‘I don’t like to talk about negatives, I only like to talk about positives,’ says Rob Tissera after we try to poke him into revealing the worst moment of his career to date. It’s a good attitude to have, of course, but we can’t help but be a bit disappointed. After all, this is a man who got into the dance industry right at the start, and is now sitting on 20 years of knowledge. Having glimpsed a couple of proto-dance-DJs on a night out and decided that this was for thim, Rob hired out some equipment and spent the next four months practicing. Soon after, he was playing to 5,000 illegal ravers a night and within a year he was mixing at Manchester’s legendary Haçienda club.
‘It was just something more special than anything I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Standing on the dance floor and listening to Graeme Park and Mike Pickering made me realise that they were geniuses. I think a lot of people had the same experience I had, realising that they wanted to create that kind of atmosphere.’ That experience guided Rob through the next 20 years of his career, reaching its peak in the year 2000.
‘Playing at [UK dance music festival] Homelands in 2000 was one of the most poignant experiences of my life,’ he says. ‘I was playing to the best part of 10,000 people and I put on a track that I’d done at the time with Quake called ‘The Day Will Come’. We’d completely written and produced it, and seeing 10,000 people there singing it was a life-changing experience and will stay with me forever. It made me cry, it was that special. That was my career-defining moment.’
It’ll certainly play better as the climax of a biopic than this: ‘We did a hat party in Garlands, Ibiza, in 2003, where the person with the best-designed hat would win. The winner was wearing half a melon with a mackerel sticking out of the front of it, with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth and wearing some sunglasses that were made out of pipe cleaners. ‘I’ve also seen a woman riding a bucking bronco that was being pushed around in a trolley by a guy. That was around 1998. He was wearing leather chaps and no underwear, and the woman was half-naked. That should tell you how crazy those times were’
Crazy indeed. But it’s the people – bare buttocks and all – that make Tissera love his job. And unlike many DJs he believes that it’s keeping them entertained that’s important, not high-falutin’ talk about educating people or pushing a particular sound. ‘It’s not about me, it’s only about the people. They are the people who pay for your house and your car, so as soon as you start to talk about “your sound” you’ve lost it. As a DJ, you’re only put on this Earth to make people smile and dance.’
To that end, Tissera started up his own night, KissDaFunk, offering a no-pretensions, all-fun night out for fans of upfront house and electro. And after spreading throughout the UK (not to mention Ibiza, Singapore, Poland, Bahrain and Majorca), the night is now coming to Dubai. So what’s the deal, Rob? ‘Our policy is to book the very biggest names in the world and place them alongside a fantastic team of residents that we’ve hand-picked over the last seven years or so. The DJs that we have had, like David Guetta, Erick Morillo and Steve Angello, have all commented that the atmosphere is second-to-none and definitely the best in Britain. Which is an absolutely awesome to hear from people of their stature.’
As well as go-go dancers, special KissDaFunk decor and fancy visuals, the night will also feature a crowd-pleasing musical selection. ‘We’ll play the most upfront house music around, and we’ll stitch in some remakes of a few classic records so the night has something for everybody to enjoy.’
And is Rob worried about Dubai’s slightly more posery contingent spoiling the fun? ‘I think that’s something that can happen. We love people to come and get dressed up and everything, but it is important for people to contribute by dancing and shouting and having the best time of their lives – and not being afraid to get a bit sweaty.’
Rob Tissera launches KissDaFunk at The Apartment on October 23.