John Digweed's Lasting Love for New York
Whether you’re a diehard house fan or a mainstream music enthusiast, you’ve probably encountered the work of John Digweed. After all, his career spans four decades and has transcended the house music genre to influence pop culture from the ’90s to the present day.
English DJ, producer, label owner, and club promoter John Digweed began his career in music at the age of 15 in Hastings, England. In his early days, he saw quick success as the organizer of a series of successful club nights and raves at Hastings Pier. The parties featured high-profile guests such as Carl Cox and The Prodigy, making the young DJ’s taste and eye for talent apparent early on.
Digweed caught his big break seven years later in 1993 when he sent a mixtape to Geoff Oakes of Renaissance nightclub in Mansfield. Oakes was thoroughly impressed and extended an invite for Digweed to DJ at the British nightclub alongside his future collaborative partner DJ Sasha.
In 1994, the pair released Sasha & John Digweed’s Renaissance: The Mix Collection. The three-CD set gave listeners a taste of the intoxicating soundscape that Sasha & Digweed regularly delivered at Renaissance. The compilation also laid the foundation for DJ mixes to be supported by major marketing campaigns, from artwork commissions to heavily-funded promotions.
In an interview with Redbull, John described how groundbreaking the mix release was, saying, “Clubbers could now start to hear what the possibilities were for DJs outside of a club. It’s like, all right, you can transfer that experience onto a CD and still have it be as enjoyable as being in the club.” The release was a smash hit and is still considered one of the best DJ mixes of all time.
John Digweed at Twilo
Sasha & Digweed gained popularity in the United States with the release of their Northern Exposure mix series from 1997-2000. They also became the first British DJs to hold a monthly residency at New York’s storied Twilo club. John described his success in New York, explaining, “I think Sasha and myself brought in a European sound, but with a New York influence.” During their legendary parties at Twilo, Digweed often played sets for over ten hours. He loved the crowd’s vibe, saying, “You’d have 4000 people in there going nuts, but they weren’t looking at us, and they weren’t all on their phones; they were just on the dance floor.”
In the late ’90s, Digweed was also busy collaborating and building his empire with fellow DJ and producer Nick Muir. Together, the two formed Bedrock, an onstage moniker for the pair and later the name of their production company and label. Bedrock landed in the UK. Top 30 with the track “For What You Dream Of,” featured in the iconic film Trainspotting. In 1999, Digweed premiered Bedrock Records with the release of the hit single “Heaven Scent.” He discussed his inspiration for the label with Forbes, saying, “I was being given so many tracks from DJs and producers who were asking me to pass them onto labels…so it really made sense for me to set up a label and find a home for like-minded DJs and producers.”
Throughout the 2000s, Digweed released an unbelievable amount of work, sometimes as many as three recorded mixes per year. From 2000 to 2011, the DJ began a weekly two-hour radio show called Transitions on the UK radio station KISS. Digweed continues to showcase his impeccable programming and ear for on-the-rise talent via the Transitions podcast, which now boasts over 900 episodes.
John Digweed also drew crowds in Brooklyn as a regular guest at Output until the club closed in 2019. He quickly fell in love with NYC, saying, “I always find the New York crowd brings the best out of me when I play. Output was a very special club.”
As a crowd favorite, he was invited to play the club’s closing night. Digweed played a historic set he felt was befitting of Output’s legacy. After listening to the recordings from the evening, Digweed decided to immortalize the party in album form. In 2019, he released Last Night At Output, an album mix containing six CDs worth of music from the evening. He has described the night as “one of his favorite NYC sets ever.”
Throughout his 40-year career, John Digweed helped popularize progressive house in the ’90s, and his prolific work essentially established the format of modern house music. His impact as a musician is undeniable, with DJ Mag voting him the World’s No 1 DJ in 2001 and appearing in the Top 100 DJs poll over a dozen times. On Saturday, Nov 26, 2022, fans can see John Digweed play again at Superior Ingredients, the evolution, and reimagination of Output. As for how John feels about returning to the city that never sleeps: “I always love coming back to New York. It’s a place that I feel is like a second home after so many years of playing there, and the crowd always gives me so much love.”
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