Clubbing megastars 2manydjs will start the countdown to midnight in Birmingham when they headline Gatecrasher on New Year’s Eve.
We caught up with founder Stephen Dewaele to learn about his love of Motorhead, his penchant for white suits and his passion for small clubs in Mexico.
2manydjs are a clubbing institution. You have a reputation for XXXL sets that are big in size, scale and sound. We’re guessing your New Year set will be the biggest and best ever?
(Laughs) Well, you know how we like to surprise people. So, maybe this year, we’ll do something really small. (laughs) No, we’re up for it. It’s going to be huge. This will be our Gatecrasher Birmingham debut and we don’t want to let anybody down. We want to make sure people have a good time and enjoy a great party. People have high expectations – it’s up to us to deliver.
As a DJ, what’s the biggest difference between playing a set on New Year’s Eve, compared with any other night of the year?
Well, to be honest, we don’t do anything any different. People want us to play for a reason and we make sure we don’t let them down. The biggest difference is the crowd. Their expectations are through the roof because it’s the biggest night of the year. New Year’s Eve is the one night in the year when people do drugs – or, in some cases, where they don’t do drugs – it’s the one night of the year where they dress up, it’s the one night of the year where they hit the town. You get a different crowd, it’s not just clubbers, it’s people from all walks of life. The crowd makes a huge effort, so we do as well. We don’t do things differently, but we try to make sure we take into account that the people who are there aren’t necessarily regular clubbers.
And will you be dressed to impress – white suits, shirts and black bow ties?
Man, I love the white suits and bow ties. I hadn’t actually thought about what to wear, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I think we might. It would look cool.
You and David have a reputation for being among the hardest working DJs in clubland, both as 2manydjs and Soulwax. Do you ever slow down?
(Laughs) I wish we did. This year has been crazy. We’ve been mixing a new album, we’ve been on the road. Our life is split between the UK and Belgium, we are based half in one and half in the other. We’ve just got back from a tour of South America. So, no, I guess we never stop.
How do you balance performing as both Soulwax & 2manydjs? And can we ever expect a return of Flying Dewaele Brothers, Samantha Fu or Kawasaki?
I think the point of doing so many different things is that it keeps us on our toes. We need to keep it fresh. One thing plays off another. I mean, you know, you get into a band so that you can get fed up of being in a band. That makes you want to be a dj, so that you can do different things. Having lots of projects keeps us on the edge. It fuels our creativity. Whenever we do one thing, we start to get bored – but that’s okay because there’s always something else to do. I love all of the things we’ve done, because they are different animals. DJing is much easier than being in a live band. It’s fun – and it’s nowhere near as tough.
You’ve said you’ll never release another record - is that true? Is this down to clearance issues?
Well, we’ve been working on another record and maybe we’ll release it. But I don’t know what format it’ll be released on. We are up for the challenge of making a new Soulwax record; maybe it’ll be one long song, or maybe it won’t be a song at all. Look, the thing is this: if I said now that we wanted to do a reggae record, then you can guarantee that further down the line we’d change our mind. So, honestly, who knows. There’s no point trying to pin me down, I can’t even pin myself down to a deadline – though I’d love to.
Instead of a CD you have released 24hrs mixes on Radio Soulwax. Tell us about that?
I think that that came out of an idea to make mix albums of stuff that we liked. We didn’t want to just work on dance, we wanted to do whatever we wanted. So we went for rock, Brazilian music, electronic music and covers that we liked. We accompanied it all with visuals. There used to be album sleeves, which people would associate with music, but that seems less important now. So we wanted to spend time on the visuals too. It’s been quite a success and I think we’ve had 21 million hits and sold 270,000 apps. It’s strange because the record industry has changed. It’s cool to think we’ve had so many hits, but that’s partly because we release our music for free.
And how do you feel about the fact that people can listen to your music – and often you don’t get paid.
That’s the way it is. I think it’s up to us to make it a bit more fun. The fact that people get music without paying creates challenges. I like the evolution. Music could have become too boring and too corporate and it’s up to musicians to come up with new stuff. 24 hours was our way of shaking things up.
The multi-platform aspect of the project of the radio was really important? With mind-blowing visuals, apps etc? Tell us about the process? Who did you work with on this?
