ITM’s Honour Roll #8: Andrew Weatherall
Tue 3rd Jan, 2012 Features 1156 viewsin
If you’re a fan of electronic dance music, you’re probably aware of Andrew Weatherall’s legacy – even if you were born after he rose to prominence at the end of the last century. A Renaissance man in the early days of the UK’s seminal acid-house and warehouse-party scene, Weatherall wrote and edited his own fanzine while developing a reputation as a top-notch DJ, known for impeccable taste and a sense of adventure.
Soon he was co-founding a record label (Boy’s Own, which morphed into house mainstay Junior Boy’s Own after Weatherall later quit) and overseeing remixes and production for a string of landmark releases from Happy Mondays, New Order and Primal Scream – whose 1991 album Screamadelica revolutionised indie electronica thanks in part to Weatherall’s funky beats and dubbed-up ambience.
As time passed and the industry exploded, Weatherall eschewed the limelight, unlike some of his overexposed peers. He’s kept it steady for two decades, content to let his influence be felt through groups like Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen; production work for various acts including Beth Orton and Fuck Buttons; and his own highly respected record labels (the latest of which is Rotters Golf Club).
Only recently did he finally release an album under his own name – 2009’s A Pox on the Pioneers, which featured his own gritty lead vocals. He’s also remained a tireless DJ troubadour, fuelled by a boyish enthusiasm for every kind of music from minimal techno to rockabilly.
Weatherall will be bringing his supreme talents to Australia for only the second time next month for a series of DJ gigs. Despite being under the weather, he took some time out shortly before Christmas to talk about his current doings as well as his many extracurricular interests – living up to his reputation as a gentleman and a raconteur. Who could be more fitting for the first inthemix Honour Roll feature of 2012?
This upcoming tour of Australia will only be your second time here. How was the first time round in 2009?
Some good gigs, some not-so-good gigs, but it was a nice tour. You always come back with new ideas, fresh music in your head, so all in all it was pretty successful. The crowds were really good, but very polite.
At English gigs, sometimes you get people who think that because they’ve been around, they know you, and are a little bit cheeky. But [in Australia], everyone was very respectful, and very interested in the music I’ve been doing over the years, so yeah, it was really nice…It was a really welcoming place.
Will we be treated to the famous long Weatherall sets?
I hope so! [laughs] I don’t want to outstay my welcome! I do like to work for my money. Three hours is good, four hours is better, five hours is even better than that. But I think [the sets will be] sort of three hours; three and a half hours.
Do you play different music when you’re touring than you would back home in London?
No, not really. If I’m playing at a smaller club, and it’s more housey, I play more housey – I tailor myself to the venue and the club. But I don’t tailor the sound when I cross borders. There’s no point – people want to hear what I’m doing in London, rather than what I think they want to hear in their home city, what they’ve heard a million times already. They might want to listen to something different.
One of your calling cards is your eclectic style of mixing. Do you plan your diverse sets well in advance?
Not really. Yeah, in the days before the gig I listen to a lot of music and kind of work out the bare bones of the mix; a kind of skeleton. But in that skeleton, there’s various branches for me to escape should the crowd so wish, or should I so wish.
I don’t work it out to the last record cause that would just get a little bit tedious. There’s a skeleton I take with me, and then things branch off and as time goes by it forms another kind of skeleton – it’s ever-evolving, but there’s always a kind of central nervous system to the whole thing.