Hot on the heels of a succesful 10th anniversary party at Matter and with the release of the Bedrock 10 : Past Present And Future co-inciding with this landmark, to wrap up our extensive coverage of the anniversary, we are proud to present a new interview with the founder of Bedrock himself, John Digweed. In this exclusive feature he talks about the 10th anniversary party and the inspiration behind the album, the changes he has seen occur throughout, the highs and lows of the past decade and much more more..
- Progressive-Sounds: There are not many labels that can say they´ve been running for 10 years in this day and age, but Bedrock is still going strong, so congratulations from us. Did you ever anticipate the label would still be going after a decade, and what have a handful of the high points and low points been for you?
John Digweed: The label came about as a result of the music I would get handed as I was travelling around the world, where producers from the many regions would approach me at shows and present me with their tracks, stating they were influenced by the music they heard me play. Starting a label as an outlet for some of this material was a logical progression really and there was never any real long term plan in place but the label has taken its own path and forged its own identity over the years which I´m most proud of.
This in a lot of ways can be attributed to the work of David Malone who also worked on the Northern Exposure projects. His artwork has been very consistent, clean and sharp, and has been an instrumental factor in building up the label´s recognition amongst fans worldwide, without a need of being in your face. His subtle approach has been a constant throughout the label´s lifespan, with a lot of time and effort invested in furthering the label´s identity through this direction and at the same time complimenting the music that we have released.
There have been so many high points but I would say Guy Gerbers "Stoppage Time" is one of those records that has done really well. The initial reaction to the track was incredible
There have been so many high points but I would say Guy Gerber´s "Stoppage Time" is one of those records that has done really well. The initial reaction to the track was incredible. Even months later, I had Mixmag contact me to find out when the track was being released after they had heard Sven Vath play it, even though they had been sent copies months prior to this. It´s a track that I still get asked about even to this day. The success of "Heaven Scent" would be another, as it was a track Nick and I did that was primarily geared towards the Bedrock nights. I must admit that having it revisited on the "Bedrock 10" compilation was something I wasn´t sure about but the new version keeps enough of the original riff to be recognisable without being too similar and the end result turned out to be very interesting indeed.
A low point I suppose would be the Suicide Sports Club album we put out. It never achieved the heights I expected even though all the reviews and feedback we got was superb. The singles that were released never managed to receive the radio play we were aiming for which is a shame. I really believed in that album as I´m very passionate about all the music and the projects we develop as part of the label. The sad thing about radio is that there is so much rubbish that makes it onto the mainstream playlists and a lot of it comes from that one lucky break or a huge marketing budget. However, since the album´s release quite a few of the tracks have been used on TV and in movie soundtracks so that kind of success somewhat outweighs the negative.
- Progressive-Sounds: What was the inspiration behind the concept of revisiting the back catalogue and updating it for the ´Bedrock 10: Past Present And Future´ compilation?
With reaching 10 years of Bedrock, it would have been quite natural to do a straight up mix of the back catalogue. But the tracks have been included on so many compilations and mixes, that all it would have meant is a different track order to what someone had done previously
John Digweed: With reaching 10 years of Bedrock, it would have been quite natural to do a straight up mix of the back catalogue. But the tracks have been included on so many compilations and mixes, that all it would have meant is a different track order to what someone had done previously. So to make the album stand out, I wanted to pick some of the best music from the catalogue and also feature some brand new material while inviting some of the best producers of the moment to add their own ideas to some of the best tracks from the catalogue. The end result is a release with 29 new pieces of music and having been around 10 years and developed some great relationships with many of the DJs and producers involved, it really turned out to be something I hope everyone will enjoy.
- Progressive-Sounds: How did you go about choosing tracks from the label´s extensive back catalogue and also the artists and remixers you commissioned to contribute to the project?
John Digweed: It was actually a long, ongoing process that I had been working on for some time, pulling out tracks and seeing what I actually had the parts for was one of the factors that influenced the selection process. Plus there were people like Danny Howells and Steve Lawler who were both eager to provide new updated versions of their releases on the label.
Some of the other contributions came about by various means. Estroe is a female DJ from Holland who did a track called ´Driven´ on Connaisseur which I absolutely love and Alan Fitzpatrick is an artist whom I came across after hearing the track "9 Hours Later" on his own label. If I felt a particular artist could add something to a track, then I approached them and asked them to contribute to the project, such was the case with Paolo Mojo and his version of ´U Get So Give´. When it came to finalising the track selection I decided to mix the first two discs myself, and the original material provided by artists such as Nick Muir, Charlie May, Bradler and Funk D´Void went to contribute new original material for the bonus unmixed third disc. I wanted to use the people who have really impressed me over the years as well as showcasing some of the current crop of new talent that exists all over the world and I think that is achieved very well on the album.
- Progressive-Sounds: I am sure there are many other tracks certain artists would love to revisit from the label as mentioned in our series of Bedrock 10 features, in addition to some that no doubt just feasibly couldn´t be included on the album´s 3 discs. Can we look forward to further remixes, perhaps on a series of EPs in the coming months?
John Digweed: At the moment, with the releases we have out, plus almost simultaneously releasing two album projects at the same time, our focus is making sure these projects receive as much promotion and exposure as they possibly can. After that, who knows what next year will bring..
