Ed Davenport is an English-born DJ and producer residing in Berlin. Since 2006 his diverse output of electronic music on labels such as NRK, Falkplatz, liebe*detail, and Polytone has received critical acclaim accross the board. Earlier this year he released his full-length album Counterchange on NRK, further cementing his reputation as a bold and independent voice in dance music. We caught up with Mr. Davenport during his travels to Vilnius, Lithuania.
Interview by Gedvile Bunikyte.
Ed Davenport is in town to play one of Lithuania’s best underground clubs Opium. We meet in the restaurant below the club. Somewhere in between beer, red Thai curry and a short discussion on abstractionism we also speak about his love for writing, graphic design, his interest in planes, cooking—namely Asian and Italian—and of course music.
Ed is a tall and elegant man. He seems relaxed and comfortable with who he is. He tells me he started DJing in a tuxedo, playing drum & amp;bass and rave records at his school leaving do—”I thought I was cool, I was not” he says. Acting or looking cool doesn’t seem to be high up on the priorities list for Davenport; “I guess I am just not very Rock and roll, I am serious about it, I try not to be, but I am.”
He is also genuinely considerate and polite. The restaurant is rather loud and lively. Ed kindly suggests that I test my equipment and see if I can hear him ok in these conditions. He tells me that in his teenage years he once interviewed a DJ for a local publication and made the classic mistake of forgetting to turn the voice recorder on. Career as a journalist didn’t take off, but to this day he still really enjoys writing.
When you hear Davenport’s music you can undoubtedly see the reflection of his love for art and writing. The album Counterchange has an evident concept and even a narrative to it. He is conscientious and precise with his sounds, it all seems thoughtful. Perhaps even too thoughtful. Nevertheless, this attention to detail is what really sets Ed Davenport apart from the others.
How much of your creative process is intuitive and how much of it is logic driven?
” I have to switch the thinking side off in order to make the track, more or less stop thinking and just jam and experiment, the best things are born out of the moment of experimentation, and then, afterwards normally i have to come back and think about it critically, i am always very critical about my own music, i never release anything that i am not sure about, even if there is one or two elements that i don’t like and i can’t figure out how to fix them, i won’t do anything with that track, i just scrap it, so there’s always hundreds of unfinished projects just lying around. Sometimes i can reuse things or i finally figure out how to fix it. So you have an idea, you record it and then it’s a bit like doing surgery.”
What was your favourite venue to DJ so far?
“It has to be Berghain / Panorama Bar, the sets are long, you can really take you time, experiment.”
What expectations you have for tonight ?
“I am not sure, but I heard good things from a friend who has played here last year, he told me it was one of the best gigs he had.”
At the club the nights hosts Loranas Vaitkus & Hallucin are playing deep Detroit sounds and the dance floor is nicely occupied. Ed Davenport goes on to do his thing, it takes a few records and not long before the crowd is hooked. Midway through the set hands indicating a sign of heart appear. Ed goes on to play broad and meaty base delicately seasoned with old school UK flavors and ends up with some serious underground techno records. The set turns out to be mean and roaring but as neat Davenports shirt.
What was your impression of the night?
“I had mixed expectations before my gig in Vilnius. Normally its a bit hit or miss when playing in a new venue, and a new city, for the first time. Sometimes it can be hard work to bridge the gap between the dj and the crowd, and hard to judge what kind of music they’re into, but the gig at Opium club turned out rather nicely. The crowd were very excited and up for raving to some (in the end) pretty tough, underground techno. So I was happy.”
What are you up to next?
“I have finished building my studio in Berlin and starting my own label Counterchange Recordings.”
And the future? Really far in the future? What else is there to come for us humans? There are books written more than 2500 years ago that we still read today, can music recorded today handle such tests of time? Let’s say in another 2500 years. What it will be like then?
‘That’s a long time, but yes, there is more to be done with sound than what we have already achieved, the technology is going to develop, but it would be cool if real instruments would be used again more too’ or ‘maybe we go back to the original sounds of drums…It has never really left, people love it, so perhaps we will carry on with that…and we all still going to be alive then, right?”