Love is in the air and as Lovebox Festival draws closer we caught up with our pal Greg Wilson (ahead of his appearance for us on the VIP Stage at the Festival), to talk Daft Punk, Glastonbury and of course disco!
So Greg, where to begin! You’ve always had a close relationship with us here at Future Disco and we’ve always enjoyed you coming to play for us over the years. Why do you think it is that the kids still love getting down to the funky disco sound?
It’s infectiously uplifting and positive, which is especially welcome in these austere times. People like to forget their day to day woe’s on the dancefloor and immerse themselves in the groove, so this Disco renaissance couldn’t be better timed.
Tell our readers a little about your set-up when you’re Djing, it’s not just your average bag of records is it?
It’s a combination of past and present – the past courtesy of the Revox B77 reel to reel I use to pepper in samples and fx, the present via 2 x CDJ2000’s. The music I play works from the same principle – drawing largely from the past, mainly the 70’s and early 80’s, but with re-edits of the these tunes giving things a contemporary spin.
The ‘edit’ plays a big role in what makes up many of your DJ sets; who would you say were some of your favourite edit producers are and what separates them to lots of their contemporaries?
During recent times, Late Nite Tuff Guy and Fingerman stand out, by virtue of both the consistent quality of their work, plus their prolific output – it’s one big edit after the next as far as those guys are concerned, and I’m so grateful to them for making my job that much easier. Other special mentions to Henry Greenwood and Derek Kaye, who have just done some wonderful reworks for the A&R Series that I’m involved with.
We’ve been really getting into your blog recently, it has been an amazing archive of music heritage and brings to light lots of topics that may be passed by the average music site or mag. What was the inspiration for starting a blog and what are your plans for the future of it?
I’ve always done bits of writing here and there, dating right back to when I’m in my teens, and I generally have an opinion on various aspects of DJ / club / popular culture, so a blog is the ideal place to share this. A blog is your own personal place, so it’s suited to my particular style of writing, which combines the objective facts with my own subjective experiences – this seems to connect well with people, the personal anecdotes helping put more meat on the bone, giving a closer insight re the subject matter.
You’ve made a few posts recently on the new Daft Punk album applauding their return to a more organic approach of creating dance music. Do you think this is something that new producers need to take on board?
I’ve been saying, pretty much since I started up again almost 10 years ago, that, although it’s great that DJ’s can create tracks on their computers, there’s no substitute for musicianship, and, for me, that’s what’s been lacking in dance music for a long time. When you listen back to those classic 70’s Disco tracks, especially the Philadelphia International / Salsoul productions, with those wonderful orchestral arrangements, you can’t but be impressed by the level of musicians then associated with dance music. More recently it’s become a programmers domain, but a balance between the technology and the human, as Daft Punk illustrated, seems to be the logical progression.
How would you define the separation of being a DJ and being a producer? There are obviously lots of producers now who gain quick success and feel the natural progression is for them to be DJing in nightclubs; do you think this in a sense is killing an art?
They’re 2 different things – a good DJ doesn’t necessarily make a good producer, and vice-versa. For starters, you need a certain aptitude to be able to construct a track, listening to the various parts over and over again. Some people just don’t have this patience / concentration, just as the live environment of the DJ doesn’t always suit someone who’s used to the more methodical approach of the studio. Being a DJ is a specific skill, which at basis is all about programming the music correctly for the crowd they’re playing to – the reading of the audience absolutely key. These are skills that don’t come overnight, so just because someone’s had success as a producer doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to walk into a club environment and know how to read an audience – this can require a long ‘apprenticeship’, maybe working the bar circuit, before the dynamics of a club crowd is understood.
What have some of your most memorable moments since your return to DJing back in 2003? Do you have any moment of ‘Wow, pinch me, that was awesome!”?
The way that everything has, and continues to, organically evolve for me is a constant ‘wow’. I’m just back from Glastonbury, where I had headlining slots in both the Stonebridge and Genosys areas. I could never have envisaged this a decade ago, let alone touring the US, Australia, Japan, Brazil etc. The last 10 years has been a trip and a half – all stemming from that comeback gig in Manchester in December 2003, where there was less than 100 people in attendance, although, fortunately, the right people. I don’t know what I thought might happen, but I certainly had no idea it would all snowball to this level, with no signs of slowing down. Strange how things work out.
You can see Greg Wilson bringing the funk alongside Kim Ann Foxman, Serverino, Guy Williams, and The Pool DJs for Future Disco at Lovebox Festival on the 21st of July. We leave you now with five classic Greg Wilson cuts to get you in the mood, enjoy.