#85 - Kirk Degiorgio
Kirk Degiorgio is one of the most sought-after mixers/producers/DJ’s in today's eclectic dance music scene. By steering away from musical clichés, he has managed to maintain his musical integrity over 24 years and several classic albums.Almost as if to try and throw his fans off the scent, Degiorgio has used As One, Elegy, Esoterik, Critical Phase, and Future/Past as recording aliases. In 1992 Degiorgio recorded his first release on B12 Records and shortly after founded the ART label (Applied Rythmic Technology) releasing early material by seminal artists such as Carl Craig, Aphex Twin, Stasis and The Black Dog. Degiorgio went on to record material for ART, Planet E and R&S before signing As One to New Electronica for the albums Reflections and Celestial Soul, which both made the Muzik Top 30 albums for 1994/5. Further albums for Clear (UK), Mo Wax, Ubiquity, Versatile and Neroli cemented Kirk's reputation as a seriously heavyweight producer with a unique, individual sound, beautifully combining elements of jazz, soul, techno and funk into electronic tracks.
As a DJ, Kirk's career started at local breakdance events in 1983. He is credited with being the first 'professionally known' DJ to use Ableton Live for his DJ sets and a tour of Japan in 2002 saw him use Live exclusively which he has now done ever since in venues worldwide. Now its time to get the party started as one of the UK’s finest techno producers steps up to the plate.
Q&A with Kirk Degiorgio
1. How did you approach the mix? Did you have a good idea of what you wanted to fit in or was it a bit more freestyle?
The last few podcasts I’ve done have been reflective of the type of hard techno set I play at my Machine club nights. For this I wanted to retain that kind of energy but include some of the more melodic tracks within the hard techno genre. I feel this has been a feature of recent techno – a return to more melodic/harmonic elements whilst keeping the drive rhythmically. It’s a positive direction I think.
2. How did you first come into contact with dance music? And what were your first clubbing experiences like?
I first went clubbing in my mid-teens in Ipswich, Suffolk. There was a local club called Rumours and they started a surprisingly upfront under-18s night on a Monday. It was always full – mostly sixth-form or college students. It was 1983-1984 and the music was a mixture of early 80s soul, boogie and electro.
3. Can you recall making your first release on B12 all those years ago? What was your set up?
Yes, I remember it well. I made it in my bedroom in Northfields, West London in 1990. I had just come back from a record buying trip to the US and sold all my collection to buy some equipment: an Akai S950 Sampler, Roland R8 drum machine, Roland D5 keyboard, a Fostex 8 channel mixer and a DAT recorder.
4. If there was one release from your immense back catalogue that you would recommend to someone, what would it be?
As One: “Another Revolution” from my Ubiquity album 21st Century Soul. Simply because I think its one of the most original tracks I’ve made and has elements of soul, funk, techno and jazz and sums up the ‘As One” concept.
5. Who are the DJs that inspired you to take up the mantle?
The late Seventies and eighties DJ Froggy was the first DJ I heard doing incredible mixes – disco into jazz-funk into boogie. For attitude and energy watching Derrick May back in 1990.
6. How did the ‘Machine’ night and label you run with Ben Sims come about?
From a personal frustration that only 5 or 6 years ago Techno was in a poor state. It had mostly become an old-timers circuit with the same old classics being played with little emphasis and bringing in new blood. It’s incredible how Techno has now become the most popular genre within dance music and the scene is now full of a younger generation making incredible music. I like to think we played the major role in making that happen.
7. If you were to play an alternative DJ set, what would you play?
I am known for my wide-ranging knowledge and taste so I do get to play the occasional ‘freestyle/alternative’ set. I play a lot of seventies Dub, rare Disco of course and for my Korrupt Data DJ shows I play eighties synth-wave and electro.
8. Having worked behind the counter in record shops yourself, do you miss those days of personal interaction when it comes to discovering new music or are you more than happy with the speed and ubiquity of the internet?
The record shop counter days were unbeatable for creating a community vibe – but even that can be done with social media music groups – and the internet has so much information that I can discover more music online in a year than years spent in a record store.
9. What release plans do you have in the near future?
I have three projects on the go at the moment. I have a huge amount of hard-techno of the type I play at Machine and my solo shows. I more known for mixing harder rhythms with melody and harmony so it’s a real challenge for me to go towards the type of sound-design and atonal elements popular in that style. I hate repeating myself so I’m loving the re-learning process of it all. I’ve also got a drum n bass project in progress and a Hip Hop Beat-tape I’ve been working on for years. I still aim to get some modular synth ambient tracks out on my new Sinelab imprint. There are simply not enough hours in the day!
10. What is your all time UK techno top 10?
Impossible but probably includes all the early era UK stuff by Balil, Luke Slater, Stasis, Nuron, etc.