The London clubbing scene is set for a big big night on the 27th September when Intec Digital boss Jon Rundell joins Copy Paste Soul and the LoCo London residents at Corsica Studios for what is expected to be a highlight on an underground ravers calendar. Warming up proceedings at such a prestigious event is no small order and the job falls on the shoulders of uber resident Will James to lead the charge. Local boy Will cut his teeth in DJing at the tender age of 13 and makes regular appearances in and around London, so we decided to catch up with him to find out what he’s got planned for the night, his views on the scene in London and some advice for the up and comers.
Hi Will, How are you? What have you been up to today?
Hi guys, thanks for having me along to do this interview.
I’ve just finished hosting my weekly radio show on S-Dance Live (www.sdancelive.com). That’s something that I’ve been doing each Thursday between 6-8pm now since the start of this year. I initially got involved on S-Dance through pestering a mate of a mate to guest on his shows. The station management liked my vibe and the rest is history. It’s a long established station with some really talented people and I’m really excited to be part of the team. The management have been really supportive and have been opening up new doors for me, which is a great opportunity that isn’t easy to come by.
I’ve also just returned from a big week in Ibiza and truth be told still feel like I’m catching up. It takes a bit of time doesn’t it? I hit some amazing parties at some of my favourite clubs such as DC-10. I’ve been heading there since 2005 and the Island has had a big influence on my love of house and techno music. We had an awesome trip and this has given me a lot of new inspiration and ideas for where I’d like to take my sound. Some other highlights of the trip for me also had to be bumping into Sven Vath and Jamie Jones. Both are personal favourites of mine and you know despite probably having heard my questions too many times to remember, both gave me some great advice.
Tell us about how you got started in the DJing game and who were your influences; which clubs did you attend then?
Like a lot of people growing up in and around London in the late nineties, I grew up heavily influenced by drum and bass and the UK garage scene. Pocket money would always be spent on tape packs – with UK garage being a particular favourite of mine. I grew up idolising people like Todd Edwards, EZ and later Heartless Crew. That sound really captured the mood of the time and caught a lot of people’s imaginations. At its peak I was just about passable to use a fake ID to get in to a couple of raves. As grime started to filter in, it was sad to see the influence start to change with parties being cancelled and nights being shut down.
Listening back now, my tastes have changed a lot, but I identify this as a key point when I was first really inspired by music.
After a lot of persistence I somehow managed to talk my parents into buying me a pair of belt driven turntables and a mixer when I was 13, something they’d later live to regret as my collection of speakers got bigger! From then on I’d eagerly await each Saturday morning to come around to head to my local record shop and spend all my paper round money on new vinyl’s. It seems impossible to think of now, but you didn’t have the internet and major download sites then in the way you do now, so saving up all week to buy that piece of vinyl and taking it home to play was a really big thing for me back then.
I moved to central London in 2005 when I was 19 and it was from here that I got my first proper exposure to house and techno at clubs like Turnmills and the old Kings Cross complex that was made up of The Cross, The Key and a few others. I have some fond memories of those nights and made some lasting friendships, including my partner Laura who can still be found supporting me at the various nights I play at, but is sometimes less supportive of the racket I make at home!
Turnmills was a great club; I too have had some superb nights there. How do you feel the landscape of the London scene has changed with the loss of places like Turnmills, The Cross, The End all closing down? Is the scene as vibrant as it once was?
Those clubs closed their doors within a short space of one another and it was a big loss to London’s clubbing landscape. It sounds cliché, but it really did force a lot of parties underground and promoters had to get creative with their venues. Temporary spaces and warehouses are now du jour and you only need to look at the rave listings each weekend to find “Venue: East London – TBA”. This can make for some exciting impromptu nights out. I remember a couple of summers ago where we went for some food in East London and I found myself 10 hours later around the corner in a disused car park listening to some twisted techno. It’s this type of diversity and unpredictability that still makes London such an exciting place to be, that said there is a lot of corporate influences creeping in – you only need to look at the way most major festivals are run now. Popularity for house music in particular has gone through the roof over the last couple of years and people are waking up to fact that there’s big money to be made.
LoCo London is a fairly new team. How did you get involved with them?
My partnership with the Loco London team came about purely by chance. One of my good friends was asked to play at the Loco launch at Corsica Studios back in June, but he wasn’t around that night so recommended me to the team instead. It was an amazing first night with Hot Creations and Wiggle artist Ceri headlining the main room. I was put on in the second room at the same time as Ceri. The team were impressed with the vibe that I built and it was this that secured me the residency. Having got to know the team better over the last few months I’ve been really impressed by their professionalism and vision in terms of what they are trying to do by showcasing new talent alongside such acclaimed artists like Jon Rundell.
