One I was looking forward to very much, as well as the one I was waiting for a very long time. Debut album by Verv a.k.a Chris Hodgson called ‘Mind Warp‘ has been published on the 10th of April 2020. A long story before – Verv is actually one of the long time follower, fan, supporter and friend. As we all know, world is a very small place. Three years ago I received a demo from Josh Vincenzo, a good life-time friend of Verv, who I offered to meet as we were both in London. To everyone’s surprise outcome was that we all know each other via internet, but no one ever actually met anyone. Since them Verv has started to come to London more often, we had great nights together and finally the day came in. We received 3 track demo playlist from Chris and within minutes it was a clear decision this is the one and it has to be published. Just before we also had few podcast shows and a remix by Verv. But visit Beatport for a fresh latest release.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a child, I wanted to be a racing driver as I had a fascination with cars and speed. Needless to say, I wasn’t cut out for that profession.
What was the worst job you have ever had?
The worst job I have had was when I was working in Superdrug straight out of school at 16 before I did an engineering apprenticeship, I only lasted 2 days!
Can you name a movement, or people who pushed you to where you are now?
I remember when I was a kid being exposed to electronic music by older peers, back then 15-20 years ago it was trance music that seeded my love of the electronic sound. This leads me to attend my first festival, Global Gathering festival as a 16-year-old to see these big trance DJ’s for real. However, when I was there I stumbled across a DJ called Sven Vath and I have never looked back. I still remember the feeling of walking into this huge tent and experiencing techno for the first time! It left that much of an impression on me I still remember the first track I ever heard and it was Steve Rachmad – Moog On Acid. Every time I hear it I’m taken back all them years. The power of music is amazing!
Aside from music, what do you like to do in your free time?
Outside of music, I am actually fascinated by the universe and everything mad that’s going on up there! It blows my mind on a regular basis!
Tell us about your city, what kind of music scene does it have?
I live in the North of England in a place called Newcastle, It’s a great city I love living here! The music scene is strong with a lot of very successful artists emerging in the last few years, there are regular events all over the place too. Although the majority of the scene here is Tech House based as that is the popular music style its not great for me personally. It has its moments though.
What is your favourite time of the year, and how does it influence your creativity?
To be honest I like all the seasons for different reasons. They all tend to have positive effects on me.
What do you do before and after your set?
Before and after my set generally consist of the same thing, watching the person on the decks do their thing!
What does your typical week usually look like?
A typical week for me includes a lot of studio time when I’m not working my day/night job as an engineer. It can be challenging to keep the energy high in the studio after a string of 12-hour nightshifts but I have been doing it long enough now to know how to make it work.
What does music mean to you?
Music is a way of life. I know it’s an old cliche but its true! It is my main interest in my life aside from family of course. I only do it for the love of it so for me anything that comes of it in the future is all added bonuses.
Can you tell us about your debut as a DJ, how did it go?
My debut gig was for friends of mine in an upstairs room of the main club Digital. ‘The Other Rooms’ as it is called was where I cut my teeth playing regular gigs for the night called Module. Had some crazy twisted times back then in that place!! The gig itself went really well but I can’t deny I was super nervous! As soon as the first couple of mixes are out of the way I was into it and forgot all about the negative worrying thoughts. Since then I have came to love the buzz I get just before playing in a club.
Are there any particular memories (good or bad) as a DJ, or an attendee?
The fondest (Hazy at best) memories I have still to this day are of Richie Hawtin‘s ENTER parties. They were just the next level! Whether they were in London, Amsterdam or the place that really took hold of me, Space in Ibiza. That legendary club is no longer there, but those parties and the memories I have of entering Ibiza are still the biggest source of inspiration for me. The music was consistently mind-blowing on the naughtiest club speakers I have ever been in front of!
What is the biggest challenge or sacrifice you have made or have to make in doing what you do?
So far the main thing I have had to sacrifice is a social time like I said earlier, I work shit hours then hit the studio so that doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I love making music though so for me its not a hardship!
Which artists would you say have influenced your sound directly?
My biggest influences definitely come from those ENTER years. Artists like Richie, Dubfire, Matador, Gaiser, Fabio Florido, Paco Osuna, Carlo Ruetz, Hobo, and Magda. I like all sorts of music though so I can take inspiration from a lot of different sources which I find helps with the creative process.
Things could go rough, how do you keep yourself motivated creatively?
Yeah, things can go very rough, recently I have been struggling with a writer’s block of unrivaled proportions. Just thinking everything I’m making is shit is a natural part of the cycle! Talking to my colleagues and peers in the industry helps a lot though and I’m coming out the other side now thankfully!
How do you usually prepare before a gig, how much space do you leave for improvisation in your sets?
Preparations for a gig always start with asking friends if they have any new bangers I could play. Then I search through promos for new music. After these two, I always have a quick scan on Beatport for any new releases I like then generally have a mix, if it is possible to do so. If not just listening to good music gets me in the right frame of mind! After searching for music I generally know which tracks I want to play through the night but there’s never a planned set, its always a case of reading the crowd and judging when to play a particular track in my collection, the time of the set is always something to factor in too!
What is your standard or most preferred technical setup for the performance?
I first learned turntables as a teenager. But for the whole of my time playing music in clubs, I have always used CDJ’s adding in an RMX 1000 a couple years ago. However in the past couple of months, I am now learning to play with Traktor and Ableton, developing a hybrid set up that includes my Ableton Push 2 and 2x Allen & Heath K2 controllers through the new Allen & Heath Xone 96 mixer so watch this space. 🙂
Can you name your favourite venue that you have performed in?
