When THUMP gets ahold of DJ Harvey, he tells us that he's had to miss his morning surf because he was up late, packing for his journey from Los Angeles to the London Electronic Arts Festival. Harvey's brief visit to his home turf has come about for two reasons. First, he's DJing to a devoted crowd of acolytes as part of LEAF's Saturday night programme. Harvey's also taking part in a tête-à-tête with festival organizer Rob Da Bank. "Me and Rob have some history," Harvey tells us. "I was there when he was starting Sunday Best down at the Tea Rooms. Since then, we've supported each other. I like to call ravers over the age of 50 'silverbacks', or 'gravers', and I think we both definitely fit into that category."
Harvey seems entirely comfortable with performing role of elder statesman. "I've certainly done my time in the trenches," he says. "I was looking the other day and I found a press clipping from 1978, from the time I danced for 24 hours in a sponsored dance for my local youth club. That was getting on for forty years ago."The effect of time on dance music is something that often occupies DJ Harvey's thoughts. As a DJ he plays the same disco music he always has, only now it is for a new generation seemingly obsessed with retrofitted dance music. "I was just watching a video of young DJ who is 'really happening' and all his music is from 25 years ago," Harvey explains. "It got me thinking, in 1976 was I playing something from 1949? No I wasn't."
Music, especially nowadays, seems perpetually caught between progression and regression. This all fits into Harvey's very own "end of the future" theory: "It is the point when development stops. Whatever the product may be it will often start to point in a retro direction. The Ford Mustang was looking worse and worse up until 5 or 6 years ago, and then they made one that looked like an old one and it sold more than any other model."With ideas and opinions on everything from vinyl sales to the atomic bomb, Harvey and Rob's conversation could go any which way. Harvey's knows as much as we do. "I don't know how it will go," he says. "Maybe I will recline in a psychiatrist's chair enduring some hypnotherapy that conjures up a past life in which I was Rob Da Bank's lover in Shanghai back in the 1760s."
Before any repressed memories from past incarnations blight our opportunity for more wisdom from the man, we thought it best to get to the core of Harvey's ethos via his ten commandments of awesome.
ON BEING A BRIT IN AMERICA…Use your accent to get chicks.ON SURFING…It doesn't really matter how good or bad at surfing you are, it's how you enter the water and how you leave the water, because that's what all the girls on the beach can see. You want a nice hair flick, a pointy shiny surfboard, and the sun glistening off your beer gut.ON MAINTAINING YOUR HAIR…Pure beef fat AKA lard.ON THE TRACK THAT CAN SAVE A NIGHT…There isn't one. If I had one track that saved the floor I wouldn't have a second one.ON GETTING LUCKY…Just give up man. Usually by the time I'd completely given up - hadn't showered for three days, hadn't cleaned my teeth, dirty underpants, odd socks, stood in the corner smoking a cigarette and drinking a warm Carlsberg - that's when the most beautiful woman in the room would walk up to me and say come on let's go.
ON DANCE FLOOR STRATEGIES…Do your best moves at all times, no let up. Oh and don't spill your drink, that's no-no.ON STARTING A LABEL…Just do it, think of a silly name like 'Award Winning Records', pick yourself a logo, make some music, tell your mates and give some promos to DJs. It's not rocket science anymore.ON HANDLING YOUR SUBSTANCES…A friend of mine appeared on the 6 O' Clock news in LA the other week. He was driving whilst high so had pulled over to take a rest, only he then fell asleep while lighting a cigarette. The car he was in caught on fire, and that then set fire to the three police cars parked next to him. He got out of the car and was beaten down by the cops. I think he said he had a bomb on him, probably because he hadn't slept for 3 days at the time. I was in a cab coming home from New York, saw this on the news and thought 'oh my God, ISIS have hit Orange County!' But it turns out it was my buddy. So I think, easy does it. Less is more.
ON DRESS CODE…Style is everything. There are stylish Rastas, stylish skinheads and stylish older gentlemen. I keep it in mind whether I'm going for dinner with my girlfriend, going to a rock concert, going shopping or going to the gym. By the way I've never been to the gym. If I did I would probably pull out all the stops and wear a wife beater, then maybe some strange tie-dye pajama bottoms.ON PREPARING FOR A DJ SET…My pre show ritual used to be a bottle of Jack Daniels and some painkillers but these days I'm more likely to recommend a cup of tea and an edition of The Real Housewives of Orange County. It makes you feel good about yourself.DJ Harvey doesn't do social media but you can see him in person today and tomorrow at LEAF.Angus Harrison, does, and can be found on Twitter