the fact that this is the ultimate gathering of people who bring to the table their love of electronic music.
There's a staple each year in WMC after parties, and that's John Digweed boat party. If it were me, I would have all WMC day parties be on a boat (unless of course, there is poor weather). It's a feast for all the senses—good music for the ears, fresh air for the nose, beautiful vistas for the eyes and cool breezes to run through with your hands. Undocking from land gives the sense of cutting yourself off from outside responsibilities and other parties calling your name. You are unbound and without much choice (there's always the option of swimming back to shore...but that's not pleasant). With little distraction you have only to focus on good music and good people.
This first boat cruise of this year's WMC, featured an all-star line up, with names so big it's a miracle they didn't sink the ship. Joining Digweed was Carl Cox, Matthew Benjamin and Guy J amongst the lineup.
As the Lady Windbridge yacht set sail and the drinks started pouring, Guy J took the decks with melodic and uplifting progressions. There is food and open bar to add to everyone’s delight and the weather is just unspeakably gorgeous. A few fluffy but un-intrusive clouds joined the sun. The crowd moved up and down between the levels of the ship choosing between getting drinks and grabbing some amazingly prepared chow in the buffet—everything from watermelon salad to beautiful pieces of roast beef.
Matthew Benjamin of Layo & Bushwacka brought in a heavier and more eclectic set, steering away from Guy J's melodies to the more nitty and gritty with funky deep voice overlays. Everyone by now had their first drink and was dancing in full force.
You can always tell when Carl Cox takes over the decks because the sound is so powerful, it literally rocks the boat. The bass is amplified. The tracks are hot. It’s no wonder countless view him as a dance king—when he comes on, he brings down the house. Extremely friendly, Carl Cox's only mission is to make the people of his dance kingdom move like the night never ends.
Digweed took to DJing when the sun was setting, as the boat turned around sailing back past the Venetian Islands, bringing the night to a close. Building up his set, Digweed started out with a slower groove and built up to new favorites such as Maceo Plex's “Under The Sheets.” Knowing the boat ride was coming to an end, everyone crowded the top deck to end on a good note the beginning of a fresh night.
Right before his set, I sat down with John Digweed with the Miami vista in back of us to catch up with a little of what's going on.
Simon Cowell's doing the whole X-factor thing for DJs, how do you feel about that? Do you think it's a realistic test of DJs?
Well I think probably from a commercial standpoint they will probably find someone extremely cheesy, extremely commercial that will probably go on to do very very well. From the world I come from, it doesn't mean anything at all. I try not pay too much attention to it really, I think DJing on TV, how are you going to gauge someone's ability in five minutes, you know? Should be over a whole period of time, DJing in different clubs around town, the country, or around the world, building up a fanbase. I mean, maybe they might discover an underground DJ but I can't really see underground DJs going on to a Simon Cowell program so we know probably where it is going to be headed.
I have not really given it any thought, really. As I said, it's not really a world I partake in or know anything about.
Is that how you go about picking tracks for your label as well? By looking at where the artist has played, etc?
There's a difference between being a producer and a DJ you know, you could be a producer and the first record you make is the best record you ever made and you might not even make another good one afterwards, but that first initial idea could be the thing that everything connects and you make a great sounding record. With a DJ you get better as you go on. You learn to play the crowd more, have the confidence to play longer sets—play variety. For track selection it's all about how good the record is. I don't care how good the guy's first record or his 100th, if I like it then I want to release it.
Who else do you have in store for us that’s going to come out on your label?
I've got a French producer called Electric Rescue he's coming out next month. There's a whole bunch of stuff—the label is just flying at the moment. I've got a live album with Maceo Plex recorded in Argentina in Cordoba which is coming out in April, we just released Underground Sound of Miami which is an album just to kind of celebrate the conference week. As a label we've got a pretty healthy line up.
When you mention Maceo, is it under Maceo or his other moniker Maetrik?
Maetrik did a remix for us on the label.
Do you see your label picking up more tracks in that direction like Maceo's style?
No, I mean I love what he does; he's an amazing producer. As I've said the label is all about releasing good records so I'm not fussy about the genre. If I personally like it and want it to be released then that's what I look for.
Why do you still DJ?
Because I love it.
What does it evoke from you?
When you spend half your life doing something you enjoy, it's second nature to me. If I have a couple of weekends off I want to get out and play. You know for me, there's nothing better than sharing the music I love with people who want to hear it. I don't look at it as work—I look at it as a fun time. I don't charge for DJing, I charge for flying to get there now. The traveling is the aspect I charge for; the DJing is free.