Justin Robertson is a man that needs no introduction. He is a man with over 23 years experience in the scene, and is seen by many as a true legend. He is a DJ and produce that has always been forward thinking, and always looking to push his sound in a forward motion.
Justin’s latest alter ego, The Deadstock 33s has been receiving massive praise from the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Erol Alkan, and Daniel Avery who is a man that Justin has had a long standing production partnership with. With one album already released, and a new collection nearing completion, several EPs for the likes of Gomma, Optimo Music, Tiger Sushi, Southern Fried, Batty Bass and Join Our Club, and with a raft of top notch remixes for the likes of Paul Weller, Erol Alkan and Boys Noize, Asphodells, Justice, Steve Mason, and 2 Bears, Justin shows no sign of slowing down creatively.
We were lucky to catch up with this man to ahead of his gig at Liverpool’s 303 to talk about his musical past, his sound, and what he has planned for 2015.
What were some of your first forays into electronic music, and how did you begin to become interested in DJing?
The first Electronic ‘’band ‘’ I remember getting into were Tangerine Dream, I thought I was kinda of counter culture agitator when I was a kid, I used to walk about without shoes on and stuff, later of course this trippy hypnotic music chimed with the acid house revolution , which I obviously I became obsessed with!
Back in the day you were behind two clubs in Manchester that helped to define the city’s Balearic scene, Spice and Most Excellent. What are some of your memories of those days and what were some of the most valuable lessons learned?
Spice was more legendary than successful! It was a Sunday so we got a lot of casualties , and we had to compete with the world cup in our first year, so I learned not to try and put on a left field esoteric club night when England were playing. My memories of that time are a joyful blur, it was a great time, but in many ways I feel like the fun has never stopped since then, its a continuum , though I’m a bit calmer in the ‘’extra curricular ‘’ activities these days. Most Excellent was when I think I found my sound, which was pretty much anything I dug but I started to feel more confident in my selection, and thats the most important part of DJing I think. I also met some life long friends and played with some inspirational people, Greg Fenton in particular helped mould the sound of Manchester’s Underground at that time.
It is believed that the young Chemical Brothers found inspiration from misspent evenings at your Most Excellent nights. Did you often see them at the venue, and do you speak to the guys today?
Yes all the time, they had a club gang called the 237 turbo nutters and they were right at the heart of the club. There is a video somewhere with them singing along to Fleetwood Mac at the end of the night… and yes I do see them fair bit, last time was friday at a stag do in fact .
Many people may remember your time at Eastern Bloc records in Manchester that no doubt opened a few doors for your at the time. Do you still keep in touch with the team?
I do bump into them from time to time yes…
What are your thoughts on many of todays young DJs buying music purely online? Do you feel the youth today miss out on the opportunities that DJs may have had back in the day during brief chats in record shops?
Its always nice to socialise and swap tips face to face , especially the after work record bag opening sessions, but in terms of musical discovery there is a brilliant thriving community on line, much more rich and varied than ‘’back in the day’’ so, in terms of getting a musical education, no i think its much better now.
You have been involved in the music scene now for around 25 years. What have you found to be some of the most difficult things to overcome, and what do you feel have been some of your biggest achievements?
Show biz is a fickle thing, so there will be times when you just aren’t feeling the zeitgeist, the trick is not to worry too much about musical trends, just keep your pallet fresh, especially now when there is a wealth of amazing music about, its easier to carve out your own sound. I’ve had times when I’ve lost focus, or faced an artistic bloc, but that’s cool, it goes with the territory , as long as the enthusiasm remains you’ll be fine. Achievements are hard for me to judge, I’m just happy to have been part of it all.
Over the years you have remixed music for the likes of Bork, The Mystery Jets, The Glimmers, Erasure, and New Order. What do you feel have been your most successful remixes and why?
Not sure! I think some of the stuff I’ve done in the last 18 months has been the most focussed and coherent work I’ve done really, kind of psychedelic but jacking too! From the past I’d probably pick out Bjork ‘Big Time Sensuality’, Sld for piano mayhem, and Erasure for New Beat sleaze. Luckily there are only a handful that leave me hiding behind the sofa in shame.
In a matter of days you are due to make an appearance back in Liverpool for the superb 303 night where you are playing alongside Dave Clarke and Andrew Weatherall. Have you get anything special planned for the night?
Lashings of raw acid jack.
Are there any tracks that we can expect to hear you drop at 303 in Liverpool at the weekend?
I’m road testing a lot of my new album, and some sprightly remixes for Chris Massey and Denney.
I would imagine you will have some fond memories of DJing ay Bugged Out in Liverpool alongside Dave Clarke. Will 303 be a bit like a small reunion?
A big reunion, I do see Dave from time to time, but it will be top to have the whole gang together under one roof!
You recently appeared in what I believe is one of your favourite magazines, Jocks & Nerds. What do you like about the magazine, and how did the opportunity come about?
I love clothes, far too much, I sometimes think, judging by my vintage denim mountain. I just think the magazine is a good fit for me, clothes, music, hats exotic shoes and fancy stuff, lovely chaps too. They approached me because of my clothing obsessions and the fact that I’d been busy not only with music, but with my painting also, so hopefully it was an interesting story!
Your latest project The Deadstock 33s is a new musical persona for you that you could describe as techno disco. Can you tell us a little about the project, and why you decided to kick it off?
I started it a few years ago as a means of injecting some new energy into my productions, the middle 2000’s were a bit flat for me creatively I thought. I never really got on with the noisey Techno/electro sound production wise! I used to quite like playing some of them, but never really made stuff like that, I was a bit out the loop I felt, but this just galvanised me into doing something new. It was a vehicle for a striped down raw, but warm sound, combining the riffing of acid house with the psychedelic end of disco, the wigged out stuff, its evolved since then and it hasn’t really got a hard and fast set of rules, but it has a raw out there sound.
I’m just about to release my second Deadstock 33s album called ‘Everything is Turbulence’’ which will see me back at BMG records, through Skint this time, so yes its a very exciting time for me, love love it.
Finally, is there anything else you wish to tell us about that you feel the people out there need to know, or any exclusives?
I have a very odd new project with a young very talented producer of some acclaim we are just finishing, watch this space, its very wonky.