Have you an idea of what you’ll be playing on the night? Do you like to plan out your sets, or play off the crowds reactions?
I don’t typically plan my sets, but I will have a strong idea in my head of the types of tunes I want to play and the direction I’m going to take the set in. I’m always hunting around for and being sent new music and you’d be hard pressed not to come back from Ibiza feeling inspired by the cutting edge music you hear out there – so I’m looking forward to bringing out some of these influences and seeing how the crowd reacts in London.
At the moment I’m really feeling the deeper more dubby style of techno and house. So you can expect to hear a lot of these from me on the night to warm things up.
Recently forums are rife with DJs saying that the flow of the night has changed because the younger DJs don’t warm up properly. Would you agree, and if so, what advice would you give a DJ who has never warmed up a big show?
Everyone is eager to impress, especially when you’re young and first starting out. When you’re working as part of a team like Loco London, you’ve got to think about the night in its entirety. Most DJs likes playing peak time tunes, but there’s nothing worse than a night that veers between high energy tunes early on, with a lull in the middle. I see warming up as a balancing act between making your mark so people remember your set, whilst still setting the scene for the peak time headliners. So advice I’d give to a DJ who has never warmed up a night before is play what you love, of course there’s always room for one or two higher paced tunes, but don’t miss the fact that you are one part of a bigger night.
Of course warm downs are equally important. The peak time slots are always for the headliners and as they finish the crowds inevitably thin out, but the party continues and the job of the warm down DJ is a thankless one. Which time slots do you personally prefer?
I often find that warm down sets in the early hours of the morning are when things really start to get experimental in terms of the types of music people play. Those are times when you can start to play around with some of the more off the wall stuff that you couldn’t perhaps get away with earlier on in the evening. Recently I’ve been really feeling music played at after parties, there’s a different vibe there from the main room type of stuff you’d play, but there’s something a bit more intimate and informal about that, which I really like.
There are only a few DJs nowadays who make it big on the strength of DJing alone, and we understand you have recently been bitten by the production bug. How is this going?
With the DJing and being able to play a couple of instruments, moving into production just felt like a natural progression for me. I’ve started to experiment in the studio and have already made a few new things as part of a collective. I’ve got lots of ideas in my head, but also a lot to learn, so am busy trying to translate these ideas into action in the studio. I’m fortunate to have good friends that have been producing for years, so to have these guys as mentors and support is really helping me. I don’t want to put a definitive time on things but I should shortly have something that I’d be happy to play in my own sets.
Having DJed since the age of 13, I expect you have played some great nights. Any good stories you’d like to share?
Yeah there have been a few. A good story because it taught me an important lesson was when I dabbled with Traktor for a while and the first time I tried to use it live. Just before I was due to takeover, my laptop and the software decided it just didn’t want to play ball! Looking back I can laugh at this now but at the time but it was a character building moment as I didn’t have much by way of back-up on me. I took away valuable lesson from this – it isn’t always alright on the night and it’s important to make sure have a plan B…. and C and D with you!
And looking to the future, how do you envision LoCo London events progressing?
There’s a lot of really exciting stuff coming up on the Loco London calendar and both Dylan and Mickey have been busy making plans. We’ve got the showcase happening this coming Saturday. I’ll be warming up the main room from 10 till midnight, ready for Intec Boss and Carl Cox’s right-hand man Jon Rundell and Copy Paste Soul. This will be our second Loco London event, so it’s really exciting to watch the night grow with each event. All details can be found here.
We’re back at Corsica Studios again on 25 October with Detone Record Label boss and legendary Techno group Underworld member Darren Emerson, Saytek and LoCo London resident Neil Browne and I. There’ll be a selection of other guest DJs too who will shortly be announced.
I can’t give too much away on the November plans and thereafter as I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but believe me when I say these will not disappoint. Keep an eye on the LoCo London
1) ButRic – Balam
2) Francisco Allendes & Bimas – Corrupt (Artslaves Remix)
3) Ra.Pu & Nekow – Sweepin’ Over (Martin ‘M Remix)
4) Gel Abril – Changing Steps
5) Chad Andrews – Lost in me (Loquace Remix)
6) Alfred Heinrichs & Carlo Ruetz – Sir Sinus
7) Alex Piccini – Hanging Around
8) AuDio KoDe – White Magic (Rainer Weichold & Matt Keyl (Remix)
9) Pablo Say – Goingback
10) Loquace – Fear of Shadow
11) Joeski – Set in My Mind
12) White Brothers – Little Helper 138-1
13 Durant & Italoboyz – Tasbodrome’