LAST month on October 19, Amsterdam Dance Event hosted the first-ever live interview with the mystifying Claptone, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of hit single No Eyes.
BBC Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard asked the questions and provided a rare glimpse into the defining moments that have shaped the man behind the golden mask.
The one-off event delved deep into the captivating world of Claptone’s illustrious career. The conference space was fully transformed into a truly immersive Claptone experience, taking the audience into a captivating atmosphere that perfectly complimented the artist’s enigmatic persona.
The audience got a rare glimpse into the milestones and defining moments that have shaped Claptone’s meteoric rise to fame. With an exclusive selection of behind-the-scenes footage, live and archive shots, and highlights of Claptone’s most notable achievements, the experience left everyone enlightened.
Danny Howard also joined Claptone for The Masquerade party on October 20 at the Afas Live venue in Amsterdam playing alongside the man in the mask and his other special guests Sonny Fedora, WADE and Nora En Pure.
We caught up with Claptone and he’s compiled a playlist for us which he says will provide: “A deep insight into a DJ’s mind when selecting music for a setlist with Claptone.”
Listen to Claptone’s choices and read what the enigmatic hit-maker had to say about the music below.
Claptone – The Big Easy
“Let’s start my deep insight into a DJ and producer’s mind with a track of my own. I named it ’The Big Easy’ because the sample and the added brass section reminds me of easy listening tunes and it’s got that underlying Ska feel smuggled into the House beats. But this one’s to big in bounce to be easy. I love to work with samples and flip them into something you wouldn’t expect at all. As a listener you know the element, but I tease you with the way I slice and dice it, I build it up, I break it down, and the way I improvise over it.”
“Yes I do listen to promos myself. The pure amount of club music output today is insane. But every once in a while you think you found a gem. I’d say 200 Tracks and you’ll find one track you wanna make an edit of a play in your DJ sets. I always do edits to sharpen the arrangement and sometimes even to exchange vocals, add or deduct other elements. In a next step I test that provisional gem in the club and in 30% of the cases I find that I was wrong and the track is not as good as I thought it was. After the first test run last weekend I’d go I feel confident enough to say: ‚One Pill‘ is a winner. VNSSA focusses on the trippy guitar and vocals of Jefferson Airplane’s ‚White Rabbit‘ and put this cleverly on top of killer beats and bassline.”
Zakes Bantwini – Osama (Claptone Remix)
“When someone offered me to remix this amazing track some time back I immediately said yes. But that happened almost 2 years ago and my ‚Osama‘ remix saw an official release only a few days ago. I spare you the details of the why so late. When you do a remix, sometimes it takes ages until it gets released or it does not get released at all. The regular music lover doesn’t know this, but it happens. As a remixer you can’t do anything, your hands are tied. This is a great song and remix regardless of the time passed, it already stood the test of time. I know cause I played it exclusively over two years in my sets and still play it, but I wish it would have been released sooner.”
Yolanda Be Cool – Segunda ft. Jonjon
“A lot of tracks that get released right now are fast for my standards in house music, they have a tempo of 128bpm, 130bpm or even faster. This one is no exception. Making it fast adds to the power of the track and adds to your immanent excitement when you listen the track. But very often the groove suffers and the funk of a groove for me is what makes you wanna dance. ‚Segunda’ is one of these faster tracks, that wouldn’t quite fit into my definition of groovy house music, but here, like in some other cases the track works very well pitched down and in rare cases – like with this one – the funk comes back in through the backdoor.”
Afromento – Human Wave (DJ Fudge Remix)
“I love classic sun and funkfilled House, but there’s not many tracks that can keep up with the more digital bouncy tracks that are dominating today. Most House productions with the human, the disco, the analogue touch don’t integrate too well into my sets today. The fact that this one does makes it a rare gem. ‘Human Wave (DJ Fudge Remix)’ just out, but I know I’m gonna play it lots.”
Avillo, Basura Boyz – Backseat
“Being a DJ and deep into this music it might sound strange, but I didn’t hear about neither Avillo or Basura Boyz before this release. On the other hand that’s the beauty about the flood of dance music, you can discover interesting new acts every day. I was playing a gig with Fatboy Slim the week I got sent this promo and loved how they employed a Sample he used for the Mighty Dub Katz ‚Magic Carpet Ride‘ back in the 90s. It’s just a millisecond long sample but triggers so many precious memories for me. I since did my own version combining it with a spooky hookline from another record, something I do very often to make my sets even more unique.”
Smalltown DJs, Joanna Magik – Energy ft. Techno Tupac
“The Smalltown DJs might be unknown to the world but I know these guys since almost 20 years. It’s safe to say that I always wanna play what they release, but over the years I never really ended up playing their productions in DJ sets. My point is that in the end it’s not so much about how much you like or dislike the people who produce the music, it’s about the music itself and if the music does the trick for you and on your dancefloors. With ‚Energy‘ Smalltown DJs now deliver something both me and my crowd just love.”
Tim Hidgem – Din Daa Daa
“Sometimes you find a classic that you wanna rework, like I did some years ago with ’Din Daa Daa’. You produce a demo, you play it out and then you try to clear the sample which usually takes ages, but with George Kranz it didn’t. He just wanted to grab dinner and talk and if he liked you he’d find a deal which enables you to release your version. I doubt Tim Hidgem did that, but then again, what do i know. My point is just that there is another way to release your version and that’s the one where you just do it and see if you track gets big enough for someone to register that and starts complaining. If that happens it’s a small hit already and you might have to give up on all your income through royalties but at least as an upcoming artist you can push your career. Way three leads straight to hell: You use a sample don’t clear it and the rights holder sues you, but let’s no go there. Tim Hidgem just put out a great version of ’Din Daa Daa’ with some serious punch, I love it.”
Dombresky – Too Soon
“Dombresky is on my radar since his ’Soul Sacrifice’ and it’s safe to say that he stayed true to his Soul, Disco, Funk roots with his latest release. Claptone comes from the sound you produce when you clap your hands and I’ve always been an advocate of organic sounding house music with deep roots in the styles mentioned. Today I like it best when producers are able to combine that oldschool feeling with the digital punch new technology offers. ‘Too Soon’ is a great example.”
The Director – Undercranking
“Once in a while you find music that you know is not gonna be big in any club charts, but you appreciate the fresh and radical approach of a newcomer. You can hear references that you haven’t heard in dance music for quite a while and feel inspired. ‚Undercranking‘ does this for me with it’s nod at French House and Big Beat well even to Blog House while at the same time being a stepcousin of ‚Afraid to Feel‘ by LF System.”