Dave Seaman is one of the original movers and shakers of the UK electronic house movement. He has been DJing for over 25 years and has played in over 80 countries around the world. He was an original editor of the clubbers bible, Mixmag, and has remixed and produced for everybody from David Bowie to New Order and Kylie Minogue to the Pet Shop Boys. Having been the man behind Stress Records in the nineties and Audio Therapy in the noughties, these days he is running a new label, Selador Recordings with long time friend Steve Parry and is releasing his own music on the likes of Suara, Noir, Sudbeat and Hive. Quite simply, Dave Seaman is one of the legends of electronic house music. Decoded Magazine are proud media sponsors for Hush Hush in Leeds on April 18th, an event Dave is headlining with Thermal Bear so what better time to catch up with a legend.
Hi Dave, I think the last time we talked was that frantic text conversation when I wrote the “What Is Prog?” article! How’s things?
Very good thank you. I’m in the middle of a very busy period of releases for both myself and my label Selador. It’s been a great 2015 so far and only looks like getting better from here on. I’m on a roll!
So you’re headlining Hush Hush soon at Leeds Warehouse. Must be great to get to play to a home crowd, how often d’you get to do it these days?
I only get back to play in Leeds every 18 months or so and the last two times have been for Classics events, the Renaissance 20th anniversary and one of the excellent Shine parties so I’m really happy this time to be back playing a current set. There’s so much great new music around at the moment and I love The Warehouse. It’s where I first went clubbing when I was a teenager many moons ago and it’s still rocking to this day. A proper UK clubbing institution. It’s also Record Store day on the 18th so I’ll be getting up early to visit my old vinyl haunts, Crash and Jumbo to show some support. Shame Leeds United are not playing at home which would have pretty much made it the perfect day back home.
Any hints as to what you’ll play on the night?
Not yet. At the risk of sounding like a cliched footballer, I try to take one game at a time. I’m currently prepping for The Rhumba Club’s 24th Birthday in Perth, Scotland this Saturday with Slam & Graeme Park and once I’ve licked my wounds after that, I’ll start to think about Leeds.
Our own Ian Dillon has the auspicious task of taking over from you on the night – any words of advice for him?
Ha! Just tell him to come do his thing. No pressure. I promise not to drop the baton on the handover! And hopefully by that point he’ll be clear to take the glory down the home straight all the way to the finish line.
Your new label Selador Recordings is going well. Can you tell us about what’s up coming?
We’ve got so much amazing music lined up, it’s crazy. The next release by Jaap Ligthart and Alice Rose is getting major support with Maceo Plex, Ame, Mano Le Tough, Solomon, Dixon and Sasha all supporting it. It’s shaping up to be our biggest release yet. Then we’ve got releases and remixes from Joal, Third Son, Nicolas Massayeff, Supernova, Marc De Pulse, Petar Dundov, Justin Massei, Robert Babicz and Villanova all in the works and both myself and my co owner of the label Steve Parry will have our own releases soon too. It’s going to be a busy summer!
We’ve heard that Selador are doing a party at Watergate in Berlin soon. Tell us about that? Have you played in Berlin before? What’s your take on the scene over there?
Yes, we’re so excited about this one. Obviously Watergate is widely regarded to be one of the best clubs in the world so for us as a label it’s quite a coup to be able to do a label night there. Steve & I will be joined by Piemont and Justin Massei on the night for what will be my first time back in Berlin for over a decade. Obviously things have changed since the last time I was there when I did the Love Parade. It seems to be pretty much the World capital for Electronic Music these days. So many amazing artists, labels and clubs operate from there, I think there’s possibly only Ibiza that can claim to have a bigger influence right now and that’s only for 3 months of the year!
Selador isn’t your first label is it? Can you tell us about Stress and Audio Therapy – both very different beasts but focused on quality music?
Yes, Stress was a label of the nineties and Therapy very much of the noughties. They were both of their time but kind of ran their course as the label game shifted business models. I was kind of glad when Audio Therapy was laid to rest. It felt like a weight off my shoulders. But it wasn’t too long before I realised how much I missed running a label and so Selador was born. It really is a labour of love. It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication for virtually no financial benefits but I just love the process. It’s very rewarding in many other ways and wealth shouldn’t be measured solely in monetary terms.
Alongside you at Selador is the irrepressible Steve Parry. How did you guys meet?
