In the age of the globetrotting DJ it’s easy to forget that Dave Seaman was one of the prime movers in bringing modern electronic dance music to the wider world.
The seventh in the Renaissance Masters series bears all the hallmarks ofa good Seaman compilation – steadily building breaks, kicking off intotougher house music. Recently however, Dave has become something of aweekend DJ.
But this particular weekend finds him busy with other things.”I’ve got the weekend off – it’s my wife’s birthday. It’s nice timingactually, as with the Masters album coming out it’s a bit of a calm beforethe storm. I have a little baby, too, so that’s why I’m only doingweekends. It’s all good though, very exciting, and we’re really lucky,although the first couple of months were tough. Now I’m loving everyminute!”
The new double mix has garnered some enthusiastic reviews. “I’ve beengetting a really good response, it’s one of those where you never knowquite how people are gonna react to it and it seems to get increasinglymore difficult to do mix CDs these days, with all the various red tapes andlicensing problems, and it was a difficult one, or a challenging one shallwe say, to put together.”
There are many sceptics who would see the mix album as a cash cow ratherthan a form of expression. Seaman explains otherwise. “For me, the art ofmixing, especially when it comes to a mix CD, is a form of collage really.It’s also an art form with the technology – after all, this whole housemusic thing was built on technology, and with what’s available to us thesedays you can do so much, make a musical statement, and it’s the way youblend them, the way you present them if you like, that’s the importantthing.
“I like to take great care and attention to make one flow into thenext one as subtly as possible – or maybe not as subtly sometimes, to joltpeople out of their ease. It’s something I really enjoy doing and obviouslyas a DJ it’s an art form, it’s far more than just two turntables and amixer. When you’ve got all this technology available to you and you’redoing mix CDs that’s when you can flex your muscles and challenge yourself,and the listeners hopefully.”
When it comes to compilations Seaman is an old hand, and was indeed thesecond in the groundbreaking Back To Mine series in 1999. He saw thepotential there and then. “Yeah, for sure. I was actually working for DMC(the Back to Mine label) at the time, I worked there from 1987-1999 doingvarious things. Before that I was working at Mixmag where I was the editor,and then I was at Stress Records.
“But the Back to Mine thing, I was at DMCwhen the idea was formulated, and it was obvious it was gonna be a series.I suppose by definition I just put my favourite records on it, so from timeto time I dig it out and put it on when my mates come round – which is thewhole idea I guess, if it doesn’t work in that context there’s obviously aproblem! I was quietly surprised by it, and I’d love to do another one, akind of part two.”
When it comes to his peers, Seaman clearly enjoys mutual respect withhis fellow DJs. “I admire people like Anthony Pappa and JamesZabiela, I think they’re amazing technical DJs, and then JohnDigweed, obviously, Sasha, Hernan Cattaneo, SanderKleinenberg, Nick Warren – there are so many people out therewho have obviously been plying their trade and have become very good atwhat they do. And so they should be after all this time! If they’ve notmastered it by now there’s serious problems, you know?! There’s lots ofpeople I really admire in the business and look up to and pay particularattention to what they’re doing, what their output is.”
Renaissance is Dave Seaman’s natural home, and he admires theirachievements thus far in dance music. “It’s always been strong since theword go, and credit to them for never letting that slip when several peoplehave gone by the wayside. Their compilations are never thrown together,there’s always a lot of time, thought and effort that goes in, a lot ofattention to detail on the music and the packaging. I admire their A&Rpolicy also, and with the artists they choose I’m proud to be on theirroster!”
Warm words indeed, and as a parallel to his DJ work with the labelSeaman has his own Audio Therapy imprint to look after. “It’s been tough,as I think it has been for a lot of record labels at the moment, there’sbeen the big transitional period with vinyl sales through to digital sales,so we’ve been cutting our cloth accordingly, but I’m really pleased withthe roster we’ve got on there, we’ve got some exciting things coming upthis year and a few mix CDs coming up ourselves. Last year we started the’Across Borders’ series, which takes artists from a particular country, saylike ten different artists. We did Greece first and this year we’re doingHolland.”
The international outlook doesn’t stop there. Seaman doesn’t claim tohave been anywhere new this year, but that’s because most countries havealready been stamped on his passport. “I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur,Singapore, Greece, Paris, Germany. Actually I was meant to be doing Serbiaand that would have been a new one, but it got cancelled. There’s not manyplaces I haven’t been to, but I’d love to do India and Hawaii sometime.”
Sohow did his travelling take hold? “Well a lot of DJs in the early 1990swere doing a lot of gigs over here, two or three on a Friday and two orthree on a Saturday and obviously financially that was very appealing, butwhen I was getting offered to go to certain places I was like “oh, sod it,sod the money, I’m just gonna take the opportunity to go and see the world”really, and it was no grand business plan but it’s worked in my favour asI’ve been travelling for so long and gone to so many places. And once thescene did have a dip over here I’d already been everywhere and madecontacts and laid foundations in different territories, so it really workedin my favour.”
All of which leads us neatly on to dance music’s current state ofhealth. “I think it’s good. People are always gonna go out and dance, afterall. It’s nice too to see there’s a lot of territories that are fresh, openand underground – Eastern Europe, South Africa and Japan to name a few. Ithink people who’ve got a downer on it don’t realise that it’s not just aUK phenomenon. Genres just don’t disappear, they go back underground, andwe’ll still be here when they come back!”
Elsewhere Dave’s main worry is football – he’s a Leeds United fan, andin his spare time (whatever that is) he tries to catch a game or two.Concern is evident in his voice though when he says that “I still don’tthink we’re quite strong enough for the premiership”. Time will tell – buthe can at least bask in the knowledge that his own premier league statusseems pretty much sealed for some time yet!