The house legend is coming to Dubai. We rolled out the red carpet, did our research and prepared for his arrival with a quick Q&A.
As one of the DJs at The Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, Graeme Park was responsible for introducing house music to the UK. Now he tells James Wilkinson about his upcoming gig at Sessions.
You played at the legendary Haçienda for 10 years; what’s your top memory of that time? There are too many memories to mention. Every night I ever played there was special for different reasons, but the New Year’s Eve and birthday parties always stood out. We rarely had guests at The Haçienda – we didn’t need them – but we always booked someone special like David Morales, Frankie Knuckles or Todd Terry for those nights. Someone really good whose tunes we would be playing anyway. Take that and add a fairground and fireworks – indoors! – and you had some of the most memorable nights ever witnessed in clubland! From what I can remember anyway…
How have your own music tastes changed from then to now? I’ve always had eclectic music tastes and that hasn’t really changed. I love all kinds of music, not just dance music. I grew up on my mum and dad’s Tamla Motown and psychedelic tunes before discovering glam rock, punk rock and new wave. That led me to northern soul, disco, funk and soul, then electro – proper, real, original electro – hip hop and house. I still listen to them all. At the moment my favourite album is by Róisín Murphy. It’s both beautiful and quirky at the same time. The only things I listen to now that I didn’t in the past are classical music and the soundtrack to the film Cars because my twin boys, Oliver and Ben, want it on constantly. It’s actually really good. So’s the film.
What can we expect from your set at SessionS? I have no idea. A good DJ decides what to play on the night, not in advance. You have to gauge the crowd and choose your tunes accordingly. I’ve never understood DJs who work out their set in advance. It’s a pointless exercise that can backfire spectacularly. And I’ve seen it happen. Obviously there are certain tunes that I will be playing, like the new tune I’ve done with Byron Stingily called ‘Shady’, but on the night my choice depends on the vibe, the punters, my mood… so many factors to consider! Expect some huge Haçienda classics mixed in with some current stuff too. Take a look at www.myspace.com/graemepark if you need some pointers. But don’t forget that a great night out isn’t about individual tunes, it’s about the whole package. I’ll be taking you on a journey... hang on a minute, I’m beginning to sound like one of those idiot DJs who believe their own hype! Help!
What makes your gigs stand out over the rest? I just turn up with a box of tunes, a song in my heart, a smile on my face and a good attitude. The rest is up to you! Seriously, I don’t know. I think my secret is that I’ve always tried to imagine myself on the dance floor and for over two decades people keep coming along to see me do my thing. Every bloody week, too!
You used to be an amateur saxophonist. Do you still play? Every day! Well not every day, but a lot. I actually own a few horns including a beautiful 1959 Selmer Mark VI tenor that looks and sounds amazing. And I’ve recently been experimenting with an Akai EWI 4000s whilst DJing. It’s an electronic wind instrument that you blow into like a sax and has sax fingering, but you can make it sound like a bass or piano or whatever you want. It’s wild! Unfortunately I won’t be able to bring it to Dubai because of the ridiculous baggage restrictions airlines and airports have. Maybe next time.
Graeme Park is apparently also a place in Pennsylvania, USA. Ever been there? I actually have an open invitation to visit Graeme Park as guest of honour and I definitely will do one day. The mansion was built by a fellow Scot so I’ve promised to turn up in my kilt. They love all that over there. I might take some of my Mum’s homemade shortbread too... if US customs let me!
Graeme Park plays SessionS at Plan B on Thursday April 24, 10pm-3am. Dhs50 entry.