Interview | Carl Cox.
Professional DJ since his early teens. A musical ambassador and a veteran of acid house and a champion of techno – you name it, Carl’s been there and done it, never losing sight of his passions – playing music, breaking tunes and celebrating life. brandnite TV met the mighty Carl Cox backstage at his “Music is Revolution” party at Space Ibiza to talk about the success of his night, how he keeps the mystery in his sets and what are his plans for the future.
About Carl Cox
It was at the age of 15 that Carl was given a set of turntables and began working as a mobile DJ. Disco was the first music that captivated him but by the early 80s Cox had moved on to playing the same music as other young London DJs – rare groove, New York hip-hop and electro. He was perfectly placed to hear Chicago house music in its earliest forms, and when the epic ‘Acid Trax’ by Phuture (a.k.a. DJ Pierre) came out in early ’87. “It was then that I thought, ‘This is it,’ says Carl. “I would do my parties, and I’d play old rare groove and hip hop and soul and I would say ‘Right you’ve got to hear this Phuture track’ and people would just stop. It’s funny because all the people who thought I had freaked out then are the people who are making the music now.”
As a founder of the sound, Carl rode the exploding British rave scene. He played the opening night of Danny Rampling’s legendary Shoom, co-promoted The Project with Paul Oakenfold, held a residency at the Zap Club in Brighton and at the Sunrise rave in 1988, hooked up a third turntable for his dawn-breaking set, got 15,000 kids back on their feet, and established a personal rep for three-deck wizardry.
The next step was to make music, and Carl’s 1991 debut single for Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto label, ‘I Want You,’ gave him a top 30 hit and a Top of the Pops appearance. Two more singles also made the charts. But Carl was a reluctant pop star and as the masses moved onto fluffy house and trance, and the hardcore created jungle, Cox retreated into the club world that had nurtured him and instead embraced the underground sounds of techno. “Techno drives home somewhere,” he says of his core music. “It takes you to an element of surprise, not knowing where you’re going. It’s scary but wonderful at the same time.”
Carl’s classic releases include his 1995 mix CD, ‘F.A.C.T,’ which became a techno benchmark, selling over 250,000 copies, and the 1996 EP ‘Two Paintings and a Drum,’ which again broke the British top 30. Alongside Carl’s ‘Ultimate Music Management’ company, which counted Josh Wink and Laurent Garnier among 27 clients, there was the Ultimatum record label, for which Carl recorded his third top 30 UK single, ‘Sensual Sophis-ti-cat.’ In 2005, Carl’s third album, ‘The Second Sign’ caused a stir across Europe and reached number 3 in Spain’s national chart. Also gaining critical acclaim was speaker freaker ‘Dirty Bass,’ a collaboration with Christian Smith, and the funky ‘Give Me Your Love’, both released on 23rd Century Records, an outlet for his own burgeoning production output.
Carl formed his own label, Intec Records, in 1999, scoring a series of underground hits and enjoying eight years at the forefront of electronic music. After its closure in 2006, Carl was still inundated with new music, finally deciding to re-launch the label as Intec Digital at the start of 2010. It’s been a triumphant return, thanks to exclusives from some of the biggest names in techno. “The label couldn’t be going better,” says Carl. “It’s great to be back at the helm discovering underground DJs.”
Intec Digital was also the home for Carl’s 6th studio album, ‘All Roads Lead To the Dancefloor,’ released to critical acclaim in late 2011 on state-of-the-art, self-updating USB technology. The USB offered far more than a conventional album, showcasing a range of styles across its 20+ tracks whilst also giving fans access to everything from interviews & behind the scenes footage, to tutorial, tips & tricks with Carl, and much more.
2013 saw the re-launch of Carl’s seminal Pure Intec series, 9 years after the hugely successful original ‘Pure Intec.’ The release also coincided with the launch of a new series of Intec club nights where Carl played to a sold out XOYO in East London, dates followed in Amsterdam for ADE, and London’s fabric, where he returns again in April 2014.
“Jon and I thought it was time,” says Carl. “We’d been working hard the last few years to get Intec back to the forefront of Techno. We have a great roster, with very talented DJs that deserve recognition. This is our way of celebrating the label’s success, showcasing some of our artists, and of course putting out some amazing tracks.”
Carl’s legendary Ibiza residency also continues to break boundaries. Celebrating an astounding 13 consecutive years at Space this summer, Carl and Safehouse Management have built their weekly residency into one of the Island’s most popular nights. Marking a change in direction from traditional Ibiza parties, Carl and his Space revolution has always been acclaimed for its adventurous and forward-thinking line-ups, musical direction and state of the art production. This, along with Carl’s highly involved and passionate role as promoter, programmer and host, is why each year has seen a growth and progression from the last, both in terms of quality and size. “We have a successful night because we just batten down the hatches and stick to what we do best, which is give value for money,” explains Carl. “People come back to us, as they’re big believers in our brand. Also Space is a great club, they’ve spent a lot of money on it, and it’s just getting better and better.”
This summer sees Carl embark on his longest ever Ibiza season, with an extended 14-week run, kicking off on 24th June. Accompanying the extra date is redesigned logo and adaptable slogan, set to evolve throughout the summer, with the first set of nights branded ‘Music is Revolution.’ “It’s unbelievable this is my 13th year,” says Carl. “I really didn’t think we would get past 5 years so I am totally overwhelmed by the night’s success. To be expanding is truly a great sign of the night’s popularity and demand and also allows us to bring even more talent to the island. We are currently putting the finishing touches to this season’s line-up and it’s looking to be one of the biggest yet.”
Stay tuned for full details, plus more on a brand new residency for Carl, this time in Las Vegas – at the sin city’s mega-club LIGHT at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. For the first time ever Carl will be playing a series of Vegas dates throughout the year, which he thinks could be one of the biggest challenges he’s had in some time – “Techno music isn’t the most important thing in Vegas, it’s not the reason people go there. But I like a challenge. It’s an exciting time for dance music in the States right now. I’m not planning on changing a thing, I’m going in playing what I want to play and I’m confident I’ll win them over.” Full Light residency details coming soon.
All this and still Carl’s ‘Global’ radio show is still breaking records, now reaching over 16-million weekly listeners worldwide and syndicated across over 60 terrestrial FM, Satellite and DAB stations throughout 35 countries, making him one of the most important broadcasters on the planet, and the most followed DJ on Mixcloud.
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