House music is currently embroiled in a hot steamy love affair with its own past. Look no further than the lush slow-mo vintage grooves of Scotland’s The Revenge, AKA Graeme Clark.
As a master of the disco edit, Clark is keeping the old-school tradition of garage legends like Larry Levan alive. But then he’s also probing the future sound of house as half of 6th Borough Project with Craig Smith.
Now Clark is a veteran of 20-plus years. But his big international break coincided with the classic house revival of the late Noughties. And he’s since emerged as one of the most in-demand DJs for unabashed disco-house lovers. It should make him right at home at the Electric Pickle on Friday.
Crossfade: The first thing that’s apparent about your sound is the nostalgia and appreciation for the past. What did you listen to growing up? Which artists do you consider primary influences?
The Revenge: I had a pretty eclectic upbringing, musically. My mum listened to things like Billy Cobham, John Martyn, Kraftwerk, Jackson Browne, and my dad had stuff like AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, JJ Cale, etc. I was inspired by all of that, alongside my own generation’s sounds of rave, jungle, and techno, at the time.
So when did you first get into DJing and production, and how did you develop your chops in the studio?
I probably produced my first track about 20 years ago, on my dad’s four-track, with an old drum machine and a keyboard. But I didn’t really get up to speed until I was about 16 years old, when I got a computer with a sampler. DJing came a bit later, when I was about 19 years old and started buying records. I built up a collection of outboard equipment over the years, alongside studying audio engineering.
What’s the music scene like in Glasgow? Is your sound a product of your surroundings, or are you more of an island importing sounds from beyond?
Glasgow is an inspirational place as there is so much going on culturally for such a small place, about 600,000 people. I moved here from a smaller town in Scotland about 12 years ago, so it still feels like “the big city” to me. And the musical sands are constantly shifting and moving forward without the necessity to live in London. I am quite single-minded in my music making, but it helps to be around others who are pushing their own envelopes too, in a city that feeds that.
How did you first hook up with Craig Smith for the 6th Borough Project? What is the dynamic like between the two of you in the studio?
I met Craig about 14 years ago, and we instantly felt a musical connection. He is 10 years older than me and had already been DJing in clubs for many years prior to us meeting. We work well in the studio, as neither of us are trying to prove anything. We just throw a bunch of records on and take it from there.
You’re one of the artists behind the OOFT! Music blog with Ali Herron. How did you two originally come together?
I started the blog with Ali about five years ago, as a way to showcase some of our new material and point people in the direction of other music we were feeling. Although we initially started the OOFT! thing together, Ali now does the blog himself and uses the OOFT! name for his solo productions, as I started getting more involved in other projects. We still DJ together once a month in Glasgow.
Do you find that the blog has become an essential tool for marketing and promoting your work in this day and age?
I think the blog concept is not as relevant as it was, mainly due to the increasing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s still handy for people that may not be connected to these sites, but that is becoming a small minority as time goes on, I think.
You released the Reekin’structions album of re-edits on Joey Negro’s Z Records in 2011. As an adept practitioner of the disco edit, what do you consider the appropriate formula? How does one contribute creatively to another artist’s record without compromising the integrity of the original?
I’ve always approached editing, remixing and production very single-mindedly, as I feel that if I wouldn’t play it, then it’s not worth making. With any art that I create, I feel I can never hope to gauge what my audience will think of it. I’m making it for an imaginary moment in my head, a moment in a club that I don’t have a track for perhaps. And it’s also a cathartic experience in some ways, to express emotions I can’t express through other means.
That’s the main difference between solo production and DJing for me — DJing requires a conversation between you and the room. I put a lot of energy into my work and not all of it is accepted. I’ve had a few knocked back, but I don’t mind, as I know that everything I do can’t always connect as it’s largely a personal pursuit.
So what have been the highlights of 2012 for you? And what do you have going on for the rest of the year? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
My first proper tour of the U.S.A. as 6th Borough Project with Craig was a highlight earlier this year for sure, as well as shows this summer in Croatia and Ibiza, which were also great. I’m now working on a new live project which I’m hoping to get off the ground towards the end of the year. It’ll form the basis for me generating new material and playing it out live. I’m doing a few local shows to fine-tune it first, and then hopefully take it on the road in 2013. The second 6th Borough Project album is almost finished. That’ll be out at the start of 2013 too.
The Revenge. Friday, August 10. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10 to $15 plus tickets via residentadvisor.net. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.