Next up in the ‘Yet Another Music Blog speaks to…’ series, we’re pleased to introduce London-based DJ/producer John-Paul Denton, aka XY-Me. John-Paul has worked alongside some of the biggest names in the business and after hearing a forthcoming release under his XY-Me moniker on Days of Being Wild, I had to find out more.
YAMB So, can you tell us a bit about XY-Me? Where did your music career begin and how did you reach the point of producing as XY-Me?
XY-Me I began DJing at about 14-15 and had a residency in Newcastle when I was 16, through meeting people on the scene I managed to secure myself a job with a small company called ‘Global Underground’ back then they were still knocking tapes out of the back of a van, but soon grew to what we all know of them today. I worked as their tour manager for the last 2 years I was with them and ended up touring all around the world with the likes of Sasha, Digweed, Deep Dish and Steve Lawler. This fuelled the fire for my want to produce music and when I left I began the long and rocky road of making my own music. I’ve been producing since I was about 23 and I’m 34 now so just over 11 years.
YAMB Where did the name come from?
XY-Me It was a take on the XYZ saying in sciencey things; you need a combination of things in music and when I set up the moniker I was working closely with the ‘People Get Real’ boys so it was sort of the X and Y being them and Me. Although it’s come to mean more of a combination of elements these days as its more my own venture.
YAMB Listening back to some of your past mixes and productions, it’s clear that you’re aiming for the peak-time dance-floor. For want of avoiding a cliché interview question, how would you describe your sound?
XY-Me ‘Clubbed to Death’ …I’ve been embroiled in the scene for so long I can never really make up my mind where I want to go with things, I constantly get inspired by new and established artists and just try to keep up. I’d like to think it’s a combination of house and techno with a focus on a more produced type of sound.
YAMB Do you have a favourite piece of kit in the studio?
XY-Me It has to be the Access – Virus Ti Polar, I bought it a while ago and although it doesn’t get used on everything it’s sort of my go to thing when I want something special. The depth and warmth from its synthesis is amazing and the fact that it comes with its own VST interface just makes it a dream to work with. Oh and any plugin by Waves.
YAMB You recently won the London Warehouse Events DJ comp (congrats). Can you tell us a bit more about the competition?
XY-Me I’d just recently moved to London and I had a bit of time on my hands so I was trawling through the music sites catching up on some promo etc, I noticed the ‘competitions’ section on Mixcloud and it caught my attention. I’ve never really been one for entering things like this but since I was ‘in the area’ so to speak, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’d just done one of my monthly mixes and quickly re-packaged it for the comp, I thought that instead of doing something bespoke if I just stick to what I love and what I would normally do then It would mean a lot more if I won.
YAMB Do you play live as XY-Me, or are you predominantly a DJ when you’re out in clubland?
XY-Me I’ve dabbled with the ‘live’ show with both my XY-Me moniker and ‘Code:Manta’ which is my more commercial sound, with CM I had a full band setup, drummer, keys, singer the lot. It’s so much more difficult to organise and work out but ultimately much more rewarding. XY-Me was more a MPC-40 thing with ableton, it worked but to do it every gig would probably take more time than I have at the moment. DJ’ing is the fallback, I know it, enjoy it and can’t wait for the day I’m doing something like a massive festival.
YAMB Where’s your favourite place to play out?
XY-Me Recently for me it’s been the ‘Queen of Hoxton’ it gets pretty jumping, I’ve been joining some new friends I’ve made down here for their night ‘Divided’ on the last Friday of every month. It’s just the right size for a close quarters house/techno rave off. Because of the touring I used to do I’ve been lucky enough to see most clubs around the world so I’ve experienced the ‘crème de la crème’ of clubs only never played there, but that only makes me more determined to get back there as XY-Me.
YAMB One track that really got my attention is the forthcoming ‘Fearless’ on Days of Being Wild. What was the idea behind this track?
XY-Me I’d been listening a lot to the likes of Isolee and Caribou , both artists I really admire and I wanted to see if I could capture a similar feel in an XY-Me style. Something low slung but with energy that moved throughout the track.
YAMB You regularly collaborate with the People Get Real guys in the studio. How did this relationship come about?
XY-Me We’d known of each other for a little while on the Newcastle scene and at the time they were everywhere, I don’t think there was one night going that didn’t have one of them playing at it! It just seemed right to get in touch and see if they fancied working on some material. It took a few goes for me to get into their mindset but we soon got there and started developing the sound. I really like working with them, they’re never afraid to try something new and really appreciate a more experimental way of working.
YAMB Do you get the chance to hit the club as a punter nowadays? Are there any DJs in particular that you try to see?
XY-Me I recently went to Ministry for the first time to catch up with some old GU guys, my mate Steve Parry was playing along with Hernan Cattaneo and Quivver. Erol Alkan is always a must if he’s in the area, I always get blown away by his sets, he makes me want to lock myself away for a month after I hear him play just to try to catch up with how forward thinking and amazing the music he plays is.
YAMB How do you feel about the current state of electronic music?
XY-Me This is a tricky one, I could go on for literally days about how jaded I feel about the scene and money etc etc but I think it is what you make it really. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to be a full time producer and not have to work but as the time’s gone on its become increasingly difficult to make a living from it unless you get that ‘big break’. I’ll always be involved in it in some way, I’m 34 now I don’t know much else lol.
YAMB Who are your musical heroes?
XY-Me Anyone from the Motown crowd or in general 60s era, Stones, Beatles, Stevie Wonder. Daft Punk, Justice and Sebastian, all 3 have created records that make my head explode trying to figure out how they do it.
YAMB What’s next for XY-Me? Will there be an album at some point?
XY-Me I’d like to think so, since moving to London I’ve been really busy working with other people so the XY-Me material has taken a back seat but I’m planning on setting aside a month or 2 coming up to work on new stuff. Also a record label I’m signed to ‘Champion Records’ have put me in touch with a contact of theirs, Rob Davis; he’s the person that wrote Kylie’s – Cant Get You Out Of My Head and string of other hits with people like Paul Oakenfold. We’re currently writing music together and have dates booked in once a month. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to be working with such a legend I just hope my production skills can match his song writing prowess !
YAMB One track that is really doing it for you at the moment?
XY-Me Jamie Antonelli – Divine – Just an amazing house record, great lyrics, great backing and a beautiful sentiment. Reminds me of ‘superstar of rock – orange sunshine’…. ‘the lights, the heat, the strobe’….
YAMB If you could banish one track to hell for all eternity?
XY-Me I don’t think I could be that cruel to any music, we each take our own things from music and find solace in the strangest of records, someone out there loves the Birdie Song just as much as someone loves a Behemoth death metal track.
A massive thanks to John-Paul for speaking to us. Be sure to grab a copy of his latest offering, in the form of a People Get Real remix of ANTI-TANK’s ‘It’s Over’, which is out today on Join Our Club.