Carl Cox is one of the founding fathers of the rave scene and an absolute legend around the world. He first started when he was 15 and is still going as strong as ever. Karen Lowe spoke to him about the Mobile Disco, social media and the scene back in the day. This is just Part One. Part Two will be up next week.
You are about to tour with Eric Powell and a band called Incognito with your Mobile Disco. Are you looking forward to the shows?
The thing about our shows is that first and foremost, for as long as we have been doing these shows, we always look forward to presenting what we do next with the Mobile Disco and this is the first time that we are actually doing it with our heroes and we are talking from about 30 years ago.
These guys, based on what we do as DJs is actually a treat; not just for us but for anybody who is hearing them for the first time or those who have experienced Incognito. We are going to be like two little school children yelling “Incognito!” and giggling and telling everyone to check them out. They are a class act so having someone like Incognito to come along with us is a treat.
They have been in the industry for over 30 years and they’ve put on classic shows, they play classical music based on what we love. We love giving the gift of music to people which is what we enjoy and what we have been doing with the Mobile Disco for over 10 years and people still get excited by it and so that excites us.
We would love the Mobile Disco to come to Perth one day
Oh absolutely. We are working on, let’s put it that way.
You are also about to play a show in Bali. How do the shows go over there? Lots of fans?
The thing is with me being in Bali is that this is my very first time that I have ever been here before. Imagine that! I have actually been all over the world like a million times and the only place that I haven’t been is Bali. It’s a place that I have just somehow managed to bypass or just miss over the years so I think it’s about time that I came and DJ’d over here and based on public demand actually.
The company that I have been DJing for/working for called Ultra for near on 20 years now – from Miami and basically they created the Resistance Stage now whereas before it used to be Carl Cox and Friends and introduced what I have been doing for many years now into Bali.
Now a lot of the Balinese Bars and nightclubs are quite commercial, quite touristic and people don’t really care too much about the music. They just wanna come in, get drunk, get laid and have a really good time. I get it but the thing is, what’s missing is a really decent, really good event which is in line with all the events that happen around the world.
So me coming in this way is a massive statement and what is exciting people is that they know for a fact if I’m here; it’s for one reason and one reason only and that is to make sure that the people get the best music possible.
The platform is set with Ultra who have been coming here for the last five years and they knew that they would have to set things up in areas that they have been utilising. Potato Head is one room that they have been using which is more EDM events but where I am playing at Ku De Ta Beach Club they are having DJ legends like myself, Sasha, John Digweed, Joseph Capriati, Darren Emerson of Underworld fame. All amazing, fantastic DJs all under one roof. This is going to be a stand out show beyond belief because even if one of us was playing, it would still be an amazing event.
Ultra has now created what they call Bali Music Week so they have DJ’s dotted around here. Last night I went out and saw Seth Troxler which was amazing. There are decent, quality DJs coming over to play the best things that they think they can bring to the table so you can imagine that the anticipation is very, very high.
You first started your career when you were 15. How has the industry changed since then? And for the better or worse?
Now the first thing that is obvious is social media. There were no mobile phones in those days. If you wanted to find where your mate was, you would have to go round to his house and ask him mum where he was.
Compared to where we are now, it’s changed a lot as you can imagine. Music is music; people are following and enjoying music. If you really wanted to find music, you would go to a record store and now you just basically tap into your phone and download whatever you like from wherever you are in the world.
The thing is, we’ve become a little bit complacent because of it because things are easy to throw away. If you don’t like that record; you delete it where before, you bought it and you had something tangible. You collected it and you felt that you owned a piece of music history and you treasured it in that way.
It’s a lot more difficult now when you go to a club that you’ve waited all week to go to; you’ve bought all these clothes and you’ve asked friends if anyone wants to go; what car you’re going to go in; you’ve gone to the club and you saw the DJ and felt the atmosphere and you really enjoy it. Now, you can juice up your laptop, watch MTV and you are in your kitchen or bedroom and have a really good time like that. I kinda get it but that’s the difference between when I was 15 and what it’s like now.
Of course, this generation wasn’t around when I was starting as a bloody DJ so they will never experience what it was like back in the day.
It’s a shame because in the early days you really respected the fact that musicians were musicians. If they made it, it’s because they were talented and they did the leg work to get where they are. The fan base today is how many likes you have on YouTube or are you really popular on Facebook or your Snapchat is amazing so therefore you must be really funny as a person because you’ve got dog ears.
I get it because it’s the new generation’s way but there’s so much faceless connection with people that you don’t get to meet the real person because of all of this. It’s distracting to what’s going on and that’s why the purity of everything that we’re doing with social media has been diminished based on that.
I am glad that I grew up in a time before social media – no incriminating photos…
Yeah and we actually spoke to the person because we saw them. Not like; you go on Facebook and see “I’m feeling sad”, you don’t know that that’s about because they don’t say what it’s about so you gotta go “why are you feeling sad?” and a lot of other friends will go “oh that’s a shame, I hope you feel better” and all they are feeling sad about is that they went to the hairdresser’s and because they wanted blonde hair but it didn’t turn out how they wanted, they’re feeling sad and they only went to that hairdresser because they were trying to save money! They didn’t want to say why they were feeling sad because it sounds stupid right!
I get why they do it but if you are feeling sad because of that or because you’ve lost your dog or whatever then you should say that and not looking for attention.
If you went to your friend and knocked on their door and they came out, you could see that they are feeling sad. It used to be that you would try to understand the reason and then offer comfort to them and have that personal relationship like what we all used to have when we were younger. Nowadays, you just don’t get that.
I just shake my head in disbelief these days because you’re around the dinner table and everyone is on their mobile phones! A few years ago, we used to chat and laugh and you’d prod and poke each other and enjoy each others company because there were no distractions.
For the second installment of this interview keep your eyes peeled on the AMNplify homepage…
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