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Interview: Marco Bailey - Breathing Fire

Electronic music is all about progression. Whether you’re talking in terms of genre, or production equipment.....

Change permanently has the accelerator pressed down. But while new ideas, and fresh faces are needed to help a scene thrive, without those hardworking, never say die stalwarts we'd be nowhere. Enter Marco Bailey, one such figurehead who easily ranks on the list of Belgium's biggest musical exports.

After emerging from the fertile lowlands of mid-90s Europe he quickly developed a reputation for the kind of hardworking DJ sets that make people sweat. He also established MB Elektronics & MB Selektions, outlets that would go on to feature legends like Ben Sims, Umek, and Adam Beyer, while Pornographic Recordings was set up with Christian Valera, as an outlet to promote talent from the great unknown.

A true petrol head, his promising career in Motocross came to an end as injuries prevailed, forcing him to concentrate on making and playing motoring techno instead. A reputation as a true man of the four four faith proceeds him wherever he goes, as the self-confessed party animal and workaholic producer continues to spread the gospel globally.

Bringing it back up to date, last year Bailey's first 12”s appeared on John Digweed and Nick Muir's legendary Bedrock imprint. Those singles will now be joined by Dragon Man on February 14th - his highly anticipated 12-track release boasting that same distinguished label. Clearly then, it's about time we caught up with him to find out more about the new LP, what's wrong with Ibiza, and how healthy techno is.

Marco Bailey Album Minimix by John Digweed on Mixcloud

Spotlight: Hi Marco, what have you been up to of late then?

Marco Bailey: Hi, it's been busy. I just did an event I put on two or three times a year, a label party in Belgium. In a couple of weeks I'm doing another party with John Digweed too.

Yeah, that's at Silo too right? What attracts you to the venue?

I usually use that club, it's a cool place - really dark and underground, easily one of the best clubs in Belgium. It's also situated in a really central location, which means people can get there easily from all over the country.

Obviously the party with John Digweed is for Dragon Man, what brought about the move onto Bedrock?

I really like to work with John. He doesn't ever say ‘it should be like this' or ‘make it like that'. Two years ago I was in Ibiza with Carl Cox, and I gave a track that I had made to John. It wasn't something I thought was specific to Bedrock, but he played it out, and then released it a couple of weeks later. We've stayed in touch since then.

It certainly sounds like a Bedrock release. Was that intended?

The album comes from what I am. There are downtempo tracks, and some techno tracks. I've had this question from a few people, who say ‘it sounds like Bedrock'. Why do they ask this question? It sounds like Marco Bailey- it has to. It doesn't need to sound like A or B, it needs to sound like Marco Bailey, and what I stand for.

I'm playing all the tracks, that's the most important thing. Imagine making an album and you don't play one thing from it. It's crazy. The only things I am not using are the downtempo tunes, which are there for album purposes. I see producers making albums that are all house, or all techno, or all tech-house or all dubstep. Why bother? Just put out four 12”s instead.

So, do you think the techno scene is healthy right now?

It's still, for me, very interesting. But is it healthy? I don't know… I think with the whole scene, not just techno, there is a bit of an overkill of clubs and stuff. You can't expect everywhere to be full every Friday, so we have to watch out and keep things strong. I still believe in it, and still hear interesting music each week, which is the important thing.

Is the pressure now on producers to keep it interesting then?

Yes, it's down to producers, and it's down to everything else too, you know. I think people really need to start going out again. 20 years ago there was no internet, or Facebook. Now people are sitting in front of a computer on a Saturday night so when it gets to midnight or 1am they're too tired.

When I started playing people were happy to go out, they were happy when the weekend arrived. It's a sad thing, but this is 2011 and what are you going to do? Hopefully people will become happy again to actually go out to see a DJ, and listen to good music.

‘They' say the global recession could inspire more passionate partying, like it did in 1991. Any thoughts on that?

I don't know. I don't think so. For each person the impact will be different, and you cannot compare the two, as the whole world is completely changed. If I had a crystal ball I could answer that, but as I don't it's impossible to say.

You've deservedly achieved veteran status as a DJ and party animal. Any sign of the latter waning with maturity?

I am still the same fool I ever was. When I go to a club I want to rock it, you know. I want the crowd to go crazy, and not open my laptop or box and just think ‘this is what I'm doing, I don't give a shit about it'.

But I also want to have a good time, it's important. If you just play, look at the mixer and do nice things, without looking to see what the floor is like, then people don't take it the right way.

Your original ambitions centred on motor sport. Any regrets?

No, that was a long time ago- over 20 years have passed, and every person changes. I still love it; it's still in my veins, that's true. But music is my profession and my life. I ride a little when I have some free time, and Carl Cox is still a fan too- he's making a tour of Australia on his bike that you can follow on Facebook. It's nice to have something to care about outside music, something to disconnect your brain with.

It can't be very often when you have much spare time. Do you plan on continuing to release music as regularly?

Yes. I just finished the album, and already have something new that I'm working on. I'm not the kind of person that can make an LP and then spend six months not doing anything- it's not me.

Is there anything particularly exciting coming up then?

Well, I'll be getting to work on my own label again after the Bedrock album. There's some great stuff lined up there, like a release from Sasha Carassi, who has also appeared on Adam Beyer's label. And I have some music to put out myself, including plans to work on Carl Cox's imprint.

Is there anywhere you have been recently where the party has particularly stood out?

A lot of people say it, but for me Japan is always fantastic. Especially Tokyo. I have played there now four or five years running, and each time it's great, one of the best places in the world for me to DJ. The people have a great kindness and respect.

When you play and get something back from the people it's great. And then, of course, playing with Carl in Ibiza is amazing. It's almost like a festival, with 7-8,000 people inside, and non-commercial music.

So Ibiza is still a jewel in Europe's crown for you then?

Definitely, yes, for sure, for sure. People say it's commercial but that is bullshit. You have some great parties out there too. The only problem is with the police. It was necessary to step in to an extent, as maybe it was getting a little too crazy with all the after-hours stuff. But they need to leave some of it, so it doesn't die completely. We all have to live!

Finally, what's pleasing you about music in 2011?

I love stuff like Boards of Canada. I'm really into this downtempo ambient style, but after playing as Marco Bailey for so long I can't start again. I love techno, so wouldn't want to, but it would be good to combine everything. I'd also like to make a drum n bass track, and good dubstep. I'd love to produce it all, but only have two hands.

Marco Bailey releases Dragon Man via Bedrock Records on February 14th.

01. Dragon Man
02. Bill the Trumpet Player
03. Rubber Band
04. Run Through
05. Bom Bang!
06. Holding the Moment
07. Zephyr
08. Break the Rules
09. Beaming
10. Red Cell

CD2: Mixed by Marco Bailey
01. Red Cell
02. Beaming
03. Rubber Band
04. Zephyr
05. Jungle Laps
06. Run Through
07. Watergate
08. Break the Rules
09. Bom Bang!
10. Bill the Trumpet Player
11. Dragon Man
12. Holding the Moment

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