Carl Craig...'London has been my laboratory'

Carl Craig is recognised as one of the most influential pioneers in Detroit’s second generation of techno musicians. We caught up with Carl ahead of his live performance at SW4 on Sunday 27th August to discuss London, his career and his Versus Synthesizer Ensemble which he will bring to this year’s festival...

This year you’re bringing Versus to SW4, can you tell me a bit about how this concept came about?

Versus came from a brainstorm of Alex Kazak who I’ve known for a long time, he wondered what It would be like to do my music live with an orchestra and I thought it was a good idea. We then got Francesco Tristano involved who did the arrangement and it turned out to be something quite memorable and amazing and exciting…it was fantastic.

Can you give me a little insight into the project and what we can expect from it live on the day?

Its called versus synthesizer, so live there are 4 synthesizers including the musical director Kelvin Sholar, then you have myself on electronics and back, then Francesco on piano jamming away at the front, and we are going to do the album in the very pure way of doing this album which is with synthesizers.

How will this be different beyond the set up to seeing you as a DJ?

This is different from DJing completely, it’s really different to any other project I’ve done, it’s meant to be a group experience that presents the record in a way that you can feel like you are in a soundtrack at the event. It’s not like seeing a band on stage, you are really in the event and in the soundtrack when you’re at the event. It’s different to everything like Paperclip People was a dance thing, 69 was an angry dance thing, Innerzone Orchestra was a jazz thing and this is something else, this is action and adventure.

Tell me what you’ve learnt from Francesco over the years…

From Francesco I have learnt so much from his perfectionism as a musician and as a talent to his mind that takes influences from anything that enters him. He is a classical pianist, but his influences haven’t come from playing classical music, they have come from jazz, hip hop, house music, techno and all these things. That’s been my thing as well for my whole career with regards to my catalogue and remixes or productions I’ve made so we are just very kindred spirits. I hope that he’s learnt as much from me as I’ve learnt from him.

What does playing in London mean to you and what does bringing this show to London?

London was my first point of entry when I came to Europe back in 1889, so London’s been my home. London has been my proving ground and my laboratory, it’s been all these things whether it was playing at clubs like Ministry of Sound, Fabric or Plastic People its always been really important to present my music in this town because I have had a love affair with London for the last 26 years.

Would you expect performing in London to be any different from performing elsewhere?

London’s always different, I think every city or every country I play in has a different reaction to the music based on their music education, and the music education here is so deep and involved not only in the formal sense but also on how record collecting is such a big deal here. I used to hang out at Honest Johns and Vinyl Junkies and see the people that came in and how they responded to music, like at Black Market where you could put something on and it was almost like a club at some points. I would expect there to be more purists, more people that are involved in the concept of understanding the music but also knowing whether it’s good or not, people in London are very real about how they deal with music there’s no faking involved.

Considering everything you’ve accomplished over the years how would you see Versus standing amongst that?

From my experiences in making music Versus has been a challenge but also a voyage, and it’s project that is important in the whole story of what I’ve done musically. Every piece of music or project I’ve done are my children, and there’s not one I would choose as a favourite, but because this is my newest child there is a connection I have with it that is newer than I have with my other music. I’m happy to present it because I’ve experimented with it and there are aspects I’ve changed with how I’ve mixed it so I’m excited to see how people respond to it and what people’s thoughts are on it, whether its going to be something that’s loved or loved less.

In three words what can we expect from the performance at SW4?

Action and adventure.

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