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Francois K speaks with Ian Buckland 15/12/10 I am in an unusual position as I have been to New Yorks famed Studio 54,

, as you may as well been told. I was in the first wave, did you come in the second wave in the 1980s? And lets talk about what was it like, the atmosphere that created that exciting nightclub feeling that we now expect the presentation the DJs were kind of stars for the first time really, so you fitted right into that. I was there in the 70s. Not as a DJ. I only played there once or twice after it got closed down. It reopened with the same name but it wasnt the same crowd anymore. There are only three people who could claim to have DJed around those times and two of them are dead. Actually a few more people but it was very very little. I dont know, I think it was all about money, power, being, if you were allowed, feel special cause you could rub shoulders with all these people that were famous. I personally thought it was ok. But I think that Im not the kind of person who buys People magazine so doesnt really care that much to be honest with you.

So you went for the music? Well my friend Richie was the DJ (Kaczor) we all really liked the music he was playing. The parties were great but the music was very commercial. The owner was always making sure that a certain kind of thing was always being played. That it didnt go too funky or too underground. Similar to many other clubs operating at the same time in NY, that were basically aimed to a very wealthy, affluent jetsetting crowd. To be honest, I really cant think of another phenomenon that took place for so little time and took so much of a life of its own. And became so embellished, the light system were great. The things were going down on the dancefloor were spectacular. Like when they built the bridge. In 77, you wouldn have seen. The moving bridge across the floor. A lot of the props were really great the moon with the coke spoon, were great. To be honest, people are so star struck, theyve blown it up to be something, I really dont think I can comment on it. I was so unimpressed by it. I did meet a few interesting people but overall, the whole scene was very superficial. Everybody there was either very rich or famous or using somebody to get something out of them. There were very few people that were actually there to enjoy themselves and to sit

back and just relax. You could feel this tension in the room. All these people milling about, trying to . What you say, the Star fuckers, Golddiggers, a lot of those peole but as well as cool people just hanging out. The much better parties were elsewhere, where it was membership only, out of the limelight, never in the press, celebrities might come but never talked about, very private, very fun, people could let their guard down and have fun. You've said that the co-owner, Steve Rubell, directed the music Of course, it was a great part. Obviously, Richie could play a great deal of what he wanted but then Steve starts saying you better play that Blondie song again, Richie would have to comply and do it. And that would be cause the artist is in the house or he wanted to create a particular kind of mood, or to play certain kinds of music cause it was popular and that was just the way it should be. Did you take away with you the commercial aspect when you left that commercial club scene and did that scene have an affect when you began your own record label and the rest of your career?

I didnt start a record label until 1996. There was always this dichotomy where part of the club scene was very underground and part of it was really commercial. I really couldnt say for sure that it affected me either way. There was always this thing, even in other countries then the USA. Its a matter of choice when you set up a record label, what kind of product you want to release. Certainly in my case, I had the various opportunities to sign some big name RNB artists, or very big commercial acts who would need music video support, major touring support but completely out of our budget. If you go for the commercial thing, you really need deep pockets. It was never where I really came from. I was just trying to release music that was special and music living on its own merit, rather than being artificially propped by this whole other construct, heavy promotion and being giving people money to do things. You have that magic thing where you can pick a hit. Where do you think that comes from? I just get hired to do things by people. If they choose to like the things that I do then thats great. I just do what I do. If people like what I do . at the time, in those days, when records were actually selling, people had budgets, there were recording studios when you went to work, there was a whole ideology

built around making music and selling it to people which has now, for all intensive purposes, exploded now. But the point I was trying to say, people were hiring me cause of some of the things I had done and they would have heard, after that took place for a while, there might be more of a reputation thing, I dont know. Im really unaware of the specific thing that would make people want to ask me to do specific things. I can not be the judge and the jury. So conscious I never did anything either way, I just did what I felt was the right vibe, the right groove. Most times they were never there, they just send me the tapes, just do it. Sometimes there were there. Sometimes they were there and it didnt all go smoothly. Because they had a very specific vision on how it was going to go, and the reason they hired me cause they did not have that specific vision, to let me do what I was doing. In times I collaborated with people where it worked, like with Kraftwerk. We had a natural chemistry, and a friendship that lasts til today. Other people, I got the sense that theyre just hiring me for a trend. Just cause my name was hot. Although my name was on the record, they didnt want it to sound outside of what they wanted to get as a result. There were really all kinds. Ill go through a couple of the names youve worked with and could you tell me how in fact you worked with them.

