Features

Claire Morgan: Bon voyage

2012 has been a vintage year so far for Claire Morgan. The vinyl devotee and self-described “insufferable Detroit junkie” has notched up a string of consummate sets around the country in recent memory, whether as the warm-up specialist, main attraction or after-hours stalwart. You need only head back to her top-shelf mix from 2010 on ITM-FM or a more recent session on her Soundcloud to hear Claire’s authority as a DJ: old and new, warmth and heaviness, light and dark all worked together with a musical ear. As many around here know, she’s also a keen ITMer with a killer streak of acidic wit and knowledge to burn.

This month, Claire left her dog and mountains of records in Sydney and made the long haul to Europe. Techno mecca Berlin is set to be her new home, and some “serious music-making” is on the agenda. Jet-lagged (and dancefloor-lagged) in Austria, Claire checked in with inthemix to talk about her ever-improving year.

So you’ve packed up your records for the big move. How many are you taking…and what have you had to leave behind?

I have not packed one single record. It was a choice of packing vinyl or clothes and I can’t exactly run around in the nude for a year, can I? My last week in Sydney was spent digitising as many records as possible, it’s not the same but that will have to do. Hard Wax in Berlin will soon have a new dedicated lurker though.

So, what’s lined up in Europe over the months ahead? Will you be staying based in Berlin?

I’m currently in beautiful Graz, Austria where I caught the end of the Spring Music festival. I’ve spent the last couple of days listening to brilliant music and meeting some serious legends of jazz and techno; totally inspiring!

Next weekend I’m DJing in Prague at Chapeau Rouge and Yes Club which is really exciting, and then back to Berlin to set up my studio and settle in for some serious music-making. I am absolutely itching to get busy but it’s going to be very strange with no vinyl and about 10-percent of my studio gear. Learning to work in new ways is always good for creativity though, so it’ll be fine.

I know the warm-up for Efdemin in Melbourne back in March was a standout for you. What other nights/parties have been special in recent memory?

That party (Out of Focus) was such a special night and it’s a gig that will always be etched in my mind and heart. Playing after John Roberts and before Octave One and Carl Craig at the Metro last December was just stupidly awesome. I am such an insufferable Detroit junkie and the most enormous smile was pasted on my face for weeks afterwards. That smile actually hurt after a while. The last six months in general has been incredible. I’ve played with and got to know a lot of artists that I really look up to.

Listen to Claire’s warm-up for Efdemin below.

How have you found moving between gigs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane? Do you notice subtle and not-so-subtle differences between each city and what works as a DJ?

I think Sydney and Melbourne definitely have different energies, to me Sydney crowds are really responsive and not afraid to express the fact that they are having a damn good time, and people usually seem to want quite ‘up’ music.

In Melbourne I have to put a lot of thought into programming and warm people up slowly. It’s a little more work to get a crowd frothing, but Melbourne blows most cities out of the water when everything comes together. I’m really lucky to play regularly in both places so I get the best of both worlds! Sydney and Melbourne’s scenes are both so strong at the moment though. This makes me very happy.

On the theme of your DJing, is there a certain element or ‘feel’ that you’re always looking for in records?

I love soul and groove above all else. I want to make people to feel something when I play and I don’t buy anything that doesn’t move me in some way. I’m always attracted to solid musicianship and intelligent composition as well. Shiny production skills and token effects do nothing for me. Side-chaining a goddamn synth to a kick drum does not make someone a ‘music producer’.

Any producers whose every release you just have to seek out?

Carl Craig, Deetron, The Oliverwho Factory, Recloose, Four Tet, Delano Smith, Levon Vincent, Joy Orbison, Martyn, Lone, Shed, Tevo Howard, Vakula. I could go on forever, really.

Tell us a bit about your relationship with Haul Music – do you have further productions planned?

Craig, Christian and Mike are all good friends of mine now and I’m really proud of how their label has grown. The recent vinyl series has been solid, in particular Craig’s Divinity 12” hit such a high standard. I would love to release more on Haul, first I need to send them some music!

Anything you know you’re really going to miss about Australian living?

My dog, my family, friends, and my glorious synthesisers which are all now packed up in their boxes. I will most definitely miss the ocean and I will be madly missing my regular gigs in Sydney and Melbourne. Time flies when you’re busy though so I’ll be back before you know it!