Dixon on balancing health, family and the demands of touring
Q & A with Dixon
As you are reading this, you probably know Melodic Diggers was originally founded as a Facebook group whose purpose was to share tracks, videos and news about this kind of music we all dearly love. Our interest for the German label Innervisions led us to create a linked group dedicated to their music : Innervisions Fans. We are delighted to see both fans and artists contributing and getting closer to each other than ever.
Dixon, co-founder and star of the label, recently suggested that fans ask him anything, so that he could choose a few questions to answer. After posting the interview exclusively on the group, we decided to give it a better medium and share it on our website.
• Do you ever look in this group when you’re bored?
Yeah, I do. But I am not sure if this is not like raiding a fridge at 4AM and then regretting it.
• How many shirts do you have?
Between 50 and 70, but that’s just numbers. Shirts are seasonal objects. So they come and go. I only keep what I consider the most iconic pieces.
• What is your vision of the techno music scene in 10 years?
Honestly, I refuse to think about the future. That would be nostalgia in reverse, taking me away from the shifts happening not yearly, not daily, but hourly nowadays. I try and enjoy what is around me, graspable, as long as it's there. Culture disappeared forever through uniformity and whitewashing. We should definitely not crave for knowing the future or its protagonists, but push for our shifts today.
• What makes you special, or at least, different than the other top DJs? And how have you been able to sustain this difference over the years, as seen in the RA poll and from your fans who have seen your music style evolve yet remain on top of the wave.
This is a very though question, as you might know. If I answer describing myself, it might come across as arrogant. If I answer how others describe me, it might sound detached. One thing I know for sure: I am not special or different. I rather try to specialize in one thing, one style, learn it through and through and push it really hard. Than I drop it and go on a hunt for something different I can discover for myself and make it approachable and attractive for others.
• I'd assume you have more offers for performing coming in, than you accept. So what are the main factors you consider when choosing which events you play at? It'd be really interesting for us to have an understanding about how you pick which events you play at.
It is actually way more complicated than most people think. There are so many different factors. Every single one needs to be taken into consideration. And after they are all weighed properly, they have to be blended to reach a certain balance. Let me start with something that is not necessarily connected to a DJ career management or involved in DJ booking choices: health.
Since some years I take a break during January and February. This is a period in my year where I swipe empty all of my drives. I need this to be able to be positively ignorant toward the lows of touring: no sleep, no comfort, sometimes no food or junk food, loudness, smoke, drugs, aggressiveness and a lot of demanding people. I want to be open for music and those people, who want to dance and enjoy the music instead. Apart from that I give my best to have a small break before and after the summer, so I can survive the high intensity of festivals and Ibiza.
The hardest about taking a long time off is to restart the engines. Aside from going bit by bit and lifting the tempo with ease, I seek out smaller and easier shows. And I don’t fill the weekends up to the max. When I play four long shows in the row during the summer, or even two gigs per day, I arrive at home and I am not dead. Because after two nights my body starts to adjust to the rhythm I am in. So it accepts the fact that there is less sleep for now. But that also means that once I do sleep again, my body demands more and more. As a result after the first night of proper sleeping I am tired as hell, cause my body now wants that rest. It is mental.
And this is where my family comes in. Maybe the only sane factor apart from health that has a strong influence on my choice of events I want to play. And obviously this is the hardest factor to weigh. Luckily I started to travel for my job before I had a family. So my decision to always take the last flight out of Berlin, and the first possible flight back home, has no bitter taste to me. I will never go away for more than a weekend, if I don’t have my family with me. Other DJs might go to South America for 2-4 weeks to be able to play Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru all at once during one tour. But for me it is never more then 3-4 days outside of Europe. Even when I go to the farthest or most fantastic places.
That brings me to the frequency I try to sustain in my choice of bookings. I have 36 weekends to play gigs. There was a time I played about 140 gigs in that time frame. Over the last four years I tried to scale down about 10 % every year. I play less shows but longer sets. But in those four years there was a lot more focus on my shows from fans and media so it seemed to some that I played more gigs. Which is not true. In 2018 I will play around 90 gigs. This still sounds plenty, however it means that I won’t be able to play a city I feel connected to more than once. In some cases, with 90 gigs, I won’t be able to visit a country more than once. Obviously the very few exception would be Berlin, London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Offenbach.
Now - when I play that one gig in a certain city I obviously want to make it count. For the audience, the promoter and myself. Luckily I am working with a lot of clubs or promoters for more than 10 years. There is mutual trust. Why do I make a distinction between clubs and promoters? I played the opening of Robert Johnson. Since that moment Robert Johnson became one of my favorite clubs in the world. In Paris there is no such club. But there is a promoter, Haïku. I play for Nadir and Adrien for some time now, we became friends and we explored many different venues together. One year we go for a smaller, next year for a bigger show. Having a unique and fun show is not necessarily connected to choosing cool, small venues. With a promoter like Haiku it is easy to experiment and do big events effortlessly without loosing credibility or the fun factor.
And then there is money. Of course money plays a role. I would never rule out money, but I don’t allow money to rule my judgment. To play some shows that pay well makes it possible for me to do a couple of shows that hardly bring money.
And the final factor for me would be: planning way ahead. I guess even I cannot escape planning the future. It is a pain in the ass. We are talking planning shows maybe 8-12 months ahead. This inescapably involves not knowing the situation in July 2018 when I planned the gigs of that month with my bookers Catherine and Dominik in November last year. Maybe I will move. Or my son will need me more than ever before since it’s his last month before going to school. Or I injured myself while playing football. Simply put: all of my precious planning sometimes feels like maths of a fool that is overrun by life.