In Conversation
Dave Clarke & Mr Jones Discuss The Art Of Off-Apex Listening

Despite being counted as one of the top ranking artists in techno, Dave Clarke has always kept intensely strong links to the upcoming echelons of the scene and, as a result, he's one of the rare breed of DJs who've made it to the top and are still able to fully set their own agenda. Over the course of a lengthy career that's probably best counted by the decades, Clarke's constantly supported the techno community through his legendary White Noise radio show - which, coincidentally, has just broadcast it’s 500th episode. It's the best and most immediate example of Clarke’s tireless enthusiasm for the music; with him playing quality productions from an array of producers that can range from the completely unknown to much more established names.

Amsterdam's Jonas Uittenbosch (aka Mr Jones) is one of those [formerly] unknown producers who has benefited directly from Clarke's fervent support. After meeting at the Dutch city’s annual electronic music industry happening, ADE, Jones was invited to Clarke’s studio - an invitation that ignited a creative relationship which mutually benefited the pair when their production partnership coerced the first studio output from Clarke in over ten years when the duo released the first shot from their _Unsubscribe_ project, the Spek Hondje EP, for our own Houndstooth label back in 2013. Uittenbosch had already begun work on his debut album around this time but with Clarke as his mentor his first LP, entitled Sounds For The Mute, has just been released on The Public Stand last Friday. The title track might already be familiar with Clarke's followers considering that it’s long been a prominent feature in his club sets, but the album really succeeds in showcasing Uittenbosch's own expression and his industrial leaning toward raw, dancefloor music.

With the two friends and studio partners preparing to share the stage with a special back to back set this coming weekend, we linked with the pair over a beer to engage them on the dynamics of their relationship and exactly what can be expected when the pair go back to back this Saturday night in Room Two.

So... Mr Jones... your album just came out. Can you tell us a little bit about the working method? Was there a specific concept behind it?

Mr Jones: The album is really about me and my musicality, it was a really long process and was recorded over a few years.

What kind of equipment and studio gear did you use?

MJ: Different kinds but mostly sampled stuff from my own collection of drum samples, synths and acid lines. I’ve also sampled sounds from the street - anything I thought was interesting, I just recorded it on my phone and took it home.

Dave, How do you think the 'Mr Jones' sound has evolved over the past few years since you first discovered his music?

Dave Clarke: Well, he's gone from calling his tracks ‘zoom’ to actually giving them names and adaptations of Queens of the Stone Age [titles] but, more seriously, his sound has been becoming less of a track to having a beginning, an end and a middle which is kind of interesting.

He's obviously learned a massive amount off me of which will obviously be reflected in the royalty rate that I'll be getting... I taught him everything he knows about tape reverb and stuff like that but seriously its moved along and it's become - I don't want to say more mature, because he still wears shorts - but you know what I mean… [laughs]

What qualities do you admire about each other?

DC: Stroking his moustache. He spends ages and ages stroking his moustache like he's deliberating over some sort of philosophical content and luckily he's of the age that his moustache doesn't get eroded by such fervent stroking.

"I'm on a good path but I do know that you have to be capable of a lot of things nowadays. You have to be aware of your promotion, communication and all the other stuff that goes with it." - Mr Jones

And what about the studio side of things?

DC: He's always like an eager puppy. He's always got his eyes open looking to learn. Whenever I'm touching compressors and stuff I'll see his head around the corner seeing what I’m doing and why I'm doing it. He's always looking to absorb. And he’s taken on my mode of working which sometimes can mean chilling for a little bit. I've learned to not be so hard core on myself and he's learned not to be so hard core about that, so sometimes we chill which gives us more of a flurry of activity in one go.

MJ: The workflow especially... I used to like to work on a project or a track in less than a day but now I spread it more over a few days; I relax more and give it time to progress and grow. Then of course how to use the hard core hardware equipment and why he uses stuff. I use stuff in the box and now I know why I'm using it and how to use it properly. The more technical stuff - that's what I've been missing.

DC: And also one of the other things that I taught Jones was to listen to off the centre of speakers - so off apex in a way. And even round the corner, because if it sounds good round the corner it's also going to sound good in your face. And also to take a break and not actually feel bad about it, that might actually include vacuuming or doing something around the studio that isn’t to do with music. Then come back to it and listen to it with a fresh set of ears as opposed to bombarding them all the time.

How do you perceive breaking through as an artist today as opposed to back in the day?

