DJ Harvey: “In General, I Never Want to Hear Anything I’ve Worked on Ever Again”
Few characters in dance music cast a larger shadow than DJ Harvey. He’s been called “the Keith Richards of dance music,” and his hours-long DJ sets are the stuff of legend. His dance floor intuition is on par with the best in the business, and his sets span wildly disparate eras and genres with the seamlessness of a man who knows music better than almost anyone else on earth.
Harvey carries that same intuition into the studio, where he’s become as famous for his remixes as his original productions, having remixed the likes of The Police, Jamiroquai, and The Brand New Heavies.
With our DJ Harvey remix competition now in progress, we caught up with the man himself to learn a bit more about what he’s looking for, and how he approaches the remix process.
Why is now the right time to re-release Locussolus?
We just kept being made aware that a lot of people hadn’t heard of or heard the album in recent times (it’s been unavailable for sale anywhere for a few years). With the inclusion of Kiwi’s previously unreleased remix of “Next To You” on the [Care4Life] NHS compilation, I started to find these “Oh, I wondered what this track was” comments online about it. It reaffirmed the fact that a fresh generation had missed it, so we thought, why not?
“Next to You” was a Loft classic played by [David] Mancuso himself before his passing (as well as a Weatherall staple), so that, along with people discovering it was Heidi Lawden on vocals on that particular track, had piqued people’s interest. “Berghain” was always the track that I get the most inquiries about.
And why do so digitally?
Vinyl is potentially a luxury item right now and the idea with digital and streaming is the opportunity for as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the music for as little cost, really.
In the past 25 years, you produced countless remixes yourself for artists such as Azymuth, Jamiroquai, and The Avalanches. How do you decide which track to remix and what is your process?
I would always rather remix a song than a track, and I prefer a track without samples as they can be tough to deconstruct. A lot of my remixes were for actual bands in The Police, Jamiroqui, Ian Brown, The Avalanches, Brand New Heavies, etc., and there’s always so much original stuff to work with which I like.
Process-wise I typically deconstruct the track into its core elements and add some additional drums, percussive and instrumental elements; just adding a little of me or what I’m feeling at the time.
What have been some of your favorite remixes in recent years?
In general, I never want to hear anything I’ve worked on ever again (laughs) but I think one of my favorites is Planet Funk’s “Inside All the People (Harvey’s Ibiza Sleepy Mix),” which still gets licensed for various compilations.
What are you looking for (and hoping for) with the winning remix?
Someone who’s going to have a unique, interesting take on the track and will deliver a truly alternate version. I hope a lot of people feel inspired to have a mess around, go a bit crazy with it. The original is a banger, and I’m excited to hear what people do with it. We’ve got some great prizes for the winner from all kinds of people — Beatport, Genelec, Moog, a bunch of plugins. I just hope we can narrow it down to one. We plan to release the winning remix along with new takes on other tracks off the album from some LA-based DJ/producer friends, so I hope it’s also a way for someone to get a bit of added shine.
What’s next for Locussolus and can we expect more from Harvey’s General Store or will this be a one-off release?
Typically I don’t like to start something new with something old or look backward, but this is, in essence, an easy way to get acquainted with some of my previous stuff before moving forward with some new.
We have the remixes forthcoming and one previously unreleased Locussolus track and then I think I’ll move on to something totally different. Locussolus was a band — myself Josh, Tara, Sam Heidi, but everyone’s busy with other things now. I A&Rd a great project for ESP Institute (The Hands) with a new release forthcoming and really enjoyed doing it. Having my own label means I can release things I like when I want, as frequently or infrequently as I please with no rules, it exists outside of a major label’s structure, distributed by Above Board who are really supportive, so that’s a really exciting and fortunate position to be in.