has seen a lot of trends come and go in his 30 or so years as a DJ. The UK-based mixmaster talks to Everguide and shares his thoughts about his stint as Mixmag
editor, the changing world of progressive house, and Melbourne's vibrant house music scene.
Heya Dave, so you're currently in the studio. What are you up to at this very moment?
Yeah, I'm just doing a little mix for you guys down there, for the radio station triple j. It's just a little half an hour promotional mix for the gig.
Nice. What sort of stuff are you including in the mix?
It's sort of clubby, quite techy... I can't really talk about genres anymore (laughs). I'm just completely confused. What I might call one genre, someone else might call something completely different. To me, what I'm doing here is progressive house, but if you go Beatport and listen to what they call progressive house... I don't play any of that. That's just cheesy pop music. So I don't really know what to call club music any more. It's undergound, it's not commercial; but it's not avant-garde or anything – it's not painfully cool. It's good solid club music.
So it's bedrock-style prog house?
Yeah, yeah. Is that still what people call progressive house? I don't know. It's certainly not what Beatport call progressive house. Look, it's all acid house. It all comes from the same place to me. I understand genres are a necessary evil, otherwise we'd just be faced with a load of tunes. We'd be swimming into a very big pond, with no idea where to start really. But then, some people are quite happy to introduce things like yacht house and romantic techno and silly genres like that.
You mentioned acid house. Let's go back in time, before even acid house was around, to when you started off DJing. Tell us about how you first got into it.
Well, the school disco was when I first started DJing. I got (thrown) into the deep end a bit at the youth club one night, when one of the DJs didn't turn up and I had a few records and ended up having to do it. And then I got the bug for it quite early. I kinda knew, even when I was eight years old, that I wanted to be a DJ. I'd seen DJs at the hotel when I was on holiday and I was allowed to go parties for a while, and the whole experience... I just thought: ‘that's what I want to do’. So I got the bug, and the top of my list of Christmas and birthdays every year was equipment and records. By the time house music arrived in the late ‘80s, I'd already been DJing for several years. So I had quite a good understanding of all the basics, and when acid house arrived there weren't really enough DJs to go around – it wasn't like it is now. So it was the right time, right place. I started DJing quite a lot around 1990, in clubs all the time.
You also did a stint as editor of Mixmag
around this time...
Yeah, when I say I started DJing in the early ‘90s, it's because I didn't really DJ while I was editor. I just didn't really have time. It was all consuming when acid house was exploding, and I was chucked in the deep end. I have a habit of getting chucked in the deep end! But I became editor in '88, which is when the first ‘Summer of Love’ happened in the UK. I was going out all the time to see other DJs, and traveling all over the country. And this was all pre-desktop publishing. It was back in the days of scalpel and spray glue and all that. It took a lot to get the mag together. By the time 1990 came along I was DJing a bit, and I thought, ‘I've enjoyed the experience but it's back to making music and DJing’ – which is really what I wanted to do.
You must've seen a lot of fads and trends in electronic music over the years. What do you think of bass music? Do you feature it in your sets at all?
I'm not a follower of trends. I'm not like, ‘this month I'll be playing…’ you know, whatever the media are jumping at the moment. I play what I want to play. But everything follows the fashion a little bit, and house music is a very magpie-like culture, in that you get bits and pieces coming in and going out all the time. There're definitely little bits of influence in there, but it's not like I've gone and decided to play bass music this month.
Your record label, Audio Therapy came to an end last year. Can you tell us why?
Times have changed dramatically, in terms of running a label. I never started a label to make money, it was just a sideline and something I enjoyed doing. It kinda fed the DJing, and the DJing fed it. I enjoyed finding new producers giving them a bit of a platform and all that. But I never really got into it to lose money either. It had started to become a burden. I just think it's run its course, being eleven years or twelve years or whatever it was, and it was time for a break. I've got a family now, so I wanted to be able spend a bit of time at home with them, while continuing to DJ and have time in the studio. But I've already been talking to a few different people about starting up a new label with a different business model, something that wouldn't be so draining on resources. Something more for the world we live in, the digital age.
About ten years ago now, you did a mix for the Global Underground
series. More specifically, it was the Melbourne edition in the series. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for that mix.
I love Melbourne. It's one of my favourite cities in the world. I came close to buying a place down there at one point, near old Chapel Street, and I wish I had. I spent the money in Ibiza instead and that was one of the worst mistakes I've ever made (Laughs.) But yeah, I love the place and I've got a lot of friends down there. So when I came to doing the mix it meant that I could draw on a lot of very talented people. I think, per capita, Melbourne has one of the highest (numbers) of talented producers in the world. There's so many people down there making great stuff and have been over the years, so it was easy-peasy to draw on. I ended up having about seven or eight tracks that came from the city within the double disc.
What do you get up to when you're not DJing or working in the studio?
I'm a football fan. I'm a Leeds United fan, so we've had our ups and downs over the past few years, but things are looking up this season. We've started with a win anyway! So I follow a lot of football, and watch a lot of movies as well, which is a great way to turn off for a couple of hours. Apart from that, spending time with my kids. I've got two little boys, with another one on the way!
DAVE SEAMAN TOUR DATES
Friday 31 August – OneSixOne, Melbourne
Saturday 1 September – Goldfish, Sydney
Sunday 2 September – Sky Room, Brisbane