EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE...

2 MANY DJs

{Continued from Part 2}

- It's my understanding that this album is deliberately exported from Benelux so that you don't have to get clearances from elsewhere.

David: If we were to ask for the clearances from the U.S. I think it would have been like, 6 million dollars.

-Right, so it just gets exported, and we all know that's going on.

David: Well, there's no problem in the European Union, we can export it to France and the U.K. as much as we want. The problems are the U.S. and Australia. Right now, I don't really see it lying around in record stores anymore, I think they just exported a bunch of them, but I don't really see it selling anymore.

-So what do you get out of this album? In terms of clearing 46 tracks, did you have to pay more than is normally put into an album?

Stephen: We get some money out of it because we had a deal with PIAS that we'd get something on the sales. But we haven't really spoken about it. I can honestly tell you we've never done anything, not in Soulwax, not in 2 Many DJs, for the money. The money we make is by DJing, and even then we're probably still being too snobbish about it, we're not making that much money because we only do what we want to do. But on the other hand, that means that we can keep focus, and hang out with people we like, or try out new stuff, or go to New York and get new ideas and stuff like that. We've been with PIAS a long, long time, eight years already, and they're really proud of us. We've never had any big financial problems with them. This whole thing, for them, has been weird. I think they've sold 120,000 already, which is a lot for them.

-Or any mix album.

Stephen: My mom always said, "You guys should have put a Soulwax song on there." And I said, "Yeah Mom, I would, if it would have fit on there."

- What I'm getting at is - obviously PIAS has had to pay out all these clearances. So has it used up most of what you would get?

David: No, what normally happens is, when you clear a track, either you give them 1/46th of 100% or, in some instances, some of the smaller labels like Gigolo, or Kitty-Yo, just want money up front to fund their thing, which is kind of like an advance. And all of these advances, combined, cost more than a normal mix album. With the amount of sales, I don't think it's really a problem. The only people who could make a problem of it, would be us. Because we would go, "Hey, everybody's making money of this but us."

-But if everyone's getting 1/46th of the royalty, what royalty is left over for you as producers?

David: Nothing of Mechanical rights, but if anything we'll get like, a percentage of producing it.

-Now I understand. [Mechanical Royalties are a set percentage of the retail price payable to the songwriters and publishers of the record.] Did any of the artists that were on this record insist on a share of the recording royalties as well?

David: I don't think so, not that I know of.

Time to get paid: "I can honestly tell you we've never done anything, not in Soulwax, not in 2 Many DJs, for the money."

Stephen Dewaele (at right) with brother David in New York City, October 2002

-Well let's talk then about some of the people who didn't give clearance. There's a handful that are almost next to each other in the alphabet on your website, Beastie Boys, Beck, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk?

Stephen: All major labels, Virgin, Geffen, all major labels who have a policy of not clearing any of those people.
David: It never reached the artist. The guys from Daft Punk actually apologized, they were like "We never knew..."
Stephen: It shows you also that a lot of the publishing companies don't even consult their artists, which is horrible, and which tells you that the business is so paranoid. One of the things about 2 Many DJs, apart from selling so much, on an artistic level, we've encountered a lot of like "oh, there's walls everywhere, it's really horrible!"
David: That's kind of why we put it on the 2 Many DJs website, not to put those artists to shame, but to show people.

-The Chemical Brothers, did you find out their reason?

David: They're not really into what we do.

-Okay, and Beck?

David. We haven't found out. We could actually.

-Cause Beck seems to have a good artistic quality, he seems to believe in all kinds of music.

David: Yeah, we've opened for him, he's a creative guy. I think if we would have really pushed through, we could have gotten it. But I think when we first gave in the list, a Beck a capella was on there, but by the time we were making the album, it wasn't really relevant anymore.

-Were there any cases where you did pick up the phone personally to get clearances?

Stephen: Felix da Housecat. Because we knew him, and they wouldn't let us get clearance so we called him up and he was like "yeah, sure, whatever." That was the first showing that these people never get asked.

-And Felix isn't even a big artist.

Stephen: Well it's Warner policy, they wouldn't clear it. Because they only want to release it on their own compilations.
David: Lords of Acid, the label wouldn't give it to us. And it's our remix, and they hadn't even paid us for it!

-That's brilliant. So then you called them as well?

Stephen: Oh yeah, and then it was no problem.

-It seems that some people are almost against your album because it appears to legalize the whole 'bootleg'/'mash-up' process. . .

