Interview with Chris Duckenfield

Nov. 30, 2012

Like DJ History nicely put it Chris Duckenfield is responsible for some of the best house music ever to be made in the UK. Furthermore he is a well respected and very experienced DJ and Burek’s first pick when it comes to DJs. With countless releases and even more gigs behind him Chris is the most suitable person to begin a series of interviews on this blog. With him we discussed music, his distribution and current topics related to music. Lets go.

B: Can you tell us something about your musical preferences? Aswell as DJ and producer? 

C: I guess a stroll through my collection would show a keen bias for Black music, of all varieties, this is what knocks me off my feet, makes me laugh & cry and has soundtracked my life more than anything else. I don't really follow Indie bands or Rock & Roll that much, I hear certain things I like, then usually investigate further, as a teenager I was listening to The Smiths alot, Woodentops, Talk Talk, Talking Heads and lots and lots of Prince etc. They're things I still go back to regularly.

I became a little obsessed with John Martyn recently, my parents were both Soul fans when I was growing up, and didn't really have much of that 60's / 70's singer songwriter stuff in their collections, so it's a world I'm only just opening up to - could be my age I guess!I tend to go through phases where I immerse myself in something completely. 

Hip Hop is and always has been a constant, through thick and thin really, I love Stones Throw's output at the moment, it was through Hip Hop samples that I discovered lots of Disco music, again, immersing myself in that, discovering the Funk that preceeded it, finding out about people like Parliament / Funkadelic and Undisputed Truth in the process

I try to be open to everything that's interesting, made with passion and not too po-faced (the term IDM makes me want to run amock with a cricket bat).I probably spend as much time digging backwards as I do looking forwards, it's a constant obsession !

As a DJ, it's always been a balance between entertainment and showcasing what's new and exciting.

Production - I generally just steal bits from all the above, chop it up, change it up and spit something out of the other side with wildly varying degrees of success.

B: What's your opinion on current trends in clubbing? Is there a global trend going on or it varies regarding countries or regions? 

C: Because of the networked nature of this brave new world, I think it's probably a far more global experience than ever regional variations & preferences surely exist, like accents or languages, but they're often expressed as part of a bigger whole now.

Trends are generally just that, increasingly short lived forks in the road, which sometimes inform and progress the pulsating blob of club culture for the better

B: Do you think that the global economy crisis affected the clubbing scene in the past two years? 

C: Absolutely, I've lived through a few recessions, albeit ones which aren't anywhere near as devastating or writ large as this one is, but generally people want to live a little more when times are hard, which broadly speaking is good news for clubs - although there are probably alot of club owners who would disagree with that naive opinion !

B: As a producer, distribution and ex labels owner, how do you see the future of the independent music business? 

C: The barriers between artist and fan will continue to erode away, meaning the people in the middle who've always been facilitators will increasingly disappear. Lots of attention and funding is being directed at monetizing this new, more open relationship between us all.  It's a new frontier, with all the associated turmoil and lawlessness that implies.

From a distribution perspective, our job is to make sure interesting labels, one-off projects and emerging artists get their music to the right stores on a global level, it's a much smaller scene in terms of physical sales, but it's well informed and passionate. There's definitely been an upward trend in vinyl again recently, more to do with an overall backlash against the slightly soul-less, non tangible nature of buying and selling music digitally I think. Plus lots of new producers see a project being released on vinyl as a means to lifting their head above the crowd a little.

Can I see a future where labels increasingly sell direct to fans ?

Of course, it''s happening already, but in the age of information, knowledge and mystery are valuable commodities, and it's nice to be pointed in the right direction by record stores, blogs and fan sites when you want to dig a little deeper.

BWhat about the growing music piracy? Positive things, negative things about it? Is it in anyway good for artist's promotion? What are your thoughts on ACTA, SOPA - PIPA?

C: I tend to glaze over during this debate unfortunately, I'm aware I have an interest in a viable framework for protection of intellectual property (even that term makes me squirm a little). I just can't enage with these cobbled together slabs of legislation, which fairly obviously protect the interests of corporations ahead of individuals. 

Of course it's important for governments to have the power to close down bottom feeder piracy platforms like Megaupload, but most of the proposals I've seen so far have been pretty toothless, seems like it's now far too big a network to have limits imposed upon it based on business interests, the thick end of that wedge is a truly frightening prospect.

It's a debate which has so many facets it's hard to address it with any clarity, finding a solution implies it can be universally applied, which it clearly can't. Yes we have a young generation for whom the value of music has forever been changed, yes that has implications for record labels and artists, no I don't think politicians with corporate lobbyists in their shadows are the right people to make informed decisions about controlling it. 

I think Mark Twain had it about right in 1902 - "Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble"

B: Do you ever download anything illegaly and if you do waht do you download?

C: Of course, I'm as big a hypocrite as the next man ! Usually US TV Series for us, or movies for my daughter (if she likes them, I buy them).

Music wise, not particularly - I'm more than used to shelling out for that, and 90% of what I'm interested in comes from the independent sector, in which I have to also survive and make a living from. I do swap music with people, but can generally be sure we've both purchased our respective contributions, I find it hard to distinguish between that activity and doing a cassette copy of an LP in the 80's for a friend (which back then was ALSO the greatest threat to humanity imagineable, according to Warner Music, Sony etc), this is how humans interact, they share, they discuss - except we now live in a networked world.

Interview by Mario Kolonić Pytzek

Copyright ©2012 Burek and the authors.

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