Don’t Believe The Hype _ Interview With Giles Armstrong
You’ve played with Mills, Hawtin, Ancient Methods, Francois K, Reeko, Luciano, Luke Slater, Regis, Ruskin, Inigo Kennedy, Makaton, Ellen Allien, Troy Pierce, Surgeon.. the list goes on & on. Was there ever one that got away, that you wished you had got, that you completely missed? Any unfinished business?
I’ve been very lucky that I got to play with nearly all my hero’s. I’m always up for playing with some new acts and have turned down offers to play with guests I have already played with in the past as I’m sure someone else would like the opportunity to play with their heroes too! Off the top of my head, I would jump through Ableton loops if it meant I could get to play before Oscar Mulero and maybe that wee dream might still come true. On the promoting side, Sven Vath was the big one that got away.
We tried to book him for the TBMC once and told Johannes Heil our plan after he played there for us. He just looked at us and said ‘Haha! You crazy guys!’ Vath’s agent never even got back to us when we offered him silly money for a 600 capacity venue. We offered lotto numbers just to get the chance to pick him up from the airport in a Micra and drive into the city centre via Dundalk always having the craic along the way. Although it never happened much to our dismay, I’m still a fan even if his DJ’ing has got progressively worse as he gets older. He did reinvent himself from his gak induced cyber techno warrior years to the superstar that he is today and did play some decent music along the way. A lot of his peers from that era like Dag, Tanith and Westbam are either dead or are on a constant yearlong tour of Münster.
There’s a lot of diversity in the styles of the people that you’ve DJ’d with over the years Giles. How has your own style developed over the years? Have you gone with trends or has there always been a common thread to what you play?
True – I’ve seen more styles than Peter Mark (A high street hairdressing chain in Ireland) with most of them bringing something new to table.
It’s only since I stopped promoting that I started taking my DJing a bit more seriously. I reckon I’ve done more mixing in the year after Electricity finished than in the three years before that put together. For years, if I met someone new and they asked what I did for a living the last thing I would ever dream of saying was ‘I’m a DJ’. Today if someone asked me the same question, DJ’ing would come to mind, but I would still never say it!
My name is Giles and I am a closet DJ, haha.
Ok, well, I suppose that ties in a little with the next question. The term ‘New Classic’ is an oxymoron. Makes no sense really, does it? Have you ever got tired of the music or zoned out of it for a while?
Yep, I kinda did, oddly enough when I was running Electricity, especially the latter years. Most nights after work, I’d get stuck into some of the million and one things that’s involved in running a weekly club. By the time i got most if it done, I would be just too tired to listen to music, have a mix or try to find new music. There I was running the club of my dreams for all the right reasons, but yet I barely had any time to listen to any of the music that I was supposed to be doing it for. That was a small factor for me when it came to knocking Electricity on the head.
I’ve never thought about it like that before. You probably didn’t miss much haha. Sometimes I see people raving about tracks and then I listen to them and yawn..
Thankfully there are still loads of people making their own slant on techno.. but is there actually any new techno?? Nah, that went out with the Indians.
Are good tunes like buses; waiting for ages and then 3 come along at once?
I’m not sure that they all come along at once as there is lots of great music around. But my god, there is some serious shit out there too and I’m mainly talking about techno net labels [not the free kind] that have had more releases than Mountjoy Prison (Infamous State Hotel in Ireland). You barely have time to listen to one EP and the next one is in your face. I much prefer the less is more labels that don’t diss themselves by releasing the same sounding tracks every 15 minutes for the sake of it. Even though I’m a digital DJ’s these days; lads listen, it’s not a real record label unless you actually release some records!
Meanwhile in other news.. Erick Morillo was reportedly a tad messy during his set. I read that you like counting and preparing your sets in advance. I’d have a friend that used to do the same, but by the time he’d get a chance to play out, you’d see him going “1, 2, 3.. eh.. 4.. um.. pffft.. erm”. Hilarious to watch. In your promoter capacity, did you ever get the long hook out to drag someone off the decks?
Good aul Erick he still likes to move it, move it! I don’t think we ever had to pull anyone off the decks but 2000 & [No] One stopped playing when one of the CD’s broke which was fair enough. And one time we had Radioslave play on a quiet night and he spent most of his set in the smoking area while playing. Needless to say we never asked him back!
Haha, yeah, it’s possibly more interesting to ask about nightmares than stuff that is nice, isn’t it? You must have had a lot of near misses over the years running the club nights. Was there ever anyone that you booked that you wished at the end you didn’t? Any unexpected acts of kindness either?
99% of the guests we brought over were bang on but you do get the odd off night. Just like when we had Francois K play his first Dublin show. He did nothing but moan from the minute we picked him up at the airport. By dinner time he had made Victor Meldrew sound like the Pope! Once it was time to soundcheck – we had enough and fecked off to watch the penalty shoot-out in the England v Portugal game at Euro 2008. He could be still there now sound checking for all I care!
Another one who had a major club shock was Mistress Barbara [still to this day I don’t know why we booked her in the first place. Tits maybe]. She was one of those types of people who look like they are knobjockeys but you’re hoping that when you meet them they are actually dead sound. Well nah…. she was a total twat. Her first words to us at the airport were “what time are you picking me up at tomorrow for the airport?”. Fuck off!
Yeah we had our fair share of missed flights and shit nights! It’s all part of the game so you quickly learn how to play them. We had a kind share of nice gestures too. I’m not going to name names but we had a few guests who surprised us by giving us back some their fee if the night wasn’t as busy as planned. We even had a couple of acts who wavered their fee altogether and one artist who gave us back four figures once, which was well nice considering it was the gig from hell.
Have you totally finished organising nights now Giles?
Yep, I hung up whatever promoters hang up a few years ago. I felt like I had kinda done it all by that stage and plus my girls were starting to grow up. It’s grand being mad busy doing this, that and the other when they are in nappies but once it gets to the stage when they were asking their Mam who this strange man was walking into their house on a Sunday afternoon. I knew the game was nearly up and it was time to concentrate on doing their homework rather than worrying about booking another flight for Ben Stocker.
Smart move. I was watching Disney’s Peter Pan the other day. Great quote from it, “Once you’re grown up you can never come back! Never!”. You have 2 daughters don’t you? Do they understand the role music has played in your life?
I do indeed have two little beauties. Molly is 9 going on 14 and Rosie 7 going on 11. Never mind winter is coming, the bloods are coming! They both are totally cool with what I do but haven’t yet fully grasped it all which I’m sure they will in their own time. They both already have a strong love for music and thankfully it’s not mine! They love all the stuff girls that age are meant to love. Although I did catch Molly listening to Daft Punk ‘Da Funk’ the other day after she stumbled on it from their Get Lucky masterpiece. She quickly told me where to go when I tried to play her ‘Rollin & Stratchin’!
I suppose kids are a great leveller that no matter how awesome the gig or set was they will soon have you right back down to earth. I remember when Rosie did the biggest poo of her life. You know the ones when you have to throw out the cot and call the fire brigade to hose down the bedroom walls before it makes the H Blocks look like Buckingham Place? Well, it was just a few hours after Richie Hawtin had played at Electric City.. There I am, knee deep in it, thinking to myself did I not just drop one of the biggest DJ’s in the world back to his hotel only a few hours ago?
Man! No fear of getting an inflated head in your house so..