Clive is one of the UK’s longest standing flag-wavers for underground house music having been an original member of the West London house mafia, one half of the genre-defining tech house outfit Peace Division and resident at the world’s most musically influential nightclub DC10.
In 1998 he founded the iconic tech house label Low Pressings with fellow surburbanite Justin Drake who went on to become his production partner in Peave Division.
During the last decade Clive has established himself as the British backbone of the club laying down his trademark brand of deep no-nonsense house music week in week out having being invited to join DC10 stellar roster of residents back in 2004.
Clive’s residency at DC10 brought him into contact with Crosstown Rebels frontman Damian Lazarus who quickly brought Clive into the Crosstown family. From then on Clive has been one of the most influential characters in the House Music scene.
Can you describe London when you were growing up? What was it like to be right in the middle of what we now look back on an imperative historic moment for music?
I think London was at one of its most exciting and ground breaking eras creatively and musically when I was growing up, with the arrival of hip hop and the graffiti movement, with the soul and funk scene also bubbling away. It was a really good time for me as we were going central virtually every weekend from the burbs of west London and checking out hall of fames (Graff hotspots) across the city and south of England and hitting Covent Garden up near enough every weekend to see the Trailblazers work (who then became the Chrome Angels) and hitting jams at the Lyceum, South Bank and Jubilee Gardens. I was so immersed in it it took over my life, but then I got introduced to house music by Rocky and Diesel in ’88 just as I was finding my flow with graffiti (or street art as they like to call it now) and the rest as they say is history.
Plus to have the scene as strong as we did in west London suburbia with Full Circle reppin’ hard and bringing in the likes of DJ Pierre, Derrick Carter, Richie Hawtin, Tony Humphries (who I had the honour of warming up for there which is something cool to tell my kids!), Todd Terry, Danny Tenaglia and throwing in local and UK talent its been a major player in the growth of this scene. And to be there from day zero near enough and still be at it is something I’m pretty proud of as I’ve seen many an artist, DJ and producer fade away and disappear…
When did you start collecting records yourself then, what kind of stuff were you buying and playing back then?
I started to collect records from a real early age from Southall Market in Southall, west London and Stage One records in Hayes Town. I worked after school sweeping floors to help towards paying for them and I was getting the heads up on all the fresh bits by listening to pirate radio. Obviously I was way too young to DJ but I was buying a lot of hip hop and electro ranging from Roxanne Shante, Ice T, Fat Boys, Cybotron, Jonzon Crew etc and quite a few bits on Cutting Records. Was also into the SOS Band and the like but was also bought up on Bowie, Pink Floyd and U2. I’ve got a pretty open mind to most decent music to be honest (although I’d find it hard to agree that U2 are decent nowadays. Sorry, Bono.).
Who would you call the inspirations for yourself to do your own thing in music? Who were you looking up to in those early years?
From a DJ and production point of view I would say Danny Tenaglia influenced us in our Peace Division work in the early years as he was one of the most on point DJs as he could mix disco, techno, house, electro whatever seamlessly and make it all sound connected and not like he was jumping from genre to genre like some ‘eclectic’ DJs can/do. Plus his productions were pretty next level. We tried to do our own thing to be honest but you do get inspiration from everywhere. Also it was Rocky and Diesel, Danny Rampling, Terry Farley, Derrick Carter, Andy Weatherall, Scott Braithwaite, Darren Price, Craig Walshe and Phil Perry who I feel mainly started the west London/suburban movement with the Sunday sessions at the Queens Sailing Club and then the Greyhound pub near Heathrow.
The adoption rate of software such as Traktor while DJing seems to be increasing quickly. What’s your perspective on the relationship and the balance between technological advances, music and the art of DJing? Do you think beat-matching is becoming a thing of the past?
There will always be artists that will play records the right way and there will always be people that take the easy route to entertain the masses. I can safely say I played vinyl to the very last moment, til it made more sense for me to switch to a digital platform. To cut a long story short a certain Australian airline lost most of my records and Jamie Jones persuaded me to switch to Serato as I could have most the records I lost replaced digitally and just have it all has hand luggage and not have the worry if my music was gonna turn up. Made sense as I was always touring and it made life easier. Obvs theres the worry of your laptop being stolen/breaking etc but I back mine up constantly and then theres the pressure of having you laptop/equipment crashing which happened frequently a few summers back so i switched to USB. But what i can’t stand now is the vinyl purists looking down their noses at the djs and artists that choose to play solely digitally. I thought it was all about the music and secondly how well you put it together… The snobbery can be quite baffling.
What would be that one tip for up and coming DJs and producers looking to break into the scene?
Be individual have your own strong identity and sound…be true to yourself musically. Be humble. Be nice! Keep believing in what you’re doing even if nobody else does. It took us as a good while as Peace Division before our peers really began to dig what we were doing. We had a few knock backs along the way but we also worked hard and didn’t let it affect us because we loved what we were doing and we weren’t really doing it for anyone but ourselves if you get my drift? If you start making music solely to please others then forget it. When u get told to go make a “banger” then the pressure just gets to you and you never really fully relax in the process of making a track. Just go in and enjoy yourself and it’ll come naturally. The more you are in there the more you sculpture your own sound.
I understand you lost a selection of your vinyl collection while touring due to an airline incident which prompted you to switch to digital/USB. Which do you find is the best way to manage your music, storage and filing? Decoded always look to offer a top tip to our readers.
Just make sure you have your music backed up constantly. I do it every week on USBs and a portable back up drive.
If you could collaborate in the studio or DJ alongside any artist of your choice who would it be and why?
Ha that’s a tricky one as there’s loads but I would say Dyed Soundorom and Matthew Dear as they have their own unique vibe/sound and stay true to what they do without being influenced with current trends and make amazing records.