THE EURYTHMICS? I never met them. They just sent the tapes. I met Annie Lennox once, before then. DIANA ROSS? Yeah she was great. I met her a couple of times, she came to the studio. She was very happy to let me do my thing. She was a very classy lady, very professional. MICK JAGGER? Sometimes he just let me do what I wanted, but sometimes he wanted to get involved in the creative side, change vocals, or make a suggestion. On one of the remixes, we actually did some rehearsals together, going to do a lot of production, he wanted me to hire some background vocalists, got more involved than a remix, it became a production. And it was the usual way of production, you worked together. Mick, hes a real pro. The only thing is difficult with these kinds of people is telling them No, that wasnt good, youll need to do it again., I think a lot of times its the reverence we all have for these pop stars, its difficult for you as the producer you know, Mick, I dont think its so great, can you try it again. Its not the easiest thing to do. But wed find ways to say, it was great but maybe you could try with more attitude on

this word, could you listen back and say if you were ok with it. As long as you were precise, you could get Mick to re-sing things if necessary. And they would try hard to work with the producer because thats why they hired them. And we had a great time. MIDNIGHT OIL, because of the Australian context? Oh they were so professional. That was amazing. I had never worked with a band, I mean that was like production. So one remix I was sent a tape, that was the Power and the Passion, but another time was in the studio, and they flew me over, obviously these guys play live everyday of the week, so once they got into the studio, it was like, what guitar sound do you want, what does the snare drum sound like, you know most of the songs were cut in one take or two takes, it was like miraculous, thats what you get when you go in with a working live band, theres no fuss, no mucking about, they just get down to business. And with Pete, his vocals, every vocalist is getting pretty particular about the kind of vocals that they want and the performance that they want, as my other experiences in working in producing bands, Midnight Oil were as pleasant as you wish anyone to be, and we did everything in such like record time, in some session times, wed cut 2 or 3 tracks a day at least. I wish every session was like that. It was incredible.

Now, your early background in France. You were a drummer. Do you think that was crucial to your understanding of how the beat should go? I took lessons for piano, guitar, other instruments, I just think I naturally gravitated towards playing the drums, it just seem natural, its in my blood. You may be rationalising it more than I ever did, I just did it cause it felt good. Felt like the thing I wanted to do it, not cause my marketing department made a conscious effort analysis after doing focus group studies that that would be the best thing for me to do. No, it was not like that. It was it felt right. Just the same way after being a drummer for few years that there were better opportunities in being a DJ and less competition so I felt it best to switch around and I didnt think that much about it. You left France on a trail of seeking things. Was there just not enough new music there for you? In 1975, we got exposed to a lot of stuff in France, a lot of bands would tour, I saw all the big bands of the day, Santana, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, everybody was touring, but when you went to the States, it

meant going to the source, where it actually happened, instead of people visiting, people were living there, you could be around the scene where it was actually being made, so thats why I wanted to come. You seemed to have an interest in jazz, soul at that stage. Was that why NY would be so attractive? Yes and I still do. You are known as somebody who is an experimenter. Is that a hard thing to maintain over three decades? To keep changing, to keep finding, is it part of your lust or just something you do? It is my lust. Right now, Im dabbling in two other projects Im trying to develop much more of a long term thing, Im involved in a live surround sound thing that Im going to start in 2011, a bit different, not so much dance music, its going to be more for like listening, more an environmental thing, more art gallery or different settings, like an auditorium, playing music in surround, multichannel configuration, and its completely different thing, but Im really pursuing that as I believe that at this moment, DJing to me has reached its logically mature plateau, there isnt a lot left that hasnt been done or cant be done, like