We met way back in the late 80s at Fallows Nightclub in Liverpool when I was working for Mixmag and Steve was pestering the resident DJ for a warm up slot. He’s still as enthusiastic to this day. The quintessential trainspotter! haha Seriously though, I couldn’t ask for a better label partner. We both have other business and families to take care of so we try to work around each other’s time constraints and most importantly we share very similar but not identical tastes in music. I think we’ve only disagreed once on signing a particular track. Not bad for the first 25 releases.
Steve of course was a Cream resident. I wrote a article recently about the decline of the resident in clubland and the value they have to brand stability and growth. As a veteran of the scene, are there changes you’ve noticed which annoy you?
Yeah, the general way music has become so disposable. Easy come, easy go, onto the next thing. Nothing seems to carry any value anymore. Since the decline of physical formats, attachment to music isn’t the same as it once was. A computer file carries no emotional bond like vinyl did or even CDs to a degree. You can’t have a flick through someone’s hard drive like you could through their record collection. But I truly believe they’ll be swing back towards collecting physical music again. Where else is the to go once you can have any track ever made at your fingertips within a couple of seconds which is pretty much where we’ve got to. The digital road comes to a dead end when you literally can’t get any harder better faster stronger.
With Miami Music Conference just gone and IMS just around the corner, do you find these industry gatherings as useful as they once were?
They are still important but not so much as they once were. The world is much smaller now and much more connected via the magical medium of linked computers. But you still can’t quite beat the human experience of meeting someone face to face and having a meeting, lunch or night out together. More things get done in person than by email or Skype.
We hear that you have some exciting releases coming up with some very switched on labels, including Suara, Noir and Hive Audio. Can you give us some details?
Yes, the first of those is a two tracker (‘Dance In Tongues’ & ‘Strobelight Symphony’) on Noir due out at the end of April. Then I’ve got a track called ‘Private Education’ on Suara’s next big Kitties Wanna Dance compilation scheduled for mid May and finally a single on Hive Audio with a Dario D’Attis mix entitled ‘Gumball’ out on May 25th. There’ll be lots more coming after this flurry of activity too. Like I said before, I’m on a roll ;-)
If I may, can we skip back to the deep and distance past? I’d like to ask you about the legendary John Debo couch tour of 1992! You and Guy Ornadel were great friends and he had arranged a tour for John in the UK. John tells me that the trip changed the direction of everything he did from then on…
Ha! That is a long time ago. Yes, I think that visit to the UK made a big impression on young Mr Debo. He had the dubious honour of sleeping on my couch for a couple of weeks and he found himself in the eye of the storm. Things were very exciting in the UK back then. We were still relatively in the formulative years of acid house. Making the rules up as we went along. It changed a lot of people’s lives forever.
Difficult question I know, but do you have a favourite place to tour?
Not that difficult really..
3. South America
Hahaha… Many of your older tours were with Global Underground. Your sound back then was, shall we say, ‘trancier’ than now. As your tastes have changed do you find you still get fans who ask for music you don’t play anymore? How do you deal with them?
I do get asked to play tracks from back then, but I don’t really carry any of that music with me anymore so I can’t play it if I ain’t got it. And I’ve never really been one for nostalgia. I try to live in the present and look to the future. I do realise that for a lot of people they were magical times, they were for me too, but those tracks were of their time and sound very retro to me now. They were all so fast as well. Comically fast when I listen back to them now. It all went a bit Benny Hill in the tempo department for a while back there. I’d have to be playing everything at minus ten to fit with what I’m doing now.
Chatting with King Unique recently, he told me about the process he went through putting his Beyond Borders CD together. Now you’ve done over 20 compilations, so do you still find compiling a mix CD as painstaking as you first did, or have you found your stride now?
Ha! No, not really. Every one is different. Certain ones have been easy by comparison to others which have driven to the very edge of insanity. I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate the patience, perseverance and hard work that goes into one until you’ve been through the process. Anyone can put a set together. Especially these days. But not everyone can create a really good mix CD. Not if you’re doing it properly anyway!
Social media has now become such a vital part of the DJs toolbox that some of the bigger names employ a team of marketeers to post for them to manage their brand. Is this something you would want to do, or do you feel the personal touch is more important for fan retention?
I do all my own social media. It’s time consuming and a pain in the arse at times but nobody can represent you better than yourself and although I try to keep up with everybody’s questions and comments as much as possible, I try not to let it take over my life. I used to be addicted. There was a time when I felt anxious if I hadn’t read all the posts on my timeline and Twitter feed. But now I just dip in and out whenever I have a little free time. It’s important but it’s not that important.
Having been in the game for over 25 years, do you now look towards an end point? Will you ever feel the time is right to hang up the headphones for good?
To be honest, I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel just yet. It’s all still very dark and noisy. Just the way I like it!