Unlike many peers, Lee Burridge learned his trade as a DJ in the wilds of the Far East bringing a new sound to those untainted shores. With global success came global parties and Lee would find himself playing to bohemian crowds in far-flung cosmopolitan cities every weekend. Famously, as one of the Tyrant trio (Lee, Sasha and Craig Richards), he would help to compile 4 amazing mix CDs featuring their heady mix of obscure, deep and utterly devastating tech house.
Lee’s music has always been very spiritual, emotive and hypnotising and his ability to entrance a crowd is second to none. These days he runs the ultra smooth All Day I Dream (ADID), which this year sees them take their first steps into ADE with a day party on October 22nd. Our UK Editor sat down with Lee recently to chat about his recent Burning Man experiences, that amazing ADE show and his thoughts on the future of UK clubland…
Hi Lee, we’re so glad you’ve found the time to chat to us at Decoded. How are you today? We saw your FB post about the laptop… Can you tell us anymore cool Burning Man stories? A favourite set perhaps?
Thanks for asking. I’m great actually. Our New York closing a couple of weeks ago was so special and really energising for me we just had the SF Bay area party on October 1st. Haha,yes, my poor laptop getting run over by an art car and living to play another day. Hmm, Burning Man stories. There are so many but most of them are really incriminating. Favourite sets are easier. The Robot Heart bus is always a moving experience. There’s something about the view out across a wide, flat expanse to the horizon where the sun appears mixed with all those creative and loving souls wiggling to music that rolls out of the amazing sound system.
Playa dirt falls on us all from those grooving up in the heart above the bus. It’s wonderful. I’ve been lucky enough to play some of my productions and allow my own emotion to be set free. I’ve cried so many times out there. Then you also have the more intimate sets. I played a few times back to back with Hoj at both the Kasbar and Panda Lounge to less than a hundred people and the connection you get is so alive and, again, loving. Finally, Pink Mammoth. Each year I’m greedy and get to play around seven or eight hours during the day before they burn the temple. It’s a fine way to begin thinking about leaving the playa.
Tell us about your recent New York closing show. Can you talk us through the logistics behind hosting an All Day I Dream event? There’s way more than just finding a venue and booking some DJs, right?!
I’ve been lucky enough to have really great people help me out. There are so many factors we are dealing with to put on a show of that size. It’s been true since day one actually. Back in the first years we were all carrying super heavy equipment, drinks, ice, tables, lights, boxes of decor up the last two flights of stairs to get it to the roof. These days we have a production team, event producer, a team on the back end making sure we are insured, the artists get picked up and have somewhere to stay, social media that doesn’t get too annoying and overbearing etc.
I tend to try to mostly focus on the more creative end of the event. Obviously, I’m one of the artists but I’m also involved in the design stages with some ideas for our yearly aesthetic. My childlike scribbles are then translated into things much more beautiful than my tiny brain can come up with and then built. Obviously, later down the line I take the credit for all of it and ignore Matthew Holt and Melissa who really came up with it. We are also slowly solidifying our family of artists. I never wanted to take the route of booking established artists to piggyback on their success. Sure, if they resonate with my vision and I think are a good fit I’ll try to bring them to an event but I’m looking for artists who have their own vibe but that still fit into my plan.
How have you adjusted to the business side of the music industry? Are you still a DJ at heart?
I’ll always be a DJ first and foremost but taking on the business side of things has been really fun. It’s definitely been a steep learning curve and I’m grateful to all my friends and those who actually work on the business for me such as Lindi for their expertise and advice. Do I want an office job? Not really, but it’s good to know your own business.
At one time, the pinnacle of a DJ’s career was to belong to a great club/brand as their resident. Throughout your own life, residencies have defined the milestones in your career, and now with ADID you get to choose those DJs to come on your journey. Firstly, did you feel a sense of responsibility to pick the right ones and secondly, more broadly, what sets a DJ apart as a great resident DJ compared to say a touring DJ?
If you’re a part of helping anyone do anything in life it should be taken on with a sense of responsibility. I’ve been a DJ such a long time that I’ve had many ups and downs. Our artists are all super talented producers and DJs as well as wonderful people. I want to surround myself with passionate people who chose this path for the same reasons as I did. The music. It’s their life as it is mine. I hope All Day I Dream is somewhere that allows them to keep on growing and sharing what’s truly in their soul.
