DJs talk 'life-changing' new club experience with James Murphy
Andrew Trendell

16:09 19th November 2013

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"We're big LCD Soundsystem fans," says 2ManyDJs and Soulwax member Stephen Dewaele on their relationship with Despacio partner James Murphy. "We're a little bit more privileged because we've seen all these gigs from the beginning and seen them progress. At the last show, I got really angry with them because I thought that they were so good. I just said 'come on - this is the beginning, this is where you should go from here'."

Alas, it wasn't the beginning - it was very much a full stop on LCD's story as one of the most influential bands of their generation. So what came next for Murphy? Well, everything.

"Then a month later, we saw James again and my friend was really happy," continues Stephen. "He was glowing and able to enjoy himself. He was just smiling and saying 'I never have to fucking tour again!' There was a part of me inside that was like 'fuck you', and other part that was like 'I'm so jealous that you're so happy'. That's the biggest change that I've seen in James. It's all fun, which I like."

Restless creativity is what has kept the music of LCD Soundsystem and Soulwax so vibrant and inventive over the years - but it's also what's brought them together for their latest venture, Despacio. Despacio is a bespoke soundsystem designed by the three friends and audiopioneers McIntosh to create the ultimate inclusive club listening experience - being able to play their pick of vinyl from throughout the ages with superior quality. It was showcased at the Manchester International Festival this summer, where club-goers described it as a 'life-changing experience'. 

"It's an idea that me, Dave and James have had for a while," says Stephen. "We just said why can't we build a soundsystem so we can play the kind of music that we wouldn't normally play in normal DJ gigs. You know - a bit more of the rarer stuff and crazy vinyl that we have. I think that once James had finished with LCD, we bumped into him in London and he said 'I don't think you realise this, but I'm going to be in your neighbourhood a lot more so let's actually finish the things that we've been talking about for the last 10 years'."

 

Therein lies the beauty of Despacio. It's not just a cool night with a kick-ass soundsystem. It's the fulfilment of a dream and a real labour of love for three friends.

"We went to our house, set up our laptops and started hanging out a lot more," remembers Stephen. "Then someone mentioned that they might actually be interested in making these speaker stacks that we were talking about."

"I think it's really amazing that we get to hang out with James for three nights and play eight hours of our favourite music, but to be able to do it with an artistry where we control the sound and try to take it to another level is even better"

He continues: "At that moment, it all started to become a reality. Then someone said 'oh we're actually going to build it' and we went 'oh shit', then someone said 'you're going to need a name' and we said 'oh shit', then it became clear that we were actually going to do this and we did three nights in Manchester."

And of course, what better place to hang out than at your own ultimate clubnight?

"I think it's really amazing that we get to hang out with James for three nights and play eight hours of our favourite music, but to be able to do it with an artistry where we control the sound and try to take it to another level is even better. The whole thing was an amazing experience."

 

So, we have three close friends, repected artists and DJs, a library of insane vinyl and one bitching soundsystem - but what to they play?

"The name 'Despacio' has a lot to do with it," says Stephen. "It all happened because Dave and me had a villa in Ibiza. We just brought a lot of our gear over, built a studio near the pool and James came by and we started making music. We realised that Ibiza was really nice but none of these clubs were playing the music or the kind of slower stuff that we really liked. It's all very in your face and defined and we just wanted to play a bit of everything and take it down. So we had this idea to do it in Ibiza and try to make our own soundsystem for the open air and that was the whole ideology that we had.

"The name Despacio is Spanish for 'slower'. We just wanted to slow tracks down and make it more an eight hour trip. Because it sounds so insane, you can do what you want. It was a very organic thing, it's just three friends with ideas, then someone actually made it and we had the most amazing time DJing on it."

"People were dancing in a way that I haven't seen them dance in a while. It was a very human feel and it was really nice. It wasn't about us being the DJs and saying 'hey look at us', it was all about the speakers, the sound and the way that people interact and dance with each other"

But also unlike most clubs in Ibiza, Despacio isn't about 'the DJ'. You won't find yourself pushed together on tip-toes all staring in one direction at an overpaid cretin losing his shit in his headphones. Despacio is just about you, and the music. As James Murphy once said: "You don't go to a restaurant to look at the chef."

Stephen lights up with glee, remembering the Despacio shows in Manchester this summer: "It's about the songs on those speakers, and people were dancing in a way that I haven't seen them dance in a while. It was a very human feel and it was really nice. It wasn't about us being the DJs and saying 'hey look at us', it was all about the speakers, the sound and the way that people interact and dance with each other."

But if you want to REALLY dance and interact, then you're going to need a drink. In true Despacio style, they aren't doing things by halves. 

"We came together and said 'hey, why don't the three of us just have fun again? Why don't we just go have some great food?' The other thing about this is that we've got Clove Club, one of our favourite restaurants involved  - they're going to do the bar and make cocktails.

"A lot of gigs that you go to, the sound is right in front of you and really deafening and in your face, with Despacio everything  all around you and makes for a different atmosphere."

With three friends, such an impressive legacy and so much common ground, it seems fair to assume that they would have made some music together. Now, after years of dreaming and plotting - it seems that we may finally hear a James Murphy and 2ManyDJs open collaboration. 

"We started making some music for Despacio because we had this thing in our heads and it never really got off the ground because maybe we weren't pushing it too much," admits Stephen. "We had a studio in London and James just came by - I think we made about four or five tracks together. They're kind of all over the place but we thought 'hey, this would sound great in Despacio'. Hopefully soon we can finish them and get them out soon."

Fans of the Dewaele brothers will undoubtedly be disappointed about the lack of Soulwaxmas this year - a bespoke Christmas celebration of mind-blowing visuals and awesome dance music that has recently seen guest spots from the likes of Erol Alkan, Kindness and many more. Naturally, the boys have other things on their mind this Christmas...

"We wanted to do Soulwaxmas this year, but then we weren't ready with the record yet so we weren't ready to play as Soulwax - which seemed dumb," shurgs Stephen. "Despacio happened so it made sense to do this instead. Soulwaxmas was always a little bit of an excuse to hang out with our friends and put on our own Christmas parties, and it just got bigger than we thought it would be. When you're doing Brixton Academy, it's not really a small party any more. It's something that we'll probably do next year and hopefully incorporate some other stuff as well. In the end it's cool, so we can focus on the record."

Yup, as well as touring as 2ManyDJs, building a mind-explosion of a soundsystem and writing music for Despacio, they're also working on a new Soulwax album. Such troopers. But what will it sound like?

"That's impossible for me to answer," laughs Stephen. "Whatever I say other people will disagree with, but we just want to make something that we like and really do something for ourselves."

Doing what the hell they want, but for the inclusive enjoyment of others - that's so Despacio. 

Despacio will be at London's Hammersmith Town Hall on Thursday 19, Friday 20 and Saturday 21 December, 2013 - from 9pm - late. Tickets are on general sale now.

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