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An Electric Chat With Gavin Keitel

Author: Terry Goldfain
Wednesday, 20 July 2005
The dance floor is a mess of jubilant faces and sweaty bodies as Gavin Keitel presides behind the decks, on the verge of a spine tingling 'moment' or perhaps even the highlight of his set. Rather then pumping his fist in the air, spurring the crowd on to further mayhem, he instead becomes increasingly still, puts his hands behind his back and watches. Far from a display of arrogance, he is savoring the moment in the best way he knows how. It is the moment he's strived for, and instead of fiddling with the EQ or jumping up and down, enticing the crowd to further levels of excitement as the tracks reach their crescendo, he simply watches and enjoys what is about to come.

Contradictions are apparent in all forms of life, and dance music is no different. Just as the symbolism in Faithless's track 'god is a DJ' holds an element of truth, the jaded raver musings of Pulp's Jarvis Cocker cant be discounted when he croons, "Oh is this the way they say the future's meant to feel- / Or just 20,000 people standing in a field-" While perhaps not god-like, 'rock star' status may be a better way to describe a small number of DJs who's media profile is as prolific as that of the movie stars and sporting elite. However, it's the last term you would think of when describing Melbourne DJ Gavin Keitel. So it is indeed special that the Melbourne based label EQ, chose him to mix the inaugural compilation in their newest series, 'Electric'. 'Electric' is an offshoot of the internationally acclaimed 'Balance' series with its focus firmly on showcasing Australian DJs with a commitment to quality, underground dance music.

'I think it's a case of good timing all round due to what I'm playing now, and the direction EQ is heading in and the brand they're creating," explains an enthusiastic Keitel. "The response to the music I've been playing at clubs for quite a while is now being reflected out there in the market place as people are looking for something different. And I'm just lucky that what I'm into right now, people seem to be looking for and are embracing it. It might take some people a few listens to appreciate the mix, but it was an honour to be asked as well as an enjoyable challenge. To mix the first in a series, you have to set the tone and that includes musically, graphically and the brand among other things. You go too cool and it doesn't sell. But you can't go too commercial because then you don't set any benchmarks. I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a CD where I can cover all the bases. The first couple of tracks are ones my sister and girlfriend like, but there are tunes in the middle and towards the end which are amazing but more obscure. Timeless is what I was aiming for. There are tracks on there that sell it, and there are tracks on there that will hopefully give it a bit of character and colour that people might not even like the first time they hear it, but will grow on them."

The electro-tinged German minimal house found on 'Electric_01' has its roots in his residencies at Sunny and onesixone. However, this is a far cry from the progressive house he was commonly associated with. "I just think that the progressive scene in Melbourne has slowed down considerably. I got a bit over it three or four years ago and got into a bit more deeper and twisted house. Even back when I was playing mainly progressive, I'd still throw in a fair bit of twisted stuff and techno records in my sets, slowed down to minus four or minus six to give them an edge. I always had a feel for it, but back then it was difficult as when you're known to play a certain style, as soon as you start to play a little a bit outside that it's often frowned upon. When I transferred from that scene into what I'm doing now, I'm sure I alienated a number of my peers and fans, but over time it's been fantastic because now I'm playing music I really love and I'm getting booked for it. I'm so lucky. It's a good position to be in.

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