I look back and there were times when I played music that worked. It’s not that I didn’t really like the tracks but I had less of a focus. I guess the fact I played all over the place musically was partly to do with that but also being in Hong Kong away from the influence of others and magazines. Everyone that’s a family member of All Day I Dream has a certain feeling to their sound that overlaps or complements all the others. The responsibility to them and myself is not to sell out or forget what we are all doing.
As for the difference between a resident and a touring DJ. I think you can be great as either. The difference really is as a resident you’re able to build tracks or a sound to a crowd that grows into and with you. You can connect with them on a much deeper level. It’s really about understanding and connecting with a crowd. You can do it if you want to as a touring artist. You just have to have confidence in the story you’re going to tell them with your music.
As I just said each has their own story to tell. Each their own sound. I wanted to work with all of them, as they are super talented and lovely people. There’s a thread to each that runs through what All Day I Dream represents but a uniqueness that gives us diversity. Lost Desert is currently the artist I’m working with in the studio and we’ve a lot of music to share. I’ve been lucky enough to work with really super talented producers and LD is going to be huge this coming year. He’s always been in the background behind other artists but I wanted him to step into the sunshine. G&I are from Moscow and so talented I can’t believe we are lucky to have them onboard. They actually helped us take All Day I Dream to Moscow this year, it was amazing. Bedouin create magic everywhere.
Something all of your residents share is a real sense of what it is to be a DJ. Would you say the art of DJing (track selection, reading the crowd and telling a story) has been lost on the new generation of DJs irrespective of what medium they choose the play music on? Has the pursuit of fame blinded them?
Some for sure. Thing is, there’s no road map to this industry. The way you got booked in the past fifteen years didn’t really allow much time for each artist to tell a story. If you get an hour and a half it’s easier to play non-stop energy and the bigger reaction tracks as you don’t have time to build anything set wise. Artists wanted to get noticed so chose the easiest path. They then set the example for what to do to the next generation.
The promoters loaded line-ups to try to get more people through the door. It’s systemic. I wanted to try to return to smaller lineups and longer sets. There’s been a lot of talk about the music being a journey or a story as even that way of describing the DJ or event was jumped on. I do feel we are able to do it though as the party doesn’t rely solely on the energy of banging out music to take the listener somewhere. I also think about who’s playing when so each artist complements the next.
With ADE looming large, All Day I Dream hosts a party on 22nd October at De Hallen Studios with Audio Obscura in the daytime. It’s a unique space that hasn’t been used for electronic music before, so what drew you to it and Audio Obscura?
Simple. We’ve been trying to find an indoor venue (as the weather really permits us doing an outdoor event) with light. One that feels more open and De Hallen is it. Audio Obscura not only has a great name but they do events we feel in sync with.
Your single ‘Lingala’ with Lost Desert feat Junior dropped last month. It’s been a while since I can remember you being in the studio, is it a natural place for you making your own sounds, or do you prefer to play the music instead?
It’s actually the second release from myself and Lost Desert. We released Stand Up Right earlier this summer on my other label Get Weird. It’s true I’m more DJ than producer but after meeting Lost Desert we’ve been busy making music. It’s a world I’m in love with. Now, if I could just get them to make days 72 hours long and weeks 15 days I’d have time for everything.
No doubt you’ve been following the fabric story with some interest. How do you see it’s closure affecting London’s nightlife? New York never really recovered from club closures and Sydney is currently undergoing problems too. Are we likely to see a similar situation occur in the UK?
I think it’s the worst news. fabric lead the way in London on all kind of fronts and this is a deeply saddening situation. It’s terrible that anyone loses their life but closing a club will change nothing. Closing all clubs will change nothing. If someone dies watching a movie in the cinema are we going to close cinemas?! I know fabric go above and beyond to keep everyone safe who comes through their doors. No one fights. No one gets stabbed.
It’s a venue that sets examples of how to keep people safe and entertained at the same time. I feel sorry for everyone there who’ve built an institution but still hold out hope they will overturn this ridiculous decision. I don’t agree with you that New York hasn’t recovered, though. I feel the NYC scene is one of the best in the world right now. Sure, there are less definitive clubs but cities’ music scenes evolve and devolve over the years. We are back in warehouses at the moment and that’s pretty exciting.
Photo Credits: Daniel Leinweber | Razberry Photography