Dave Clarke, the Baron of Techno, celebrates the release of five exciting new ‘Red’ remixes with a quick ponder about the future of the world. 

Dave Clarke is one of the hardest working men in the music business. His huge popularity as a DJ means that he’s constantly criss-crossing the globe to play at clubs and live events, and he’s also the host of White Noise, a long-running weekly radio show featuring the latest techno and electronic tracks. His work as a producer, remixer and recording artist in his own right means he’s always busy in the studio too. His ‘Red’ series of releases remain techno classics almost 20 years after they first came out and ‘Wisdom To The Wise’ (from ‘Red 2’) has recently been reissued with five exciting remixes. All this and yet Dave still found time to talk to us about the end of the world as we know it…

How did the ‘Wisdom To The Wise’ remixes come about? Why revisit that track?

“I wanted to put it out again and I wanted Boys Noize to do a remix because he’d always loved that track. Then out of the blue, without requesting it, I also got sent some remixes by Steve Rachmad, which I really liked. There’s also a Marcel Dettmann mix and an A Mochi bass edit of the track. I mean, it was recorded nearly 20 years ago and certain bass frequencies weren’t available for us to use back then. So everybody has done their own personal take on it. I think it works, but it’s risky, you know, trying to do something different with it, because it’s a track that means a lot to a lot of people.” 

You’re not averse to taking risks, are you? You were  one of the first DJs to switch from vinyl to digital, right?

“Yeah. I first switched over to CDs, not because I thought they were better than vinyl, but because it was that first step to going fully digital, which is how I DJ now, using the Serato DJ controller. What I like is the huge choice of music I have now. It really is that Bow Wow Wow thing, you know, about having your record collection on your back. I got so much shit from people to begin with, though. I found that difficult. I was thinking, ‘Hang on, we’re playing tracks about cosmic rayguns, but we’re scared to embrace this new technology, this new way of doing things…’. I found that strange.”

Has technology changed the way you work as a producer, as well as a DJ?

“Massively so. Using some of the old synthesisers and samplers was like trying to read a book through a letterbox. Now there’s no limit at all. None whatsoever. You can do whatever you want.”

Where do you think we’re going next with music production?

“Computers are powerful enough now – you can have hundreds of tracks open – but the interface needs to change because we’re still using machines that were designed for offices. Something like Steven Slate’s touchscreen mixer, the Raven mixer, might be the way forward. I think it needs to be a big screen, where you can get three or four hands on there, all working together. The technology is there already, but only a few people can afford it – it’s like when Art Of Noise started using the Fairlight – so it’s a question of democratising it, making it cheaper and available to more people.”

Do you keep an eye on developments in science  and technology beyond the sphere of music?

“Definitely. I read lots of magazines and I watch a lot of science stuff on TV. I’m totally addicted to BBC4 and the Discovery Channel.”

What do you think of Dennis Tito’s plans for a manned mission to Mars by 2018?

“I’ve a few people I could recommend for that.”

Would you go?

“I’m considering taking an out-of-orbit flight, I think that would be fun and I’ve probably got enough air miles for it, but going to Mars? Why the fuck would you do that? No way. The only way I’d want to go to Mars or somewhere like that is after it’s been settled by other people and there’s a quick way of getting there, like a wormhole or a teleportation device.”

Are you a sci-fi fan?

“I can’t be arsed with it. I hate the hippy element that’s in a lot of sci-fi. Especially the artwork. It’s so fucking new-age-dolphins-love-making bollocks. I can’t deal with it. John Cooper Clarke once said that punks ended up like hippies with zips and I think that’s true to some degree. I don’t like hippies. But when it comes to the rawness of technology and the rawness of discoveries, that’s absolutely fascinating. I think sci-fi was cool in the 50s and 60s because someone like Gene Roddenberry [the creator of ‘Star Trek’] dictated where we were going, with things like flip phones and iPad-like tools that could tell you what the atmosphere of a planet was, but I’m more interested in the technology that our imagination hasn’t been involved in, stuff we’ve designed and then found uses for afterwards.”

What do you think the world will be like in 100 years time?

“Paranoid. It’s going to be paranoid.”

Do you fear for the future?

“I fear for the control that governments will have over people in the future.”

Are we starting to see that happen now?

“To a degree, yes. There’s very little of our lives that is private any more. Everything seems so open to abuse. I worry that, a few years from now, data manipulation is going to become an everyday thing.”

What else worries you about the future?

“The exponential growth of human beings and how we’re going to feed everybody. Yet again, what will happen is that the countries that aren’t rich will get fucked more heavily. That worries me. War worries me too. War really frightens me. You only have to look at the history of war, from archers and boiling water to machine guns and tanks… It’s just an ever-more efficient way of killing people and no matter how ridiculous the idea mutual destruction is, there will always be countries prepared to go to the brink.”

How much of the future would you like to experience? If medical science could make it happen, would you like to live for ever?

“Why would you want to do that? That’s the most selfish thing someone could do. To take resources from a planet for yourself… for ever? Selfish. Disgusting. The beauty of life is it’s finite. There are certainly some people who should have lived longer than they did, but for ever? I mean, how many episodes of ‘Eastenders’ would you end up watching? How much misery would that programme bring to your life if you watched it for ever?”

The ‘Wisdom To The Wise’ remixes are out on Boysnoize Records

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