Soulwax: The Main Event

Held in esteem as some of modern dance music’s most prolific innovators whether it’s under their 2manydjs guise or as Soulwax, the Belgian masters always deliver some seriously good times whenever they trot out to Australia. That’ll likely hold true when Soulwax arrive for this month’s Parklife festival kick-off, and to get the scoop on that tour, ITM caught up with David Dewaele of the group, who as well as talking about their live show plans for Parklife spoke openly and intelligently with his take on dance music in 2010. Here’s what he had to say.

Hey David. It’s midnight over there, right? So are you guys in the studio?

“Yes, you guessed it, we are working in the studio tonight.”

That’s good news.

“Uh, well, yeah I guess there are worse things that we could be doing!”

So you’re in the studio, are you working on new Soulwax stuff, new 2manydjs stuff, or producing for something?

“It’s actually all of the above. Right now, we’re doing working on Soulwax and 2manydjs stuff at the same time. I’ve got something going on for 2manydjs on my laptop right now and on the main screen we’re doing Soulwax stuff.”

It’s been about four or five years since Any Minute Now came out, should fans be expecting a new artist album from you guys soon?

“No. I know it sounds funny, but no. These tracks aren’t for a new record, we’re not doing anything like that at the moment, we’re just working on what we’re going to be doing at Parklife. It’s about finding something that makes the live show even more interesting and a bit more explosive.”

That’s good for us then! I know when you guys were announced as playing Parklife there was a lot excitement because everyone seems to really get into it whether it’s Soulwax or 2manydjs. What do you think it is it about Australian audiences that seems to click so well with you guys?

“It might sound like a cliché, but there’s just something about Australian audiences that’s more ecstatic than people in Austria or the Dutch. I think they’re just more open-minded to new things and to us. I don’t want to over-analyse it because it’s something that we don’t question, really. You go to Australia, the crowds go nuts, you get booked again and you just say, ‘okay, great, let’s go’. That’s how it works and it’s so good.”

How will these Parklife shows be different to previous tours of Australia?

“Well I think the new material will be a big part of that. We’ll be able to give something different to the crowds. But at the same time, we’re there for a reason. It wouldn’t really make sense for us to come onstage with a grand piano and play a few ballads…we’re there to make people dance.”

You guys have been playing 2manydjs and Soulwax dates over the European summer, how’ve they been going so far?

“The 2manydjs shows have been really good and they’ve been changing all the time. We update it every week, really. I think it’s finally close to being perfected. By the time the tour is over I think it will be completed. That was really the main focus for the summer but then these Soulwax dates started to come up and the Australian dates came through and suddenly you’re like ‘shit, we better get our shit together’.”

With the 2manydjs show, obviously it would change almost every day as you get new tracks that you want to play.

“Yes, exactly. But it’s not even just the new records and animations, there’s a lot of new lighting features and visuals to it now. We really wanted to make it more of a spectacle.”

There was a pretty great reaction to that show when you brought it over here for summer, and I thought it was a clever twist on the DJs-gone-live show that seems to be increasingly popular now. You know, there’s all these people like Deadmau5, Tiga, Sasha trying to get into the live arena now and I wanted to get your take on what you think the reason for that is.

“You want to know the reason? Daft Punk. I can tell you – for a fact – that everyone was just shitting themselves when Daft Punk came out with a live dance act that had this gigantic visual show. All of a sudden, everyone was like ‘oh, hold on, we can’t just show up with a few CDs anymore?’. And what that has brought along, in my opinion, is a lot of crap shows and visuals. It now feels like there’s just a lot of this keeping up with the Jones’ effect happening where people are trying to do spectacular stuff by hiring people to do it for them. And it just doesn’t work well. With someone like that guy, Deadmau5, even though I don’t really like his music, if I see his show I can tell that he is behind it, he’s the one running it. I respect that. When Daft Punk did it, I thought it was incredible and it blew everyone’s minds. Daft Punk spent a year making that show, they didn’t just hire someone and leave it to them to do. Anyone can set up a hundred LED screens and put some stupid visuals on a loop. I just think that’s embarrassing.

We tried to avoid it, y’know? We always wanted to do it ourselves because it’s great to have that challenge and push yourself to try something in a new realm of performance. That’s why we’re up until 6AM in the studio, we’re working on things and making sure that they’re exactly right and the way that we want them to be.”

I’m really impressed with your honesty, David.

“Honestly that was it, I mean it. When Daft Punk came out with that show every agent and promoter came out and wanted to have their own big pyramid. And the 2manydjs live stems from a disproportionate amount of festivals calling us up and asking us if we could do a big 2manydjs show. We spent a really long time thinking about it and wondering if we could ever make anything nearly as good as Daft Punk’s show. We thought a lot about our role as DJs and eventually that’s where the idea came from. Honestly, the live show is probably one of the things I’m most proud of that we’ve ever done. I think it’s really enjoyable for us to do and for the people who see it. We did it last night in France in front of 20,000 people and it’s cool to see these kids who are probably 17 years old and never heard of Chicago house of Visage but they know every Ed Banger track…by showing them the connections between all of this music then you’re not just making them go nuts you’re educating them as well. We get so many emails from kids who tell us that they discovered something because of us and that is the biggest joy you can get from being a DJ. If some kid from our show goes off and discovers, I don’t know, Harry Simmons and then goes from there to German ‘70s disco then that’s just amazing. That’s the biggest compliment we could get.”

Parklife 2010 dates:

Gold Coast, Parklands – Sat 25 Sep – JOIN THE ROLLCALL

Perth, Wellington Square – Sun 26 Sep – JOIN THE ROLLCALL

Melbourne, Sidney Myer Music Bowl – Sat 2 Oct – JOIN THE ROLLCALL

Sydney, Kippax Lake – Sun 3 Oct – JOIN THE ROLLCALL

Adelaide, Botanic Gardens – Mon 4 Oct – JOIN THE ROLLCALL

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