stretch a song, change a tempo, alter the vocals from male to female and like that, but its all kinda been done with that, and I think that the thing you are alluding to is more or less the fact that there is a fascination with discovery, blazing new trails where there are no rules written. You could say is something that has attracted me throughout the years Ive been spending, rather than conforming to everything else that everyone is doing. I find it easier to carve my own niche, reap the rewards of not always having to be judged against a very, very crowded market place. I read once that you referred to music appreciators as 'Beardos' as they stroke their furry chins. or trainspotters. You appeal to the appreciator as well as the commercial market? Oh yes, the Anoraks. Well its just that when you play at a party, you know, one thing that has changed quite a bit from older days, is that in the older days, the DJ was a bit more anonymous, and people were dancing facing each other, having a party with themselves, recently people are all facing towards the DJ, and theyre all looking at the DJ and its not quite the same attitude because they are paying attention to the DJ whereas before they would just close their eyes and dance to

themselves. So in a sense, that to me, has kinda changed the way dance music is being appreciated and shared. I think there has always been a component crowd that is scratching their beard and standing next to the DJ booth trying to find out what record is being played and all that. I hear that you get that a lot. People running up to the booth, and saying, what track is that? I dont see any problem with that. I think its great. At the same time, I think that there are also certain parties where Ive seen people who obviously can never be pleased, if you play something too obscure, theyll be like oh nobody will go for that, if you play something too popular, theyll go oh what a cheap shot and they are always looking to find something wrong with what the DJ is doing. And Im not necessarily talking about myself but I have observed it many times. And they are just there to use the DJ to assert their own music identity, not to like it but in opposition by taking a stance against everything cause it makes them really cool. And thats fine, they do that on blogs later, trolling on the net, it takes many forms, there is a kind of musical trolling where certain people are forgetting to just be enthusiastic

and a little innocent about the music. They want to act jaded about the music, theyve seen it all, heard it all. Everyone over the course of time will want to gravitate towards certain kinds of people and I dont personally relish spending time around people who harbour such energies, I dont find it very productive at large, unless that someone is very creative and have spent a great deal of time composing, producing, directing, its I guess really hard to accept people like that come to parties and they can kill the vibe a bit, Im more into people who just let themselves go and get into the music. You have mentioned an elastic sense of time previously with that you can stretch peoples; perception a bit? Yeah, whenever you have an environment where people are slightly disoriented, I think its up to you if youre in control of that environment, to do things in a way you feel is appropriate. Even as far back as the 70s, conversations with other DJs provided the idea that even though a song sounded fine on its own at home, when you heard it in a club, it took a whole different dimension, and sometimes the little subtle parts that were great went by too fast and there was a necessity of repeating those until they were. Because of the assimilation, when youre in that environment, where the sound is

booming and flashing lights, energy people around you, it makes a completely different perception of what is happening. It might be really difficult to listen to things for what they really are and rather you need, as the DJ, to have a perception of what is required and sometimes will just go on too fast and you need to repeat it. Other times something is really boring, and you need to cut it down, and you know, your mission as the DJ is to be aware of this and make something happen or sometimes people lose their perception of the continuity of it and you take them into a sort of vibe where they look at their watch and think, oh wow! Or, the opposite, my god its taken too long. Theres a distortion of linear sense of time that usually takes place outside the club when youre in a more normal environment, I think that that was probably what it was referring to. I listened to a track of yours last night where you created the Jamaica sound that you like. I read about a shop you found where there were two ladies who knew about this sound it sounded very exciting for you at that moment. Actually, not only did they have Reggae, but at that time, it was more my first exposure to a lot of Feta Kuti records, Nigerian records and stuff I didnt know anything about and they had this whole connection to this

Afrobeat and reggae London scene. It was great. Deep Space NYC is your highly influential Monday night in New York. Thats where you first announced No dress code, just an open mind. How did you come up with that idea and are you going to recreate a very similar vibe to Deep Space NYC in Australia? I just came up with it. One of those instant good things. If I came to Australia every week, Im sure I could do that over time. But if you think Im going to come one time, and do that, you must really think I have God like powers. Whats your kind of impact or nonimpact, even with those nights? Well, Deep Space happens on a Monday night, how many club nights do you know that happen on a Monday night? Deep Space is a completely separate project to Body & Soul (which I do on Sunday night only for special events and around the world now), I do on my own. Body & Soul I do with two other people, Joe Claussell and Danny Krivit, when I do Deep Space, Im doing it in such a way that kinda open doors, keeps away the weekend crown who want to be merry. A lot

