When Englandís Lee Burridge plays at a club, itís hard to tell who is having more fun--the crowd on the floor, or the madman in the DJ booth.
What goes through this madman's head while heís playing? What does he think about, how does he pick his tracks, and what role do you, the crowd, play in shaping the experience for him?
Once again, Lee Burridge offers us the unique opportunity to see things through his eyes. In a review of his set at Spybar in Chicago, Lee tells all From the Booth.
BEFORE THE SET
Clubplanet: For the show tonight, youíll be playing at Spybar for the first time. Talk about what itís like playing in a new venue in a place like Chicago that youíre so familiar with?
Lee Burridge: Itís much more of a challenge playing a new city or country. Iíve played many different venues in Chicago and the constant is always the crowd. They make or break the night ultimately, so although I am looking forward to playing Spybar, Iíve really only been thinking about how much fun itís going to be coming back to Chicago.
Youíre playing an extended set (four hours). Do you approach a set like this differently than you would a standard set?
Not really. I try to play Ďextended setsí everywhere. Two hours is so limiting! When you get the chance to play for longer itís possible to move between musical genres and energy levels with much more grace!
What do you look forward to when preparing for a gig like this?
The money and the hookers.
What are your expectations for the evening from the crowd?
Iím excited. Iíve been coming to Chicago for many years now and Iíve made a lot of friends during that time. Apart from seeing them, thereís always a core crowd of music lovers who know whatís up and actually dance opposed to standing around scratching their chins and waiting for me to screw up a mix.
Any surprises planned?
Itís a surprise...
Are there tracks that you are looking forward to playing tonight? What kind of reaction do you hope these tracks will produce when you play them?
Iíve got to the point at home where my record collection has taken over, so I decided to spend a week before I left the U.K. going through 26,000 records and getting rid of some of them. Iíve so far boxed up around 6,000 to get rid of, but during the process of this purge Iíve unearthed some old tracks which Iíd forgotten about or just couldnít find.
Iíve been playing a mix of old and new in the last few weeks and have gotten some great reactions from people who recognize these tracks and also from people who havenít ever heard them before.
You know that thereís a lot of excitement about your first visit in nearly a year, does this add any pressure or excitement to the gig?
It does now! Has it been a year already? Iíve got to get back to Chicago more often.
From your perspective, what do you hope to do tonight?
Same as always. Give people a good night out.
DURING THE SET
What did you think of the atmosphere of the venue when you arrived?
The atmosphere was perfect. Loads of girls, which is always a good start as a room full of men isnít my idea of a great night out.
So this was your first time playing in Spybar -- what'd you think of it?
The venue was the best small club Iíve played in Chicago since Red No. 5.
And the sound system?
Itís the first thing I noticed when I arrived. Itís got great sound. Not too overwhelming but at the same time very full. I like it when you donít have to drive a system like crazy and in the process hurt peopleís ears! Excellent sound system.
What stood out for you about the club itself?
A few things. I think this place has been built with love and passion for music in every way. The owners were really excited about their place and what they want to give to people and it shows. They have managed to get a really good mix of a club crowd and new people discovering this sort of music. Everyone including security was friendly and as I said above the sound was dope
How do things like the atmosphere, venue and sound system influence how you approach a set?
Bad atmosphere, bad sound, bad venue = bad start! I guess if itís bad from the start the set suffers but I always approach things the same way which is to try my hardest to make people lose their heads!
How do you feel about playing in small vs. larger venues?
Bigger rooms are great if you have the crowd to fill them, but small venues always allow you to twist people a lot more as they are a single crowd. In big rooms, it always seems like there's lots of little groups of people making up one mass and they donít always seem to react as a single group of people.
How did the opening DJ (Kyle Smurzlo) set things up for you?
He was excellent. Really good jacking house music. I wish I could have heard more of his set.
Youíve said that you have a lot of respect for crowds in Chicago, what did you think of the crowd tonight?
They were in a better condition than I was. Wicked crowd.
Whatís it like seeing familiar faces in the crowd in a city like Chicago?
Intimidating as I know thereís an after party looming.
How does the crowd influence how you play throughout the night? If so, how did you deal with it?
Depends if they walk off the dance floor. If that happens I guess I should change what Iím playing! Iíve never really been a crowd pleaser playing hit after hit, so I always find a few people donít dance to every record I play but I know within one or two tracks theyíll be back.
What were you favorite parts about the night?
It was the birthday of two friends and another friend wanted a microphone to wish them a happy birthday. Usually, I wouldnít do this but tonight I thought, okay. So the search for the microphone began.
