Interview: Carl Cox

Interview with Carl Cox

Carl Cox


Legendary techno DJ Carl Cox talks us through his formative influences, his 10-hour DJing marathon in Ibiza and his brand new album, All Roads Lead To The Dancefloor.

Questions and answers

How and when did you first get into DJing?

When I was about eight, I used to hijack my parents’ stereo and play all the records at their parties and get the whole family and their friends grooving around the lounge. I got my first decks around the age of 15 and would just buzz off of playing music to people anywhere I could. I even set up in my school canteen a few times too!

Can you tell us three of your biggest musical influences?

Wow, well there are so many. I guess in the early days it was my parents’ soul records; I’d play anything from Booker T & The MG’s to Aretha Franklin. In the 80s it was disco and towards the end of that decade, acid house.

And what was it that originally drew you towards the techno sound?

I guess it was the raw funk that the music also had, and that you could literally feel the soul that the producer had poured into making it sound the way it did. It really connected with me and my early experiences of music.

In your opinion, what have been the biggest changes in techno over the years?

The BPMs first and foremost. Back then it was all pretty quick and I loved the energy. Now you can play a tech house record alongside a techno record and it still all makes sense. It’s good that music evolves, it keeps things interesting.

Where do you see the scene and sound progressing?

It’s always so hard to say. I guess we have been through the more minimal side of things and we have some pretty big, dubby house influences right now, so perhaps the side to techno that I have never stopped supporting, which is the more upbeat side, will be next again.

So what should listeners expect from your new record, All Roads Lead To The Dancefloor?

The album really is a mix of all the things that influence me and that I like about music: it’s got funk, soul, drum n bass, tech house, dubbier tracks and, of course, some techno!

Can you tell us about your current DJ setup? Do you still perform using three decks?

I use four now! The whole three deck thing started as a way of being able to remix live on the fly and create a moment in time that might not ever be able to be repeated. With the four I can now loop things up, effect a few channels, EQ some bottom out of something else and bring it all together in one moment. It really does make you feel more creative, and if we are putting more into what we are doing then the people that come to the club will also get more from it.

You regularly play at many of the world’s biggest festivals and nightclubs but also at smaller, more intimate venues. Do you have a preference and how do you alter your approach?

I don’t really approach either any differently. I still always play every gig as if it were my last. The big stages are something I’ve been used to from the rave days and it’s a great experience, but then there is also something really special about playing music in a small room to a knowledgeable crowd and them going on the journey fully with you.

Is there anywhere left that you would still like to play?!

Haha, there are still a few I would think. We just did a party back in Barbados, where my parents now live, and it was the first time they had seen anything like it. It’s doing these things that remind you there are still parts of the world where we can help people to discover our music.

Is there a memorable set that you wish you could relive?

I really enjoyed doing the 10 hour set at Space last year for our 10th year. It took a lot of focus and energy and by the end I was exhausted, but at the time it was amazing to do. To really dig deep into all the music I have and put it all together is something I’m very proud of. Then of course there is also the infamous beginning to the “Three Deck Wizard” name at the Sunrise rave in ’88: that single moment will never ever be forgotten!

Year after year you appear on lists as one of the best DJs on the planet. What’s your secret?

For me, it always has been, and always will be, just about the music. I’ve never done this for any other reason. Anything that’s happened to me over the years is because I have just had a big passion for playing music and I guess I’m naturally a very positive person and that’s that.

You return to Space in Ibiza this summer for another massive residency. What have you got lined up?

This year we have invited back a few names people will have seen before, but are also bringing in some new recruits to help move things forward and keep things fresh. People can expect the usual high-standard sound system and production alongside some good programming in each room, and all for a good price too so they feel welcome.

Finally, which three tracks do you expect to be the biggest of the summer?

I’ve been hammering a track by Joe Brunning called ‘Let Me See You Work’ for some time now: it’s just massive for me. Then there is my man Jon Rundell’s ‘Revival’ track: it’s got a real infectious hook to it that just makes you feel good when you hear it. And then I’d have to say look out for the Ctrl-Z remix of my ‘One Nation’ track from the album that’s coming soon. Huge!