There has been much written about the first ever mix compilation on the German powerhouse label Innervisions, who are the undisputed kings of injecting soul into techno. With Dixon and fabric 42’s Âme at the helm, their imprint has emerged as one of electronic music’s biggest success stories from the early naughties. A label that is as much an artistic installation in its appearance and musical construction as it is a business venture and economic entity in its simplest form.
Dixon’s latest project has been met with an anticipation rarely associated with a label-released compilation. Hitting stores on the 26th October, Temporary Secretary is the first mix compilation from Dixon since his critically acclaimed Body Language Vol. 4 - we decided to catch up with the firm EC1 favourite...
What better way to kick off the interview than a question on the lips of everybody (well….maybe not everybody)…if you had to employ a secretary, from the music world, for a temporary period who would you choose?
Whoever is in charge as product manager for Radiohead – he should work for me 3 months and then actually teach me, more then working for me.
Back to business, ‘Temporary Secretary’ is the first straight up mix compilation to be released on Innervisions, a landmark for you?
Yes. We rarely do CDs at Innervisions, and whenever we do something it is (in our eyes) something special.
You have dabbled with comps before on a more experimental tip, The Grandfather Paradox a good example, what’s the inspiration behind this mix? Do you feel you have to put out a more conformist album?
No. The difference is the approach. On Grandfather Paradox, we tried to make a timeless CD with music from different genres and decades. This idea of this mix CD is the capture this very moment. My summer 2009.
The label has established itself as one of the most innovative and well-respected on the planet - has it turned out the way you wanted since pulling away from ‘daddy’ label Sonar Kollektiv way back when?
Yes. Totally. The most important for us was to have full control and especially – to take the risk with all its meaning (money…). That’s what we have now. It sometimes hurts but that’s what it is when you do YOUR thing.
‘Temporary Secretary’, a reference to a Paul McCartney track right? Tell us more about your decision on the title?
It comes back to the concept of the CD. It contains some of my special moments of this summer. So it’s a very temporary thing. Secretary because I act like a secretary in the moment that I put all the effort into a mixed cd. I do the work while the fan that pays for me (or the cd) is the boss. Well – kind of. And then Kristian from Âme remembered the title of that Paul McCartney song and we thought - that fits perfect.
You have re-worked almost every track on the album, does that make the process of the selecting the original tracks even more difficult because the creative possibilities are endless?
Of course. It affects the selection in many ways. Starting with checking which tracks I would get my hands on because I have a close connection to the artist. Then a CD like this should have acts on it, that maybe surprise and therefore are not out of my usual surrounding. And that means I need to find tracks that really make sense to tweak them. Just a kick underneath a track does not make it better (in most cases).
Does the tune selection represent what people can hear when you DJ or does it explore the depths of Dixon further?
No, I do not have a residency right now and therefore I mostly play prime time spots - and that means 2-3 hour sets. If I play longer sets then you get all sides of me and I would say more the vibe of the CD, from slow to uptempo. But obviously on a CD is not as much time, so the progress from slow to uptempo is much faster.
If you could choose one track in the world to re-edit that isn’t a ‘house’ or ‘electronic’ track, what would it be?
Right now I would like to get my hands on the parts of Tortoise “gigantes”. Oh – wait – I have my hands on it already….
There’s a progressive nature to the mix, starting off with almost a Balearic feel, Icasol, Fever Ray ending up with the techno influenced yet experimental Tokyo Black Star - an intentional move we presume?
Of course – for me this CD is a listening object and not just a compilation of dance tracks that by their name are for a special purpose – these are tracks that you should dance to. So a CD with pure dance bangers is somehow senseless for me. I'd rather take people on a little journey that includes dance material in a special way.
Many compilations feature an unmixed CD or free DVD, yet your simple format has received far more anticipation than the majority...what makes yours so special in your opinion?
That none of the tracks – or at least 90 % of them – are available like this anywhere else in the world. You like the Fever Ray track? Well – listen to the original – it's totally different. Or the Junior Boys track, or the Jazzanova, or the Code 718….
I read somewhere that you don’t allow people to record your sets...does this make the CD that much more special? Similar to seeing you DJ - an experience, an anticipation?
I very much believe in the magic of moments when it comes to music. The first time I heard Lil Louis “I called U” is still connected to the couple of friends I was on that party with, to the DJ that played it, to the smell of the club, to that amazing soundsystem it was played on. I can still – after all this years – remember this. With all these sets online and the youtube clips, people don’t get these moments, or feelings, anymore. They work or study and meanwhile they listen to the new mix from DJ XYZ. The mix is maybe good and contains some good tunes but they will listen to it 5 more times, maybe even download the tracks they like from the mix, but it is used while they do their day to day business. Therefore the impact of a great record is very little on them. That’s why I don’t like my sets recorded. I want people to hear certain tracks in my sets in action (for the first time). I want them to remember that special moment. Also, I don’t want people to expect certain records from me 'cause I seem to play them right now. Come by, be surprised, love it, hate it. But experience it! Don’t think you know just because you heard it online!
Rumour has it the CD will be accompanied by a series of LP’s featuring tracks from the album, please tell us this is true?!
Well, there will be one EP coming with 3 tracks from the CD. It will be the INNERVISIONS 24 and you have to find out what is on there…
If you could only play one track from the mix in your next set, which would you choose? And which track would you play at home whilst you cooking dinner?!
Club: Butane “Inferno Jack (Kalabrese Mix)”
Cooking: Fever Ray – “If I Had A Heart (Dixon Edit)”
You're creating a film score for a movie aren’t you? Tell us more about that…
Every year, the Timewarp festival is asking someone to perform a soundtrack live to an old German silent movie classic. We (Âme, Schwarz, Dixon) will do this in 2010 and the movie is an old Fritz Lang movie.
Make sure to see Dixon do his thing in Room One on 12 December.