q&a Richard Colburn, the drummer with the Scottish indie band Belle & Sebastian, is DJing at Club Alpha at the Meridien Airport Hotel in Dubai tonight.
The story of a Belle boy
Richard Colburn, the drummer with the Scottish indie band Belle & Sebastian, is DJing at Club Alpha at the Meridien Airport Hotel in Dubai tonight.
I remember DJing about 15 years ago at indie nights that my friends put on in Glasgow. I wasn't in a band at that point but I was really into music. I didn't have much of a clue what I was doing but I had a decent record collection. Over the years it's gone the same way, apart from the last year and a half where I've started really getting into it.
There used to be a definite line between being a musician and being a DJ. They didn't really cross over. Norman Cook [Fatboy Slim] did it in a different way where he was in a band, and later became a DJ. But that was the exception. There are not so many big name DJs around as there were a few years ago. In the Nineties the club scene was huge and there was a lot of money around; now the superstar DJ thing is not as big as it used to be - the whole scene has gone underground again, which is a good thing I think. It does seem go around in circles: dance music is huge, rock music suffers, and vice versa.
Because of the rise of indie, a lot of people expect a more eclectic night these days. When you DJ with a lot of different styles of music, it makes it more interesting and the crowd hears stuff they may not have heard before. I love hearing things I've never heard before; it forces you to go out and find new music. People seem to be genuinely interested in hearing what their favourite band's influences are. I still love going to a good house club now and again, or a funk and soul night, but sometimes it can be a little bit of overkill listening to the same music for five hours.
Definitely. There's only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. Being a musician helps when working out what songs fit well with each other. However, the biggest thing is experience, especially when DJing in clubs. There are a lot of things to think about: what to play; when to play it; reading the crowd; making sure you've got the dance floor, and keeping control of it, as well as having a good attitude - I'm still learning all these things. All in all, I get far more nervous when I DJ than when I play drums.
Sometimes. I usually take some extra records if I have feeling that might happen. I always do as much homework as I can and then hope there are no surprises. Sometimes you get told what type of night it's going to be, and the type of music that goes down the best, but you still get surprised. You turn up, and the night is different to what was described to you. That's when you start wishing you brought different tunes that would have gone down better. You can't take every record with you, so you have to second-guess sometimes.
Absolutely, I played a club in Madrid a few weeks ago called Elastico, which was amazing. The place was absolutely rammed, the club was dark and the sound system was brilliant. The best bit about it was the crowd was up for anything. Whatever you threw at them, they were into it because they were having a party. Spain is amazing that way. That's my favourite kind of night; where the crowd just want to hear good music and dance all night.
I have only had a flight connection in Dubai - if the airport is anything to go by, I'm going to have great time. It was a pretty amazing airport. I've no idea what to expect, but I was talking to Adam [Fischek from Babyshambles], who was over a few weeks ago and he said it was brilliant, so I'm really looking forward to it.