Youll have to look hard to find anyone with a bad word to
say about Carl Cox. The big man is renowned for his outgoing, friendly
personality and is always ready to stop and chat with his legions
of fans. People might occasionally moan about the music he plays,
but no-one can deny his skills. One of the few DJs accepted in both
commercial and underground clubs, Carl Cox is a living, breathing
advert for dance music.
Carl Cox was born in Manchester, but grew up in London. His first
taste of DJing was playing records at his parents house parties
and from an early age he juggled his tastes in both dance and rock
music. Although a decent footballer, he left school with just a
couple of qualifications and trained as an electrician at college.
Young Carl was a bit of a naughty boy at times and spent three months
in a detention centre at the age of 17, an experience he now describes
as educational. In his early twenties he moved to Brighton, danced
on long-forgotten TV show Solid Soul and pursued a career as a mobile
DJ, playing soul, disco and funk around Brighton.
On the strength of his reputation, Danny Rampling brought Carl
in to DJ at Shoom in 1987, one of the defining Balearic house clubs
of the age, only to sack him after two weeks because, Carl has alleged,
he outshone Rampling on the decks. Carl retreated to Brighton where
he took up a residence at The Zap Club and built his name on the
rave scene. It was at Sunrises Midsummers Night Dream
event in 1989 where Carl really made his name, as fifteen thousand
ravers saw Carl play on three turntables, mixing and scratching
it up in a way few had ever seen before. The Three Deck Wizard
nickname stuck and soon Cox was headlining every major rave in the
At the turn of the nineties, the UK dance scene began to fracture,
splitting down the middle. On the one side were clubs like Boys
Own, Flying and Venus, rediscovering dress codes and playing as
much rock and indie alongside Italian house. On the other was rave,
and it was here Cox found his place for the next few year, rejecting
what he saw as the elitism of the London club scene. Yet as rave
went darker and darker, descending into the hardcore from which
drumnbass would ultimately develop, Carls party-pleasing
instincts told him that it was time to move on.
Flyers began to appear with the words Carl Cox (house set),
although he was essentially playing the same set hed played
at Sunrise years before, an open, accessible, good-times blend of
pumping and uplifting hard house and Euro techno. Coxs versatility
began to pay off and spent the mid-nineties period criss-crossing
the globe, able to play different sets in different clubs in a way
few others could and reaching an enormous global audience.
In 1994, Cox released his first mix album, F.A.C.T. The following
year he headlined the last night of the first ever dance tent at
Glastonbury, pulling a crowd of thousands - far too many to fit
into the tent itself. In 1996 he launched his own club night, Ultimate
BASE in conjunction with Jim Masters and Today Ultimate BASE is
one of the few remaining techno/underground nights in London and
continues to pack em in every Thursday. Yet in 1998 the punishing
pace of his DJ schedule and the stress caused by his divorce caught
up with him and he was rushed to hospital suffering from exhaustion.
His recording career began with a bang in 1991, when Paul Oakenfold
signed him to the newly-formed Perfecto label for a five-album deal.
Carl scored a top twenty hit with his first release, the ravey I
Want You (Forever) released under the name of The Carl Cox Experience.
But musical differences soon became apparent and, under pressure
to produce pop hits, Perfecto dropped Cox.
He fought back by launching his own label, MMR, which ran for a
couple of years, before being replaced by Worldwide Ultimatum, a
spin-off of his Ultimate Management company which, for a good five
years, represented many top techno DJs like Laurent Garnier and
Josh Wink. As well as Carls own material, Worldwide Ultimatum
largely concentrated on new or little-known artists like Josh Abrahams,
Earl Grey and DJ Dan, as well as the output of Carls old friends
like Trevor Rockcliffe. Last year Carl launched his latest label,
In-Tec, to release club-oriented singles from the cream of the European
Coxs own recording career has never really come close to
matching the success of his DJing, however. To date hes released
two solo albums, 1996s At The End Of The Cliché and
1999s Phuture 2000. Despite considerable publicity, neither
received much in the way of critical acclaim or sales, but he continues
to record in his home studio, saying that its his status as
an international DJ which has so far prevented people taking his
solo work seriously.