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Remembering DJ Despo: The Track That Makes Laura Jones Cry

A candid new addition to our Heartbreakers series from the underground DJ
September 5, 2014, 6:25pm

In the Heartbreakers series, we look at the dance floor tearjerkers that make your night special, whether that's at the height of your high or the plateau. Electronic music has the power to break hearts and this is an appreciation of those songs.

Records mean different things to different people and a lot of it has to do with timing. I first heard "Dream States" courtesy of an old friend of mine Duncan Michael Wilson aka DJ Despo who sadly passed away recently due to a short but heroic and sadly fatal battle with cancer.

It was around the time I was just starting to produce. I'd been DJing a little while and was lucky enough to get a break at some new clubs at that time that have gone on to become some of the UK's most influential underground clubs. Below in Birmingham was one of these parties. Like many great clubs it was and still is a big social event on the raving calendar for my extended group of friends. Especially for those of us who became friends during seasons working in Ibiza and then linking up at nights around the UK like Below, Mulletover or Asylum, Technique and Back To Basics in Leeds. Dunc played the last set at this particular Below and as usual he had the quality control set to 5/5 from start to finish. Then about three quarters of the way through, he played "Dream State" and it felt like a thunderbolt through the brain. I clambered across the decks faster than I even realised was physically possible to find out what it was.


The track is very simple. A hypnotic bell riff that's sound-tracked by a trippy spoken word that's all about confronting your fears. At the time I'd not long recently been diagnosed with what the doctors think is an incurable eye disease. It was a dark period of my life where I'd started to lose my eyesight, I felt totally powerless and along with it felt my dreams of becoming a DJ and producer were rapidly diminishing. Duncan, seeing the effect the track had and how inspired I was by it very selflessly gave me the CD straight away after playing it. Later that morning on the train on the way back from the party to a gig in London I popped the disc into my laptop.

I listened to the track again, this time in the clarity of my own headphones where the track took on a whole new level of profound emotion. My boyfriend actually has a video of me, listening to the lyrics, entranced by the bell riff grinning from ear to ear, with glassy eyes and dancing in my train seat while the rest of the passengers looked over bemused as to why the girl in row 14 was having a rave all to her self. It remains to this day one of the most affecting pieces of music I've ever heard and I have my friend Duncan to thank for this.

I've always been hooked in to melodic riffs and generally the more musical side of electronic underground dance. I think this has to be partly down to my early introduction to classical piano but also because, like most things, life experience. I could easily name a number of dance records that strike an emotional chord with me every time I listen to them, Marionette by Mathew Jonson, Iz-Us by Aphex Twin, Intershop (7) by Dettinger or more recently Free and Easy by Stephen Brown to name a few but Dream States is the one that resonates most and like I said earlier, largely because of timing. Rest In Peace Despo, your talent and musical wisdom lives on.

As celebrations for Fabric's 15 year anniversary continue, Laura will play Fabric on September 13th alongside Visionquest, Phuture and Dave Clarke.

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