Biography: "Baron of Techno" Dave Clarke

10/19/2017 01:10

Biography: "Baron of Techno" Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a DJ with an anarchist streak a mile wide and punk in his soul. Nothing says this as potently as his new album, "The Desecration of Desire".

Electronic to the hilt yet full of rich, dark songwriting, its been almost two years in the making and comes 14 years after his last full-length outing.

"The desire to write songs has been bubbling in me for ages, Clarke explains, "My first album was a collection of tracks, the Red series of EPs, plus other stuff. With my second, even access to my studio was an issue. Those two felt like collections. This ones more like a book, a chronology. I͛m so happy with my studio. Ive stayed away from club music. Finally, its just me, my imagination and a touch of fearlessness about opening up"

Dave Clarke has long embraced sounds outside staunch electronic dance, from Savages to Idles to old favourites Bauhaus. Such music informs his attitude as a DJ, using Serato on a 13 Macbook Pro Retina for ruthlessly effective, fat-free techno and electro sets. 

A serious car crash in Serbia in July 2016 also affected Clarke. It fed into the albums pensive mood, and gave him a desire to DJ less but to inject more of himself into the sets he takes on.

"I still love DJing with a passion, he enthuses, but the album also ignited a flame within me about making music, about being totally true to myself. Its been a long time coming"

Dave Clarke was born and raised in Brighton, England, but currently resides in Amsterdam, a city which revitalized his life and work.

The offspring of a technology loving father and a disco-soul loving mother, it was always evident that Clarke would cut a swathe through music. As a youth he ran away from home, sleeping in car parks and on beaches. He took lousy jobs in shoe shops, living off £5 a day, to subsidise his income from badly paid local DJ gigs – anything to further his involvement with music. 

"I didn't really engage at all with the outside world", he recalls, "I was your typical disenfranchised JD Salinger-inspired young adult that used to hide in and behind music"

Clarke's debut release was in 1990 on XL, around the time the label was launching The Prodigy. He used the name Hardcore, a guise he then took to the legendary Belgian techno-rave imprint R&S where he released various EPs (some as Directional Force).

By 1992 Clarke's own label, Magnetic North, was on the rise and he unveiled the classic Alkaline 3dh (as Fly By Wire), among others. A next level career boost was round the corner when his Red trilogy were unleashed on Bush Records in 1994. These catapulted Clarke into a different league and he suddenly found himself remixing the likes of Kevin Saundersons Inner City, The Chemical Brothers, New Order, Depeche Mode, Moby, Leftfield and Underworld. Undisputed landmarks in techno, DJ Mag rightly incorporated Red in its All Time Techno Top 100 list.

Clarke's debut album Archive One followed, flecked with hints of breakbeat and electronica, a novelty in the puritanical techno scene of the time. Clarke's mix CDs include the techno/electro double World Service outings, one of which sold nearly 100,000 and made it into Resident Advisors top ten mix compilations of the 21st century. 

Clarke also continues to be a key player in the Amsterdam Dance Event where his Dave Clarke Presents event at Melkweg has sold out 11 consecutive years running. And then theres White Noise, Clarke's weekly radio show, a global institution and an indicator of where the scene is headed, more than 600 editions in and going out on over 100 FM partners worldwide.

Here Clarke casts light on aspiring producers he discovers in his Dropbox alongside more established artists.

"Ive never been interested in whats trendy and whats not", Clarke explains, "but the best music comes to me every single day and I want to share it"

His affiliation with technology makes him the perfect ambassador for brands such as Waves, Serato, Soundtoys and French gear manufacturer Arturia, as these are the tools of his trade.

Deep down, however, Dave Clarke continues to buck predictability and to do his own thing. He flies the flag for true techno spirit. Whether its pushing cutting edge sounds on far-flung dancefloors or producing the haunting Mark Lanegan-fronted Monochrome Sun from his new album, he has a consistency of vision and purpose rare in the ever-changing world of dance music.

In short, Dave Clarke might be established, but he will never be establishment.