Dave Clarke on Techno & Integrity
Dave Clarke, the legendary “Baron of Techno,” is back. One of the most uncompromising and electrifying DJs of his generation, Clarke returns this month with a thunderous new Fabric 60 mix CD and—like it or not— he’s back in the international spotlight all over again. Famously describing himself as “established, but never establishment,” Clarke’s refusal to play the commercial game hasn’t hampered his career; his White Noise radio shows and decade-spanning residencies at Rex Club in Paris and Fuse in Brussels continue to set the global techno agenda.
A determined futurist in every sense, the British-born, Amsterdam-based Clarke gave up playing vinyl 10 years ago and has been at the forefront of DJ technology ever since… but did he make the right call? Enter Dave’s DJ booth and find out.
DJ Times: First off, your Fabric mix is a typically dark and edgy listen—ever been tempted to play around with different genres?
Clarke: No, I’ve never been bothered about following music trends—that’s for weaker-minded DJs who think that money is more important than musical integrity. Playing techno in a club just makes the most sense to me. I play real techno and real electro, not the bastardized “pop-electro” rubbish you hear in the charts. I play cutting-edge, non-commercial music with integrity. What’s the point of putting a “big tune” on the mix that’s been tried and tested already? That’s too predictable for me.
DJ Times: You received a bit of grief for ditching vinyl a while ago. Where do you stand on that now?
Clarke: Listen, I think it’s really sad that vinyl shops are closing down. I genuinely wish that wasn’t the case because they kept the scene pointing in the right direction—you don’t have a digital shop assistant at Beatport who truly understands what you’re doing with music. But, no matter how brilliant vinyl is, if we are all involved in technology then why should we stick with something that’s so in the past? That doesn’t make sense to me. “Techno” is short for “technology,” after all—so why should we limit ourselves? I’m not a technology slut, lapping up any new gear for the sake of it, but we should be looking forward, not back.
DJ Times: So what’s you’re preferred set-up these days?
Clarke: I use CD players, Serato Scratch Live through three channels—with a MacBook and SSD memory—and sometimes I’ll bring out a Korg nanoPAD for triggering samples. The technology has to earn its place. It has to work, it has to be ultra-reliable and it has to be exciting. It has to allow me new creative freedoms, too—and, for all of those reasons, I’ve found Serato to be a very solid platform. It doesn’t have a sync button—which I kind of like because you still need to have mixing skills—but that might not even matter in a few years anyway.
By Innes Weir