Interview with David Dewaele: 2manyDJs

David Dewaele may call himself and brother Stephen ‘old men’ but they’re not showing their age in the slightest. Coming out as 2manyDJs for Harbourlife, and sneaking in a couple of intimate sideshows, we spoke to David about how they differentiate between their multiple musical personalities, his favourite songs when he was five, their newly released visual mix ‘Dave’ for Radio Soulwax and, um, the weather… (it has context, promise).

Anna Horan: You guys have said you have certain rules to differentiate between all your projects. Like when you’re Soulwax you only play Soulwax songs, when you’re 2manyDJs you only play other people’s songs. I was curious as to what your other rules are?
Dave Dewaele: (laughs) Good question, what are our other rules? Do you mean in the studio or do you mean workwise?

AH: Yeah, I read an interview where it sounded like you had clear rules: ‘When we’re being Soulwax there are certain things we do to stick to being Soulwax. When we’re being 2manyDJs, there are things we do to stick to being 2manyDJs…’
DD: Right. It’s clear – that division – in our heads. Not just with those two, you know producing other people, remixing, or whatever. We’ve got another few side projects. It’s clear that those divisions are super-important to us as they are to other people… I’ll put it this way: we did an album called Nite Versions and there were strict rules around that album, there were things (the music) needed to do in order to fit on the album. And by limiting yourself, ironically, you just get a lot more creative. I think that’s one of the reasons why we do those things. Like if we say, ‘For this collection of music it has to have these certain aspects.’ It pushes you to be more creative than if you actually open up much.

AH: Yeah, like it pushes you to think outside the box rather than have everything available to you.
DD: Yeah, yeah.

AH: Your dad was a DJ and Stephen’s said, as a result, you both got into music really young, like five or six-years-old. What were your favourite songs at that age?
DD: When I was five or six? Let me see. For me it would have been, actually maybe a little bit later, maybe seven or eight, I was really into motown. At five or six I liked the song ‘Stand and Deliver’ by Adam Ant, and I really liked‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde and the Stray Cat’s ‘Stray Cat Strut’. I guess my parents would just play music, like I feel with my friends’ kids, sometimes children just pick up on something and you don’t know why.

AH: I think when I was that age I was really into that song ‘Mr Vain’ by Culture Beat.
DD: (laughs) That’s funny. That’s a song I’d really forgotten.

AH: You seem to really like intros to songs. Is it the same sort of thing? It’s just something you pick up on?
DD: What makes you think that we really like them more than other people?

AH: Well, there’s ‘Introversy’ but even like guitar riffs… you tend to focus on certain elements of songs.
DD: Oh right, yeah okay… It’s a really good question, I’m not really sure how to answer it. I don’t know what it is about them that we love, that’s just how it is.

AH: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about why I like really different types of music, and I think in the end it makes you feel something.
DD: Yeah, I think with intros it’s usually the best bit, the first part of the song. I don’t really know how my brain works and not knowing is probably why I still enjoy doing it.

AH: It’s good to have some mystery and not understand yourself sometimes.
DD: I don’t (understand myself).

AH: When you’re in the country will you be doing some more radio shows like you did for Vivid LIVE last year?
DD: No. That was fun but we’ve been coming to Australia for many years now – I think nine years, something like that. When we did that thing Pav (Modular’s Stephen Pavlovic) was curating Vivid. It was so nice of him to invite us and give us a chance to do a radio show from the (Sydney) Opera House, but we made the capital mistake of coming when the weather was really shit (laughs). So of all the trips we’ve been on to Australia, that was the one where I didn’t really see daylight. During the day we were working on preparing for the show and working on stuff and then at night there was always gigs. I didn’t really get to see anything, I didn’t get to see any sun, and also there were those torrential rains. The weather was so bad. That was a really weird trip; it wasn’t like we went to Australia, it was like we went to Denmark. It’s a very different experience to come to Australia when the weather is bad, however the shows were really fun to do.

AH: Yeah, it’s going to be 27 degrees here tomorrow, but the following day it’s going to pour rain and be like 12 degrees.
DD: What’s it going to be like at the end of November? I don’t care about tomorrow, I care about when I’m there (laughs).

AH: Well, apparently it’s our hottest October in years, so I think it’s only going to get hotter.
DD: Okay, I approve.

AH: In the past you’ve described DJing as a way of showing people what you like and all the different stuff you’re into. Do you still get a thrill out of introducing people to new music?
DD: Yeah, yeah definitely. That’s exactly the biggest thrill! My brother and I, we’re old men, but it’s really satisfying to meet all these 18 – 19-year-old kids who are heavily inspired by the music we opened up to them. There’s a bunch of kids who come up to us, like when they listen to some of the stuff that we’ve put on the radio and said, ‘I had no idea about this, and it inspired me to go on and to either make this kind of music or discover something else. That’s the biggest compliment you can get. You introduce people to a world new world and it starts them on their own journey.

AH: So you were in the studio with James Murphy earlier this year. What were you guys doing with him?
DD: (pause) Well, we were making music (laughs). I have no idea what for or how it will end up as anything. When he decided to end his band (LCD Soundsystem), my brother and I were really against it. We were like, ‘Who do you think you are? Don’t be such a drama queen…’ (But) I have to say, from a selfish point of you, it’s been really cool for us ‘cos we’ve seen so much more of him in the last year. We’ve hung out and we’ve been in the studio making music. Even though we’ve known each other for ten years, it’s weird that we’ve never made the time to work in the studio before together. And it’s surprisingly easy, it’s surprisingly fun; it’s like three kids in a toy store. We’re just really excited. So yeah, I don’t know what’s it’s going to end up as, but it’s just fun. Whenever we’re in town and he’s in town we just go to the studio.

AH: You’ve recently released the trailer for ‘Dave’ and it’s looking and sounding very David Bowie-like. (‘Dave’ is the 23rd hour in the Radio Soulwax series of 24 one hour long visual mixes).
DD: It will be great (laughs).

AH: Is there anything else you can reveal about it that isn’t in the trailer?
DD: Yeah, you know, almost nothing is revealed in that trailer. That’s why I like it; it’s very mysterious. All I can say is that it’s probably one of the best mixes we’ve down in 24. Just because of the ingredients. You can make an amazing meal if you have amazing ingredients, and the music is so incredible we had to something that transcends the other ones. Just because there was so much to work with.

AH: I won’t lie, I did watch it and think, ‘What did I just witness?’
DD: Yeah, get ready ‘cos it’s a very weird film.

Originally published 26 November 2012 on

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