- Progressive-Sounds: The Bedrock nights have been influential in the careers of many DJs, including Danny Howells back in the early days in Hastings, in addition to James Zabiela, Paolo Mojo and more recently Neil Quigley who all credit the nights with being factors to their success. How do you feel about that?
John Digweed: As with the label, it´s a stepping stone for talent to further themselves as the nights provide a stage and people recognise when these have contributed to one of our nights. If I spot someone who has a unique talent, I will strive to provide them with the opportunity to showcase that talent The same goes for the artists who release music through the label. Ultimately, I´m only one part of the process and the rest comes from the hard work and dedication people such as Danny have invested in their own careers as well.
- Progressive-Sounds: The Bedrock parties at Heaven all hold special memories for many of the fans and I´m sure for you. What are your most favourite special moments of the nights at Heaven, and also what do you feel the switch to the brand new custom built venue Matter will add to the 10th anniversary night?
The night at Matter was incredible. The venue itself is spectacular and being run by the same people who run Fabric it more than delivered in terms of production. Its unbelievable when you get people who are prepared to travel from all corners of the globe to support such events
John Digweed: I really loved the night when Rabbit In The Moon played live at Heaven, and that´s one night I´ve never forgotten since - it was a rather special night. Winning the DJ Top 100 whilst playing at the club was also a special moment for me. I think the beauty of the nights at Heaven were that they were midweek so as a result the people who came to the nights were more aware of the music and what the nights were all about, whereas on the weekend in central London, at the time, that perhaps wasn´t the case.
The night at Matter was incredible. The venue itself is spectacular and being run by the same people who run Fabric it more than delivered in terms of production. It´s unbelievable when you get people who are prepared to travel from all corners of the globe to support such events. There was a girl who had travelled all the way from Australia there, people from Canada, the US, Spain, Portugal and Amsterdam to name but a few places, and the fact that people would do this, is one of the factors that motivates me in what I do.
I spent weeks going through my records and CDs leading up to the 10th anniversary, and played for over 9 hours, ending up running out of time. I did start out with some of the older classics but wanted to save some until later in the set, as I wanted to build the night up steadily. I haven´t really done a night previously where I´m playing old and new stuff and taking into consideration the different EQs, sounds, levels and trying to remember mix points, it was a real test of memory and concentration and I had enough material left at the end to have played on for another 3 hours.
- Progressive-Sounds: The label has diversified somewhat over the years, focusing on artist led projects like Pole Folder´s ´Zero Gold´, the Suicide Sports Club album ´Electric Mistress´ and most recently the excellent ´Esperanza´ album by Guy J. How do you think such projects compliment the rest of the releases on the label, and is this an area you will be looking to further expand upon in the future?
John Digweed: It all depends on the material I receive. If a young artist comes to me with a great album of material then we would look at releasing it through the label. These projects take a lot more planning and developing than EPs or singles and the artist has to have a certain amount of ability to deliver. Guy J hit the nail on the head as I didn´t really want a club album and he managed to deliver something where he has pushed himself further musically, delivering an album that is full of diversity and warm sounds.
- Progressive-Sounds: You seem to be constantly globe trotting, but as part of your extensive tour for the album, where will you be heading to and what shows are you looking forward to the most?
John Digweed: I always like visiting Japan and Asia and I am looking forward to playing there again in the coming weeks. I´m very lucky that I get to play on a constant basis and enjoy playing to people who enjoy and support the music and travel from all over the world to come see me play.
- Progressive-Sounds: The music scene has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years with vinyl releases steadily becoming rarer and the growth of the digital era. How have you personally seen things evolve over the last decade, and what impact if anything does it have from your perspective as a DJ and label owner?
John Digweed: Technology is moving and in a way it´s sad that the whole vinyl market has declined so much over the last few years. The whole process of that physical product is becoming obsolete, from the manufacturing to the mastering, the test pressings and the finished product and sleeve art, ending up with a physical product in your hands. However, there is still plenty of music available if you look for it and having seen Sven Vath play in Australia and at Cocoon in Ibiza entirely from vinyl, it´s great to see that labels are still investing in the format.
That being said, I play from CDs and MP3s at the moment and it certainly has its advantages. I quite often pick up music at Beatport when I´m travelling, as opposed to having records shipped from the UK in years gone by. As someone who spends more than half my waking day checking out music, the instant access and availability these days means there´s always some progression and that the music can reach a broader audience.
We are only a small label so the loss of 1000 sales can have a considerable impact on our business and ultimately has an impact on the producers and artists.
I think the only downside is the file sharing. We are only a small label so the loss of 1000 sales can have a considerable impact on our business and ultimately has an impact on the producers and artists. I look at a producer in much the same way as an artist or painter. They create their art, develop a collection and then sell it, allowing them to be able to continue the following year
- Progressive-Sounds: On a separate note, and with the switch in music distribution in mind as a contributing factor, what do you feel the future holds for record labels like Bedrock in light of the volatile instability in the global economy and increasingly tougher climates in the global music industry as a whole and what do you think could possibly be done to counteract this?
John Digweed: I think the core clubbing culture crowd is 18-24, so they are the last to think of credit crunches even though at the moment you cannot turn on a TV set without there being mention of it. I think that the effect of it will trickle down the chain at some point, with people perhaps being more hesitant about buying an album or DVD or going out once a month instead of every week, but it´s another hurdle in the ever changing climate of the music and club scene that will undoubtedly be addressed.