Monday, June 7, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Neil Quigley - One of London's most underrated DJs


In 2006 an up and coming DJ talent known as Neil Quigley was getting some serious props from clubbers and house heads all over London. Soon enough the man got himself a guest spot on John Digweed's radio show, Transitions (if you can find it on the internet, get it, Neil Quigley's 2007 Transitions Mix) and from there things really took off. Since then, he's been regularly billed along side Diggers at the legendary Bedrock nights, he's been gigging it big around the world, he's even handled A&R at the all gold label Urbantorque and has been releasing stellar tunes and remixes on various other legendary record labels. 

Had the pleasure of meeting and watching Quiggers do his thing in Bangalore (click to watch) a couple of weeks back.  What really caught my ear was his brilliant EQing... warm and lush on what was a pretty shoddy sound system. His breakdowns were immense and more than anything else to be able to sound big and at the same time not be in your face loud, is a talent only the finest of DJs have mastered, Neil Quigley is one of them. 

On the night, his mixing was pin point perfect and the programming was fantastic - a heady journey through a diverse set of house influenced sounds, with emotive soulful vocals throw in for good measure (he felt Indians loved their vocals, which was a pretty spot on read of the crowd). After his set, I got to kick it with Neil; we talked about the struggles that goes with being an underground DJ - the balance between doing it for a living and doing it as a hobby, we talked about the importance of music tastes evolving and how club culture is changing with some of us getting a bit older - he had a lot of intelligent and interesting things to say. What really stuck though, in my head I kept thinking, for a man with this much talent - he's extremely humble and yes, I'm going to have to say the obligatory - extremely down to earth. It was a refreshing reminder that there are DJs out there who are approachable and really take the time to get to know their listeners and fans, minus the diva-superstar behavior.  

What sets Neil apart from the other DJs, is his knack to pick out the cream of the crop in all things deep and beautiful. His track selection is extremely intricate and you can really tell he's a DJ who studies every minute detail of the songs he plays. Labels like 20/20 Vision and Buzzin Fly, producers like Milton Jackson and Jimpster all belong in Neil Quigley's arsenal and when you give his sets a listen you can really tell there has been some serious thought put into it. Look him up, his productions and his DJ sets, because I know for a fact you're in good hands when you're grooving with Quiggers.        

In an exclusive interview with YHIHF, UK's most underrated, most talented and yet most humble DJ, Neil Quigley talks about the state of dance music, playing with John Digweed at Bedrock, the shutting down of Matter in London, the art of playing the perfect warm up set and much more...

For those who aren’t familiar with your music and style, describe your sound.
I like to think I’m at the deeper end of house and electronica, packed with melody, emotions and groove.

You recently did a three-city tour in India – tell us about it.  What are some of the cultural things you experienced, what was your perception of the crowds and the scene in general?
It was my first time in India and I was hugely excited as it’s one place I’ve always wanted to visit. My trip was a bit too short to absorb much of the culture, but I met many great people and made new friends. The crowds were unfamiliar with much of my music but open minded nevertheless and I really hope to return soon.

Who have been your inspirations inside and outside of music?
I’ve been very fortunate to meet many successful and creative people who I can now call my friends. The attributes they all carry are hard work, self-belief and unwavering enthusiasm. So I like to think that I’ve learned from them and their qualities and their traits have rubbed off on me a little.

You’ve played around the world, at some of the biggest clubs, what have been your favourite cities/clubs and why?
I love to travel and put as many pins in my world map as possible, and am very fortunate to have the opportunity. However, the best club is almost on my doorstep, London’s Fabric. I also find the crowds in Buenos Aires, Toronto and Budapest are really enthusiastic and knowledgeable and always a pleasure to visit.

I know a lot of DJs in India and all over the world aspire to warm up for John Digweed, you’ve done it on quite a few occasions being a Bedrock regular, what’s that experience like? Essentially, you become part of an elite – just like Chris Fortier, Jimmy Van M, Danny Howells, Sean Q6 and DJ Three.
Being asked by John to participate in the Bedrock parties was a huge honour, an important learning experience and ultimately a great benefit to my career. John remains a great inspiration to a lot of people, including myself and I have nothing but respect for him and his label.

In your opinion and given your experience, what is required of a great warm up set for a big headliner?
A lack of ego helps; the reality is that most of the audience is there for the headliner and not you. If you’re warming up for a DJ you don’t know, it’s good to do a bit of research on their styles. For example, warming up for Tiesto would be a vastly different task to a warm up for Ben Watt. Tailor your set so that you create the perfect platform for the headliner to shine, whilst retaining your own niche sound.

