With a #saveourculture fundraiser coming up on Saturday, we catch up with Liverpool's favourite son
iDJ and Yousef go back a long way. While he famously got his big break via a mixtape competition in Muzik, we were the first magazine ever to put him on the cover, way back in April 2002 (incidentally, we shot that cover in the underground car park at Millennium Square in Bristol, while dodging security guards; still makes us smile every time we park there). We have hazy but fond memories of our first-ever trip to the Winter Music Conference, when we walked into the VIP at Nikki Beach to find ourselves suddenly giving an entirely unexpected piggyback to a very enthusiastic young scouse DJ; we have even hazier memories of a contest in a backstage caravan at Creamfields as to who could juggle three rolls of Selotape the longest.
Since then, of course, that young scouse DJ's career has gone from strength to strength. So when we found out that his long-running Liverpool club night Circus - a night we remember him starting, and that's now something of an institution in the city - would be staging a fundraising night for fabric's #saveourculture campaign this Saturday, now seemed like the perfect time for a catch-up...
Pretty much every UK dance/electronic music lover seems to be on the same page re: fabric closing, but why is it important for you - firstly as a DJ, promoter and label owner?
"The cause of the closure is most important to me, regardless of which professional hat I may be wearing. Trying to re-educate portions of the authorities that may have a dated view as to the level of professionalism which serious clubs and club events operate at is increasingly vital. There may also be an underestimation of how important this culture is and how dance music has permeated many areas of modern life - that needs to be further recognised."
…and secondly personally? Any particular fabric-related 'moments' or stories to share? What does the club mean to you?
"Although I've played fabric a few times, my main memories are as a punter. I always recall rallying around the club at 9am listening to Ricardo Villalobos. Watching him in complete control at fabric is like watching living art."
With the fundraiser you've got coming up, can you talk us through the line-up - why you picked them for this event and what you think they bring to the party?
"It's a case of building the line-up around what we already had booked in or pending, and building outward from there. Everyone that plays a Circus event (or fabric) comes from a creative point of view and is musically honest, and none more so than the names we have lined up for 26 November: the pedigree is particularly strong. We felt the team-up with fabric and #saveourculture was a very positive way to illuminate their cause and a way for the Circus crowd to join the campaign in their own way, too."
How come you opted for a daytime event?
"Daytime raves are always a more fun way to enjoy music! We've done about six now and the trajectory in the way people enjoy themselves is a lot smoother, and even happier. People are sober when they arrive so the music remains the focal point throughout the entire party."
Circus certainly gets about these days. How much of your time does running the event take up, compared to your DJing/production and running your label?
"Fortunately I have an incredible DJ agent that takes care of my worldwide touring, so that's not an issue, although the travelling is time-consuming. I tend to split up my days with some Circus bookings, some label work, some studio work, some exercise and more importantly family time. The balance actually supports each of my activities - I don't get lost in a loop by any of them. They are all my hobbies, although I'm very active in all of them and my music release schedule is set for the next year, pretty much, DJing is what I really do and do best.
What do you think has been the secret to Circus' success/longevity?
"We simply don't do it for money! We keep going as it's so interesting to see it grow and unfold: it's almost like its own person now and watching it develop truly is very fascinating to Richard and I, and the small but amazing team we have."
Finally, what else have you got going on at the moment that iDJ readers need to know about?
"Busy as always! I'm currently in Uruguay as part of my South America tour, and the gigs down here are always electric. I'm touring America in December and returning to Moscow for the first time in many years too.
"Musically, I've got new stuff coming out on Hot Trax, Objektivity and This & That, as well as my own Circus Recordings with an oddball vocal techno record called Pleasure Defined that comes with Scuba, Krankbrother and Waze & Odyssey remixes. And of course Circus is rocking in Liverpool, with our two major parties on 26 November and 27 December, while Circus Recordings continues with killer releases from Bimas, Sabb and Bontan, among others."
Circus and fabric present #saveourculture is at Camp & Furnace in Liverpool this Saturday (26 November). Get tickets here.