TF Archives

John Digweed interview

Author: Clare Dickins
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
He may not be the most fashionable artist in dance music, but there are few underground heroes as cherished and revered as John Digweed.

Whilst many of his contemporaries have involved themselves in everything from hair gel commercials (David Guetta), to concentrated Hollywood schmoozing (Paul Oakenfold) and playing gigs at the Olympics and Disneyland (Tiësto), Digweed has always adopted a more no-nonsense approach to both life and music.

Indeed, for more than a decade the man known to millions as simply 'Diggers' has transcended virtually every dance music fad, to remain one of the industry's most enduring icons.

In an industry dominated by the anthemic and the obvious, Digweed is the master craftsman of subtlety; his sets are thought-provoking sonic foreplay, gradually building up and teasing the dancefloor, before bringing them to a drawn-out climax.

Although his status as the progenitor of progressive seems unlikely to be challenged, in 2005 Digweed's sound is far from uniform. Browse over some of his recent set lists and you'll find the likes of Swedish techno/house heroes John Dahlback and Eric Prydz feature strongly, whilst on his recent 'Fabric 20' mix CD techno artists Slam, Joel Mull and rising German minimal star Superpitcher, make appearances.

Clearly Digweed has found a new passion in minimal. "Taking stock of the music that's been coming out of Germany in the last few years has been just amazing! There has been no shortage of quality music - it really has crossed a lot of genres in the DJing stream. It's not unusual to have myself, Deep Dish, Danny Tenaglia and Carl Cox all playing a similar record, which shows the strength of a particular tune when you've got that diversity of DJs playing it," he says.

"It used to be that only certain DJs would only play certain tracks and they wouldn't really branch outside of that, but with the German sound, the energy might not be as intense, but it's got so many different and interesting sounds in it, which has really helped refresh the scene a lot," he explains. "A lot of the progressive stuff really wasn't too inspiring anymore and people were really in a rut and going 'oh well, what's coming next-'. With the minimal stuff, a lot of it has the same tendencies of a progressive record, but only with more interesting sounds. The Germans have really had their heads down for the last 12-18 months and have just produced some amazing sounding records."

Throughout the course of Digweed's career, musical partner-in-crime Sasha has been a constant in his life. The duo met in the early 90s and together are undisputed as dance music's most crucial pairing. They first teamed up together at the UK club Renaissance, and would go on to mix the club's classic release The Renaissance: The Mix Collection in 1994. The boundary-breaking 'Northern Exposure' would follow in 1996, which die-hard fans still rate as the greatest mix CD of all-time.

So, does Digweed see Sasha as his musical soul mate- "You're talking about a DJ relationship that has spanned 12 years, so we've had a lot of great nights and DJing experiences together. I think we share a lot of the same musical qualities of just being very passionate about music and Djing - we just love being in front of crowd," he says. "I think it's a testament to the fact that we're still good friends and soul mates on top of that, that we still get excited about Djing - it's fantastic!"

Unlike Sasha though, Diggers isn't quite ready to throw in the CDs and vinyl for Ableton Live. "I use Ableton on the plane - it's a fantastic bit of software! But in terms of going out Djing with it 100%, I haven't really thought about going down that road yet. I still like the hands-on aspect of DJing. I play more CDs now than vinyl, but I think there is something fun about flicking through your vinyl box or your CD wallet and then throwing it in at the last minute - it's the fly by the seat of your pants aspect of DJing, which I still ge