Sheffield-based house mainstay Chris Duckenfield is due to arrive in Australia shortly, where he'll be touching down in Sydney to help celebrate Mad Racket's 11th birthday.
Duckenfield, who is no stranger to Australian crowds, has been spinning house records for more than 15 years. During that time, the Englishman has additionally lent his hands to production, music retail and event promotion, all while maintaining strong ties to venues such as Fabric, Panorama Bar and, of course, Sydney's Marrickville Recreation Centre. His highly-publicised production collaboration with Richard Brown under the SWAG guise spawned a string of successful singles, an LP and a record label.
Tickets to Mad Racket's 11th Birthday are available directly from RA Tickets.
We tracked him down via email over the weekend, where he told us why he loves Australia, what it's like being a father and a touring DJ and how dance music has changed over time.
Welcome back to Australia. What's been happening lately? How's Sheffield?
Why, thank you! Well, aside from becoming a father, I've been growing our little distribution company (ALL EARS), doing lots of gigs and occasionally managing a quick hour or two in the studio! Sheffield: Same as it ever was, party-wise—very dry right now, but there are things afoot for 2010.
You've revealed, on your blog, that Australia is your second home. How often do you visit Australia, and why do you enjoy visiting so much?
Well, I'd probably be working on resident status now if my better half loved it as much as I do! I've lost count of how many times I've been over, courtesy of the Racket crew, of course. It's honestly one of the only places I've been where I think I could happily live. Lots of pros and cons obviously, but it's always a blast. I'm very aware I've been spoilt, though!
How does being a father affect your DJing schedule?
Well, I was lucky enough to be able to take three months off when Mae was born, and have been around a lot, working from home, etc., and concentrating on UK and European gigs. Being away is tough, definitely, but I'm not getting any younger and 40-odd weekends a year in the DJ booth and airports definitely doesn't hold the same appeal as it once did. I just got a lot pickier, I think, as weekends become precious for a whole other reason.
You have been lucky enough to enjoy a lengthy DJ career. Can you look back at, say, five or ten year increments, and see notable differences between Chris Duckenfield the DJ now, and Chris Duckenfield the DJ then?
That's a tough one. The main emphasis has always been pushing good, new music. I came from an early scene which was pretty wide open musically, so incorporating a variety of stuff in a fluid way without losing sight of the party has been an ethos which has served me well. That, and avoiding the press!
As a whole, has your DJing undergone a natural progression, or, at times, have you actively changed your approach to performing?
There have been a couple of times where I've looked at the prevailing sound and just not felt a connection with it at all—that can be quite dispiriting. It's hard to view it as a progression, really. The rules rarely change that much, and, after this length of time, you do start seeing cycles. In that sense, it's easy to maintain a "thread" through what you do behind the decks, without relying too much on being flavour of the month, or trying to get too clever with something which is essentially at its best in its simplest form.
You've stated in an interview that you "have a much clearer approach to DJing as opposed to producing." Is this to say you have a strictly calm and calculated approach to DJing, or, simply, that your approach to production is "frantic" in comparison?
Well, not as such. I still prepare a lot for gigs, even with less time on my hands. It's an awesome responsibility soundtracking people's weekends, and I find myself far more comfortable telling a story in that way than I do trying to express it production wise.