Interview: Darren Emerson talks Intec, Carl Cox, Underworld and more

Darren Emerson - Soundspace

Darren Emerson first broke onto the global music scene in the 90’s as a member of Underworld. After leaving he carved out a solo career as a successful DJ, and along with compiling Mix CD’s for brands like Global Underground, he also had a number of top selling records under his own name.

Many will also be familiar with Darren Emerson’s classic collaboration with Sasha titled Scorchio, which is often referenced as a genre defining anthem from the hay day of progressive house. These days, Darren still has melodic elements to his timeless sound, but for the most part focuses on techno with releases on labels such as Carl Cox’s Intec.

Hi Darren, it’s great to speak with you, have you been making much new music recently?

Hi. Good to speak to you too. Yeah I’ve been back in the studio quite a bit lately, and really enjoying it, got my mojo back. Been working over the last few years on a number of different projects, some of which I kept quiet, but all are going well.

Done some new EPs for various labels, and also finished off a few new remixes, so I’ve got loads of ammo to unleash! Music is often like buses, as you wait for ages without anything coming along, then they all come together, but I’m really happy how things are all shaping up.

I checked out your new Birdcage EP on Carl Cox’s label Intec before this interview, could you tell me a bit about the release?

I wrote the tracks on the release Birdcage and Jupe quite a while ago. Birdcage has a cool jackin’ 303 bassline, a mad bell sound that reminded me of a bird tweeting, and I also added some jackin’ handclaps that I like to use.

Originally the tracks where gonna come out on a friends label, but after sitting on it for quite a while (nearly a year), then eventually their label manager said that they wanted to release it under a pseudonym. I knew the tracks would make a strong EP, and when Carl heard about it he said fuck that, you need to be pushing this under your real name, and it was agreed I’d released them on Intec.

How long have you known Carl Cox, as I see you have release on Intec previously?

I’ve known Carl since 1987. I was 16 the first time I met him, when I was knocking about with some of the older lot round my way, and they wanted to put a on warehouse party called Part Worn Tyres. Carl at the time had a soundsystem, and he drove up from Brighton to check out the warehouse one afternoon, while I was there with the guys.

I still remember the night in 1987 as it was a massive warehouse party in Rainham with Carl’s soundsystem and Paul Oakenfold on the decks. This was just before the acid house explosion kicked in, amazing times! I feel very lucky to have been there to see the whole house, techno and balearic scene blossom.

I’ve DJ’d all round the world with Carl when I got a bit older, as I was on his booking agency called Ultimate, and I often played at the Ultimate nights in London. Carl’s a very good friend and I feel very honoured to still be working with him on music and live shows around the world.

Following the Intec release, what other labels do you have tracks or remixes lined up on?

I have just had a new single called Brooklyn out on Dave Seaman’s label Selador, which is part of a project I’m doing with Dave Seaman and Danny Howells called 3D.

I also have a new EP coming out on my Detone imprint called the STOP IT EP, and that should be out in March. I’m working on putting some ideas together for a potential release on Matador’s Rukus label too, so I’m being kept very busy with various different projects.

Remix wise, due out soon are my reworks of DJ Hell – I Want You, Gus Gus – Lifetimes and Glenn Morrison – Tough Love. Under my White Lamp alias I’ve also got the next single ready to go, and just working on a couple of follow ups, as that project has been a bit too stop and start, so I want to get a few bits lined up for it.

So as you can see I’ve got quite a bit on at the moment but as I said earlier, I’m really enjoying it, and just need more hours in the day to get things finished.

Talking of records, I still have a couple of vinyl releases from your old Underwater Records imprint, and wanted to ask what you have lined up for your current label project Detone?

Well as I said earlier, I have a new EP from me called Stop It, but there is also lots of new material from the other artists in the Detone family. Kristin Velvet, Satoshi Fumi, Saytek, Matt Tanner, Anna B, and Rose Tinted, are just to name a few of the people on forthcoming releases.

Originally many people knew you as a member of Underworld, and following that you went on to collaborate with the likes of Sasha and The Chemical Brothers, do you have any new collaborations planned for the future?

Currently I’m also working on a couple of collaborations including a third EP with John Digweed and Nick Muir plus a new one with Darius Syrossian. Me and my good friend Nick Littlemore (PNAU/Empire Of The Sun) are also working on a project called Huffa.

This is a bit of a daft question as I recently watched the official video for Underworld’s classic track Born Slippy, which is of course from when you were still a key part of the group. That hat you have on in the video always makes me laugh… it’s very 90’s lol. I wanted to ask what’s the most memorable outfit you have worn for a music video or photo shoot?

Haha I’ve had water and paint thrown over me when we were shooting for a big cover (Born Slippy). Many years ago, I also did a front cover shoot for Mixmag in the freezing cold and had to wear this long leather trench coat which looked a bit odd… it was very Blade Runner/secret police lol.

Moving back to more serious topics, what else do you have lined up for 2018?

Apart from the music I’m trying to do the London marathon for Teenage Cancer Trust, which is a great cause. I’ve had some injuries and caught a bug in Asia which put me in hospital for a bit, so I’ve been out of training for a couple of months, and now have around just one month to get my fitness back. If you anyone is interested in donating you can sponsor me HERE.

On top of all the releases already mentioned I’ve also really enjoyed spending time with Dave Seaman and Danny Howells traveling round the world to play our 3D shows. Overall I’ve been very happy and chilled.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, and for those interested in picking up a copy of your new release on Intec I’ve added a link HERE.

Thank You!