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Justin Robertson's New Album: Not Just One That Sounds Great on Ecstasy

Author: Skrufff
Thursday, September 20, 2001
It was 1990 when philosophy graduate Justin Robertson first made his name as a Manchester DJ, playing at the city's top spot Spice, a club that became a geographical counterpoint to London's Shroom. Underground credibility led to European success, before his career began to resemble a roller coaster ride of hits and misses. Startling his fans by strapping on a bass guitar with Lionrock, he was one of the first British DJs to sign with a major label, joining 90's hippest Deconstruction. Several years on he'd left the label (unhappily), embraced and rejected house, and established himself as one of dance culture's most single minded and individual characters. These days he's signed to Nuphonic who release his new album Revtone shortly.

'All the tracks communicate something to the listener because I believe that good music should be about communication of feelings, words and sounds." So said Justin Robertson recently, when he chatted to Skrufff's Benedetta Ferraro about his new highly anticipated new album Revtone. The album, his first for acclaimed experimental dance label Nuphonic and his first new material for 18 months, sees the wilfully eclectic producer on fine form, and will be coming out shortly.

Skrufff: You are back with yet another collection of eclectic sounds, how daunting do you find the process of putting out a new album-

Justin Robertson: "I feel more excited though at the same time I feel a slight apprehension since I haven't had a record out for the past 18 months. During that time I've been writing and working on the tracks, so most of them are fresh and new. A couple of them were written whilst I was on a different label and they're slightly more dance floor friendly. However, all the tracks communicate something to the listener because I believe that good music should be about communication of feelings, words and sounds. In this respect I feel this album has a theme and it's not one of those which 'just sounds great on ecstasy'."

Skrufff: Are you particularly pleased with Revtone-

Justin Robertson: "I am my own worst enemy when it comes to judging my own work. As you pointed out, the album is eclectic to some extent, but this time I feel it's also more coherent, so I am more pleased with it's overall sound. It has a funky looseness to it, it contains many live instruments, it borrows a few element from the past without ever sounding retro and that's why I also described it as organic."

Skrufff: Are you actively setting out to confound people's expectations-

Justin Robertson: "Personally, I quite like change, I'm constantly looking for interesting things and I can get quite restless too. I never do it consciously though, since I don't like things that feel and look contrived. I believe that the moment you go out to make a deliberately challenging or commercial record, you're doomed to failure. The best music just comes out naturally."

Skrufff: How much do you go out socially when you're in Manchester-

Justin Robertson: "Whenever I am in Manchester I do go out a fair bit and I'm still very much involved in the whole dance scene over there. Manchester still has a thriving clubbing scene, which does not attract so much publicity anymore, but it exists. As far as the bars go, they don't feature heavily in my life or for anyone else I know. This new bar scene tends to affect the more commercial end of things."

Skrufff: Do you ever miss the old days-

Justin Robertson: "Not really. There's no point in being nostalgic when there are just as many good nights and clubs going on at present. It's hard to recreate what's been done, so there's no point in dwelling on the past."

Skrufff: You've remixed Talk Talk, Erasure, The Sugarcubes, The Happy Mondays, and you're quoted as saying 'With me it's always the case of to butcher or not to butcher, usually it's the former," ; Do you still apply this approach-

Justin Robertson: "Yes; my ethos on remixing is that you<