The Student Pocket Guide | Eddie Halliwell Interview

So Eddie…what are you up to now?
I’m at home catching up with some general things. I haven’t had a great deal of time at home and I’m going away next week to San Francisco, so I’m getting my music prepared- I’ve got to do a radio show before I go as well.

So what has your first season been like playing your residency for Cream at Amnesia alongside Paul Van Dyk and Ferry Corsten?
It’s an absolutely amazing environment to be playing in. This year was my sixth year on the island and it just gets better and better every year. My first opportunity came with Judgement Sundays playing out there at Jules’ night. It’s my first sort of residency for Cream this year. Ibiza is just one of the best places to play! Everyone just forgets about all their worries and lets themselves go. To be playing to a crowd who just want to have a good time – that’s exactly what you want! The energy and the vibe of the clubs out there is just awesome. I’m absolutely gutted it’s over to be honest; I’m looking forward to next summer already…

Whilst were on the subject, this year saw your second Cream Ibiza Album – how’s it going?
That’s going fantastic. I was really over the moon they asked me to do a second album. It’s another great platform to express your self musically. Because it was 2 CDs I could do an alternative mix and with Cream the second CD is the music I play in the main room of Amnesia and was simply called the Main Mix. It’s great to be able to put some music on the first CD which people don’t necessarily expect you to play. I get sent so many good tracks so it’s an opportunity to get them into a mix.

What does it feel like to have Tiesto vote you as his choice to win the Top 100 DJ mag poll?
I am just really thankful for his support because to get support from someone like him – you can’t ask for much more. It’s great that he would do that to show support to other people and in effect move the scene forward, someone like Tiesto is such a big character, a big artist; he’s doing amazing things to dance music and is taking it to new territories around the world where it might not have been before, which is good for all of us. When he’s been out there promoting it’s basically allowing dance music to develop in areas it might never have been.

Eddie Halliwell

So do all you guys stay in touch or is it just a work thing?
Yeah. When Tiesto made that comment I rang him straight away to thank him. But we’re all very busy travelling around the world all the time so there’s a lot of “hellos” and “goodbyes” crossing paths in the clubs. I do speak a lot of the DJs but you see each other the most when you’re on the road and catch up with people when you can- everyone’s always on different time zones. It’s great though having friendships within the scene…Its more of a buzz!

Tell us a bit about America… As I understand it you’re huge over there too?
It’s absolutely fantastic! I’m off next week starting off in Canada, then I’m off to play the Lovefest in San Francisco. I’m out there more in the winter but if you averaged it out across the year I reckon I’m out there on a monthly basis. America is such a big, big territory. In certain states the scene is very well developed, in other states it’s not so well developed. It’s constantly growing in all these places and the more DJ’s that get out there the better. It’s just going from strength to strength on my own personal experience. My American agent is doing a superb job.

Does the American crowd chant “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” like they do over here?
Yeah, I’ve been pretty gob smacked with that to be honest, in territories I’ve never been before. I played Austin’s for the first time last year and I was playing during the festival period. Everyone was chanting and it’s just strange. When you go to a new place you always wonder “How is it going to be, what are the people going to be like?” It’s pretty gobsmacking because you wonder how people find out what you’re up to. But I think with the internet and everyone checking YouTube etc it’s spreading to these places and growing at such a rapid speed. People are doing their research on you before you even get to the gig.

What is your favourite memory from behind the decks?
One great memory is when I did the Essential Mix with Radio 1 & Cream in 2004- me, Paul Oakenfold, Nic Fanciulli, and Seb Fontaine. It’s a very vivid memory but that’s the first time I got to play Cream Amnesia. But it is difficult to pick your best because there are so many great memories.

Does the energy you give off from behind the decks reflect your personality?
To be honest I have a bit of a different character when I’m behind the decks. I buzz off it so much and interact with people; that’s what brings the energy and enthusiasm out of me because when you get that connection with the crowd is the best feeling! That’s what brings it out of me, like when I do silly things like jump into the crowd. I can’t be running around like that on full steam all of the time though!

Eddie Halliwell

In your opinion, what makes a world class DJ?
There are various aspects. Technical ability, musical selection, reading the crowd, interacting with the crowd, having a presence as a DJ…there’s not solely one thing. You also need good people around you, good agents to help you and promote you. As with anything in life you’ve got to have the whole package.

How did you come up with the name for your event ‘Fire It Up’?
It’s a phrase I started using, and my brothers Ben and Barry said “We’ve got to get something up and running,” – Fire It Up was the perfect name. I was like “Are you ‘avin a laugh?!” It’s a phrase I always use and you can use it whenever you want like “Are you up for coming out and having a fire up?” or “You up for firing the gym up?” or whatever you want. I use it so much in my vocabulary! When they said we could start up a night called Fire It Up I was like, no way! But I was convinced by my brothers and it has been very well received, and I take my hat off to them.