The visual aspect has always been very important to us. Especially with the radio, we actually tried to make the visual component a very important element. The visuals had to be bigger and better. I think the idea of us fusing the material that we play and putting it on a screen and animating it seems to be a good thing. I’m wary of bands who don’t do animations or dvds. It’s fun when we play a small gig, because we can do whatever we like. When we’re playing a big gig, we’ll have the visuals lined so, to a certain extent, we’ll know what we plan to play, so that they match up. But there are times when we’ll just play different things, or when we’ll just forget. We adapt. When we were in Columbia and Mexico, we came up with different things for the fans there.
Did the project allow you to explore other aspects of your creativity?
I guess, I’m just into anything that excites me.
You remixed for a bunch of people, like Gorillaz, Klaxons, Kylie Minogue, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem and many more. Any plans to do more of that work?
We haven’t done remixes for a long time, in about a year, mainly because of our radio work. For us, remixes have always been about being able to mash up other people’s music, that’s our motivation, we like to smash it up. It’s a bit like an exercise. The only rule that we is have is that when we do a remix we have to be able to mix it in one of our sets. We have to be able to play it to our audience.
When you play Gatecrasher in Birmingham, you’ll be playing to a huge audience. How much do the clubbers inspire you?
A lot. We respond to them a lot. But I love playing really small places when you can see people, it’s really nice to be able to feed off people, you can tell by their faces if you screwed them up a little bit. I love that. When it’s big gigs, you’re just on stage with two guys. It’s an amazing feeling when you hear the roar, but I still feel it’s crazy that the fans are in awe of a couple of guys on stage. All we are doing is playing other people’s records.
Which djs do you rate?
I like a lot of djs out there, so many man. But at the weekend I like to do something completely different so that I can escape.
Your popularity went through the roof after your mixtape As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2. It mashed up things that nobody had thought of putting together before, from Salt 'N' Pepa's "Push It" to Stooges' "No Fun", and Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman" over 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday” to Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five". Are you proud of that?
I don’t look at it like that. I’m not proud that we managed to bring together such different styles. That’s not what we’re about. We like the attitude of the music most of all. I think in our heads there’s no difference between a really old Chicago house track and hardcore punk – they have the same "fuck you" in the music. That’s the reason why we’ll mash something.
You’ve a legendary record collection. Have you had to rent storage space yet?
(laughs) The record collection is a big, it’s almost embarrassing. We just came back from south America, where we did a tour. I promised we weren’t going to buy any more but we came back with boxes. How many do we have? More than 10,000? Way more, way over that.
And how was South America?
Amazing. It is arrogant to think that people in Mexico wouldn’t react to these things, they have the interent, they have their finger on the pulse. I don’t have one place in the world that I like more or less. The internet makes the world a bit smaller because people in Australia can find out about us. People can just go crazy and react the same way everywhere. People may have different attitudes and trends in different places, but everybody loves music.
The music industry is in a state of flux. What changes do you see on the horizon?
It’ll be interesting to see what is going to happen. Changes in music used to be about creating a new sound. But now it’s more about creating a new way of listening; it’s not just about the music, it’s about it being free, or about it being digital, or being on iTunes. The whole industry has changed completely. Young kids get it, they’ll continue to change things. When I look back at our careers, I see how things are now so different. When we started playing with Soulwax, we’d do a soundcheck and we’d get bored because we were fed up of house music in clubs. Sometimes, we’d play to nine people and eight of them would hate it, but one guy would rip the place up when we’d play The Stooges. We’d think, yes, that’s got to be good. I loved playing the really small clubs because it was so exciting. I relished the spontaneity.
You’re got time to play one last record, before you go, what is it?
I love things that are one-hit wonders, because they drive people crazy. But it would be Ace of Spades, by Motorhead, that would do it for me.
What is the best gig you’ve ever played?
That’s a hard one, no, no, there’s been too many that are memorable – I can’t single out one.
When and where was your best ever new year?
I haven’t had a new year off in the last 15/20 years and they’ve all been amazing in different ways. I can’t imagine not playing on New Year’s Eve, it would be too weird. I’d have to try and find a way of doing something to capture that buzz.
What does 2012 hold for you both?
I just hope that it’s a year that inspires me musically, I just hope we can carry on making music.
Any New Year’s resolutions?
To still be playing this time next year.
Catch 2manyDjs in their Gatecrasher Birmingham debut on New Year's Eve. Tickets cost £45 and are available through Skiddle below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event