It’s no small feat when a radio legend like John Peel refers to you as the Baron of Techno, a title Dave Clarke has certainly owned over the years. The jock should’ve known, he was a connoisseur of music after all and there wasn’t a trend or a mainstay of a genre he couldn’t spot a mile away, and he saw Dave Clarke’s star rising, before most of us even knew of the artist. If Peel saw it as such it would have been true and calling Dave Clarke the Baron of Techno is truer today than he could have ever known back then. Back then Clarke was scrawny idealist with no money (he still has the picture to prove it), but a talent for machines and this music we call Techno that labels like R&S had no problem seeing in the young Clarke. Today Dave Clarke is a pillar of Techno, and where others have compromised Dave Clarke has remained headstrong in his pursuit of bringing a serrated edge to the genre. He follows a punk approach when it comes to kind of music he proliferates and produces, and although he’s best known as a Techno juggernaut, he’s able to easily drift into the neighbouring music worlds like Electro without missing a beat.
After taking a short hiatus from recording music in 2006, Dave Clarke has returned with a remix album in 2016 that will be followed shortly after by new and original material in the months to come. During his hiatus he was hardly a slouch, touring extensively as a DJ from his newly adopted home in Amsterdam, bringing the raw edge of Techno to ever bigger audiences. Always the staunch supporter of new electronic music, during this time he also established “Dave Clarke presents”, a cutting edge event at the heart of Amsterdam’s ADE that sets the bar for large scale Techno events the world over. It’s behind the decks where Dave Clarke is at his most uncompromising. Techno’s most ardent provocateurs appear tame in the light of Dave Clarke set and you can be assured one of the most unadulterated experiences of your life. In all these aspects he truly owns the title as the Baron of Techno and nobody could possibly take that away from him.
We caught up with Dave Clarke through an email exchange before he travels to Oslo to try and get a glimpse of what makes this Baron of Techno tick over lately and what we could possibly expect from his set next week in our basement.
As a purveyor of Techno that’s seen the genre go through many phases, what stuck as its major appeal throughout the years?
The true Techno just has a feeling that, for me, cannot be equalled, it is both exciting and challenging to the status quo, a truly edgy form of music that has adapted with technology to become even more vibrant.
Trend aside, how have you evolved alongside the genre as an artist and more specifically a DJ?
As a person I am far more open to other art forms than just music, which is surprising to me, I think Amsterdam opened something up inside me.
There was picture of a young Dave Clarke that cropped up on social media last year, mentioning how you lived from hand to mouth at the start of your career. What do you think is the reality for new artist in the same position today?
Poverty is poverty, drive is drive, each generation has their hoops to jump through in the name of being an artist, to get into making music is a lot cheaper these days – finding out about info, about how to make it, or your favourite artists is also a lot easier. But then making a living out of being credible is probably a lot harder and a dream that seems even more unobtainable than in my experience.
What would you have said to the person in the picture if you could?
Nothing as I got here career wise, country wise I would have said that was a German Flag not a flag from Belgium (which I thought it was).
You’ve been quite outspoken on the music industry in the past. Have you seen it change for the better at all since then?
A very long question, there are pro’s and cons in all changes, the better ones are the technology that is available to us now is what we dreamed of, we were before powerful computers, internet, connectivity, but those very things also give us ADHD and distractions.
Would you say there’s still a fundamental flaw in the music industry, especially in light of electronic music’s current dominance?
The flaw is that everyone now has to be on the road to earn a decent living compared to 15 years ago, music is a freebie now to sell a tour for most people.
Since 2006, you’ve been on a sort of hiatus from recorded music – not considering remixes and re-issues – as a solo artist. What made you go on hiatus?
I got divorced, changed country, wanted to wait and see what would happen with the recording industry and had to start a new studio from scratch.
Do you ever feel the urge to get back in to the studio as a solo artist and what would an original Dave Clarke production sound like in 2016?
There are quite a few albums due to come out in the next period, the first one “Charcoal Eyes” will be a compilation of all my remixes from Soft Moon, APTBS, I am Kloot, Gazelle Twin, Placebo, and I will be heavily in the studio this year.
You’re a prolific touring DJ too and I imagine at some point it all becomes quite a blur. How do you keep things interesting for yourself?
I love (most of) the gigs, that keeps me going plus not staying very long in any place but always quick to return home, I love being home, the whole idea of touring non stop and being away for a few weeks is not for me, so being grounded helps me a lot.
I had the pleasure of catching your set at ADE a couple of years back and what struck me was how vigorous and dominant it was, to the point where Karenn (who are by no means a subtle act) almost sounded a bit weak in light of it. It’s something that you’ve also displayed a lot in your recorded works. Where does this attitude come from?
I do not know any other way, I grew up a bit late for Punk, but I definitely learnt from it, I just want to own the stage and the people for those few hours one of my friends says I look like a boxer before a match…I hardly speak to people before a gig as i am there to DJ not socialize, I could not be a Tech house dj, I think coming from the UK also adds something to the spice
And what new music best exemplifies this attitude for you?
Just listen to my radio show called White Noise, I play so much new music there.
* Dave Clarke joins Karima and DJ Nuhhh in our basement for Retro on the 25th of February