Interview: CC:Disco! will be Australia's next big house export
The long-time Melbourne DJ has flexed her curation skills for First Light: Volume 1, a new compilation with Soothsayer.
Header photo by Ryan Sauer.
While Australia's house music scene may not be as strong and deep-rooted as in the UK and Europe, it hasn't stopped us from pushing out our fair share of stars. Melbourne's Mall Grab became the poster child for lo-fi house's dominative rise across 2016 and 2017, relocating to London and selling out shows both here and internationally following a slew of popular underground releases. Also from Melbourne, Tornado Wallace looks set to become a rising star in 2018, kicking off his year by playing shows across the UK and Europe before returning to our shores for Pitch Festival in March. Willaris K, Alta, Nite Fleit and GL are amongst other names turning heads internationally, as is CC:Disco! – an alias of Melbourne's Courtney Clarke who, over the past ten years, has become one of Australia's most gifted rising DJs.
With an extensive history in DJing, radio and curation, CC:Disco! has the potential to become Australia's next major international house export – if she isn't already. After a brief round of Australian shows across the next few weeks (including one at Laneway Festival in Fremantle), Clarke will return to the UK and Europe for a month of shows that include dates at venues such as London's notorious XOYO and Nottingham's Stealth, where she'll be supporting Mall Grab himself as a part of his Non Stop Feeling tour. Additionally, she's just teamed up with Australian label Soothsayer for an extensive, 15-track compilation in which she showcases her tastemaking skills through tracks by Love Deluxe, Jace XL, Sui Zhen and others, shining a light on musicians bubbling away in Australia's populated underground market.
First Light: Volume 1 – said compilation – arrives today, and it's a diverse release with almost as much variation as her DJ sets. There are disco anthems placed alongside house thumpers which belt away with clanging bass kicks and simplistic melodies that will have any dancefloor on their feet, while palate cleansers placed in between keep things fresh and not too overwhelmingly heavy. Overall, the overarching theme of First Light: Volume 1 proves what many familiar with Australia's house scene have been saying for years – the future is quickly approaching, and it's blindingly bright. Dive into the full compilation below as we chat to CC:Disco! about her roots in DJing and tastemaking, the collection and its curation, and her thoughts on the future of Australian house.
Hey! You posted on Twitter the other day that next year marks ten years of DJing – how did you initially get into DJing and what have been some highlights over the years?
HEY! Yes, it’s been creeping up slowing. I got into DJing from radio – I’ve been doing radio shows since I was 15 and when I left my hometown, I saw DJs for the first time not playing Bon Jovi and it was a whole new world that eventually I would want to join as well.
Some of the favourite memories are practicing for hours in my bedroom, hours and hours I would just get so lost, it’s the only time I’d forget to eat I swear. There’s been so many highlights but ones that really sticks out is closing Pitch Festival after John Talabot in 2017, I’ll never forget the energy in the crowd. Another highlight was being able to tick off my Australian Dream gigs bucketlist with my agent Sam – still can’t believe I’ve been able to play all my favourite festivals and parties, defo adding more to that list now.
After spending such a long time building yourself up as a DJ, what was it that prompted you to look into curating a compilation? How did the idea come about?
I’d been toying with the idea for a while. A chance convo with Soothersayer guys happened, and a year later, we’re working on it. I’ve always wanted to do comps but wanted to do one on new music first as I feel it isn’t being pushed enough in the current market.
The compilation has some really impressive names on it, with everyone from Jace XL and James I.V to Love Deluxe and Sui Zhen featured across the release. Are there any particular artists/songs that you’re incredibly stoked to see on the release? Why?
The track from Sui Zhen I can’t get enough of because it’s a super personal track about her mum who’s currently battling with cancer – it’s just a beautiful song that you can feel every word she’s singing. Dream Sequence from Manuel Darquart is one I’ve been playing in the clubs for months. It’s a real burner on the dancefloor with a solid nod the 90’s Italian house genre which I loveeeee. River Yarra and Tom Baker’s tune will always have a special place in my heart too, as I played it at Meredith last year and it was such a huge tune to play to so many people…. so glad it’s being released now.
I’ve given the compilation a few run throughs now, and one thing I really love about it is how it refuses to be boxed in genre-wise. Some of the singles are disco-leaning, others are more house-y, and there are some (like Angophora’s Settled) which I wouldn’t even call electronic. Can you tell us about this variation of sound on your compilation? What is it that draws you towards such a varied mix of productions?
Yes it’s all over the place, a lot like myself. But I think it’s a good thing. I think if you listen to my radio show and club sets, I tend to play lots of styles – I take a bit from every genre. I think the comp is another example of me doing that. We also want to capture what’s going on NOW in Australia.
I also think people are really educated on music these days and are opened minded about liking new genres.
You’re touring the compilation nationwide next month, which includes dates at Laneway Festival. For those unaccustomed to your DJ sets, what should they be expecting?
Sure am, yes coming back to Freo (is there’s a beach party that night, I want in). I think it will more disco for Laneway, sun will be out guns will be out and I do love playing disco in the afternoon, feels right.
And proceeding these national dates, you’ve got some European shows too. I know house music has a long and extensive history in the UK and Europe, whereas here in Australia it’s still relatively underground. What are some of the immediate differences that stand out in the European house market for you?
The obvious standout is that there’s more events, clubs and festivals if you compare the two continents. Really depends on where you go but people just love to dance all night it doesn’t feel like it’s so much about the party but the more so music which is a great thing of course. I love that in Berlin people will just go to breakfast then head out dancing sober all day or only party a little.
This is a really open-ended question, but you’ve been tied-in to the Australian house scene for almost a decade now and have seen it change and evolve more than many, many people out there have. Where do you see Australian house progressing in 2018 and beyond?
Who knows which direction it will go in. Everyone is on such different music making paths. I think it’s an exciting time for producers here as I feel we are really looking inwards at the moment and placing value on music made in Australia. You hear it on our radio so and see it on our party line-ups. We are not looking for big internationals anymore, maybe because we realised what we have here is just as good or if not better.
I feel like there's a million bedroom producers about to take over, so keep creating and making tunes Australia xox
Sat 3 Feb - Flamingo Pier Festival, Waiheke Island
Fri 9 Feb - Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney w/ The Possé (Live), Andy Garvey & Love Deluxe (Live)
Sun 11 Feb - Laneway Festival, Fremantle
Fri 16 Feb - Canberra House Social, Canberra
Sat 24 Feb - The Foundry, Brisbane w/ Chord Memory Band & Emma Stevenson
Sat 3 Mar - Fairfield Amphitheatre, Melbourne w/ Jace XL & SILENTJAY & Rings Around Saturn
Fri 16 Mar - XOYO, London
Sat 17 Mar - Le Batofar, Paris
Thu 22 Mar - NON STOP FEELING @ Stealth, Nottingham
Fri 23 Mar - Denis Simachev, Moscow
Sat 24 Mar - Tancploshadka, St Petersburg
Fri 30 Mar - St Luke's Church + Sub Club, Glasgow
Sat 31 Mar - DGTL Festival, Amsterdam
Sat 7 Apr - Kompass, Ghent
Thu 12 Apr - Buyers Club - Liverpool
Sat 14 Apr - Pratersauna - Vienna
Sat 21 Apr - Electric Garden & Theatre, Galway
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