Back To Mine: Dance System
“Dance System makes some of the funnest music we’ve heard, all popping riffs, disco jams, and off-your-face melters engineered specifically for the sort of club night you’ll lose your marbles at.” DUMMY Mag
This Saturday, we bring Dance System to Ministry Of Sound to cap off a wild year for Back To Mine. He joins Groove Armada, Melé and Bklava on the lineup and we couldn't think of a better way to send off party season with a bang.
Here at Back To Mine, we appreciate and understand the power of dance music to unite and uplift all too well, and if anyone on today's scene resonates with those beliefs, it's Dance System. Annie Mac has described his music as 'medicine for the nation'. It's a prescription we would firmly co-sign in a time where respite is seemingly in ever higher demand.
Ahead of his set at Ministry of Sound this Saturday 17th December, we sat down with the man of the moment to reflect on his mega year of huge releases, his 15 year career so far, a world tour, and dance music at large - past, present and future.
Last few tickets for Back To Mine: Groove Armada, Melé, Dance System, Bklava & more at Ministry of Sound on 17th December here.
As a DJ, I work in energy. It's all about building and building to different crescendos throughout the set, blending between tracks across four decks. The sound can be dark and twisted, or joyful and uplifting, but all with edge, grit and playfulness. I love to play with the crowd and wind them up into a frenzy.
How do you harness club energy in the studio? Is there a lot of trial and error and testing tracks when playing out?
When I make club tracks in the studio, the process is really fast; I have never been one to spend hours tuning a snare or kick. It’s all about the energy of the moment and I paint in bold brush strokes which are the main things that have impact on the dance floor. I’m always thinking about the audience and how they will react at different points. Each sound has intention for the floor. I love to test the tunes out in the clubs as soon as I’ve made them, then I tweak the mix and structure for maximum impact.
You’ve released a string of bona fide bangers this year. Do you feel as though there’s a particular appetite for unabashed party tracks on dance floors currently?
100%! The chin stroking really seems to have died on post-Covid dancefloors. People just want to have a good time and feel good. Especially when things are so tough in this country right now. Things are kinda mirroring the early days of rave music, there was no snobbery then, just big bangers to make you move.
It’s been a massive year for you, do you have any highlights?
There has been so many highlights this year, but the biggest one had to be when I played the 20th anniversary of Big Beach Boutique. There are so many layers to this story. I was there on Brighton beach watching Fatboy Slim play in 2002, one of the standout tracks of that set was Groove Armada’s Superstylin'. I was lucky enough to remix that for their 25th Anniversary this year, so of course I was gonna play it at the anniversary. I’m a Brighton boy and Fatboy was the reason I got into dance music back in the day, so this show meant so much to me. As I played my remix, Norman came and surprised me on stage and gave me a hug! I could have cried, it was such a full circle moment.
- Your shows have taken you all over, where are some of your favourite crowds to play to? Any favourite clubs, festivals, dance floors in particular?
I had an amazing time in Japan this year. I love the crowds there. They are so enthusiastic about all the music. Circus in Osaka was my favourite, it's a small club, but they have the booth in the middle of the floor like Boiler Room, I love having the energy of people all around me. The crowd were absolutely wild and it really fed into my set. I also loved playing Back to Minehead with Fatboy Slim. The crowd was a bit older, but that’s perfect for me because a lot of the music I play is from the late 90s. They knew every track and were really along for the ride. Such a fun festival!
What do you think are 5 key ingredients for a killer party?
Good diverse crowd
Good lights (nice and dark preferably)
The club scene hasn’t been without its challenges these past few years. What are values that you think should be central as local and global scenes continue to grow and flourish? Is there anything you think needs change?
The most important thing for me is the local small scenes across the country. Promoters really need to create a community around their parties, book local and build a great party before bringing in big name DJ’s. Some places I have turned up to haven’t put those foundations down with their parties. You need to build the trust of the clientele. We have a massive new audience that missed out on two years of clubbing and need a bit of education about who the DJs are.
Dance music can sometimes feel like it goes in cycles, perhaps never faster than it does currently how media and content is consumed. How do you think an artist can cut through the noise and stay relevant?
You just have to do you. I never pay any attention to the cycles, I’m just 100% myself. That’s the only way you can cut through and stay relevant for a long time. Don’t follow the trends.
Who would you like to shout out who's coming up in the scene?
There are so many new artists that I’m working with on our label, System Records. But there are two that I have been helping develop that I know are gonna be stars. First up Kyle Starkey, his music had come on in keeps and bounds since he first started sending demos to me, I’m so impressed with his production and ideas, he truly is in his own lane and I’m so excited to see where his career takes him. And then there is Serenda, an amazing talent in the making, her DJ sets are incredible.. for a 22 year old her crates are so deep! I’m always impressed by her knowledge and now she has started to produce and the tunes are turning out incredible! Catch both of their sets from my Ministry Session on YouTube.
It’s a fast paced life for a DJ and producer at your level. How do you plan your time, and make sure you find the occasional glimpse of quiet and self care?
This summer was very grueling! By the end of September I was so drained after back to back North America and Asia tours, I had to take some time off just to recover. I think that is vital. If I had just continued I think my mental health and physical health really would have suffered. When you are in the throes of touring though it can be difficult to find that real peace you need at times. I've just got in the habit of meditating as soon as I get to the hotel for at least half an hour, it’s incredible what that can do for you. Having that moment, just for you, is priceless.
What’s 2023 looking like for Dance System?
I just set up an amazing new studio in London, it’s synth heaven! First time I have actually had a space since 2019. It’s been so refreshing to be back in a studio. I’ll be spending a lot of time there working on new music, maybe a new album and lots of collaborations. Will continue to push our record label with some big releases and more new talent. Also tours worldwide are coming in thick and fast, so shaping up to be another big year!