Down to Earthcore with JOOF
Reported by Jessica Brownjohn
Submitted 27-10-16 10:12
John ‘00’ Fleming is a name known to any self-respecting raver in the trance scene. He’s an institution! With the rise of illegal downloads & streaming services – it’s understandable that many underground dance artists have bailed. Not JOOF though. He’s still as dedicated & passionate to the scene as he ever was. He’s seen & done it all! In fact what J00F doesn’t know about the scene - isn’t worth knowing! Which is why I jumped at the chance of being able to interview him - ahead of one of his upcoming sets where he’s a firm favourite - Earthcore!
I read that prior to being a DJ you were in the car industry & actually turned down a swanky job at Ford to pursue your first love – music. What can you tell me about the days before it all kicked off, were you very different to how you are now in terms of character and outlook?
That was a really difficult decision back then due to having a passion for both cars and music. If heading into the car world I’d be entering the corporate world and the thought of being told what to do 9-5 each day seemed a daunting prospect. Music always took first place for me offering freedom, happiness and getting out and about with likewise people in great environments. This became a no brainer of a decision!
Tell us about your first club/rave experience? Were you hooked instantly or did your attraction develop over time?
Electronic raves didn’t exist when I got into the scene! It was pretty simple back then, mainstream dominated the clubs in the UK, but a small underground movement was taking place that I soon become a part of. Underage, I managed to slip into a small underground club in Brighton where I instantly fell in love with hearing new futurist music and not knowing one single track playing. From that day I was hooked.
How did you get your first gig, & thinking back to that set - what do you feel you got right & wrong?
Unlike many today, I did my research back then, I spent hours in the local record store hanging out with other DJ’s getting advice what to do and the musical tools that I needed. It was common place to play the whole night back then, so I was armed with all the tools that I needed to open the club, get the dance floor busy and make sure they have a good night. As far as I remember, things went well.
For a while you did some work for TV & Film. How did this come about? What was it like working at the iconic Abbey Road Studios & what can you tell us about the place?
I still do this today, but don’t really brag about it. I’ve worked on many movies and TV shows and made some tracks with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey road studios which was an amazing experience. This place is swamped with musical history, so being sat in the very same control room as where the Beatles worked was a very special moment in my career.
I watched you on an episode of ‘A Place In the Sun’ many years ago, where you were seeking a home in Ibiza. How did this opportunity present itself & how was the experience overall?
I’m not a fan at all of being on TV, it was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time. I was doing plenty of work with the radio side of the BBC and was in Ibiza playing. The place in the sun TV show had a couple drop out while on location in Ibiza and desperately needed a replacement, I was actually house hunting in Ibiza at the time and the media world knew this, hence why muggings got the phone call asking if I’d replace. Seemed a good idea at the time!
You are a world renowned loved DJ, with fans all over the globe. But I think it would be fair to say that Australians (in particular) – can’t get enough of you! What’s your special connection with them? How do the clubs differ from clubs in the rest of the world?
Since the first time I played there over 16 years ago I felt an instant connection, it’s really hard to explain. Still today I never feel like I’m in a foreign country, its feels like home on many levels, especially musically. Back then different parts of the worlds had localized scenes with certain sounds that some needed to adapt too, with me this never happened we simply connected, a magical connection that grows and grows upon each and every visit.
You are frequently gracing the decks at the legendary Earthcore. They regularly book you for marathon 9 hour sets! How do you prepare for a set this long? & tell us about playing at Earthcore. What can a newbie expect?
As I mentioned earlier my career started off playing all night (open to close sets), so playing 6 to 9 hours puts me back in my comfort zone of where I belong as a DJ. I don’t need to prepare, because I’m organically doing this each and every week while I’m music shopping hunting for the musical tools that I need in order for me to deal with any situation that’s presented to me on the dance floor.
You are one of the few artists who can produce and DJ trance and psychedelic trance music with equal abilities. What do you think the similarities & differences are between the scenes? Do you feel more at home in one scene more then another?
