DJ HARVEY ( redbull academy interview )

RBMA: »So what constitutes a good party in your opinion?«

DJ Harvey: »Just the majority of people having a good time. There’s so many ways that can be achieved: indoors, outdoors, small crowd, big crowd. Most people are enjoying themselves, as simple as that.«

RBMA: »And you’re trying to throw good parties now in Hawaii?«

DJ Harvey: »Yeah, getting onto the Hawaii thing, I’m partner in a spaced out there called 39 Hotel, it’s 39 Hotel Street, Chinatown, Honolulu. Basically, it’s a multimedia space and we have art shows, jazz nights, all kinds of different things going on. Saturday night is the dance night and we have dance DJs and various people coming and going.«

RBMA: »And you’re taking care of the soundsystem.«

DJ Harvey: »We’ve only been open a year and up until now we’ve only had a small simple JBL soundsystem, but as we speak I’m looking into buying something pretty fancy with a bunch of vintage ’70s components and I want to build a world class soundsystem.«

RBMA: »Can you elaborate, what’s a good soundsystem to you?«

DJ Harvey: »A good soundsystem is something that has high fidelity so you can hear what’s on the record and some weight and power so you can feel it, that’s pretty much it. The key is to have a clean signal path, it all starts with the stylus. If your stylus is no good, your system is going to amplify something that’s no good. All the amps and preamps will amplify the sound from the needle. So you start with a good needle, which is a reissue Shure V15 2, they’re about $350 a pop. It’s a hi-fi stylus but they’re robust enough to withstand back cueing. Probably then run through Bozak, we have a custom Bozak in the club. A Urei mixer is a copy of a Bozak, Bozak came out a few years beforehand, very fine components which give a pretty smooth clean sound, a softer sound than the Urei.«

RBMA: »What actually is a Bozak?«

DJ Harvey: »It’s a rotary controlled preamplifier for turntables and whatever else you might have. It also has phono-in’s and line-in’s and it’s the first commercially available DJ mixer and still the best. Urei’s are good, they have a little tighter sound, but a Bozak is like sprinkling icing sugar on the cake. From the Bozak, it tries to run through as little processes as possible, gates and compression and so on. It protects the system but it doesn’t help the sound. I’ll have an idiot-proof button so if there’s someone there who doesn’t know what they’re doing, I’ll hit the button that holds everything in place.

But anyone who knows what they’re doing will have full headroom with no compression on the system. So a simple signal path from the Bozak through a simple EQ and then I’ll split a five-way system, I have a Richard Long three-way crossover where the middle sections are full-range, the tops and the bass. It’s not like the modern three-ways which tend to be a mid, high and bass, this is a full-range, which is everything, and then with support at 10k and 80 for the bass. So I’ll run a three-way system through the full-range and then have subbass support and a bullet tweeter array for the highs. I’ve been chatting with Nicky Siano about some prototype Klipsch cabinets and stuff.«

RBMA: »Klipsch are pretty legendary.«

DJ Harvey: »Yes, Mancuso runs a Klipsch horn system with Levinson amps and it’s a very clean lovely system. But it can be a bit frustrating because it doesn’t have the weight, the punch that I’m looking for for my system. His system is very soft, easy going, but a little too easy going for my liking. You could stand there listening to it for 12 hours and not have any ear fatigue.«

RBMA: »Have you ever been to The Loft?«

DJ Harvey: »Yeah, I’ve been to it at a couple of different locations. Once in Alphabet City in the early ’90s and more recently he plays in the Ukrainian Centre in Manhattan. He brings his system and it’s a great party.«

RBMA: »He’s the master of not mixing records but having a great party.«

DJ Harvey: »He leaves gaps between the records, which gives people an opportunity to applaud or have a chat about it for five minutes before the next record comes on. But I think it’s good, he has a very different pace to the whole night, nothing’s forced, the records speak for themselves. It takes a little while to get used to but once you get the idea, watch what everyone’s doing and go with the flow, it’s a great party.«

RBMA: »Why Hawaii, is it the up and coming dance music centre of the world?«

DJ Harvey: »I don’t think Hawaii will ever be the dance music centre of the world, there’s too much to do during the day. You can go to the beach and go surfing, there’s not really any reason to lock yourself in a dark club for 12 hours. It’s a very musical place and you can enjoy the culture, enjoy the arts, but as far as a destination for European hordes to go out and claim it as the next Ayia Napa or something, it’s a long way from Europe, it costs a lot of money to get out there and it’s expensive to stay. Everything’s an import so it’s an expensive place, but we’ve had some wonderful parties in the last year.«

RBMA: »Hawaiian won’t become a genre like balearic?«

DJ Harvey: »It may well do if I can hold down the identity of the movement. I had the idea of doing this little flyer that said Loft, house, Paradise Garage, hotel, and I’ve got the hotel. Just another one of those, “Oh, I’m into hotel music.”«

