Crowd Surfing: Dave Seaman
As one of the most important figures in the history of dance music, you could forgive Dave Seaman for resting on his laurels. The truth remains though that you don’t get anywhere in this game by playing it safe, and the latest we heard from Dave suggested that he was certainly throwing caution to the wind with regard to his immediate activity.
It’s quite frequently we hear news that a DJ is releasing a new mix compilation and starting a record label, but the eye popping revelation with Dave was that he was doing both of these and funding the compilation by the kickstarter initiative. Doing so for music and arts isn’t anything new, Amanda Palmer famously did it to fund her album and short film Innocente recently getting an Oscar after they secured funding via the initiative, but it’s yet to be used for a mix compilation. And for an artform that is under threat from the internet more so than others, a potentially game-changing step. We caught up with Dave to get the skinny on why he decided to go down the crowd sourcing route and the direction of his new label. Jimmy Coultas posed the questions.
So you’re funding your latest compilation via a Kickstarter model. Why have you chose to do this? Do you see this as the future of the art-form?
I just felt the need to do something different. I’d been offered another Renaissance Masters CD but to be honest, I’ve done 27 mix compilations before, all in the traditional way. So when the Kickstarter idea was suggested, it just felt fresh. It was out of my comfort zone and is a bit of a leap into the unknown but I truly believe this could be the route a lot of DJs take in the future. And someone has to stick their neck out first.
You’ve been a part of the mix CD since it began so are better placed than most to preside over how viable they are. Are they still a relevant concept and how difficult is it for them to be part of what people want in the modern age of the internet?
Well for me, they are a bit more special than most of the disposable ten-a-penny live sets or podcasts you can find all over the internet. A lot more time and effort goes into crafting them. They should be collector’s items. A tangible memento of a time and a place with an emotional attachment that’s impossible to get from a file on a hard drive. I think it’s one of the very sad consequences of the digital era that record, book, DVD & CD collections will be relegated to characterless files on hard drives. I think there’ll be a backlash against it. Men especially like to collect things. It’s in our genes. And virtual collections just aren’t the same.
You’ve also started up a record label as well, Selador records. Why did you decide to do this again now?
Ha! I’m a glutton for punishment obviously. No, I really love the process of finding new music and putting together a release with remixes and artwork. Much like the mix albums, it’s a labour of love. There’s no real money in it these days but it’s a way of connecting with other like minded artists and promoting the music I love and that I’m playing when I DJ. They’re all intrinsically linked. DJing, music production and running a label – they all feed one another.
What is the vision exactly for the label, and where do you see it heading; is there a long term goal for it? What makes it different from the labels you have been involved with in the past? And can you tell us more about the name?
The name is adapted from a section of the film Donnie Darko where they talk about the most beautiful sounding combination of syllables in the English language. The sweetest sounds if you like. And as for the vision, I’m actually doing this label together with my old friend Steve Parry so it’s very much a joint venture. We aim to showcase the spectrum of electronic music we both love. So it could range from downtempo wonky electronica through big deep house and funky techno. The only real overriding rule is that it will be all of an underground nature but other than that it really could be whatever takes our fancy.
Moving aside from these personal projects, how has your DJing year been so far?
It’s been a good start to the year actually. I had a few things in South America in January which is always a nice way to kick off the New Year. Cordoba in Argentina was especially good playing in a disused old factory until the sun came up; really memorable. I also did a crazy party in Finland with Danny Howells & Fatboy Slim which was held in an indoor waterpark. It was minus 15 degrees outside yet every single person inside was in swim shorts or bikinis. All very surreal.
You’ve also just played at the Gallery at Ministry. What are your thoughts on the possibility of a club that represents such a huge part of the history of the music in this country facing closure?
I can’t believe we’re still talking about this after it’s been thrown out of court twice but I suppose some people will stop at nothing in the pursuit of money. The Ministry Of Sound is a clubbing institution and a huge tourist attraction for young people visiting London. The last thing we need in its place is another tower block of apartments. But like I said, it’s all about the money isn’t it, some big developer trying bully their way so they can make more of it. It reminds me of the Donald Trump documentary You’ve Been Trumped which managed to capture all that’s gone wrong with capitalism. Blood boiling stuff; I hate it.
We’ve also noticed a gig stateside in Seattle next month. What’s your take on the way America has ‘embraced’ dance music in recent times, and with the likes of Sasha and DJ Sneak putting across extremely strong opinions on ‘EDM’, do you have an opinion on it?
It’s certainly not for me. I find most of it excruciating to listen to. But I’m a firm believer in there being room for everybody. If there’s an audience for something then let them get on with it. It’s just another phase we’re going through in the battle of underground versus overground and it probably won’t be long before the backlash begins. In the same way the ‘Disco Sucks’ thing took hold in the 70s.
Having been a part of the club based electronic music scene since its first explosion how does this current surge of popularity over in the US compare?
It really doesn’t compare at all to the first ‘acid house’ explosion. That was subversive and counter-cultural. I’d say it’s more akin to the popularity of trance in the UK in the late 90s. It’s cheap, lowest common denominator and commercially driven to the masses. A bit like MacDonald’s!
Looking further afield, you’re a DJ that still plays across the globe frequently in various continents. What are your favourite places to play across the globe, and do you get much chance to embrace the culture of where you visit?
I don’t get as time as I used to these days. I’ve got a young family now so I always try to get the latest flight out and the first flight back to spend as much time as possible with them. But occasionally I still might spend an extended period somewhere if I’ve got a mini tour on or something. India was the last real place I got a real culture shock from. It’s fast developing as a big destination for electronic music too. But as I said earlier Argentina is still the number 1 clubbing destination in the world for me right now along with Mexico. I always have the best times in both those countries.
And finally, what else lies in the future for you?
Well the Kickstarter album is first on the agenda. That will take up much of my time through April and May. And also, the label launch will be keeping me busy too but other than that, I’m looking forward to doing more stuff in Ibiza again this summer with things lined up at Pacha, Bora Bora and one or two Mambo sunsets. The return of Glastonbury is flashing brightly on the horizon too. Can’t wait to get back there and do another one of my afterhours things. That’s so much fun.