After finding it my friend who I thought was just going to say happy birthday, inhaled some helium from one of the birthday balloons and started saying some crazy stuff about ďhey, hey, heyÖ itís party timeĒ and other stuff in a high pitched voice. HELL NO!!! Funny, but not really what I wanted playing over music!
Did anything go wrong during that night?
Plenty! I arrived in a pretty bad state. Iíd been feeling really, really unwell since 3am the previous morning and still felt terrible. My flight out of New York was delayed and instead of arriving at 8pm I got to the hotel at midnight.
Of course there was no time to eat so I came down to Spybar and seeing as Iím still playing vinyl I donít think the turntables had been sound checked. One side was fine, but the other wasnít working so we went through three different stylus before finding one that was working but even that one was having issues. It was a lot quieter than the other deck and was still feeding back a bit.
There was also a problem with the filter on the mixer, which was doing some weird thing to the sound when I turned it. It cut everything out. I use the filters a lot so this was a bit of a problem. The booth is set up towards DJs playing CDs so I had to put my records on a ledge on the floor but the ledge wasnít quite big enough. During the middle of a mix they fell over onto my leg so I was trying to mix and stop them spilling out all over the floor. Ahhhh!!!!
All these problems aside I really enjoyed it. I suffer the curse of playing vinyl. Not many clubs seem ready for that these days.
If you were reviewing your performance at Spybar, what would you say about your set?
Due to the technical problems at the start it wasnít my best. I was sorting out technical issues instead of playing in a relaxed state and also feeling really unwell the whole time definitely didnít help at all but I think the night went well.
Afterwards, as youíre packing up in the hotel and getting ready to fly out the next city, what do you take from each gig?
I always steal an ashtray.
How has the 365 concept influenced your DJing?
Itís made me want to stay in lots of different cities for more than the usual one night. It really has an effect on the interaction between myself and the crowd.
Youíve been busy aside from DJing and have launched a label, Almost Anonymous. Talk a little about that.
Itís something Iíve wanted to do for years but have been too lazy to get around to. The label is going to start out life as a vehicle for all the tracks Iíve made with producers from around the world during the first year of 365. Iíve been making tracks for a few years and didnít get around to putting them out, so Almost Anonymous is going to give me that opportunity.
The first release is the collaboration with Dan F. The track is called ďTreat Ďem Mean Keep Ďem KeenĒ and has been getting played by the few DJs I gave it to during the summer. Jamesís Lavelle and Zabiela, Nic Fanciulli have been playing it as well as Sasha and John (Digweed), but my favorite DJ who has been playing it is a DJ from Egypt called DJ Sphinx Rider or something like that. I saw it in his online chart. I guess he cut it out of an online mix of mine! Iím releasing it in November and am planning on putting out a track every two months.
Iíve just finished a track called ďHeadache in B MinorĒ with Ty Tek and Little Mike from Denver which Iím looking forward to putting out as it is totally mean!
Whatís next for Lee Burridge?
Iím working on a new mix CD project for next year. Itís a totally different approach. Ask me about it again early next year!
Anything you would like to add?
Make sure you see the movie An Inconvenient Truth if you want a planet left to dance on.
Lee Burridge will launch his 365 New York residency on September 29 at Pacha, where he will be performing with James Holden. He also recently launched a 365 residency in Los Angeles and Mexico City, and will be appearing in the following cities:
September 22 San Francisco, CA @ Mezzanine
September 29 New York, NY @ Pacha with JAMES HOLDEN
October 6 Charlotte, NC @ Eden
October 7 Toronto, CANADA @ Foot Work
October 13 Mexico City, MEXICO @ Roots
October 14 Los Angeles, CA @ Vanguard with DAMIAN LAZARUS
October 20 Miami, FL @ Twilo
October 21 Denver, CO @ Vinyl
October 27 Montreal, CANADA @ Stereo
November 3 Reykjavik, ICELAND @ NASA
November 10 Mexico City, MEXICO @ Continental
November 11 Los Angeles, CA @ Vanguard with LOCO DICE
November 16 St Louis, MO @ OZ Nightclub
November 17 Vancouver, CANADA @ Celebrities
November 18 Edmonton, CANADA @ Y Afterhours
December 1 Toronto, CANADA @ This Is London
December 2 Santo Domingo, DR @ Loft
December 8 Mexico City, MEXICO @ City Hall
December 9 Los Angeles, CA
Check out Wantickets.com for tickets.
Photo Credits: Tina Wagner
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