You’re a UK based DJ and we talked about this at length in person, but could you tell us how recession has affected the dance/DJ/club community in England – Matter shutting down for instance, record labels and distributors going kaput, DJs no longer blagging the same frequency of gigs etc.  I think you said, “The days where DJs get paid $10,000 for a mixed compilation and a producer gets $5000 for a remix are over.”
I believe the arrival of the digital platform changed a lot of things worldwide and the inevitable knock on effect was always going to be a hard one to take. Vinyl sales dived, profits dived and of course that meant that so many vinyl distributors were no longer necessary and in some cases record labels sadly went bust. File sharing became a big issue for a lot of labels. It was a case of adapt or die. Digital sales are increasing but the profits just aren't there anymore to pay anyone the huge advances for compilations and singles. But on the upside the whole digital platform is booming, Beatport is the biggest EDM record shop ever, the digital realm has allowed me to start my own label, meaning I can get my own releases and remixes out there so much faster than the "good old days" and of course I have my own monthly podcast. It’s a double-edged sword. 

England has been hit hard by the worldwide recession but so has most of Europe. Every "luxury" industry is suffering to some degree, from restaurants to bars to retail stores not just night clubs. People just seem to be a little more careful and not going out twice a week at the moment. But it seems we are starting to turn a corner and fingers crossed Matter will be re opening after the summer and everything will be hunky dory. I also think the smoking ban in the UK has a lot to answer for, you are constantly losing 25% of the crowd taking five minutes to queue to go outside for a cigarette, five minutes to have the cigarette and then come back in and get back into the headspace they were in and enjoy the music. A lot of things happened at the same time but I'm hugely positive for the future of EDM in the UK.

Is the music getting worse? Besides recession, why isn’t dance music and club culture as popular as it once was in the UK? 
Music is getting better every year! I really can’t understand when people say the opposite. Those that do are just getting old I think. I don’t think the recession has affected the music itself, after all house music boomed during the last one (recession, in the UK). I think it’s just cyclical and I’m optimistic for the future; I went to the most amazing party in a London car park this weekend, it was like being back in the early 90's...

The general feedback from the IMS in Ibiza is that EDM is stonger than it’s ever been. Let’s hope they are right!

Who are the producers and record labels that are hitting the spot for you right now?  Also tell us a little bit about your all time favourite artists and labels, the ones that have really stood the test of time.
I could name dozens of great producers, but I’m particularly excited before listening to a new track by Martinez, Rodriguez Jnr and Catz N’ Dogz. The work of Charles Webster, The Timewriter and Jori Hulkkonen has been and continues to be a huge source of inspiration.

As far as labels go I pretty much lap up everything Germany’s Systematic, Moon Harbour and Mobilee throw at me. UK-wise, Freerange, Buzzin’ Fly and Simple continue to set the standard. However it’s hard to answer which labels have stood the test of time, as most don’t unless their sound continues to evolve and be forward thinking. I guess all the above do that.

Tell us about your monthly podcast.
It tries it’s very best to be monthly but sometimes it misbehaves! But usually it’s an hour-long mix of tracks I am feeling/playing at the moment. I also talk a little, but don’t let that put you off! If you would like to subscribe, here’s the link: 

Tell us about all your upcoming projects and where are the best places we can find your music?
I’ve got a lot of music coming out over the summer; forthcoming originals on Urbantorque, Baile Music and Smalldog records and remixes for Manual Music, Sudbeat and Shaboom. Now I’m concentrating solely on music for the new label I am starting with The Timewriter, Goldwerk Music. I’m a big fan of Soundcloud, which is the best place to listen to my new productions and mixes: 

Is there any advice you would give to the budding DJ/Producer/Promoters here in India?
Believe in yourself and your ability and only play music that you love, that way you’ll keep your enthusiasm as fresh as the day you started.

Your favourite restaurant in your hometown (London) and why?
There’s a fantastic Indian restaurant called Tayyabs in Whitechapel and also Zuma in Knightsbridge is great for sushi.

List out three of your favourite movies.
Three that immediately come to mind are Magnolia, Waiting For Guffman and Contact.

You are stuck on a deserted island with a life supply of batteries and a boom box, list out 6 life changing must-have albums you’d like to have with you and why?

Just six? Here goes:
  1. DJ Shadow – Entroducing: This album buried the argument against those who protested that sampling was theft. A true work of art.
  2. Primal Scream – Screamadelica: Absolutely timeless. ’Come Together’ continues to be my number one sunset track.
  3. Leftfield – Leftism: Hardly an original choice, but it’s definitely one of if not the best dance music album of all time. 
  4. David Holmes – Let’s Get Killed: The soundtrack to what I imagine raving with the Rat Pack would have been like.  
  5. Jean Michel Zarre – Zoolook: Saved up to buy this when I was nine. So besides the nostalgia factor, it still sounds incredible. 
  6. Francois K – Essential Mix: The master at work; a true journey through disco and house.

Check out Neil Quigley's music on Soundcloud: Click here
Follow Neil  Quigley on Twitter: Click here
Join Neil Quigley's Facebook fan page: Click here
Watch Neil Quigley@Opus By The Creek (PT 1) on YOUTUBE: Click here
Watch Neil Quigley@Opus By The Creek (PT 2) on YOUTUBE: Click here


  1. Great interview!

  2. Very good questions which turned out to be quite an interesting read.


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