Following news that half of the UK’s clubs have closed over the past 10 years, 2manydjs and Soulwax man David Dewaele reckons some of the blame must be placed on the clubs themselves. Alongside his brother Stephen and LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy, his travelling soundsystem Despacio hosts a residency in London next month
David Dewaele: “I can see it making sense that clubs shut down, because there are a lot of shitty clubs. It’s like if you have a lot of shitty restaurants close down, then that kind of makes sense. But if the good remain, then that’s a good thing.
“Clubs are closing down worldwide, and part of it is because of the restrictions being placed on them. In Switzerland the volume limit in clubs is 99dB, which, if you were to turn the music down and just have people talking, that’s already maybe 96dB, 97dB. There’s some insane sound levels going on in Europe. Obviously the best ones will find a way around it, but the sound police are gradually taking fun away from kids.
“Clubs are super-important and I feel like we’re still playing in a lot of clubs. I have noticed one thing in the past 15 years that we’ve been coming to the UK, which is that in the beginning the sound was super important. You’d go to The End or Fabric, places where it was like, ‘Wow, they’ve got this incredible sound system’, and there was a passion for it. It feels like that’s something that’s been gradually lost in the UK. A lot of clubs would open and, to me, it would be less about the experience of hearing music. It felt like they were cutting corners. A lot of small clubs are really cool, but it’s not necessarily about being drenched in music.
“That whole demigod DJ thing has gone absolutely nuts, too, but I don’t see it dying any time in the next year or so. People are loving it, they can’t get enough of it and it’s just weird. It’s really odd.
“What Despacio is trying to do is make the kind of party we would want to go to. We have respect for the millions of people who want to go and put their hands up and jump up in the air and have a glow stick. That’s great if you’re having fun, but it’s not what we want.
“Despacio is much more than a sound system. It’s a night that the three of us – James Murphy, Steph [Dewaele] and me – put on, where we play vinyl only. Our playlist goes from records that were made two months ago to something that was made in 1972. There’s Sun Ra, there’s Steve Reich. I would argue that it’s predominantly disco, but disco is such a broad term. Records are our life. We have a 55,000 vinyl record collection, which keeps growing.
“We designed the soundsystem, which is run by these McIntosh amps that they call the Rolls-Royce of amplifiers. It rarely happens because it’s so crazy expensive. It’s 60,000 watts, which is the equivalent of the Glastonbury main stage, but this PA is for just 1,000 people. If we were to use it at full volume it’d be deafening – you’d die. But if you use a system to the max, it starts to sound shit – when you have an incredibly powerful system and you use maybe 30 per cent of its capacity, what you get is this amazing headroom. It’s hard to explain – it’s a thing that you don’t really hear but feel.
“Despacio is not about the DJ, it’s about the party. People can really dance – really really dance – not just stand there and jump up and down. There’s just the three of us playing from the very beginning ’til the very end, which is usually between seven and eight hours.
“There’s seven stacks with the amps built into them – it’s quite beautiful – and they’re ‘in the round’, so people are engulfed by it. We’re hidden, so it’s not like people are looking at us. The whole thing is just this Stonehenge of audio.”
Despacio takes place at London’s Roundhouse on September 10 and 11. Tickets are still available for September 10