When they see him DJ, many people assume that John Digweed must
be a miserable git. Those who know him, however, tell a different
story; his stony face in the DJ booth is simply because hes
concentrating so much on what hes doing. He didnt become
famous for long, crafted sets and perfect mixing by dancing around
like a loon and shaking hands with every wide-eyed clubber who wanders
up, you know.
John Digweed always wanted to be a DJ. He began sneaking into
clubs in his native Hastings on the south coast of England at the
age of 15. He spent two years working part-time as a gardener to
save up for his first pair of decks, before landing his first gig
in a local hotel. After that came a Friday night residency at the
Savannah club in Brighton.
Things really started to happen when John moved to London to work
as a bar manager and paid a visit to the Delirium night at Heaven,
the influential venue which has contributed more than most to the
UK dance scene. Inspired by what hed seen he abandoned any
thoughts of a career in the bar industry, returned to Hastings and
set up a night at local club The Crypt. On a whim, he named the
night Bedrock and booked local boy Norman Cook as his first guest.
Then John hooked up with another local promoter, Martin Webb,
and together they launched Storm at Hastings pier. The first night
featured Derrick May, Grooverider and Harvey, sold out in days and
over the next couple of years became one of the most successful
parties on the south coast.
All this time, John had been mailing out his mixtapes to all and
sundry. One found its way to Pete Tong, who gave John a break on
his Friday night Radio 1 show and helped him get a gig at a weekender
in Pwlheli, Wales, alongside Paul Oakenfold and Graeme Park. He
progressed to a warm-up residency at Rage, the infamous Thursday
night at Heaven credited with the birth of jungle/drumnbass,
where he met Nick Muir, who would become his partner in all future
By 1992 or so John was a regular on the south coast circuit, but
little known anywhere else. Then he got the break which really made
the difference; another of his tapes found its way to Geoff Oakes,
whod launched Renaissance in Mansfield with Sasha as resident
DJ. Digweeds tape was exactly what Oakes was looking for and
after impressing Renaissance with his debut set, Digweed joined
Sasha as a resident.
The Renaissance residency was the making of John Digweed. All
of a sudden, clubs across the UK wanted to book him. He initially
held out for six months, but became one of the biggest DJs in the
country over the next couple of years and won the DMC DJ Of TheYear
award in 1995. Meanwhile, Sasha and John had become firm friends,
forming a partnership that would last until the present day.
In 1995, Digweed launched the monthly Northern Exposure night
at The Zap in Brighton, with Sasha and himself installed as the
resident and only DJs. Northern Exposure moved to The Old Barn in
Kent for six successful months; in fact it was so successful that
Northern Exposure went on to tour the UK and Sasha and Digweed signed
a three-album deal with Ministry Of Sound Recordings.
Since they met, Sasha and John have DJed together all over the
globe. They are especially popular in the US, particularly in the
Florida and San Francisco areas, and today hold a prestigious residency
at Twilo, New York.
But things change fast in the fickle world of dance music and progressive
trance mutated into epic house in the mid-nineties,
associated with endless breakdowns, pompous, overblown trance tracks
beset by weak vocals. Sasha and Digweed were criticised as the worst
offenders. They adjusted their sound as a result, introducing breakbeats
and cutting out much of the weaker material, but point out that
some of the key producers whose material was condemned as epic house
are amongst the most popular nowadays, such as Paul van Dyk and
Johns musical career began in 1994 with Bedrocks For
What You Dream Of, released on Positiva and later gaining notoriety
for its inclusion on the Trainspotting soundtrack. He and Nick Muir
have remixed Danny Tenaglia, Farley & Heller and Satoshi Tomeii
and their latest creation, Heaven Scent, charted at number 35 in
Even as his DJing career flourished, John still wanted to keep
the Bedrock name alive and, although there was a three-year hiatus,
he currently promotes and DJs at Bedrock parties in three cities,
Brighton, Dublin and London, which sees John return to a London
residency for the first time since Rage, at Heaven, co-incidentally.
The night runs on a Thursday so as to attract a crowd into the music
and also take advantage of the fact that guest DJs are easier to
come by on midweek night.