How much has your Radio 1 show helped to launch your name worldwide?
It’s a massive way of getting exposure to people who might never come and listen to you in a club and it’s such a massive audience. My show goes out to people from 12 – 2am on a Thursday – it’s not just those people who may be listening to you in the car or at home. When your show’s finished you’ve also got the ‘listen again’ player which is internationally renowned. You’re putting yourself out to a market across the world you may not have ever reached before so it’s a big, big factor in getting known!

How do you see DJing progressing over the next 10 years?
When everything was analogue the developing stages stayed pretty static. If you look at how it has evolved since everything went digital it’s amazing. It’s like when people ask me about production; I would like to try my hand in production at some point but I do believe that if everything was still analogue and DJ’s were mixing with vinyl I would definitely have been in the studio by now. You can keep practising and developing your skills until the day you die. I feel that I’ve wanted to focus 100% of my time on my DJing and give it 100% commitment because you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse. Everything has gone through such a dramatic change, and who knows when it will be, but when things level out a bit more I may take time out and go in the studio to work on production. Things are growing at such a massive rate, I wanna keep learning more and more using new pieces of equipment. With CDJ’s you can be learning new things everyday, taking DJing forward. In effect with the technology you can bring to the stage you can be remixing and re-editing tunes live on stage, whereas you never had that stuff at your fingertips before when everything was analogue. But obviously to learn those things you have to put the time in. I believe DJing is going to continue to grow at a rapid rate with all these different platforms available for DJ’s to use whether its CDJ’s, playing from your computer, MP3 or still DJing on vinyl but the computer is a strong part within the set up. A lot of people are trying to DJ from computers. I still feel that hasn’t quite hit the spot but when it does and we get the right sort of controllers to DJ from we will know about it! For me, interacting with the crowd and letting people see what you are doing is very important. So many CD players were out on the market before Pioneer brought out the CDJ, and when that piece of equipment hit the market it took off, went worldwide and became industry standard. When the right thing comes along and I think will probably be computer based, it  will hit the market and allow DJs to play from a similar platform and will level out. I feel it will then get to the point where it’s not continually changing but people are still trying to push for that piece of equipment. At the moment you’ve just gotta make your mind up on what you’re DJing on and stick to it- it must be so hard for people just coming onto the scene on decide on what to use.

What’s your set up like at home?
I’ve got two 909 mixers back-to-back and I had a special box designed so I can use the two at the same time. I’ve been after Pioneer to make a 4-channel 909 ever since it came out, so in effect I’ve got one of those at home. I’ve got 4 CDJs and the EFX 1000 and the beloved 1210’s in there as well.

Other than dance, what other music do you listen to?
I get sent so much music now especially with my radio show that I’m constantly fishing out new big tunes. It’s such a small percentage- maybe 1 or 2% of what you go through to what you actually pull out- so to build up your collection takes a lot of listening. I don’t listen to much else outside dance music. I love dance music so much I want to keep finding new tunes and I feel if I wasn’t listening to dance music I wouldn’t be giving it 100% – It’s kind of going back to my opinion on the production side of things. DJing is my number one and that’s what I want to put my time into. I suppose that if that feeling ever changed then that’s when I might move in different directions and try new tasks, opening different opportunities.

How do you adapt your sets to the surroundings you are in?
Obviously I know what I like but I also keep an open mind, I appreciate crowds you’re put in front of and change and adapt to the environment. If I’m playing a small internet gig I may play perhaps a bit more techno, and be a bit more fun because people can interact. Whereas if I’m playing a big room in a club I might play a bit more trance and appreciate I’m in a much bigger environment- people might not necessarily be able to see me. I’m always aware of that and don’t look at it with tunnel vision. I think it’s very important to appreciate the crowd you are put in front of.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2008?
Travelling to different territories and gigging in places I’ve never been before. This year’s been fantastic so I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.

What is your ultimate goal as a DJ?
I never realised I’d get as far as I have, and when I realised I could, well this is it! I want to keep DJing and move it on and do stuff like production. But I’m loving doing what I’m doing so much I don’t want to take any time away from it.

New Year’s resolution?
I never say what they are because I don’t like to tempt fate! I’m a bit superstitious. I have got things in my mind but I never like to talk about them until I get to do them. It’s like when I played one of my first ever gigs at Gatecrasher…I never told anyone it was happening until I was in the club. If I discussed it before hand and it never happened you’d end up with egg on your face. If you know its definitely rocking and rolling then don’t tell anyone, don’t tempt fate!

Marmite…love it or hate it?
Love it! I had so many years without trying it. It was only 2 or 3 years ago when I tried it at an airport lounge on a bit of toast and it was quite nice. I love Twiglets as well.