Josh Dawson

George

George is a DJ and producer who has been around the Cambridge scene for a while. He and Oli Taylor (who also has an upcoming mix in the series) have graced the decks at every Turf for a while now, warming up for the likes of Peach, Shanti Celeste and Chaos in the CBD. Here, he takes us away from the usual club sound, showcasing ambient music at its finest before working up to a percussive finale.

What were you trying to do with the mix?

I guess I was trying to tie together a few disparate styles I’ve been into recently, starting with a decent amount of ambient and slowly building the rhythm with more experimental-ish stuff, so that it keeps your interest without being too full on or too clubby.

Abstract/Ambient is a style of electronic music that’s common to find at the beginning of mixes or early on in DJ sets, to set a scene for what is to come. Yet, it plays a starring role here. How did you come across this genre and what about it caught your attention?

I first got into that sort of thing about a year ago, I found a label called Astral Industries that I liked and just went from there exploring their releases and related things. I realised that a lot of the time when I was searching for club music I’d skip through tracks and not really listen properly before deciding whether to add them to a playlist and then download/buy, which is a pretty boring way to engage with music. With ambient stuff I was less inclined to skip through, I’d enjoy properly listening to it. I think it naturally invites a bit more patience and thought than standard club music, which I like. It's just quite nice.

"Ambient music naturally invites a bit more patience and thought than standard club music"

One of the tracks you feature is unreleased, could you talk a bit about that and how you found that and were able to use it here?

That’s actually something I made myself so thanks for asking and giving me this free promotion, I’ve been meaning to send some music out to labels and try and release something properly but I’m terribly lazy at the same time.

What have you got planned for the future? 

Generally I have no idea, I need to finish this medical degree before I make any major plans. Music wise, I’m playing at the Substance night in 2648 on May 4th. I’m also hoping to put some music out on a friends label maybe in the near future which would be cool!

Question 2 

Question 2 is relatively new to the Cambridge DJ scene, but has been around the block as the drummer in bands Groove Theory and SAFFRA, who played at the Arcsoc Cabaret in March. Having turned his attention from jazz to electronic music, he takes us around the tribal lows and sizzling highs that define psychedelic and percussive techno.

What ideas did you approach the mix with?

I came at it from being a drummer really, and so a lot of the stuff I wanted to put in there was very percussion heavy. I started by thinking of some tracks I really wanted to include, so the Villalobos remix of 'Deardrum' is one because it’s so textured, the Ninos Du Brasil tune is one I love because of how tribal and raw it feels, then also 'Belter (Joy O Belly Mix)' because there’s just something that’s really hooked me since it came out about a month ago. I wanted to take some influence from HAAi’s mixes and Radio 1 residency a bit and I was really drawn to how her psychedelic techno style has loads of interesting rhythms without losing the melody, so tried to put things together that went through a couple of ideas with a percussive build up leading to a song that has something really catchy about it to kind of make it feel like you’ve made it somewhere.

The beats you use range from straight techno, to more latin influences. What draws you to tracks like this and where does that come from? 

I used to be a massive indie kid and I heard LCD Soundsystem’s frontman James Murphy do an interview where he was talking about being a DJ and also a ‘rock’ musician. He pointed out the distinction between head music, the kind you want to sing along to, and body music with that 4 to the floor kick pattern that forces you to dance. From that I started listening to more and more dance music and found that everything I liked about it was the rhythm and percussion. Since I started drums when I was 7, I always preferred playing samba, mozambiqué, latin and a lot of stuff that I’ve now realised is what James Murphy meant by body music. It’s there to make you forget about everything else in life, dance and feel good. I think when you’re in a club dancing around a group of random people, with that kick pulsing, its quite a primal feeling.

Josh started playing drums aged 7@josh.noswad/Instagram

You mentioned you were trying to put in bits of melody to keep it all together, but something that is featured that may not be common to a lot of techno is the range of vocal samples - from spoken word (Belter (Joy O Belly Mix)), spooky nursery rhyme (Samba by Alex) to a full on vocal hook (Finn & Mella Dee). What role do you think vocals play in dance music? 

In electronic and dance music I think vocals are often just the icing rather than the whole cake, which might be the case in other genres. The most important bit of a dance track, to me at least, is the beat. Everything else layers on top to create a vibe around it that might be really prime-time at-a-club euphoric, or more reminiscent and mournful, the kind of thing you might play when you’re closing out a long party. They can be really great tools as well. If you leave people dancing away to deeper stuff for half an hour, then bring in a human voice whether that be from a stand-alone a capella record or from something like 'Gypsy Woman', that kind of moment can make a night really special.

Who is your favourite DJ at the moment?


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There a few but if I had to say it’d be HAAi or Skee Mask. HAAi I love because she used to be in an Australian psychedelic rock band and then fell into DJing and is just an amazing performer and always plays the most varied music. Skee Mask released the best album of last year by far, Compro, then I saw him at The Cause in December, and it was the most mind-blowing set I’ve ever seen. He played calm stuff, weird stuff, heavy heavy techno, gabber, jungle, DnB then just smashed out a bit of grime and dub and left everyone’s brains on the floor.

What have you got planned for the future?

I’m playing with the band a bit but I’m looking to DJ at anything I can this term. Running this blog is taking up most of my non-revising time, so it’d be fun to put something on at the end of term so everyone that’s listened can get down together.

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