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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Jun 17, 2010
An eclectic and unique DJ who has held residencies at legendary parties like Ministry of Sound and Deepspace, UK-born DJ Harvey is known for everything from scratching to drumming. He is respected with international fame all over the world. You can check him out June 25th at SOMís FACE. Harvey spoke with SF Station in a phone interview.
SF Station (SFS): You recently returned from an extensive tour. How was it?
DJ Harvey (H): I just recently came back from Japan! It was 13 parties in 15 days.
SFS: That sounds crazy!
H: It was a pretty serious tour. It all went very well, actually. Everything was well attended and well organized, and each one was a great party, along with each crowd.
SFS: Is their base of super Japanese fans really true?
H: Yes to a certain extent! Theyíre passionate about what theyíre into, whether it be dance music or collecting banjos. Theyíre passionate, which is the best word, yes, and they do their research and probably know more about me that I do.
SFS: How does it feel to be one of few DJs to crowd surf in a club? How is that even possible?
H: Oh I have no idea! It was completely spontaneous and it just happened. I was having such a good time and just jumped into the crowd. The crowd just got into it and there were enough people to surf upon and it was really fun.
SFS: And I hear youíre going launch more of your Sarcastic Disco parties!
H: Yes, there will be another one of our world famous sarcastic disco parties. We throw them in downtown L.A., and I DJ from 11pm to 7am in the morning. Itís just a traditional deep warehouse scene with cutting-edge music. Iíve been doing them for almost 10 years now, the name is slightly morphed but itís pretty much the same crew. Iím looking forward to it; itís the first one in 6 months.
SFS: What have you been recently working on in the studio?
H: Iím working on finishing the second single for my project for the international label International Feels. That should be out before the end of the summer, and maybe another release before the end of the year. Iíve done a few remixes and edits with bands like The Black Keys. There are definitely few DJ Harvey bits coming out at the end of the summer.
SFS: Since youíve been traveling around recently, is there anything has been inspiring you for these tracks in the studio?
H: Inspiration just comes from the smallest moments. Just taking a walk down Venice Beach, or a hotel in Tokyo, or listening to the radio.
SFS: Since you are pretty legendary and have been around for more than a decade, what does it take these days to have staying power?
H: Itís not that easy. There are so many DJs these days, and with the new technology itís easy to get your hands on the music and download stuff and not necessarily have to dig too deep for the music. But I donít think that really helps. You can either do it or you canít. And there are only a couple of hundred people in the world that can really do it.
SFS: You were one of the early scratch DJs, and in my generation it seems that people donít really scratch anymore!
H: Well, scratching has really become what I describe as turntablism, which is genuinely a very short display or a show of tricks. Iím probably capable of doing the majority of those kinds of tricks, whether it is transforming, crabbing, hamstering or any of those kinds of moves.
Generally, when I DJ these days itís on a Urei mixer with rotary controls, and although it is possible to cut using those controls, that kind of mixer just sort of leans toward a smooth transition. But saying that, from time to time, Iíll scratch and cue a record and allow people to hear that part of my cueing process so that appears as a scratch effect. But to incorporate that into a dance music set, especially with turntablism, itís quite difficult to maintain a groove with smooth transitions to keep the rhythm flowing. This is truly a big subject!
SFS: Do you still sing and drum these days?
H: Not too much really; sometimes Iíll play a little percussion on a remix, but it really depends. Itís not like play live drums, but Iíll usually hit something during most sessions like play my own breaks or something like that.
SFS: Are you looking forward to doing anything next week in San Francisco?
H: Yes, over the years Iíve had many visits and Iíve always had a nice time. In the last couple of years Iíve really gotten to enjoy walking around the town, not necessarily partying, but enjoying the beauty on a summer afternoon. Iím not sure how many days Iím there for, but I usually stay for two or three. Hopefully I get one afternoon to sightsee!
SFS: Oh you will, itís going to be Pride Weekend next week.
H: Oh fantastic! Well, that will give me some great opportunity to play some Camp Disco!
For more information, visit http://www.harveysarcasticdisco.com.
by Christina Li on Jun 17, 2010