Daniel Avery's DJ-Kicks Mix Captures Everything He Finds Exciting About Techno Right Now
The British producer tells us about the ambient and drone-influenced techno that excites him as we premiere a new Rote track from the forthcoming release.
Album art courtesy of the artist.
Ten years ago, Daniel Avery relocated to London from his coastal hometown of Bournemouth, and happened upon Trash—a riotous weekly event held by the DJ Erol Alkan. The party was in its final days by that point, but it had a pivotal influence on Avery's DJing style; over a Skype interview last week, Avery tells me that he admired Alkan's ability to "draw a line between music from loads of different shelves... without it feeling forced in any way."
In 2012, five years after the end of Trash, Avery went on to release on Alkan's Phantasy label. A fabriclive mix compilation soon followed later that year, along with frequent guest spots at fabric nightclub itself, thrusting Avery firmly into the center of London's club scene. It was only in the following year, though, that Avery got his real big break with his debut album Drone Logic—it distilled influences from 90s big beat, funk-driven techno, acid house and beyond into a sound all his own.
These days, Avery's own productions and DJ sets are now pushing forward a different club sound compared to his early electro and acid-tinged output, marked by loop-driven, distinctly dark techno—music that he described to me as "hypnotic" and "psychedelic." It's a shift that is most succinctly captured in his forthcoming contribution to !K7's ongoing DJ-Kicks series. Here, new productions of his sit alongside brooding material from techno luminaries such as Planetary Assault Systems and Rrose, as well as newer names like the Northern Electronics label's Ulwhednar and Dutch producers Artefakt.
One of the new tracks in Avery's DJ-Kicks mix—"Look In Your Eyes" by Rote (the collaborative duo of Avery and longtime friend Volte-Face)—is premiering above. With the mix out on November 11, we caught up with Avery to discuss what excites him most about today's techno scene, and how fabric helped to launch his career. You can catch Avery playing a 6 hour DJ set at London's Phonox on 30th October, tickets available HERE
THUMP: It seems that a large proportion of the music you're interested in right now, including on this mix, is coming from a specific school of techno—like music from the Northern Electronics camp, for example. What is it that draws you to this sound?
Daniel Avery: I think they are the perfect example of something special that is happening right now. It's all grounded in techno, but also takes elements of ambient and drone music, as well as glitchier sounds. It all comes together and creates something that sounds very new—it's absolutely hypnotic. A lot of it is quite abrasive, but none of it seems aggressive. It all has an element of deepness to it.
In the music you play out then, are you looking to avoid aggression in techno and lean more towards music that has a more complexly emotional quality?
Absolutely. As a DJ, it's way more important if I can look out into a crowd several hours into a set and see people with their eyes closed lost in a moment and overwhelmed by the music rather than wild-eyed and pumping fists. I'm way more interested in that idea of getting locked into a different world for hours and hours.
What's your ideal scenario when it comes to playing in clubs?
The music that I want to play really resonates with playing a longer set. It also allows you to take more chances. In the last two years, I feel I've seen a real shift towards people wanting longer sets and less disruption in a night. I've recently been playing a lot of long sets of around seven or eight-plus hours, and they are absolutely the ones where people respond the most to what you're doing. People just want to get lost in something where their attention isn't diverted constantly by changes of pace or elements of a night that don't work.
Are there specific DJs you have found influential on your going forward?
Right now, somebody that is hugely impressive is DJ Nobu from Tokyo. He's someone who has a background in noise bands but plays techno in his DJ sets, and you can hear those elements of his noise background creeping through. You feel like when you go to see him, you can see him play for up to 24 hours and not get bored. He will just have complete control of the whole thing. Some other DJs I will also always watch are people like Donato Dozzy, Blind Observatory, Peter Van Hoesen, Silent Servant...
There are some new, original tracks of yours in the DJ-Kicks mix. Were they made with the specific intention of being featured on the compilation?
With "Space Echo," which closes the mix, I knew that I wanted to end on that note, so that came extremely quickly after the mix was confirmed. "Mechanical Sky" was also made specifically because I knew that I wanted to have something with a slightly relentless groove to it at that specific point in the mix. It was a big deal for me to make something that I felt flowed—everything has to feel connected beyond just the beats matching.
With the DJ-Kicks series being a recorded mix for commercial release, were the limitations of only being able to license certain music for inclusion an issue?
I had a very short timeframe in which to make this mix for various reasons, so from start to finish, I put it all together in around four weeks, including licensing. I knew it would be extremely tight but the licensing therefore wasn't too difficult a process, because everything I wanted to feature related to what I am playing in my sets in some way. There is so much underground electronic music that I have been finding exciting right now that all comes from small labels. The mix ended up as something that represents what I play, but also represents a scene I am really invested in.
You hosted your Divided Love residency at fabric before the club's closure. How do you see the future of London's club scene at the moment?
2016 has felt like one long kick in the teeth. But whatever happens with fabric—and I sincerely hope it reopens because it's such a supportive and loving community—it's representative of the wider world of electronic music, which of course can, but never will, die. fabric was so important to me—I don't like saying it in a past tense like that, but I have to for now—because they booked me when nobody knew who I was. They let me warm-up for Andrew Weatherall, and then they gave me the fabriclive CD because, I guess, they saw something in me. That launched everything for me. fabric would do that not with just me, but loads of people. It isn't the only club to do it, but it's definitely one of the best at it.