I feel at home in both. There’s always been an underground scene within Trance, though marketing from the commercial acts within trance this often gets overlooked. The underground Trance worlds and Psy worlds seem to be moving closer together, as are the Techno worlds.
I read an interesting blog by you regarding set times. You feel that promoters these days, rather than conductors at an orchestra; are more like teachers trying to appease the parents of spoilt brats. Instead of creating a seamless journey – to ensure the crowd enjoy an epic ride that night, you feel they are governed by artist managers – each trying to push their own act. When do you feel this self-centered culture began, and how was it able to come about do you think?
That’s exactly what’s happened, the vultures are bulling their way to get main slots, wanting to play the longest set walking away being man of the match. That’s not the reason why this scene was created and it’s unfair for the punters and the next generation. The mainstream has got too close to the specialist world, and along comes it are these ugly games.
How has your sound changed throughout the years. What was the first & what was the last piece of studio equipment you bought?
I think you’re relating to engineering sound. Though many moan about the digital era, I’ve embraced it because I know how to access to some seriously good engineering tools for a fraction of the cost of what they would have been years ago for the hardware version. Some argue that they don’t sound as good as the original, but some people’s ears are better than others. You could be surrounded by all the best analogue gear in the world, but it doesn’t mean to say you’re good at using it nor can make a good track. Most that are vocally opposed, are simply chin stroking geeks that can’t make music.
I also read how you found it difficult to balance family life with your career, but you were making small steps to try and improve this. How has this worked out? Did you make any family BBQs this Summer?
Yes I’m adapting the best that I can. My biggest problem is that I can’t say no to a good gig. We plan months ahead, I block out a few weekends, then my agent tells me offers of gigs that have come in… then it happens…I can’t say no. Since I made that announcement I’ve been packed solid with gigs!
Who & what would you say are your most recent inspirations?
Airwave. He’s one of the best producers that I know in the world.
What advice do you wish you’d been told & heeded in the past? Music or non-music related.
I’ve taken most of the advice in the past from my elders, hence why I’ve ended up on a good path in my career.
What CD do you have on in the car at the moment?
My car doesn’t have a CD player, soon these shiny discs will become obsolete! I treat the car as my down time, a place to rest my ears and take a break from music, to the annoyance of others my radio is locked to talk radio.
Tell us an interesting fact we won’t know about you? What’s the most shocking thing you have done which your friends might consider out of character?
Unfortunately I lead a normal boring life, I think the most shocking thing to my ‘normal’ friends that don’t understand my world at all, is that I’m still DJing at my age and haven’t decided to get a normal job!
What do you think it is about trance & psy-trance that gets you so hooked?
This is music that creates magical hypnotic moments on the dance floor, there’s simply nothing else like it. A simple answer!
If you had the time to take up a hobby, what would it be & why?
I love water sports. I had a boat and Jet ski a few years ago, but sold them because I couldn’t find enough time to use them. If and when I get more time, I’ll certainly be searching the internet on a hunt to replace them again….and yes I use them all year round, even in the freezing cold winters and waters of the UK.
Where do you see the trance & psy-trance scene in a year from now?
There’s some very interesting times ahead for Trance, Psy Trance and we can add Techno to this list too as these worlds seem to be meeting in a middle ground creating some very interesting sub genres of Trance. This is the power of the underground resurgence breathing new life into what was becoming a tired genre.
As well as jet setting around the world as a DJ you run your own label J00F Recordings. How do you find this? What do you think are good qualities for a label owner to have & why?
I have no idea where I find the time to be honest LOL! I have an amazing team of people around me, Marnik (Bonzia), Daniel Lesden, Gary Delaney who are all pivotal anchors to the success of the label group.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your hopes & plans for the future?
To keep doing what I’m doing, playing the music I truly love in the underground world that I belong. I don’t care to be a superstar DJ, this doesn’t interest me at all, I’m happy being me, if I wasn’t I’d hang up my headphones.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview John – keep rocking the dance floors & all the best for the future!
Images courtesy of JOOF. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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