TF Archives

Optimo - Optimo's Prime

Author: 3D
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

JD Twitch and JG Wilkes have been running their club night, Optimo, in Glasgow for over a decade but with a motto ‘kill all DJs’ don’t expect to see guys (or girls) spinning records. The HAHA guys have got an awesome night planned when Optimo return to Sydney, so 3D got inside their head to find out what’s in store.

It’s been almost exactly a year since you guys were last out here; what’s been happening in the meantime-
We have been quite busy. We’ve done about 150-odd gigs since we were last in Sydney. We have released two Optimo mix-CDs: one to celebrate 20 years of the club where Optimo has its home – the Sub Club in Glasgow – and another mix of post-night out listening music for Domino Records, called Sleepwalk. Twitch has also released a 10 Inch vinyl plus mix-CD package for RVNG of old punk songs called Ten Inches of Fear and three 12 Inch singles and an album as Betty Botox. We have also individually done remixes for The Presets, Hot Chip, Liquid Liquid, The Shortwave Set, amongst others. We also still do Optimo every Sunday night and just recently celebrated our 11th birthday.

Being genre-free DJs has long been a motivation for you guys. Have you found that the longer your career has spanned, the easier it is to uphold and stick by that diversity-
The only time I’m really aware of it is if I’m playing with other DJs who maybe stick to one genre a bit more and then I start to panic a bit about how all over the place I am when I play. But even then, I just find it very hard to stick in one groove for a very long time and unless I have consciously decided I am only playing techno records beforehand then it is going to start veering off at a tangent pretty quickly. So, to answer the question, yes, it is easy to uphold and stick to. Maybe if I took my ADD medication, everything would be very different.

You’ve made careers out of showcasing new and exciting music at your club nights (the guest list reads like the greatest festival ever)- What bands/acts are on your radars at the moment-
Ooh, the list is endless. I’m almost embarrassed by my appetite for consuming music; it seems so greedy sometimes. These perhaps don’t reflect what I play when I DJ but recent bands/acts that have survived my selection process and that I am still excited about include a band I heard on my recent travels to Mexico; Afrodita, Weave! from LA, Mi Ami, Roska and Rustie – two British artists at the forefront of the UK bass revolution, Den Haan and Big Ned from Glasgow – two acts I loved so much that I started a new label just so that their music could be made available to others. Lots of old, obscure early-’80s music that has been labeled minimal synth and especially an artist from back then called John Bender. But at the moment, in memory of one of my few heroes who just passed away, Lux Interior, I am listening to almost nothing but The Cramps. I imagine every DJ set I play over the next wee while will be featuring a Cramps song.

You’ve released records all around the world on a variety of labels. Have you found that the productions you’ve been most proud of have been the most well received, or does the public’s opinion of each release surprise you-
It really all comes down to how well promoted each release is. A couple of my favourite productions vanished without trace and I have never, ever heard anyone mention them. But, then they were on super small labels and if I hadn’t been sent finished copies, I’d probably never have come across them either. It’s a little sad when a bit of your heart and soul disappears into the ether, but then maybe somewhere down the line, in 25 years, someone will be digging through a pile of vinyl (if there is any left then), find it and go ‘Wow!’

Finally, do you have any new crate dug gems to whip out on this visit to the Oxford Art Factory-
Oh yes, but if I told you what they were, I’d have to kill you. That is actually a complete lie as I can’t stand people who keep music secret but it is 35 degrees here and I am sitting by the pool so I’d rather jump in the pool now than try to remember my latest vinyl finds.

WHO: Optimo
WHAT: Play Oxford Art Factory / Sleepwalk though Domino / EMI
WHEN: Friday 20 February / Out now