2 Many DJ's interview: Mash Up Mavericks
Monday, 23 January 2006
Two rock 'n' rollers from Belgium saved dance music from eating itself. But 2 Many DJ's - brothers Stephen and David Dewaele - are as surprised as anyone by their ascendance. The duo conceived 2 Many DJ's while moonlighting from their funk-rock band Soulwax. Indeed, the Dewaeles instituted the influential radio program Hang The DJ on Studio Brussel, with the spin-off compilation 'As Heard On Radio Soulwax, Part 2' and sparked a mini revolution in global club culture.
The Dewaeles' father was a radio jock and it was he who granted Stephen his first opportunity to broadcast as a teen. The older Dewaele was soon spinning in clubs but didn't intend to DJ professionally. In 1999 his indie outfit Soulwax debuted with the buzzworthy 'Much Against Everyone's Advice', encompassing the prophetic Too Many DJ's.
Stephen initially presented a radio show with Soulwax drummer Steve Slingeneyer but, when the latter relocated to New York, Dave replaced him.
Unwittingly, 2 Many DJ's created the 'mash-up' template for DJs, reminding selectors everywhere of dance's diverse origins while demonstrating a high level of technical prowess not always detected by emulators. Soulwax then picked up where Beck left off with 'Odelay'. They blurred the boundary between rock and dance, past and present, going further than the '90s' indie-dance groups. The Beastie Boys did the same for rock and hip hop with Paul's Boutique. Nevertheless, their impact as DJs is crucial. 2 Many DJ's liberated DJs from doctrine. Yes, they, too, could spin the tracks they really loved, not just sets of mono techno/prog/house. Stephen laughs at the very notion.
"That can be a bad thing - liberating the bad DJ!" he cracks up. "I have this vision now of all these hairy Greek guys wandering the streets, 'I'm liberated, I'm liberated! I'm playing the White Stripes! Yeah!' I don't know if that's a good thing... Not that I'm against Greek guys, by the way!"
Ironically, in 2006 onetime filmmaker Stephen holds that 2 Many DJ's and Soulwax are symbiotic (both are billed for this year's Big Day Out).
Any confusion as to what Soulwax are has been exacerbated by the changelings' latest foray, 'Nite Versions', which comprises extended club mixes of tracks from their last LP, 'Any Minute Now', itself more electronic due to Flood's production. The Dewaeles toured in support of 'Nite Versions' under the Radio Soulwax banner. In effect, Soulwax performed Nite Versions live. The UK trek kicked off at London's Fabric nightclub. So what of their duality-
"I think people here now have grown accustomed to it and like the fact that we end up doing these kind of things. But it's hard to explain to people why we do it or how it comes that we do these things.
"I think being a DJ and then also having a rock band, it's kinda cool to be able to switch between both, and now 'Nite Versions' is like a third thing - and then there's the production we do for other people and the remixes... So it feels like we can always go into different disguises. It's a bit like reinventing yourself and also a bit like Jekyll and Hyde.
"I think we need that, but commercially it's probably a really bad idea!"
In another indication of their fixation with dance, on 'Nite Versions' Soulwax cover Daft Punk's Teachers. 'Homework' is among Stephen's favourite LPs. "I liked the fact that they had a song all made with an 808 and it was all electronic and they said all the names of their favourite house DJs. I thought it would be cool to have the same thing but played by a live band with live drums, live bass, and then us just saying all the names of rock bands that we liked or that influenced us as Soulwax."
The Parisian robots approved. "We sent it to Daft Punk and they said they liked it," Stephen affirms.
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