When slo-mo disco cut 'It's You' by The White Lamp appeared on Futureboogie in 2012, DJ Mag thought that a new talent had arrived. With an achingly cool male vocal, boss beats and lava bleeps, it quickly made a mark on the underground scene — yet we couldn't find out anything about who'd produced it.
'Make It Good' on Sonar Kollektiv, with its stylophonic topline, also boasted a cool male vox — but still we couldn't find out who was behind the project. Then our old mucker Darren Emerson came into the DJ Mag office at the end of 2013 to play one of our DJ Mag HQ Sessions live streams, and revealed that the person behind the White Lamp was... himself, along with vocalist Peter Josef. Well, strike us down with a feather!
We resolved to keep his anonymity a secret, as was his wish at the time, but with the new sexy slo-mo White Lamp release 'Ride With You' out now on Scuba's Hotflush, his cover's been blown wide open...
Why did you keep the identity of the people behind the White Lamp project a secret at first?
“When it first started I didn't want the Darren Emerson brand to confuse the vibe of The White Lamp. I hate talking about myself in the third person — 'Darren Emerson' — but of course I’m more known for making techno over the years, whereas the debut release 'It's You', which had 500,000 YouTube hits, was a much more laid-back, groovy house affair — different to what I’d done before.
The momentum had started well with it being anonymous and we decided this wasn’t a bad thing, and that with half-a-million YouTube hits it proved that music still does the talking.”
Why did you call the project White Lamp?
“I had a meeting with Renaat from R&S, and was chatting about doing something different — a bit left and not-so-clubby. I had been in the studio with Sei A and we went for a couple of drinks in a bar, where I walked past a lamp and said 'Maybe I should call it The White Lamp?'. It was a working title at the time, but of course it stuck.
“That project with Sei A evolved, as did the direction for the new White Lamp. My management at the time hooked me up with Chris (better known as Glimpse) to get everything rolling (as he’s a bit of a wizard when it comes to getting things done quickly).
We laid the first lot of beats down for 'It’s You' in my studio, then followed up at Chris’, throwing beats and basslines back and forth, in-between adding Pete’s sparkling vocals to put the icing on the cake. It just seemed right to use The White Lamp for this project — my baby.”
Have you got many white lamps at home?
“What’s this, Through The Keyhole? — ha ha ha! Yes, I have a few, including me.”
How come the music is slower than most of what you’ve done in the past?
“When I came up with the idea, I wanted to do something different. I didn't want to copy anyone's sound, or sound like anyone in particular. I listen to lots of different stuff and even though I wanted to keep this on a dance-based vibe, I wanted it to be different to anything I’d done before.
I wanted it to be something that has a decent groove and is more musical — and that was it. That's where the ideas all come from. But the other thing is, we don’t want to be pigeon-holed with The White Lamp. We’ll just follow what we are feeling, and go from there.”
Why did you want to sign tracks to cool new-ish independent labels like Hotflush?
“I had been speaking with Scuba and sent him over the track ['Ride With You'] to see if he liked it, which of course he did — next thing we are signed to Hotflush.
Really happy with the release too — the guys have done a sterling job all round in getting the pack together and promotion, so well done and thanks to all involved. Particularly happy that the original is currently sitting in the Top 30 Deep House tracks at Beatport, and the Mike Dehnert remix is fast approaching the Techno Top 10.”
Are you going to be doing any White Lamp gigs?
“Yes. Me and Pete are scheduling studio time now that I am back from Japan to work on The White Lamp album and live work, as well as pushing The White Lamp DJ sets to follow-up on some cool gigs I did last year, as The White Lamp, in Berlin and at Pacha Ibiza for IMS.”
Are you playing much slo-mo house in your DJ sets now?
“Only as The White Lamp, but it’s a mixture of slower house vibes — jackin', disco... you know me, a bit of everything. In my Darren Emerson sets, I’m still producing and playing techno — such as my forthcoming releases on Octopus, Bedrock and my own Detone label — so I get to have the best of both worlds.
It makes things easier for me to play the house stuff as The White Lamp, and techno under my name.”
Gotta ask — whatever happened to your long-awaited solo album?
“Funny you should ask. It’s actually finished and I’ve been chatting to some publishers about it towards the end of last year and beginning of this year, with some decent interest. You never know, this may finally happen.
“I went to DJ in LA over Thanksgiving, and hooked up with Nick Littlemore (aka Empire of the Sun, aka P'nau) for dinner, and we were chatting about the project. It still sounds really fresh, even after moving on to some other projects, I don’t think this is going to date. Nick and I were speaking about me going out to see him again to put some new touches on it maybe this year, but we’ll see. It will see the light of day for sure, when the time is right.”
Do you still remember the Underworld days fondly?
“Of course. I’m very proud of those days, and the fact that during the 2012 Olympics there were six tunes I co-wrote played at the opening ceremony. With 'Dubnobasswithmyheadman' being 20 years old recently, they’re very fond memories. It’s been great chatting to Karl (Hyde) a lot recently, reminiscing — it’s been lovely.”
With your dashing good looks, have you ever done any modelling or acting in films? And if not, why not?
“You are kidding, right? I’ve always been a bit of a shy one when it comes to cameras but now you mention it, maybe I should get an agent. What do you think, Carl?”
Definitely on that front, I'd say, Daz. Turning to footie, are the Hammers doomed to relegation this season? Should Big Sam be sacked now?
“I don’t know anymore. You can never tell with West Ham. We looked doomed, then two good results against Chelsea away (0-0) and Swansea at home (2-0) and we’re starting to look better. Problem is, so is everyone else around us. COYI!”
Anything else you want to tell DJ Mag readers?
“Thank you for all the support over the years. Check out The White Lamp tracks out now on Hotflush, and even the previous releases on Sonar Kollektiv and Futureboogie, and if you like your music tougher, keep an eye out for my forthcoming release on Sian’s Octopus Recordings and a follow-up on Bedrock. Love you all.”