David: But how many are there - like, four, maybe, on the whole album? The rest is tracks that have a similar vibe to them. Like that Wild Bunch track, "Danger, High Voltage." That's fucked up pop culture as much as Basement Jaxx with "Where's Your Head At?" over Emerson Lake and Palmer. Same thing for Joe the Taxi (anyo?), same thing for The Residents, it's pop culture fucked up, and that's what we're into. Like we found this record that's amazing, called "Temporary Secretary" by Paul McCartney - it's incredible, it sounds like a bootleg of Adult with Paul McCartney. But it's him, it's from 1980.
Stephen: I understand how people have problems with two existing tracks being mashed up, but then they should oppose the whole hip-hop culture.

-That's a perfectly valid answer. I will make this point myself, in your defense, but when people talk about this mashing up/bootleg/whatever, what I think they often don't understand is that it's one thing to throw two tracks together and have some fun, we can all do that at home on the computer. Your album is like this pop journey, it's this cultural journey.

Stephen: yeah sure.

-It's a DJ journey, and that's not to say everybody has to like every track. And the other thing that hopefully you are getting credit for is, it seems like what your slogan is that a great song is a great song, is a great song, is a great song, whether it's Dolly Parton, or Royksopp.

Stephen: Nick Kershaw for God's sake. Who cares? If it's a good song, it's a good song. We were saying this last night, driving around America: A lot of people are not very open-minded, and honestly, I'm very amazed by that. Cause I've been raised up on culture and music, and pop music, and I always had the feeling that pop music was the door or the window to something new, and now I see none of it anymore. It's horrible.

-Unfortunately American radio is just pigeonholed. It may be becoming more so now in the U.K. that they have more radio. There's XFM, Virgin FM. So now, the people growing up in Britain are like "I only listen to Kiss. I only listen to..."

David: Compared to here, London is a bit more adventurous.
Stephen: It's heaven. Come on, here...

-Radio here is just terrible, unless you can pick up a couple of college stations..

Stephen: Honestly, I do think it's going to change, all of it. I mean it can't go on like this.

-It can. The radio is a lost cause here. The one way it can change is you can get radio online now, and if you work in an office and you've got a fast connection...

David: Yeah, we have that. A lot of people are going to our website.
Stephen: Yeah, we have Radio Soulwax on the web, and there are a lot of people listening to it.

My mom always said, "You guys should have put a Soulwax song on there." And I said, "Yeah Mom, I would, if it would have fit on there."

-You mentioned a couple of times about Flood, and answered very quickly that you're not letting Soulwax suffer from being popular DJs, but where are you at with Soulwax? How are you balancing this?

Stephen: We're not balancing it, it's never been balanced. That's the thing. Some people think it's two careers combined, but we've never sat down and had a plan. With Flood, somebody suggested that we work with him and all of a sudden he was at our studio in Ghent and we talked and it just clicked.
David: It's another one of those instances, just like with other artists, where sometimes it clicks, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, even with people you musically respect, you're better off not meeting them.
Stephen: With Flood it was completely different, and it worked well. We didn't know if we wanted to do the normal rock thing where you go into the studio for a month, and have the songs prepared beforehand. We've seen that there has to be another way, and he was completely into that, he was like "I so want to do something different." And so what we do is we go up to his studio in Kilburn, and we just mess around, and the last time we were there, the first four or five days we did two tracks. It's weird, it's like so not Soulwax and yet it's Soulwax.

-Is Soulwax just the two of you now?

Stephen: Three, the bass player Stephan, also.
David: That's always how it's been, even on the last album, there were three of us and we hired a drummer and a keyboard player.

-So you don't seem to be losing any sleep over whether you're Soulwax or 2 Many DJs

Stephen: Oh, I'm not.
David: It's both.
Stephen: It's both the same.
David: We even like confusing people.
Stephen: That's cool, man, I love the confusion part. And some of the people who were really into the 2 Many DJs record, after that were like "yeah, I went out to buy the Soulwax album, and I really like it."
David: We've even had a lot of people come back to us and go "now I understand what you were trying to do with the album." Because bear in mind, it was made like four or five years ago.

-I love that line in that one song, "Everybody wants to be a DJ."

Stephen: Yeah, how cynical! It's very weird cause I remember when we wrote that song, feeling like, this is gonna do something... It's all fun, you know, we're having a good time. We just need to take care of our health.

TONY FLETCHER 2003


Back to Part 1
Back to Part 2


FURTHER SURFING:

AT IJAMMING!:
AS HEARD ON RADIO SOULWAX PT. 2 REVIEW
SOULWAX ALBUM REVIEW
2 MANY DJ'S LIVE REVIEW 1.
2 MANY DJ'S LIVE REVIEW 2.

ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB:
2 MANY DJS WEB SITE
SOULWAX WEB SITE
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PLAY IT AGAIN SAM RECORDS


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