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Darren Emerson & Walking On Water

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, 7 July 2003
"Sometimes bubbles do burst, look at the superclub phenomenon, for example. Dance music gets big, people try to make money out of it, they milk it, then it bursts and goes down again. But then the underground comes around again. The stuff that was being played in those big clubs was cheesy trance bollocks anyway."

Ever since leaving Underworld in 2000 to concentrate on DJing and his indie label Underwater Records, Darren Emerson's life and career has expanded and even prospered, in stark contrast to the disarray that's afflicted much of the rest of UK clubland (though not, it must be said, Underworld).

Effortlessly surfing the clubland crisis, he's established Underwater as a top quality, seriously diverse label (Paul Jackson's The Push and Tony Senghorre's Whaddup being just two gems he;s uncovered) plus, even more impressively, launched his solo Ibiza night at Pacha.

Chatting down the phone to Jonty Skrufff the day after his night broke all records for the Ibiza Town club, he's both happy and tired, looking forward to spending much of the season on the White island.

"It makes sense to be based out here in Ibiza. My daughter Robin is still at school for another week, then we're going to bring her out here for two months. She's only three and a half, she'll be four in September, she's cool, man, though getting big already; a bit too quick," he laughs.

Skrufff: How do you view Ibiza, musically these days-

Darren Emerson: "Ibiza's always about dance music and when I say dance music I mean the housier type of stuff, and it always has been since the acid house days. OK, Alfredo was mixing in Grace Jones and The Cure and things have changed since the 80s but the island's still focused on house, even today. That's why we're trying to do something different in the back room at Pacha with hip hop. I don't play hip hop myself but I really do like listening to it at home and loads of different stuff too such as Radiohead, whatever."

Skrufff: How likely are you to sign non dance music to Underwater-

Darren Emerson: "My taste in music is very wide, so I'm actually starting another label shortly, which I'll be doing as my own thing, like a little hobby label again, for anything that doesn't fit on Underwater. Underwater is about dance music, though I really do like alternative music.. It'll be like a sister label. The Underwater thing is going well but my new target is my alternative band orientated label."

Skrufff: How do you decide what tracks to sign-

Darren Emerson: "I wouldn't say No to a track if it was going to move my arse and make me want to dance. But I get sent so much shit music too. Some people clearly don't know what Underwater is about because they're sending me trance records. I'm not slagging trance off, but I just don't like that style of music."

Skrufff: What happens if one of your acts turns up tomorrow with a trance record-

Darren Emerson: "If there's something I don't like, I would say, 'Mate, I don't like it and I don't mind if you go somewhere else with it. It has happened. Tim Deluxe made a record that I felt wasn't suited to Underwater, it was too poppy so Illustrious signed it, for a big advance too. I was really glad, because Tim is a good mate of mine. Being honest definitely does pay off."

Skrufff: You recently released Paul Jackson's track The Push and Paul told Skrufff that you phoned him to sign it the moment Pete Tong started playing the record on Radio 1, is that true-

Darren Emerson: "I rang him up then, yes, and said 'it's fucking great'. I'd played it a couple of times but then when I heard it on the radio, it sounded fucking amazing. His new one is great too, it's a similar epic style track. I was just ringing him up to say, 'mate this sounds fucking good.' He'd wanted to release it on Underwater for a while, I've known Paul for years but hearing it on the radio clinched it. I was in the car and I had it booming out."

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