I would say one of the best venues I have played is called The Liquid Rooms in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The reason for this is because the sound system was outstanding and also because it was the official after party of the first Terminal V festival so everyone there was going mad!
Where do you think the scene is heading? One year from now, five years from now?
I’m not sure which direction the scene is going to go if I’m honest. People say minimal techno is dead, but as far as I’m concerned, it is alive and kicking if you look in the right place for the right artists. But in general hopefully from strength to strength, unfortunately, this new global disease is currently decimating the world and the music industry is suffering badly so it’s hard to see. Of course, it will bounce back on the other side of this pandemic for the already established artists and clubs, but a great number of smaller clubs/artists will find it hard to ride out the storm.
For the last one, name three artists that currently inspire you!
3 artists that currently inspire me. Number 1 is Damien Fisher. This guy gave me my first release as VERV a few years ago on his label Oculus Records and has constantly been a pillar of support on all fronts over the years. He recently won a competition for a year’s scholarship with Dubfire and has a release coming out on his label Sci+Tec in the summer. It doesn’t get much better than that! He’s also a really sound person and makes some of the best music around!! Number 2. Paul Neary. He is one of the most committed artists I know in battling to save the sound of real minimal techno inspired by the same ENTER years as I was. His tunes are off the map, his sound design is second to none, as its been slowly crafted over the past 10 years or longer. He has also been working on a remix for me recently which absolutely bangs. Finally Fabio Florido. He needs no introduction. I have witnessed his rise since I have seen him play his first set at ENTER in Ibiza and I knew from then he was going to be special. He was a very different sound to the other artists at the time and still is to this day. I have seen him play countless times over the years across Europe, and most recently in London for the Plazma Records event where I finally had the chance to meet him. Since launched his own label RUNA which is one to keep an eye on. His sets are full of energy and frequencies that really resonate with me. Just recently he has been playing a track of mine in his sets which is a huge milestone for me as a producer. The track are now officially out on Beatport.
The current climate emergency is now very real. What steps do you think the music industry can take to reduce their impact on this problem in the coming years?
Yeah the climate issue is one that needs to be addresses soon as possible. Not being a touring artist myself, yet I can’t really comment on how they can get around the issue of traveling for gigs. But there is a great scheme called ByeByePlastic which is pushing for plastic-free DJ booths, festivals, and clubs throughout the industry which is a great step in the right direction.
What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Oooo,the one track that never gets old is a really hard one for me. I love so much music from over the years! I could probably name 15 or so that make the grade here but if it is just one then it is WHYT NOYZ – Heart Strings released on Minus back in 2015. It is simply stunning and sounds unbelievable in a club!
Do you still find the time to party and enjoy the scene when usually being on the other side of the decks?
Ahhh man I love to party, too much sometimes. Although recently, I have been really focusing on my own music and in turn has calmed down a lot, the proof is in the pudding with how many tunes I’m making these days!
What moments would you consider as your breakthrough in your career so far?
I would say the biggest thing to happen for me and that gave me a real feeling that I can do this was when I was sent a video of Richie Hawtin playing a remix of mine at TimeWarp in Germany. That was a surreal moment!
Looking back at 2019, do you have any special moments, personally or professionally, that made an impact on you?
2019 was a year when I really knuckled down creatively and developed my sound which has really helped me. One particular moment for me was when attending Amsterdam Dance Event for the tenth consecutive year, I witnessed Boxia drop an unreleased track of mine in the mighty Gashouder, which is basically a huge gas chamber that’s been converted into this mega venue with a ridiculous sound system. It still gives me goosebumps when I think about it!
Do you have any plans for 2020 in terms of club events, summer festivals?
2020 is now all up in the air with regards to events and festivals because of the current virus spreading around the world, I had plans to attend several events here in the UK, and also in Amsterdam, but they are now all depending on the current developments of the outbreak. Of course, the health and safety of the dance music community is paramount and comes above everything else. One thing is for certain, the first parties after the pandemic has subsided are going to be mental!! I am however planning something special in 2021 which I don’t want to say anything about just yet until things are confirmed but I’m very excited about it!!!
What do you think makes a great DJ?
For me, a great DJ not only has amazing track selection but I want to hear things I have never heard before performed in unique ways. These days there are so many opportunities to use technology to make a performance more interesting which I’m learning to do myself. But saying that the art of mixing vinyl will always be held in very high regard as that is an art in itself and to be a master of that is very special to watch indeed.
What advice could you give for aspiring DJs?
The best advice I can give is something I have been following myself for over 10 years and that is DON’T EVER GIVE UP. Keep making music, mixes, conversing with other people in the industry and help each other as much as possible. Of course, it is easy to doubt yourself which is something I have battled countless times over the years but if you can come through that and keep working towards your dream the sense of achievement when you and your music are getting booked and played will be worth the years of work. It’s also something I do for the love of it. I love music and its what I do and anything that comes of it is all added bonuses.
You are based in Newcastle, UK; could you tell us best and worst things about techno scene in this city?
The best and worst thing about the music scene in my city is that its predominately tech house orientated, there have been some amazing techno parties over the years but they don’t seem to last very long. Again like I said earlier I’m planning something for 2021 that will hopefully inject some more techno into the city!
And we have finally came to a point where you are having your debut EP on Plazma Records. Could you tell us more how it all got to this point?
Wow, the journey to releasing with Plazma has been years of trial and error. Having followed them from the very beginning its always been a top goal for me to make something worthy of the label. It has taken a lot of hard work and 100’s of studio hours over the years but I have finally cracked it, and I’m over the moon! Especially with who we managed to get as contributors to the release, both of whom have released with the legendary label, Minus.