The Carl Cox School Of DJing
July 2012 saw Carl Cox celebrate a significant milestone: his 50th birthday. Of those 50 years, at least 30 have been dedicated to dance music – as a producer, label boss and first and foremost, a DJ. As he prepares to bring his own arena to Stereosonic this summer, the mighty Carl Cox shares his DJing philosophy with inthemix.
PLAYING IT FIRST
To be involved in this for so long, there has to be a reason. My reason hasn’t been about chasing money, having a record go to number one on radio or being the most popular DJ in the world. All I did was basically believe in what I do and the music I play. I do everything because I feel compelled; whether the music I’m playing is popular or not. That’s still how it is today for me. I just hear a record and think, “Right, I really want to share this track and I want people to understand that I love this music.” So I’ll play it based on that principle.
Two years ago, this track came out by Joe Brunning called Now Let Me See You Work. No one had heard it before at all, and I remember playing it for the first time at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The whole place was going crazy to a track they’d never heard before. And that for me is the reason I do what I do, week in, week out, year in, year out. Because most DJs these days will play music that you have heard, especially from a popular point of view. They know everyone’s going to sing those songs and have their hands in the air.
I have no clue what this record’s going to do. All I know is it’s bloody brilliant, so here we go! I’m flying by the seat of my pants. It’s like, Oh god, this is either going to make or break my career. Then bang: it just goes off. People walk away and from everything they’ve heard that night, they haven’t heard that record. They can walk away and say, “Coxy played this record.” Then they can go and find it, but they know where they heard it first. That’s been my drive.
DON’T FORGET WHERE THE CREATIVITY IS
I think the great thing about being a DJ and an artist is that you’re able to paint your own picture. You’re able to go, “I’m on for four hours, so I’m going to give you a journey into what I enjoy; a collective of sound.” Whether that’s drum & bass, dubstep, trance, progressive, house, Latin, tech-house or techno, it’s all there to be played, and you have to know how you’re creating the night. Most of the music I’m playing, people haven’t heard before. They might be trying to chase it all down, but even I don’t know half the time, because it comes directly from the producer as track 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. But I just know how it sounds and where it fits at a certain point of the night.
The longer you’re at a Carl Cox set, the better it is. It’s not about having an hour-and-a-half, playing the big popular records, and you’re done. It’s all about finding the records that aren’t popular, but have that emotion and feel.