Dave Angel is a legend. Primarily known for his work in techno, he's made and played tracks in many other styles over the years. Christian Smith has just done a remix of Dave's track 'Homage', a homage to the 727 percussion-based drum machine from his 'Homage EP' (out now), and his brilliant track 'Harlequin' has recently appeared on Bedrock. With other releases on Toolroom, Hope and the Japanese label Fountain Music, Dave is resolutely BACK — but where has he been?
You seem to have been off the radar a bit in the past few years, what have you been doing?
“Well, basically Carl, I had quite a few personal problems. I got ill — I got really fucking ill, I had Crohn’s disease, but it took four years for them to work it out. So I’d go to do a gig, and I’d have an attack and I couldn’t do the gig. It happened one time when I was flying back from Switzerland and I had another gig in Holland the next day, but I’m on the plane and I started feeling terrible, man — my stomach was bubbling up and I’m throwing up… all nasty stuff, y’know?
“And they diagnosed me with Crohn’s [inflammatory bowel disease], so I went in hospital and spent over three months in there. I went down to six stone, I lost a helluva lot of weight, I got pneumonia and shit, I got proper proper ill. And then, just as I was getting better, my little brother died. He got diagnosed with lung cancer in September, and in February he was gone.'
Shit... “That knocked me for six, and I didn’t have the strength or the will really. I always still listened to music and stuff, but I just couldn’t do it anymore — I didn’t have it in me. Especially with my brother, it wasn’t so much about me 'cos I was alright, it was just my little brother — that really brought me to my knees, man.
“But that’s life, man. I turned it positive and listened to what he said, 'cos he knew that I was going to go all within myself, and he said ‘You can’t do that D, you’ve got to make your music, y’know? And people’s got to hear it’.
“I’d always been back in the studio, but not as it is now — where I’m in there every day. It’s not like I’m commissioned by anyone, I just do the tracks and whatever label I think the track would be suited to, me and my manager shop it out to them. So that’s what we’ve been doing, and things are good again now. I’ve incorporated hardware and software in the studio now...”
So you’ve made a full recovery, then?
“Yeah man, I’m back, I’m back, I’ve just got to look after my diet, that’s the main thing. I go for regular check-ups and stuff like that, but yeah — they’ve given me the all-clear, so that’s fantastic news. Now I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in years. I don’t know whether it was the work or not eating properly — cos I’m such a fussy eater, I go to all these different countries and I don’t like the food, so I’ve gone days without eating. You know how it is, everybody’s party’s the best party and when you get there it’s like ‘Whoooooooah’, y’know… and it kind of takes its toll, y’know? It takes its toll. So I’ve got the all-clear now and I’m good to go.”
Your new ‘Harlequin’ track — what a tune! Amazing…
“Nice one, I just knew that was for Bedrock straight away, as soon as I made it, so we just sent it to them, and John loved it and said, ‘I really want to put this out’.
It’s got a kick to it but it’s atmospheric and warm as well at the same time, which I try and pride myself with in the music I make, that’s my style really.”
Yeah, cos although you’ve done a lot of techno stuff, you’ve done tracks in other styles as well sometimes, haven’t you?
“Yeah, cos that’s the thing Carl, people pigeon-hole you and think that’s all you’re about. But that’s not the case, I’m a music lover, I’ve been into music since I was eight-years-old, I love all different styles of music — everything, right across the board, if it’s nice. Trying to make different styles of music is a challenge, and I like challenges and trying different things. It might not be as organic and using the sounds that everybody else uses, 'cos I try not to do that as well. Just try to put my own stamp on it. “Yeah, I done some drum & bass bits, I did some stuff for Bryan Gee’s label V Recordings and I think I done some bits for Bukem as well, I can’t remember, there’s so many tracks I’ve done over the years in different styles. But yeah, I've been back every day working in the studio on various different projects.”
In sunny Swindon?
“Yeah, in sunny Swindon, although I don’t get to see much sun really, Carl. What I’ve done is converted my garage, cos I used to have my studio in the master bedroom but I had another daughter, so I had to free up space. We’ve got a double garage here, so I got that converted — proper soundproofed by a company called Studio 24 — and it’s a dream to work in, I can work in there 24-hours a day and no-one would know that a studio is in there — so it’s cool.”
What did you think when the Fast Show’s Dave Angel: Eco Warrior came along?
Amusing or annoying? “I’d never seen the show, but people told me about this geezer Dave Angel on the Fast Show, and I thought ‘What’s this all about?’ I typed it in on the internet and saw that it was some type of comedy thing. But I don’t think he knew who I was, so it was cool man, y’know, I ain’t got nothing against that.”
What are some of your fondest memories from back in the day?
“I really used to love playing at The End [in London], that was like a home for me with all the boys there — Richard, Layo, Bushwacka!, they’re all like family to me. I just loved that place, it was a special place to me. But there’s been many others — Club UK, Fabric, and all those big raves that I used to do. I think the very first rave I did was called Technodrome in Scotland — I’d never seen anything like it before in my life. Freezing cold, but there must’ve been about 20,000 people there. I mean, now it’s normal, but at that particular time it was quite special.”
How has the game changed, then?
“Oh, it’s changed massively. Before it was just two decks and a mixer — that was it! You had to get your art across — which is what I see mixing with records is, I see it as an art, and it’s a dying art. I ain’t knocking anyone, but this sync button — I don’t see the point. I still play vinyl sometimes, although mainly CDs — but not the USB sticks, I’ve got to be touching something, I’ve got to be feeling something. It’s just the way I like to work.”