Jasmine Phull talks to DJ Friction ahead of his Global Gathering slot about festival season, Shogun Audio, and why a laptop is the last thing you'll see at one of his shows.
Ed Keeley was born and raised in Brighton, UK and as DJ Friction it’s also where he’s based. Asked whether he’d uproot for the good of his music, we’re told his music doing pretty well where it is.
Founder of one of the most highly regarded Drum and Bass labels, the Shogun Audio imprint manger splits his time between producing and DJing. Having taken a break from producing, it was only recently that Keeley decided it was high time that he got back on board.
Feeling a little uneasy about the laptop DJs basking in unfounded praise, the UK artist wants to assure his listeners that a laptop is the last thing they’ll be seeing at one of his shows.
What are you currently looking forward to?
My single ‘Someone’ feat. McLean will be out August 8. It’s been getting good feedback from the clubs so I’m looking forward to that.
Is that single leading up to something bigger? Is there an LP in the near future?
Yea, definitely. It’ll be a full album, Drum and Bass orientated with a few variations here and there.
You run Shogun Audio. What was the decision behind owning your own label?
It was like five or six years ago, which is when my career as a DJ really started taking off. I just thought: everyone has their own label, I need to have my own. Shogun Audio got rolling simply from me putting out tracks that I liked. I wasn’t thinking about big dance-floor smashers or stuff like that. Over the last year we’ve sort of progressed into this multi-genre, multi-style sort of electronic, dance music label. We’ve signed guys like The Prototypes who are a very big dance-floor festival sound. I’ve started making music again. I made tunes originally when I first came through as a DJ but then as the DJ career took off, I didn’t really make much. It’s been the last year that I’ve really been like I’m going to be a producer as well as just a DJ.
What propelled that change?
I was just surrounded by it and thought it was the right time. If I’m honest, I do think the whole act of ‘DJing’ has been cheapened a bit.
Because of the laptops?
- Date: Friday 29th July 2011
- Event: Global Gathering 2011 at Long Marston Airfield
- Venue: Long Marston Airfield
- Artists: Annie Mac, Eddie Halliwell, Andy C, Erol Alkan, Chase and Status, Fake Blood, High Contrast, Sub Focus, Riva Starr, James Zabiela, Gareth Emery, Nero, Skream, Doorly, Above and Beyond, Jaguar Skills, Caspa, Professor Green, Jack Beats, Adam Beyer
Yea. You get these guys standing behind a laptop pretending to mix four tunes at once and lapping it up the appreciation from the crowd. But they’re no really using any skill, they’ve just made a set on Abelton Live or they’re using some program that has it already set up. I was always a DJ and I kind of got into it from watching the old school DJs, like Andy C and Carl Cox, and seeing how great they were at mixing. I just feel the art has been belittled by it all. So that was always in my mind. I love my DJing but I’m standing there trying to mix three tunes at once, sweating my ass off, and the next guy comes along and gets the same reaction without actually doing anything. It’s quite soul-destroying.
Would you ever convert to the laptop?
Wherever technology goes, if you’re going to DJ you’ve got to have the skill. I would be doing myself wrong. It’s just like cheating. I may come to a point where I do use a laptop but I’ll be DJing, ‘cause that to me is the art. It’s a skill and there are so many of my heros that have done it before me that I could never disrespect it.
What are the things you look out for when signing artists?
They’ve got to have the ‘wow’ factor. From Alex Perez to the Prototypes, Rockwell and myself, I feel like every single artist that we have on Shogun has that. Icicles is very sort of minimal, deep dub-steppy sound compared to the Prototypes massive dancefloor, big room sound. Music is very much about emotion to me. I love the way it creates different emotions within you.
How important is visual aesthetic to DJ Friction?
Look it’s all about the show, but when someone isn’t using any talent to DJ that’s a shame…
You’re from Brighton and you’re based in Brighton. How was the music scene evolved over the years?
There’s so much wicked music coming out of Brighton. It’s always been vibrant. I definitely couldn’t live in London, it’s too hectic for me.
Is there anywhere in the world you’d move in order to develop your music?
I don’t think I’d leave here to be honest. I just love it (laughs). I go up to London for meetings and stuff and it’s too ‘hustle and bustle’ for me. I like Brighton’s easy way of life.
What music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to everything really. From the early rave music stuff to Dr Dre to Massive Attack. I am like the most diverse music person. You can hear it in my DJ sets – one minute I’m going crazy and then I’ll switch it down and play some deep stuff... and then back to crazy.
You’ve always been heavily ingrained in the Drum and Bass scene, have you seen it evolve a lot in terms of the different number of genres it incorporates?
Yea... Drum and Bass has always done that though. That’s why I love it because you can run through different styles of music.
How do you feel about festivals compared to club gigs? Is there more pressure at one than the other?
For someone like me, who’s from the underground, you’ll get people who know you for what you do and then those who’ve sort of heard you’re name, if they’re heard good reports about you. That’s why something like Global Gathering is good because the variants of people that see you is massive. I think I’m playing after Casper and before Scrillex.
[Finish this sentence] Playing on stage is like…
the ultimate buzz possible. Sorry that’s shit. (Laughs).
Festival season is underway and you’re currently on tour. How many hours of sleep are necessary for you to function the next day?
There have been times where I’ve found that I’ve literally ended up doing a tour and going without sleep for two days. It’s so bad and I’ve got to stop doing it cause it can’t be healthy.
What’s your sort of fuel?
You just carry on. If you haven’t got an option to stop then you don’t. Say if you’re in America or Oz and there’s quite a big time difference you might have to jump on a plane and head straight to the sound check. Sometimes I’m just on auto-pilot. (Laughs).
The one thing that’s always in your festival knapsack?
Spare trainers. Absolutely, important.
Yea... I don’t really do the wellies. I’m not really down with the welly look.
DJ Friction plays at Global Gathering this weekend. Tickets are still available below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event