A couple weeks ago UK-based DJ/Producer Redlight performed a DJ set warming up the crowd for Nero at The Crofoot. His set was a calmly-lit long fuse comprised of electronic dance and garage tracks that exploded into hip hop with propulsive rhythms tipping the crowd into a state of frenzy. Before his set I shared a beer with Hugh Pescod (Redlight) in his dressing room and talked about his latest album, X Colour, making videos and touring.
MCB – I was told you were going to go record shopping when you got in town – where did you go?
Redlight – Yes, I did I went to Peoples Records
MCB – What did you get?
Redlight – I got some old dance mania records and some acapellas.
MCB – Is buying records something you like to do when you tour?
Redlight – Yes, I get new records to sample. You have some many records in America that people sleep on over here but in England they are huge, like Detroit techno.
MCB – You’ve been DJing for 15 years...
Redlight – Yes, a long time.
MCB – What was the first instrument you played?
Redlight – The turntables. I mean I used to mess around with guitar and stuff, piano and saxophone. But really turntables is what I stayed with.
MCB – What first brought you to electronic music?
Redlight —I think the rave scene in England with hip hop and jungle, that’s what we were into. That was British street culture and the rest just came with it.
MCB – You’re here to promote your album X Colour?
Redlight – Yes, I know Nero and my manager asked me if I wanted to come to America to promote my album and do this tour for a bit. It’s a good opportunity to hit up different places. When I play America I do the usual places, LA, New York, San Diego and that’s it. So this a chance to see different places and hit up different cities.
MCB – This is your first time playing Detroit?
Redlight – Yes and I’ve loved it. I think it’s an incredible city. I want to come to Detroit more, it’s a good city. It feels like a very creative city, there’s a nice mix of different people.
MCB – Nero has an elaborate stage set, do you feel the need to do something more?
Redlight – Well I’m just DJing. I just need to play music people don’t hear much over here. That is my main thing. I’m not getting paid enough to do a stage show. I need to come out here and let people hear my music.
MCB – For people who aren’t familiar, what type of music do you play?
Redlight – British dance music. British electronic music. It’s what I make, cross-culture dance music. There’s house, garage and Jamaican influences. There’s some grime in there, just British music really.
MCB – How many gigs do you play in a year?
Redlight – I don’t know, maybe like a hundred days a year. On average 2 or 3 shows a week.
MCB – I think what is interesting about the life of a DJ is you go out and you play and you’re social, but then when you make music, you’re alone, isolated from people.
Redlight – Yes, it is solitary. But for me DJing can be quite solitary too. Because you are just DJing, you are not mixing it up with everybody. And sometimes that’s the way I like it. I don’t actually like to talk to anyone at a club, especially when you don’t know anyone. Like tonight, I just got here so I’m just coming to play music. Sometimes I like it like that. Come in, play some music and just walk off. Otherwise, what else am I going to do? Am I going to get drunk? I mean there’s nothing wrong with having a party and getting drunk but three times a week with studio work or travelling and meetings, you’ve got to watch it, you can’t party too hard. But I am also sure there will be one night this week when the drinks will flow, you know?
MCB – I was reading that you think about music in a very visual or cinematic perspective…
Redlight – Yes, of course. I think when you spend a lot of time in the studio your mind tends to go places. I think lots of artists do this. Look at Nero, they think they are in a noir movie don’t they? I get involved in my videos. The last video I directed (“Threshold”), we could have taken things a bit too far…
MCB – It is pretty extreme. And you were filming that POV?
Redlight – Some of the time. I’m fully tattooed, so sometimes I couldn’t do all of it. We use other people. At the end when we go up the Crane you can see his arms so I had to get my friends involved. It was good though. We shot it in Dubai and did the whole thing with GoPro. He goes up the crane on his own with no safety equipment. I just met him at the airport and he climbed the up the crane.
MCB – With electronic music, you bring in vocalists to sing on the tracks, do you write the lyrics?
Redlight – Yes, most of the time. I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my music and I want it a certain way. When I cut my album there’s a woman on it called Andrea Martin who wrote her own lyrics. She wouldn’t even let me in the room when she wrote it. And there’s a track with ASTR that I co-wrote it with them. It depends on who you’re working with.
MCB – Seems like you sound has evolved over time with more instrumentation…
Redlight – For X Colour that’s true. But, that’s not always the case. I think it’s because I was making an album and I wanted to incorporate more instruments. I can make club music all day long, that is what I am known for. But making a piece of work for an album is definitely a different technique and something I am still learning.
I’m happy with my album and releasing it on my label, Lobster Boy Recordings. I want to build on that and put more people’s music out and not do it through the majors. Doing it on my own instead, like XL, the way they started and now they are releasing people like Adele and the XX. You make a bit of money here, you lose a bit there, but, it’s all about the creativity and creating good music instead of creating money from music. We have a long journey ahead of us.
Interview and pics by Mike Pfeiffer of MPAD Media