CC:DISCO! Interview: A tune is a tune

CC:DISCO! spoke with Becca Frankland about the appeal of playing not-so-guilty pleasures, slow dancing with bouncers, the importance of radio and much more.

Becca Frankland

Last updated: 6th Apr 2018.
Originally published: 3rd Apr 2018

Melbourne's Courtney Clarke aka CC:DISCO! cut her teeth on the airwaves, starting out at her local community radio station aged just 15. She can now count her 'Smoke and Mirrors' weekly slot on local institution PBS FM, her own party Club Coco, a compilation LP and a massive European tour as just some of her successes. 

Thanks to her sophisticated selections of disco, house and boogie cuts, she has rapidly become one of the scene's most stimulating new breakthrough DJs. Effortlessly crossing over from the radio to the main stage, it's made her one of Australia's finest dance music exports. 

A tastemaker with an infectious energy that ignites dancefloors, CC:DISCO! has played sets at Dimensons, XOYO, DGTL Festival and Strawberry Fields, even supporting Mall Grab as a part of his Non Stop Feeling tour. All the while she has kept her foot in the radio door, with standout guest slots on the likes of NTS, Red Light Radio and Dublab. 

February 2018 saw her release First Light, a 12-track compilation on the Soothsayer label. Featuring unreleased tracks from emerging Antipodean artists, they were all secured by Courtney through chance meetings, fan-girl moments and relentless back-and-forth emails.

Keen to exude an ethos of fun and genuine enjoyment rather than musical rigidness, and standing by her mantra 'Less chin-stroking, more dancing', you'll find an irresistible CC:DISCO!-led party coming to a dancefloor near you soon. We caught up with her ahead of the Liverpool leg of the tour. 

 

You’ve been on the radio since you were younger, and as a platform it’s really healthy in dance music at the moment, specialist stations are increasingly popular and are helping catapult the careers of up-and-coming DJs through association. Why do you think that radio is still so important? 

Yeah, I really love radio, it's been a huge part of my life and I hope it always will be. Radio has a special connection with people that other platforms can't create. Having a show on an FM band as well as internet gives you a unique relationship with your audience because you’re talking to such mixed group of people in so many different environments.

I really love it and I feel like it's played such a big role in my career. It also keeps you fresh, I'm always searching for new and exciting music so it’s great for DJing because it makes you really dig a bit deeper. 

Although you’ve been DJing on the radio for 18 years, you’ve only been DJing in clubs for 9 years or so. What were the first major differences you noticed in how you played when you started in clubs, and how difficult was it making the transition? 

I guess it's playing in front of crowds which is the main shift, it was quite hard to get over the nerves initially. I love talking on the radio because it’s just me alone in the studio but, up until maybe a year ago, I was always so nervous when I was playing out. I mean, the first gig I did I was shaking so bad... and I will never forget that.

It does happen from time to time, I still get really nervous but when you see the connection on the dance floor in real life it’s an amazing feeling. You have to feel what crowd wants, which is a bit different to radio because you can play whatever you like.   

Who was the first DJ you saw play who made you think that this was the job for you? What DJs have influenced you?

The person who inspired me to do what I do was a lady, and now dear friend, in Melbourne called YO MAFIA. She was playing hip hop and she just blew me away and turned around to my friends and said, '"Fuck it, I want to DJ, I want to be as good as her one day." The great thing is now she's a good friend and basically a mentor to me. 

Other DJs who have influenced me are Rahaan, Theo Parrish, Jnett, Sadar Bahar. So many, too many to name really.

It's really great to see an abundance of female DJs making waves at the moment, it seems like there’s been a shift, but it sometimes seems to be predominantly techno (or harder-edged) artists picking up traction. Could you tell me about a few disco and house female DJs I might not have heard of yet? 

Yeah there's loads. Kamma, Adi Toohey, Haai, Jnett, K Hand, Pennje, Whiskey Houston, Moxie, Andy Garvey, Colette, Touching Bass, Mafalda, Josey Rebelle, and Sassy J are just some.

Your First Light compilation, in which you're currently touring, features unreleased tracks from emerging Australian and New Zealand artists. Why did you decide to put a compilation together using lesser-known acts and what was the processes behind sourcing the artists and tracks? 

I think it’s always important to help future producers and DJs. I love to develop my own backyard, it's part of a DJ's role, to promote future muso's and producers. 

I like that I was able to do this comp and showcase what's going on in Australia and give people a taste of some of the younger producers coming through. It was a million emails back forth over a year, so much stalking on Soundcloud and drunken conversations at festivals and clubs. 

I couldn’t find any of your own productions online, apart from a couple of remixes, is this something you want to get more in to?

I did teach myself how to use Ableton years ago and I have made some tunes over the years but I've never been great at it. My main love is DJing and I think to me that's what I want to get better at, I'd rather just be a better DJ and not put music out for the sake of it. Maybe one day, but for now DJing and radio are my main loves.

The tour is pretty extensive, how have you been finding being on the road? What’s been the best and worst experience so far? 

It's been great, I mean I haven't actually had a break at all since October 2017 but I'm two months into my Australia, NZ, UK, EU tour and honestly, I haven't had a bad show yet.

Every Australian show was incredible and then playing XOYO, Djoon, Stealth, Sub Club, DGTL... it's actually shocked me how people know who I am. It's mind-blowing to be honest, as I'm legit from other side of the world. No bad experiences, only when the bouncers in Paris and Russia wouldn't slow dance with me hahaha.

What’s next for CC:DISCO! after the tour?

I head back in May and straight back in shows in Australia, I'll be doing all my Club Coco shows over winter, then it's back to Europe baby! I'm coming back for two months and I can't wait, I really love it over here. 

‘Less chin stroking, more dancing' has become a bit of a mantra and tagline for you after you wore a t-shirt for your Boiler Room with it on. What other quotes or sayings do you stand by or enjoy? 

'A tune is a tune' is my favourite really. Sometimes I play well-known tunes in sets because I love them and I think people think it's cheesy sometimes but really there is no difference in songs just because they were pop compared to some rare African thing. Getting caught up in 'only play tunes people don't know' is not my game. 

How are you with B2Bs, have you done many? 

You know, it's funny, I only did my first B2B two years ago. I've always found it really scary because it's actually is a whole new skill set to do a B2B well, and I've seen some bad ones so it put me off initially.

My very first one was actually with my mate Harvey Sutherland and since then I have done a few. I actually ended up going B2B with Denis Sulta and Mall Grab for four hours at Sub Club which was pretty fun. We went everywhere and I think that's the part I enjoy most with back to backs, taking major genre-jumping chances.

What would be your ultimate B2B?

Someone I would love to do a B2B with one day is Palms Trax, we seem to pick similar music from the same genres. I watched one of his Boiler Rooms and was so taken aback, like weirdly surprised, by the similarities in genres and tracks. I think it would be a fun combination and would work well alongside each other.

What is your favourite city to buy records in? 

America is the best place for me really. That cheap $1 boogie vibe. Otherwise, France is great and also I've always found some really cool stuff in Turkey.

And finally, as an avid tweeter, who would you recommend we follow on there? 

Donald Trump. You'll feel good about yourself, honestly, that guy's tweets are something else. 

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