RBMA: »Be honest, you just picked a place where you could enjoy yourself?«

DJ Harvey: »Hawaii was a very exotic destination for me ever since I was a kid. I’ve always been into skateboarding and recently got into surfing, so Hawaii was a natural place for me be able to enjoy surfing. It was the natural step and having DJed there and got on with the locals who enjoyed what I was doing, I’ve become established there. It’s great.«

RBMA: »Maybe you could play us another one of your Black Cock things.«

DJ Harvey: »Let’s see what we can find.«

RBMA: »And why Black Cock?«

DJ Harvey: »I thought, what’s the most potently sexual thing in the world? It’s got to be a black cock. Everyone remembers it, it’s like, “Ooh, ah, ee!” It hurts to think about that kind of thing.«

RBMA: »Are there any new records you like?«

DJ Harvey: »Yeah, loads but I can’t think of any right now.«

RBMA: »Sometimes one gets the impression that guys like Lindstrom and the Idjut Boys, for instance, are just making records for you to play them.«

DJ Harvey: »That would be nice. Idjut Boys are a case in point, they’re making great new music. Lindstrom seems to be very prolific, he’s making ten remixes a week. Lindstrom, stop it or you’ll wear yourself out, dude!«

RBMA: »Maybe you could talk about Idjut Boys and the whole nu disco explosion in the late ’90s? You are being held responsible for that.«

DJ Harvey: »I have problems with the whole genre thing, I think that just helps journalists write about stuff. I suppose there’s a loose group of DJs and musicians that championed the slightly more sophisticated dance music sound towards the end of the ’90s. It’s nothing more than that, really. There was nothing contrived about it, it just happened we were enjoying that kind of music so we made that kind of music.«

RBMA: »Can you tell us about Japan, where you’re a bit of a cult hero?«

DJ Harvey: »Japan is always a good time, I’ve been there many, many times over the years. The kids really know their stuff, they do the research. They’ve got the mania. They do their research and sing along to records and I wonder how they know them. Japan is really good, I’ve toured all over and had a great reception. It’s an amazing place to hang out, the food’s amazing, the people are really friendly and they’re enthusiastic. If you’re passionate about what you do, they’ll give it back.«

RBMA: »And Japanese trainspotters are the craziest?«

DJ Harvey: »Pretty much. They’ll take a photograph of every record I play and then hold their phone up so they’ll have a photo and audio recording as well.«

Participant: »A friend told me you have something to do with Moton re-edits

DJ Harvey: »I was involved in the launch of that label, the name was my concept, which relates back to the Japanese thing. The Japanese have a strange grasp of English and when they name things they often use English words. Say, they were going to build a CD player, they wouldn’t call it Pioneer, they’d call it ‘Oneer’. They take a few letters off here and there and make a new word that kind of relates to what they want to do, like Evisu is just Levi’s with the ‘L’ taken off. So I was thinking of using that as a concept, we’ll have Motown, but with the ‘W’ taken out it becomes Moton. I think these days they’re a straight bootleg label, but the first three or four releases that I was involved in were remixing end editing tracks. I enjoyed that side of it but I’m not too interested in the business side of running a label, so I let them get on with it, Diesel and Jarvis.«

Participant: »Did you ever pay sample clearance on the Black Cock records?«

DJ Harvey: »In a word, no. I thought I could get away with it and I have done but there’s a grey area, which is allowed to exist in the sampling world and they won’t come after you for money unless you’ve got any money to give them. If someone came to me and said: “I want the profit from Black Cock.”, I’d say: “You owe me $10 for promoting your arse, we didn’t make any money.” If there was any chance to make some money then few artists want to turn that down, few artists will say: “No, I don’t want to relaunch my career.” It’s: “OK, let’s make this thing happen.” A lot of the time, especially in hip hop, these tracks are made and then licensing isn’t paid until the album is released.«

Participant: »So you’d be willing to give money back?«

DJ Harvey: »Yeah, there isn’t any money anyway, but if we’d made some money and someone came to me and said: “We want a percentage of the profit,” then great, no worries. Any more?«

Participant: »So it seems there’s a red line running through your career, a Black Cock that is only re-edits and now you have a band that makes only 1.000 copies of your record. You’re asking for it, man. What are you going to do, bootleg your own records?«

DJ Harvey: »These days money is made in music by people downloading mp3s for a buck a go and buying CDs. Nobody buys records anymore.«

Participant: »Except for these guys (points to audience).«

DJ Harvey: »Except for these guys. That’s good, that record is for you people and I’m sure there are still some copies out there somewhere. But they’re really just promotional luxury items for DJs journalists and collectors. On this record, the paper part cost more than the vinyl part because we really wanted a nice print.«

