Don't go thinking that The Revenge, real name Graeme Clark, is some kind of EDM thirsty, menacing super hero character — as his red and black identity suggests.
The Glasgow-based producer, DJ, label owner and wannabe art student, also known for his 6th Borough Project collaboration with Craig Smith, couldn't be a more amiable chap. And his sparkling, disco-kissed and Juno 106-enhanced debut solo album, 'Love That Will Not Die', is proof of his powers and prowess in the studio, although there's definitely nothing sinister about it.
Arranging his set-up for standing room only could also hold the key to his creative knowhow. “You're always standing up when you're DJing, you're always standing up when you're playing live. You end up going back to the studio and sitting down, and it just feels like it's taking longer to get anywhere.”
Released on his own cheekily-named label, Roar Groove, with vinyl copies selling out on pre-orders almost immediately, Clark's hands-on approach to the music industry, and his svelte productions, are heartwarming. “It's like having your own delicatessen or something, you make stuff, you deal with your customers, you get a better feeling,” he tells DJ Mag.
How's it going Graeme, with your studio and office half based at home?
“It's changed things for me in that, sometimes you feel like you're just pissing in the wind with records and a distributor, and you don't really know where they go, and you either sell out or you don't sell out.
This way you're dealing with the day to day orders, so you might get an order from the other side of the world or just in your own city or wherever.
The technology's come on so far in terms of being able to have your own shop, whereas 10 years ago I remember at that time you would have to have your own web store and you would have to get somebody to develop it for you, whereas now there's a framework there.
You can put your own design in and it's a lot easier to manage the orders now than it used to be.”
We absolutely love the album. It's really lush and we love the way it builds up...
“Oh thanks. I've done albums as part 6th Borough Project, having an album that's got a little bit of a story, and I've always had someone else to bounce that off before. This time the only people that heard it were the two people that help me with the label.
At the end there was a shortlist of maybe 50 tracks and I whittled it down, and it was a decision to make the vinyl, digital and CD to all have the same flow. And that was trying to create the same sort of story that didn't deviate depending on the format.
There were certain tracks that had to be on there, because they were collaborations that had been done with Sister Sledge and Jesse Rennix, so there were two given tracks that would be the linchpin for the album.”
It's a very listenable album, and that's quite a rarity...
“I don't expect that people would listen to it as a whole but also because of the constraint of vinyl, unless if we were to make it three twelve inches — maybe it would restrict the people that could afford to buy the album.
You can only make something that you believe represents your thoughts and where you're at at that time. In a sense a DJ set is a collaborative thing between you and the audience, when I make music I lock myself away and I really don't ask for anybody else's input.
In the way that it's my expression of me, or my feelings, it's completely single-minded. I care what people think, I find it hard to look or not look at reviews, even though it's hard to switch off from that.
My friend Paul who helps me run the label, helps me with the live act, taking a bit of equipment, he helps me pull it together and he helps with the label, it feels like we're part of the same thing.”
The closing and title track 'Love That Will Not Die' is very emotional, we nearly cried...
“God. Jesus. Sorry! I'm quite an emotional person, give me a couple of drinks or whatever and as time goes on I'll probably get emotional, but with music it's just instant, I really feel that that is the way that I can express myself.
With the album it's based on lots of things, relationships obviously, having a daughter, although that came in at the end of the album when it was almost getting finished. Just lots of things, just life stuff, music inspires me, but life stuff, just going for a walk or watching a film or stuff like that, music's probably the thing that inspires me as much as anything else.”
Yeah, you've gotta love emotive music...
“I mean why do it if not? So people look for a reaction, I'm not looking for that, it really is those moments when you're making a track and you're getting quite emotional yourself and it would be nice if people get it.
And people that have pre-ordered the album, it scares me because they don't even know what it sounds like. Their trust is based on some other tracks that I've made in the past and I don't know, it's exciting.
I get excited about records coming out. I'm such a control freak when it comes to all the packaging and even the delivery, and it all forms part of the same thing. Like the delicatessen idea, it's like having your own butchers or bakers, it is important to put the love into the thing that you make.
In a restaurant if you get food, if it's great, great, but if it's shit then really it just puts me off going back to that restaurant again. I think the same thing can be said about music or art or anything like that, it's important to have a connection and respect your audience.”
And you release cassettes on your label as well?
“Yeah, we're going to do a version of the album, an ambient version, which will be on cassette tape, which will come out for the summer solstice, 100 cassettes. Albums like 'Chill Out' from KLF are really seminal albums for me growing up, and I like the idea that you can take the themes of albums and strip them down.
You can do that with all the tracks and tell a different story, that's more of a blissed-out story.”
There's some lovely synth sounds in your album, do you have a lot of old school equipment?
“I grew up with hardware so I have quite a bit of stuff in the studio, I've trimmed it down over the years, but most of the synth stuff off the album was actually a mate's synth that I borrowed, a Juno 106.
It was all pretty much hardware-based, whereas years before I'd mostly been taking a software-based approach. It was only going back to just jamming in the studio with hardware, which is basically where the gestation of the album and the label came from.
That was the seed. And the second track on the album 'The Seed' was basically the first track that was the seed of the new label. And it felt that it should be part of the album because it was really the first track when I just jammed with some hardware in the studio and I got an idea for the track, and it just made me really rethink my whole process in the studio.”
With this album does it feel like you're going to be taking a step forward perhaps?
“I think musically not necessarily, but more in the sense that it was an experiment to see if I could manufacture something and release something myself or ourselves in terms of the label, get someone to do our press, and we've got a great relationship with them and the people that do the DJ promo, and they get it to the right people.
And having control of things like that, for me it's a step forward in the sense that the live thing can really coincide with this release as well so that's the thing that's been really important. So it is a step forward in the taking control of all of that, the making of it and having the confidence to put it out and say this is what it is, you can take it or leave it.”
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