DC: It depends what kind of artist you want to be. What's available now as a DJ is a vast term of a capability - and I'm being generous - it’s much bigger than what it was. We used to have to battle to call ourselves DJs in a way and now DJing is open to a large and different set of genres so you can actually, if you want to be, not be in it for a music and just be in it to be a pop star and that's very, very easy.

What I've also noticed is a lot of people that were credible have seemed to have tried to find a middle ground where they're not so credible any more but want to make more money. So it's a lot more about money than what it was which doesn't mean you have to be like that but I see a lot of people change with money and I think you can have a very good earning a very good living in this industry doing what you believe in. I don't think you have to change who you are and sell your soul but that's something that has really happened over the last six or seven years since the proliferation of the DJ Mag Top 100 and fake vote buys, fake Facebook likes and fake Soundcloud listens all bought in advance by PR companies. It's an investment in fakery that wasn't happening before. There was a lot more hard graft. I don't want to sound bitter because everything changes and it doesn't mean that it's a horrible world, it's always been a horrible and a good world, it's just that things change.

Would you say that money has changed you?

DC: I've definitely become more relaxed, I don't feel the need to sell myself out and grow implanted hair and be in Ibiza and scratch my balls while pretending to do something technical with a reverb. I don't need to do that, it's not who I am. In Charles Dickens’ time - which is not my time, obviously - there was a term for [having cash reserves] which was basically called 'fuck off money'. What I mean by that is you have enough in the bank where if someone says 'can you please get your cock out and play EDM, Dave?' you can say 'fuck off'.

Jones what's your take on this how have you breaking through?

MJ: I'm not there yet to talk about it. I'm working on it and I'm on a good path but I do know that you have to be capable of a lot of things nowadays. You have to be aware of your promotion, communication and all the other stuff that goes with it.

What would you say to the next Mr. Jones who's now sitting in his bedroom and making beats?

MJ: Keep doing it and believe what you're doing.

Your album is coming out on The Public Stand why did you feel they were a good platform for you?

MJ: Because the label owner really knows good and credible music and besides that gives the artist the freedom and the space to develop.

"...artists are much more powerful now, when they become a brand or when they become established than the label will ever be..."- Dave Clarke

What's your opinion about the quality of labels and platforms for techno producers?

DC: I think that's a wrong question in a way because labels used to be the all-important thing and to be on a label was the beginning of a journey. Now that's not the case at all. Labels are not important in any way shape or form in the same comparison because when everything becomes digital you don't have that continuation of following a label any more. Actually artists are much more powerful now, when they become a brand or when they become established than the label will ever be to some degree.

But a good label is still very good at finding the right people to listen to the music and are good at marketing the artist in a way that the manager might not be good at because managers always want to get to B very quickly from A. A label with a good A&R and a good team can actually plot the path of an artist far more sympathetically to what the artist wants. If you have that sort of relationship with a label then it's worthwhile having but if you don't, then you just go ahead on your own way but labels are not anywhere near as important as they were with like Motown and Underground Resistance. They're just not that important any more. Nobody goes into a record shop as much as they used to and says 'what is the latest thing on such and such a label?' 'What's the latest artist?' Or 'what's the latest sound?'

This year you made your B2B festival debut at Awakenings – how do you prepare for them? Is there much planning that goes into them? How does the enjoyment compare to DJing solo for you both?

DC: No planning. There's no point in planning. The whole point of being an artist, or a pair of artists, is to feel the vibe and to ride the wave of that vibe and create the vibe. You can't prepare for that. Unless of course you're an EDM guy who has a light show with pyrotechnics firing out his anus and you need to know when your anus is going to fire off - that'd be really important. To plan it doesn't make any sense, we understand each other musically and the way we want to go as well and that's why we want to work together. It's that simple.

How did you find it Jones, you've already played at Awakenings on your own before. How was it this time?

Mr. Jones: It was totally different because you know what you're going to do when you play solo. You create the vibe and you create the energy and [going B2B] it's like you have to question each other and then answer. In the first 30 minutes we were searching for that because the last time we played together was in October.

What's the latest from Unsubscribe can we expect to hear some new material any time soon?

DC: Yes, we've got solo releases coming out on Houndstooth in February and we've got solo releases coming out on a German label with some remixes - that's possibly going to be around October of November. We've also got a remix coming out with Crash Course In Science too which will be out very soon.


Saturday 1st August

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