Juan MacLean – The Future Has Come

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Last night at Space Ibiza, Glitterbox returned for another instalment of the audio-visual spectacular. This week Norman Jay MBE brought a taste of his legendary ‘Good Times’ carnival party to the White Isle, with the full-line up completed by Horse Meat Disco, Purple Disco Machine, Simon Dunmore and DJ Pippi, as well as a Glitterbox debut for Boris Dlugosch, a true veteran of the scene with an incomparable knowledge and love for quality House music. We expected this one to go off with a ban, and it didn’t disappoint…

Here, with the release of ‘A Simple Design’ recently announced, and with upcoming gigs at Space Ibiza for Glitterbox, we talk to the magisterial Juan MacLean about the record, Glitterbox and much more besides.

You’re just back from Glitterbox Ibiza then...

I was really excited.  Space is the only place I’ve ever played in Ibiza but not for a couple of years.  I was looking forward to getting back; the opportunity really suited me and I’m back again in a couple of months (18 September).

Before that you have Glitterbox London at Ministry of Sound...

That’s right.  A Glitterbox party seems to me to be one where you can DJ with freedom… where you can DJ tastefully, for want of a better word.  You don’t have to play such banging stuff, which is a nice change.  I’m really excited about 25 July in London.

Do you plan your gigs?

I probably do fall into the realm of DJs who plan things a bit in advance.  I like to play vinyl, and will go through my records before gigs to pick out the records I think will be suitable.  Of course, it all depends on the gig.  There’s real pressure with a gig at, say, Panorama Bar in Berlin where you know that half of the crowd are DJs like you, and the other half super-knowledgeable punters, everyone is expecting a particular thing.  I like to plan more for something like this.  But even then it’s still about playing what feels right on the night, and reading the mood.

You started out playing in bands before switching to DJing – which medium do you prefer?

I love playing live, but it’s often functional I think – reserved for promotional touring when you have a new album out.  For me, the DJing has remained fairly consistent as an activity for around 15 years now.  There’s a lot of flexibility with playing records.  I like to play Deep and fairly Minimal actually... a lot of those limited, 250-copy productions, but really I go all over the place.  My set up is classic – two vinyl turntables, two CDJs and I’m away.  The DJing really took off after I released my first tune with DFA.  A lot of other DJs were playing it and then the offers for me to DJ just took over.  A lot of the offers were for gigs probably beyond the level of DJ skill I had at that time.

Defected will soon re-release ‘A Simple Design’ with brand new remixes – what is your reaction to the package?

It’s amazing for me to be re-releasing ‘A Simple Design’ with Defected.  I’ve watched the label grow over many years and the music just gets cooler and cooler.  The variety of what those guys do now suits someone like me.  At the same time, I’m always battling the perception of people that what I do is Nu Disco.  I’ve always been close to House and Techno and Defected’s outlook helps me here.

What’s your assessment of the current dance scene?

People say there’s more crap out there now, but there’s also a lot of good stuff... always.  The difficulty in finding those good things is amazing but that’s where the importance of having labels you trust kicks in.  Overall, I think the resurgence of House is really good.  It’s such a great time.  The digital boom has been overwhelming but the return to vinyl is a cool development and the promoters are starting to cotton on.  It’s funny, a lot of these promoters used to make fun of me years ago for playing vinyl!

Are you still teaching these days?

I’m so busy with my music that I’ve not had the time that I’d like to do more social work.  That said I am pursuing doing it again.  I’m in the process of getting grants sorted to provide better electronic music facilities for the kids at NYU [New York University].  Beyond that education is implied through my music.  Like any DJ I’m sometimes guilty of being too genre-specific but generally I have more leeway with my selections these days.  Take my last few gigs, for example.  I’ve played Minimal and Deep House in New York, disco in a Seattle Warehouse for Gay Pride, and a mix of everything for Glitterbox.  I play it all.  By just doing what I do, breaking through the barriers of genre and hopefully doing a good job as a DJ, I’m switching people onto different types of music.  I like to surprise people and open their minds.  That’s got to be a good thing right?

Buy your tickets for Glitterbox at Space Ibiza and do not miss Juan MacLean’s set on September 18th.


Read 4878 times Last modified on Saturday, 18 July 2015 10:40