John Digweed is an enigma. He began DJing at the age of 15 and started putting on parties in his home town of Hastings on the south coast of England. He put on acts like Carl Cox and The Prodigy on Hastings Pier, and then in the early '90s he teamed up with Sasha for Renaissance and began one of the most important double-acts in dance.
Setting up his Bedrock label and club nights around the Millennium, John was voted No.1 in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll in 2001 and as the noughties progressed went from strength-to-strength.
Whether it's compiling his 'Transitions' comps, putting out 'Live In...' sets, producing, running Bedrock nights and managing the label, DJing at festivals like SW4 or remixing tracks such as the one he did for Fatboy Slim's new 'Bem Brasil' comp, 'Diggers' is still on the money. We lobbed a few curveballs his way...
At DJ Mag HQ we love your track with Nick Muir for the Fatboy Slim 'Bem Brasil' album — how did you decide which Brazilian track to update?
“Norman sent Nick and myself about four tracks to choose from and the Tosca track ['Stuttgart'] was the one that really stood out to us both.
We loved the feel of the vocal and felt we could deliver something that did it justice, adding our own unique take on it and creating something for the summer dancefloors.”
When did you first meet Norman Cook?
“I first met Norman around '87/'88 when I was DJing at an after-party for Def Jam Records at the Escape Club in Brighton with Paul Oakenfold.
Norman came up and said hello and asked if I happened to have two copies of any tracks in my box — which I did. Then he asked if he could have a go, and jumped up to do some cutting and scratching.”
Why have you called your Ibiza parties at Pacha 'Insane'?
“It's not actually my party — I am one of the main residents but it’s an in-house promotion from the club.
Last year went really well, but I think this year it will really establish itself as one of the strong nights on the island.”
Talk us through your ‘Live In…' series?
“Well, it was never really meant to be be a series. After an amazing party in Cordoba, Argentina — which I had recorded — I thought it might be cool to do it as an official release, as the party had been so good. The reaction to the CD was so incredible that we decided to do another one.
“We live in a world of free streams, mixes and downloads but this series seems to have really resonated with my fanbase who want a physical reminder of certain parties that I do.
I never plan where any of the recordings/releases are coming from — it's all based on whether or not the party is rocking, then we try and release it as quickly as possible to make it as fresh as possible.
We are now up to number five in the series, which was recorded at my last night at The Vagabond in Miami. It was actually quite an emotional night for me, as I knew I would never be playing there again, so I really put my all into that set.”
Who are you tipping to break through this year — Bedrock artists, or otherwise?
“Well, they are already established but Pig & Dan have just delivered an amazing artist album to me called 'Destination Unknown', which blew me away when I first heard it.
CD1 is a beautiful downtempo and chilled out take on electronica, while CD2 is perfect for lazy long summer days and has a real Kruder & Dorfmeister feel to it. I think it will become a soundtrack to peoples' summers once they’ve heard it.”
Are you looking forward to playing SW4 this year — your 10th year, I believe, and your exclusive UK festival performance?
“SW4 is always a great festival to play. I think as it’s so close to central London, people love the fact that there’s a festival on their doorstep. The atmosphere is always great and the line-ups just seem to get better each year.”
Would you put on a night at Hastings Pier again, if it gets rebuilt and there's a similar room?
“I don't know who designed the rebuilt pier but they never put a new ballroom in. With the plans it's mostly open-air I think, which when you consider the weather we have in the UK seems a massive oversight.
That original ballroom played host to some of the biggest names in the business, so it’s a shame that aspect won't happen.”
Do you mind when the dance media (still) affectionately calls you 'Diggers' sometimes?
“Not at all.”
Playing all the festivals that you do, have you ever been tempted to drop some EDM? Why not?
“Why would I play something I don't like? I think that sound is being more than catered for at the moment, plus my dance moves and show-boating are not up to EDM standard.”