Whether he’s taking the roof off a club with his unique selection of deep and tough house music, enchanting a backroom with a genre-bending set of disco, Balearic, rock, and hip-hop, or playing chillout music by a pool in Ibiza, Bill Brewster is the man for all occasions.
Brewster began his professional career a punk rocker, a chef, and also the co-editor of football magazine "When Saturday Comes," but has been a record digger all of his life. He began DJing in the 1980s but came into his own in the early 1990s, particularly during a two-year stint in New York where nights at the Sound Factory and hanging out with Danny Tenaglia gave him the musical grounding you can still hear in his music today. He's also recognized as one of the founding residents of fabric, a position he held for five years. There are few still playing regularly today that have his dedication, eclecticism, and encyclopedic knowledge of music.
Away from DJing, the UK artist writes alongside long-term partner-in-crime Frank Broughton; together, they've written four books, including the legendary "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, How To DJ (Properly)" and their most recent, "The Record Players."
Brewster's podcast is full of fun-loving summer jams, and perfect for an afternoon outdoors session on the beach or at a BBQ. It was recorded in preparation for his upcoming performance at Croatia's Love International, taking place from July 3 to July 10. "I wanted to do a mix that actually felt like it could be on a boat bobbing about on the Adriatic," Brewster explains.
What have you been up to recently?
The usual stuff really. DJing a lot at the weekends, writing and doing various other half-baked schemes during the week, hanging out with my kids, buying bits of art, and despairing over Grimsby Town’s results. I’ve got a few book ideas on the go at the moment, but I don’t want to talk about them in case they get jinxed. Other than that, the normal claptrap that fills my days somehow.
When and where was this mix recorded?
It was recorded in my office, in sunny Bedford in Bedfordshire. I’ll send you a photo, so you can go “cor!” at the wonder of it all.
How did you choose the records that you included?
I wanted to mainly use new or recent releases, though there are a few oldies in there. But also I wanted to do a mix that actually felt like it could be on a boat bobbing about on the Adriatic, since the mix is in support of my set at Love International. I love Croatia and I love the atmosphere at the festival, so I wanted to try and recreate that but in an empty room except for me and an over-excitable cockapoo called Mavis (I’ll send you a picture of her, too, she’s cuter than me).
What’s the key to a good DJ set?
Personality, pacing, emotion, taste, and track selection, not necessarily in that order. A good selector always beats a good mixer, hands down. There are too many good producers who are shit DJs making a living these days.
How many records do you plan ahead in a set?
Well I might have a general idea which direction I want to go, but the great thing about DJing is that the crowd frequently takes you somewhere else than you’d initially anticipated, so I rarely actually plan more than one record at a time, and even then, I’ll often change my mind at the last minute.
How does this mix compare to one of your club sets?
The darkness in a nightclub always suggests a different soundtrack than a festival, especially one in such a sunny locale as Tisno in Croatia, so I guess I’d make it darker and deeper in a club. Hopefully this will evoke memories of sunny days, something we don’t get many of in the UK!
Speaking more generally, where do you do your digging for new records?
Recommendations from friends, listening to other DJs, hanging out in record stores, rifling through endless digital files in my email inbox, and listening to new releases at online stores like Junodownload. Same as everyone else, I’d imagine.
What are you looking for in the records you buy?
What I’m looking for is not just that the song or track is good but there’s something that is a “me record” about it, too, which means generally it would have great percussion or drums for starters, because I can’t stand stiff, "unfunky" tunes. It needs to schwiiing. I do try and find things that are not being played by everyone else, which is to do these days, and make them my own.
What’s next on the horizon?
More books, lots of festivals and clubs, more journalism, and I’m trying to build a website at the moment and get back in the studio with my buddy Ray Mang. Oh, and more tea. Lots and lots of it.
Due to issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here.
01. Moloko “Party Weirdo” (Echo)
02. Reggie Got Beats & Vebjørn Mamen “Fascination” (La Felix Remix) (Sidekick Music)
03. Oliver $ “Outer Drive” (Classic Music Company)
04. Marcel Vogel “Fuck The Bass Up” (Lumberjacks From Hell)
05. Amadeo “Real Magic” (Edit) (Elver)
06. Edmony Krater “An Ba Jouk” (Olivier Portal Playin 4 The Beach Remix) (Heavenly Sweetness)
07. The Internet “Roll (Burbank Funk)” (Sony)
08. Hipnotic “Are You Lonely?” (Opolopo Rework) (Street Level)
09. Patrick Gibin ft. Javonntte & Mark de Clive Lowe “I Like To Show You” (Eglo)
10. Yüksek ft. Villa “Showbiz” (Purple Disco Machine Edit) (Club Sweat)
11. Richard Sen & Cazbee “Gone Crazy” (Autodiscotheque)
12. The Spirals “Bomba” (Darkroom Dubs)
13. Giovanni Damico “Sound Of Revolution” (Lumberjacks From Hell)
14. Foremost Poets “Flowers In The Attic” (unreleased)
15. Lou Rawls “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (Kenny Summit, Frankie Knuckles & Eric Kupper Unreleased Anthem) (Good For You)
16. Wabine “The Martians Visit” (Wabine)