In Great Britain, crowds mob Carl Cox in public and punters hurl records at his limousine, desperate to have him play their tracks. With a reputation as one of the world's most popular and talented DJs, Cox can turn records into instant hits. He's constantly besieged with vinyl. When Cox returns home after his 24-date tour supporting his latest mix CD Global (FFRR, 2002), he expects to have a six-foot-high stack of records waiting for him.
“Just because of the time involved, my true record-shopping days are over,” says Cox at Nigel Richards' renowned 611 Records in Philadelphia. “I could shop here all day.”
Years of marathon DJ sets playing funky techno, tech-house, hard house and tribal, as well as his celebrity status, have not diminished Cox's enthusiasm for dance music. As soon as he steps into the store, he's bobbing his head and stomping his foot to the music, greeting everyone he meets with his trademark gap-toothed smile.
Cox blew through the states last summer doing two-hour “teaser” sets on the Area:One tour with Moby, Paul Oakenfold, Timo Maas and others. For the Global tour, he wanted to do a club tour featuring five-to six-hour sets. Fresh off his gig at Philly's Evolution club, Cox basks in the experience. “You always get to a point where the people who stay till the end — the real people — want to hear that last record,” he says. “And during that last record at 3:45 a.m., the crowd was going absolutely crazy. To be able to do that in that club made me feel good about being here.”
Following the Global tour, Cox is taking a break to work on his third studio album. He's been traveling with an American DJ Pro Scratch-1 CD player to play tracks he's working on as well as to listen to advance tracks he receives on the road. Cox says the album will push the boundaries of the music he's known for. “If any element of what I've made doesn't go down so well, I'll change it,” he says. “But if I wanted to stay within the boundaries of what sells, I would have done a techno trance album many years ago, and I'd be on volume 16 by now.”
On the buying rather than selling end this day, however, Cox adds a few tunes to his 120,000-record collection:
“The Day After the Music Stopped”
Hard to Swallow
Frankie's always a winner. You never know what you're going to get. He's got nothing to lose, so he just goes for it on everything he produces. Some of it can be a bit way out, or it can be completely on the money. I love him because he's always been a renegade in that way, but he's always retained his New York tough house style. I haven't seen this label before. A lot of this stuff doesn't come into the UK, and a lot of DJs who would play him in the UK can't find the records. There's a bit of tribal house in here, which I wasn't expecting.
You've got a lot of stuff out now that's very tribal-techno house. This record is a really good example of that. It has a lot of percussion, but with techno stuff behind it that drives the sound forward. At the moment, a lot of people are really getting into this music. And Marco Lenzi is one of these guys who sent me quite a few tracks from the label. I have a lot of respect for Access 58, and for me, this is perfect.
Angel Alanis and Christian Smith
“Rockin' Down the House”/“Fantasy Girl”
Kings of Punani
Christian's pretty good at manipulating samples. Angel Alanis is also a very good producer who's obviously helped Christian a lot to push this beyond the surface of a loop-and-sample rip-off. It's not the strongest Christian's done, but definitely funky. “Rockin' Down” is very old-school but with new drums.
Little Green Men
“Need” (Satoshi Tomiie remixes)
This is pretty interesting because Satoshi is known for doing a lot of music for Def Mix — very nice house pianos, strings and great vocals. Meanwhile, he's making some good progressive techno tracks. Very nicely polished, but he's put on a bit of edge. This is a record a lot of people wouldn't associate with me playing. Most people would associate people like Sasha and Digweed to drop that, and that's fine. But I'll play this first single. He's definitely put his new sound on this record, and he's done an absolutely wonderful job of it. It's more progressive without a shadow of a doubt, but for me, it's just a really good piece of music. He's done something beyond a certain genre and is doing something new and exciting for himself.
“At Night” (remixes)
This is a bit more housey and vocal. He's used a guitar from Prince, but I'm not sure which track. But it's got a really good retro feel to it. A good, heavy bass line, and P-Funk-like vocals, as well, so it's really interesting. It's definitely the standout from everything I've bought so far. A bit slower, but chunkier. It's something I'd play possibly at the beginning of the night, but I'm more likely to drop it about four or five hours into my set.
I've been given this record on recommendation. People know the sound of what I like. So hopefully this is something I can get my ears around. This is definitely hot. It has a lot of percussion and then kind of salsa vocals. It's not progressive or anything; it's just really good up-tempo between house and techno-tribal. I've heard of Angelo Donorio before, and he's really kept it on the sunshine vibe.
Gaetano is a really great producer. I'm really into a lot of his music. He puts a lot of stuff out on Prime. This is very cool house — not tough house, but he's got this sort of je ne sais quoi about how he treats his house music. It doesn't really fall into any house genre; it's just what he's carved out. Everyone can get into it from a house or techno perspective. No vocals in it whatsoever; it's kind of straight-up Gaetano house.
Antoine Clamaran and Laurent Pautrat
“My Heartbeat”/“So Sexy”
I have no idea who they are — I've never seen the label before in my life. Cool. I like that. It's very pumping. Very Tenaglia-style drums. Breakbeat. “My Heartbeat” has a really great bass line that comes in after the whole tribal thing going on; then it breaks down. That'll work in Miami.
Animal Instinct EP
I like this label. They never fail, and they are completely up my alley. Ian Void is an awesome producer. Anything that he puts his hands to is awesome. That is straight-up techno — no messing around. The track “Potent Venom” is what sold it for me.
DJ Circuit Breaker
Traxx From the Park Rave Comedy Hour, Vol. 1
Hard to Swallow
I don't know DJ Circuit Breaker. Most of the time, they are who they are, but sometimes they don't want anybody to know who they are because of the samples. That's cool by me; I like militancy in that way, because a lot of the original artists are probably so old or dead anyway that the record can help make something out of the original.
611 Records; 611 S. Fourth St.; Philadelphia, PA 19147; tel. (215) 413-9100; Webwww.611records.com
Check outwww.carlcox.comfor more info about Carl Cox.