October marks an important milestone in Dave Clarke’s career.
Firstly, The Baron of Techno will present his third album, The Desecration of Desire. It’s an ambitious and transformative effort that finds Clarke intentionally steering clear of the genre he spins weekly at clubs and festivals across the globe. To realize the full-length Clarke assembled a roster of collaborators, including former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, LOUISAHHH, Mt. Sims, Gazelle Twin, and Keith Tenniswood.
Secondly, Clarke, who has become something of a master event curator, will present an ADE party at Melkweg with Boys Noize, Charlotte de Witte, Gary Beck, James Ruskin and more.
We checked in with the Baron and legendary electro provocateur about inquired about one of the most exciting months of his storied career.
Many fleeting musical trends have come and gone since your last album was released 14 years ago, and the musical climate is even more precarious for artists. Why is now the right time to release The Desecration of Desire?
Dave Clarke: Is there ever a right time commercially to release an album though? It is right for me because it came together when it did, but I never did the whole strategic thing of waiting until a trend hits and then launching something off the back of that. I make music for myself and now felt right.
“This album was latent within me for quite some time, so there was zero trepidation in the making of this album at all.”
You’ve said that you weren’t interested in exploring techno on the album because it’s the soundtrack to your DJ gigs. You’re a fan of many musical styles but was wading into unknown artistic waters at all scary?
To me none of this was unknown; it was me, so it was done with no second guessing, just honesty. I would never pick up a guitar and start to play unless I could really do it, and this album was latent within me for quite some time, so there was zero trepidation in the making of this album at all.
When did you formally begin working on the album and assembling the amazing cast of collaborators? Did you ever give yourself a deadline to finish the LP?
I think I started collaborating the artists in my head as far back as 2005. I started my album two years ago and the deadline was also a natural end point. I’m not sure if an artist ever really works well to deadline; it then becomes a product and not an expression. Of course if you drift a bit time wise you have to be stern but you cannot force something if it is an expression, otherwise you end up in a photo with a fake smile.
I was elated when I heard Mark Lanegan appeared on two tracks. How did you make contact with him and what was it like to work with Mark?
It just happened. The idea happened. I loved Mark’s voice for so very long, and then within a few weeks of asking he was in my studio, such a great talent to work with. We spoke on the phone before and then we met, which is always going to be a stiff strange thing, but very quickly it moved into an easy free-flowing experience.
I heard “Charcoal Eyes” was your first attempt at writing lyrics. Was this a career goal or something that happened organically?
It was completely organic. I think in doing this interview I now realize that my subcon[scious] was completely set to organic and I did not over analyze anything except letting it be. If it didn’t work scrap it; if I felt uninspired I went for a walk; if it worked I steeped back and re-evaluated the next day and continued. The same with the lyrics. The first two verses appeared on the sleeve notes of my remix album, but I always felt this could be a song. Luckily Mark agreed and was the perfect voice to tell the tale.
Tell me a bit about how you assembled the rest of the cast of collaborators. Was there one thing that surprised you most about the collaborative process with artists you haven’t worked with before?
How stiff the first few moments can be both on the phone and then in reality, but what was surprising was how quickly at all became relaxed and natural. The cool thing was that each artist had something special to give, things to learn from.
The Desecration of Desire is out October 27. How do you intend to celebrate its release?
By going into hiding! I already feel proud of what I have done. It is me. The record label let me do this with no interruption, so I feel I already celebrated it but it being finished. At ADE we will have a small pre-launch and then it will officially be out in the world.
Speaking of ADE, you’re presenting a terrific event. Given your work as a curator at other events and festivals, you seem to have a knack for putting together amazing bills. What can people expect from your ADE bash?
Working hand in hand with the Melkweg for so many years has always been a pleasure, putting a line up together with those guys is nonpolitical. It is done as a fan, truly, so it is as simple as if I like what you are doing then I will ask, nothing more complicated than that, same for the Electro party that runs straight after.
“EDM and Trump to me are the same thing: the eruption of both in the US go hand in hand in a (52%) self-serving ADHD stricken nation.”
The past nine months have been challenging to say the least for many of us living in America. In January you announced that you wouldn’t play in the U.S. while Donald Trump is in office. How do you look back on that decision? Are there any other places in the world which you won’t visit because of political reasons?
I feel entirely justified. I have zero doubt that I made the right decision for me. The threats and insults I got after just compounded that too. That week before I announced it I had two offers to play in the US as well. Listen, EDM and Trump to me are the same thing: the eruption of both in the US go hand in hand in a (52%) self-serving ADHD stricken nation. This is not my fight to go into the country after going cap in hand to a Trump administration to ask permission to be an artist. The land is lost to EDM anyway. I was told by a techno club in Brooklyn that I am not a techno artist. They went bankrupt, and I am still here. Why would I fight a system like Trump where a vast majority of clubs (of course there are a few good ones) have zero clue of the greatness that US artists did for the scene to get it where it is?
I wish the people that did not vote for Trump all the best, truly, but this is not my fight. I also do not play in other countries, including Russia. Every artist has the right to make their own decision, every artist has the right to express an opinion, anyone that says opposite obviously craves for a fascist government.
How will you look back on 2017?
A year where I completed my third artist album.
Lastly, you’re involved in many projects. How do you stay motivated and inspired in this crazy world?
Keep the mind moving, keep getting inspired, stay away from idiots, enjoy being organic.