Participant: »So it’s like New Order – Blue Monday, you’re losing money on every copy?«

DJ Harvey: »Yeah, I think we’re losing money on those. But when it comes to it everyone will be able to get their hands on the music. I’ll do a limited gatefold vinyl for the album, there’ll be CDs and downloadable mp3s and I’m sure people will be able to go on Kazaa or Limewire and get it for free. For me, I pay my rent by being a professional DJ so it’s the making of the music that’s important to me. I enjoy the process of realising an idea. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have an Arab dude on the cover, blah, blah, blah.” And then to see it actually happen, that’s me happy, I’m done. I don’t really care if anyone buys the record or not.«

Participant: »You were just saying nobody buys records anymore but the impression I get is, it might be it’s selling less but it’s growing to be more loved day by day. It’s become almost mystical so what would your reaction be and how would you feel if someone released a White Cock of Map Of Africa re-edited?«

DJ Harvey: »I suppose, initially I’d take it as a compliment but it depends. If I was starving and couldn’t pay my rent and someone else was doing well selling my work, then I’d probably contact them and ask them for a licensing fee. But apart from that it wouldn’t bother me.«

Participant: »Another thing I want to ask you, you’re easily traceable to Black Cock, so if, was it the Pointer Sisters with the Cookie?

DJ Harvey: »If the Cookie Monster comes knocking on my door: “Where’s my money?”«

Participant: »If the Cookie Monster wants his money he knows where to call. How come you’ve dodged that?«

DJ Harvey: »Like I said before, there is a grey area that’s allowed to exist where people are allowed to sample, and as long as no money is being made people don’t mind. Any money made from Black Cock went back into the label. In fact, with this particular record (holds up record), I didn’t even collect the money from the distributors, I let them keep it because I couldn’t be bothered to go and chase a few bucks.«

Participant: »But obviously, if the album was to sell 5.000 copies you’d have enough money to pay them for that?«

DJ Harvey: »Yes, exactly.«

Participant: »OK, I see.«

DJ Harvey: »If someone was to come to me now, there’s no money made in the first place for me to pay them. So, to take me through the courts, it’s a pain in the arse.«

Participant: »But now, if you were starving you could print 10.000 copies of the Black Cocks and they would all sell out for a reasonable price.«

DJ Harvey: »I could do that.«

Participant: »I was just talking to Jason last night. I like music as much as anyone, but sometimes it is a bit nerdy to go after this like it is a religious object or something. But since you have got to this place, if you take time and as long as you got a good publisher and so on, you could.«

DJ Harvey: »Sure, we have thought of doing a box set and if that was the case it would be a lot more official. Black Cock is so wrong. We used Foghorn Leghorn who’s a Warner Brothers thing, I know I made him black. But Black Cock’s been and gone, it’s a done thing and the people that own them can enjoy them.«

Participant: »And they also have been bootlegged.«

DJ Harvey: »Have they? Do you know who’s done it? I’d be interested to know. Can you get them?

Participant: »On eBay, yeah.«

DJ Harvey: »Wow.«

Participant: »You can also get t-shirts, a lot of Black Cock merchandising.«

DJ Harvey: »Oh well, someone’s doing well. I think I know who’s doing t-shirts, I don’t know about the records. That’s interesting, I’ll have to check it out. I heard someone say they were thinking of it, there’s only a few people who would do it and there’s only a few pressing plants. I’ll send out some beams and get to know. It’s one of five people.«

RBMA: »And speaking of being a professional DJ, you’ve been DJing, what? 20-plus years? Will there come a point when you’ve had enough?«

DJ Harvey: »Not really, I still enjoy playing records. I suppose, I could just end up in a little bar in Samoa and have my vintage soundsystem, playing records to my customers. But I don’t really see myself growing bored with it, as long as people accept me, then yeah.«

Participant: »Just one more question. Is this yours, did you take part in this, Stars with Sylvester?«

DJ Harvey: »What about it?«

Participant: »I just bought it this morning.«

DJ Harvey: »You just bought it? Has it got my name on it? Maybe someone stole it off me.«
(record is passed forward)
»Oh no, that’s not me. This is a wonderful record, though.«

RBMA: »Let’s hear the other Harvey.«

DJ Harvey: »Let’s see what the other Harvey can do. There’s an instrumental of this somewhere. Is this my outro? This’ll be a good outro for me.«
(music: Sylvester – I Need Somebody (To Love Tonight))
»Are we going to call it a day after this? Are we all going to go record shopping now, bring everyone along, just bumrush the record stores (laughs)? OK. Thank you very much for having me.«

click below to listen

DJ HARVEY – No Way Back

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