This was the year that Laurence Blake went from behind the music scenes to very much being the heart of the scene. Back in 2012 he was still making music videos for pop stars like AlunaGeorge at the same time as releasing some timeless house EPs on labels like MadTech and Love Fever, but in 2013 his DJ sets really began to stand him apart from the crowd. Over the course of the year he played all over the UK and Ireland, headlining huge festivals like Hideout, more intimate parties like Secretsundaze and annual celebrations like Sonar with equal élan.
“The year has been great, almost constant travelling, which I love to do,” says the man who goes by the name of Citizen and most often plays off a USB stick. “I've been in spots I never dreamed of being in, played venues I grew up going to and got to share the stage with some of my heroes.”
Those heroes, it will not surprise anyone to learn, include New Jersey deep house pioneer Kerri Chandler, whose sound is echoed in much of Citizen’s output. “To me, no one really comes close,” he says of the MadTech boss, before reporting his own DJ style is to “do whatever’s clever. I think trying to tell a story with the set is the most important thing, reading the crowd and narrating theirs and my experience. It always keeps things interesting”.
Blake’s involvement in the scene all started back in Nottingham when he was throwing his own parties. Naturally it taught him to read crowds and gave him key experiences of many different situations — something today’s overnight stars are often sadly lacking.
“The highs and lows of running a party and getting to know your audience as well as juggling reality really was kind of a baptism of fire,” he says, before adding, “I'm glad I've been able to canonise a great year with this award. I've it heard means you have to work a whole lot harder next year to live up to it!” If he does that, next year’s Best DJ Award looks a shoe in.