The DJ and producer that has firmly broken through in to the World of Breakbeat this year is firmly in the hands of one man – the one and only sHack, Elite Force. Not only winning the Breakspoll Best Producer Award, and being nominated for Best DJ, the man Force also won the coveted Best Label award at this years Breakspoll. Ahead of his sure-to-be stunning set at Southern Sounds Festival on June 11th, the Breakspoll team caught up with him to ask him some all important questions…
You have a musical history with Thom Yorke. How did that come about?
I was at college with Tom back in the late 80s / early 90s. We played in a band together and I took over from him as the main DJ on campus after he left to release the debut Radiohead album.
Are there any tracks when DJing that you always try and fit into your set?
Not every set, no … even if I’m on a tour where schedules are tight & shows are flowing back2 back I always try to vary what I play a fair bit. This weekend just gone I played in Sydney & Auckland and there was a whole hour of music I played in Sydney that I didn’t play in Auckland, despite the latter being a 3-hour set! Sometimes with new tracks that I really want to feature, I’m build a segment of the set around reaching that ‘point’, but there are no fixed rules as far as I’m concerned – that would just make it stale.
How has your music changed since you first started producing?
You only have to look at the way technology has changed in the past 20 years to get an idea of that – what’s more interesting to me is in what ways the fundamentals have stayed the same as that seems to cut more to the core of the creative process. In that sense my music’s always had an organic flow to it I think, which comes from being a musician and from having a certain sympathy with the human feel. The capacity for self-expresssion now is immense in comparison to how it was when I started out, but the capacity to come up with good musical ideas is the same.
If you had to remix a popular rock or acoustic tune, which one would it be?
If I had to, then it wouldn’t be my choice – If I could choose something to remix, I’d probably take on something by Elbow – their music is always impeccably mixed, recorded and realized.
If you could warm up for any DJ in the world, who would it be and Why?
Tricky really as I’m not really cut out for doing warm-up sets … I’d love to say someone old school that I have a lot of admiration for like Laurent Garnier, but I’d probably say Bassnectar, because musically I think it would work pretty well.
Did you always know that music would be your calling in life?
Yes I did – from when I was 9 years old & I broke my elbow pretty badly, I’ve been set on a musical course. I started learning piano by then & by the time I was 14 had completed all my grades & by then there was no turning back.
Which vocalist would you like to work with?
Karl Hyde from Underworld, Shara Nelson, Diane Charlemagne, Edwin Starr, Nat King Cole, Mark Linkous, Kim Gordon, Mark E Smith, Aretha Franklin, Jay Dee, Tom Waits, Ray Charles.
What’s in store for your fans in 2011?
Loads of shows for a start – I’ve been smashed solid with gigs this year, which has been awesome, but I’m looking for some respite after Burning Man this summer when I’ll be taking 6 weeks away from the travel grind. I have an album coming out in June called ‘Shockland’ which features extended mixes of tracks written alongside with Oscar-winning composer, Klaus Badelt, for the Playstation game ‘Motorstorm Apocalypse’. Then my label U&A releases two compilations under the banner ‘United & Anarchic’ later in the summer featuring excluives from many of my friends and artists on the label. The plan beyond that is to work on some collaborations directly with Klaus Badelt, and to properly immerse myself in a new artist album for release in 2012, when I’m also contemplating putting together more of a live show.
Any advice you would like to give out to newcomers?
You need a proper work ethic to succeed in this business, and you need to be willing to play the long game. It’s incredibly rare for someone like Sonny (Skrillex) to come along and smash it overnight … for most people it’s a labour of love over many years, for which there’s little or no financial reward for much of that time. You need to make serious sacrifices with your time, especially when you are starting out. Most people I speak to are frustrated because they job takes up all their time & they spend just a few hours a week on music. That’s not even nearly enough – quite your job, learn your trade & change your life.
What was the best gig you played in the last six months?
Winter Festival in Spain back in February was pretty cool, as was Breakspoll, and both shows this weekend just gone in Auckland & Sydney were wicked.
What are your favourite 3 tracks of all time?
I’m not really one for lists or charts these days and these things vary on a daily basis anyway but today I’ll say Beck – Blackhole, Massive Attack – Angel and Joy Division – The Eternal.
What do you do outside of dance music?
I spend as much time as I can in the great outdoors, working on my farm down in Kent with my family.
If you could stage a rave anywhere, where would it be and why?
That’s already taken care of by Burning Man in Nevada. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it – the best party / gathering on the planet by a country mile.
When was the first time you visited Ibiza? Was it to holiday or to DJ?
LOL. What makes you think I’ve ever been anywhere near Ibiza?! The very idea of it fills me full of dread, although I’m sure I’d probably quite enjoy it if I was booked to play there sometime.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in a DJ Booth?
I stumbled once in the DJ booth in the middle of pulling a foolish ‘rave move’, lost my footing, flew down the stairs to the side, grabbed at the door handled and inadvertantly fell out into the street with the door closing behind me. Trying to explain to the bouncers what had happened (in a foreign language) wasn’t easy so I had to text the promoter to come & get me back in before the tune finished.
Other than the usual software/hardware, what else do you consider to be a studio essential?
A door that locks from the inside to keep the pets and my daughter out when I’m working!
Would you ever try to experiment with genres other than tech/funk or breakbeat?
I always have done as you’ll hear on my artist albums over the years. I’m not interested in genre-pigeon-holing. It might be good for a few callow internet geeks, but for the rest of the world it’s just music.
What is your tip for tune of Summer 2011?
The Loops of Fury – I Need [U&A Recordings]
What are your plans for the summer besides playing at festivals?
I have at least 6 weekends of shows in the US this summer (much the same as last year) … some are Festivals, some are ‘Massives’ and some plain club shows. I’m also especially looking forward to playing at Kazantip in Ukraine in August and also hosting my second Boat Party in London which is well on it’s way to selling out as it did last year > http://www.eliteforcemusic.com/boatparty2011.htm
Any shout outs to your fans at Southern Sounds 2011?
Bring the Noize & be sure to hit me up on Facebook beforehand to grab some free downloads > http://www.facebook.com/djeliteforce