of people who go party on the weekends, they want to go hear party music, they wanna hear feel-good, get down music. Theyve worked all week, they just want to get themselves into a great party atmosphere, have a great time. What Im trying to accomplish at Deep Space, I want to play more music that is abstract, thats dubbed out and trippy and out there and psychedelic and mixed up and not necessarily have to obey a sort of dictatorship that people have cow-towed to recently that says a DJ plays beat mixed music all night, long without interruptions. So if they dont play beat mixed music they surely are not a DJ. You like to surprise people. The point of doing something like this there is an artistic vision attached to this. That is, instead of playing a strictly roots Jamaican dub kind of musical format, and because of the kind of musically knowledge that I have accumulated over all these years of making music and mixes and stuff, I would be able to really present music that Im playing in a kind of dubbed out manner. So thats why the real motto of the party no dress code, just an open mind, its that Im playing live on the mixing board. Now what does that mean, live on the mixing board? It means that yes Im playing music that is probably commercially

available but the way I will be playing it is Im going to be dubbing it out live in front of people and drawing out certain qualities. I will be making it so that youre really hearing a different version that you bought or downloaded because the song that you hear, instead of being the same will be different. And Ill do something to make more use of it and apply that asthetic and approach to all kinds of music instead of strictly Reggae, Jamaican or Dubstep, and try to bring some coherence to all these types of music. You know like, we had a party yesterday and for some reason I decided to play a Led Zeppelin track. But the way I played it, it became completely different to the way it was presented in a normally. It was wedged between a Dubstep record and a Techno record, something like that. The point of Deep Space is instead of doing something that has this samey, uniform, calibrated sound, like when you go to the fruit stand and you see these oranges and apples on another side, I just want to give you fruit salad, and the fruit salad is with my special dub sauce. Its more of an open format that you could hear anything and you dont have to expect that youre going to hear endless droning of the same music. Sadly I need to tell you it travels very poorly. According to other theories from people who spend most of their adult life conditioning things, its very hard to come to a foreign country thinking

that youre going to change peoples minds who have been trained to listen to repetitive beats of the same kind of music for hours on end for years of their lives continuously, and suddenly expect that the idea that there was all it was to it, and that in fact there was presenting all kinds of music together werent beat mixed to bring different qualities. its not impossible and there are certain countries like Japan, Ive been doing it very regularly, where Ive been able to train them, just as I was in NY, to accept that, whereas in other countries they just dont get it. Please lets clarify from the very beginning. As it would be doing a great disservice, otherwise. I am not bringing Deep Space to Australia. I have not been booked to do a Deep Space event. Just because there could well be other DJs who clarify themselves as one trick ponies who have one style or one sound, or one thing they do. So if you speak to them, then you expect that thats the thing that they are going to come and do. I would really appreciate that you dont do this to me. Thats not what Im being brought or booked to do in Australia. If it was presented to the public and promoted and completely put together to a way that was suitable, then I would agree with it. In this particular case and under the

circumstances in what I was booked, and what was presented to me, that it is not the case at all. Thanks very much for speaking with me, Francois. We really look forward to you coming to Australia. It will be wonderful. I really appreciate you taking the time to ask all those questions about Deep Space. At the moment I was going to say I would encourage people to do the thing that they could not do by clicking on the mouse and trying to download someones set as that they are really not understanding that not everything has to have a certain flavour. And there is something to be said for simply being there and being a part of it. And that everything will not be the same as just listening to a mix online. Make it your business to going there [to my performance]. And then, seeing for yourself. You can do something that needs to be witnessed rather than some digital product that can be downloaded. Thanks very much.
Ian Buckland is an award-winning television host, writer, and director from Australia. Acclaimed for introducing popular music to television, he is a founder of three music movements in the Southern Hemisphere, an instigator of the world rave music phenomenon, and a member of the Olympic Games creative committee for Atlanta and Sydney. This century he created The Fashion Broadcasting Corporation in Europe, specialising in French haute

couture. He is also an internationally respected magician and currently lives in Melbourne and, occasionally, Paris.