Each week Vicious Circle are releasing a guest DJ mix as part of their Essential Hard House series. So far guest DJs have included Andy Farley, JoJo, Ben Stevens, The Cat and Craig Lee, to name but a few.
This weeks guest is our own Craig Jones. We thought we'd take the opportunity to ask Craig some questions, about his current projects and about his Essential Hard House mix.
Q: We’ve seen you play a variety of different styles from commercial trance to full on hard house - is there a genre you’ve not yet played out that you would like to?
A: It's not something I've thought too much about really. I quite like incorporating different genres within my sets. I don't think a hard house set should necessarily consist of 100% hard house tracks and same goes with trance really as it's good to mix it up a bit. I think it's great when DJs are experimental in what they play. A lot of people talk about Patrick Topping and Eats Everything dropping hard house tracks in their house/techno sets which is great and why the hell not? It's good to take risks and its even better if they go down well.
Q: Mezmerized has been doing rather well, where did the idea for the track come from?
A: Yes the response has been great! I was actually going to re-do this track until I was talked out of it by several other DJs. It's very easy to be critical of your own work so I'm learning to let that go and just leave things alone once they're done.
I had been sitting on this track for a while as I wrote and recorded it well over a year ago and it initially came from hearing the vocal accapella which instantly grabbed me. I had never heard the original track before which I think is a huge advantage as it allowed me to be as musically creative as I wanted to be with it. I had also never worked using a vocal before which as a fairly novice producer, was a challenge for me but I like a challenge and always try to Implement something new in every track that I do. It's the only way to learn! Aside from the vocal, I wanted something quite banging but uplifting with lots of energy and had Tony De Vit's Are You All Ready in my head at the time so I guess the percussion and bass was inspired by that really.
Q: How do you approach a studio project? IE what comes first? A catchy vocal, an addictive bass-line?
A: I actually start with the percussion. I'm a drummer so I love percussion and a good groove and that's what essentially drives a track and sets the tone. I then work on the bass and start to work around that. I don't tend to have ideas before I start a project, I don't like working like that so I just go purely on mood and feeling at the time which admittedly has its pros and cons.
Q: Your contribution to The Vicious Circle’s Essential Hard House mix series is now available to stream. Which tracks were immediately on your short list to be included?
A: I really wanted to do something that covers the whole spectrum of my electic taste and style really so when I was asked to put this mix together, it was a perfect excuse to showcase my sound and style which hopefully has come across in the mix. There's all sorts in there from Trance to techno to full on hard house so I think it's a little fairground ride around Craig Jones's brain. There were a few tracks I had in mind that weren't on the 'approved' list of licenced tracks so there was a bit of work to get some of the tracks licenced (massive thank you to Ben, Costa and Phil for that) which allowed me to really showcase my style. I think if I were to mention particular tracks (apart from my own of course) then the following came to mind straight away:
- James Lawson & Phil Reynolds - It's a Dream
- Phil Reynolds & Technikal - Open Your Mind
Q: I say short-listed, the mix is two hours and 45 mins long, was that deliberate or are there that many tracks you wanted to include?
A: I originally aimed for about 2 hours ish but I loved recording this mix so much and got a bit lost in the moment so I was adding stuff in adhoc. I probably could have gone on longer but I want listeners to enjoy the mix in its entirety rather than bits at a time so that they get the whole journey in one go.
Q: Can you pick say five tracks that you particularly remember when and where you first heard them and gave you that goose-bump feeling?
A:I can try haha
It's not on this mix but I remember the first time I heard Paul Glazbys remix of Dreams. It was at a very packed Camden Palace, Glazby was on vinyl and I remember my mate saying to me "wait until you hear the crowd roar in the breakdown" - I wasn't quite sure what he meant until those bells kicked in and I just remember thinking "fucking hell!" - as much as that track has been played over the years, it still does the damage. I've actually done a bootleg of this track that I sometimes play myself.
Goose-bump tracks that I have included are :
'Open Your Mind' by Phil Reynolds and Technikal I first heard on Phils Digital Creation album many years ago and I was blown away by the production as it sounded like something from the future. It always did and still does give me goosebumps.
'31 Seconds' by Steve Blake and Brad Thatcher. I was instantly hooked when I first heard this as it took me back to when and why I got into hard trance as its got quite an early 2000s vibe about it for me. I've played this track in all my most recent sets and put it on all my recent mixes.
'It's a Dream' by James Lawson & Phil Reynolds. James and Phil have both been massive influences on my sound and style and are two people I've idolised since I was a clubber so this collaboration was sure to be a winner in my eyes. Its one of my favourite hard dance tracks of all time.
I think those are the most personal/stand out tracks on this mix.
Q:What highlights are your hard house diary for the the next few months
A: Very excited to be playing at Frantic on 31st August at The Scala in the ATT room. Frantic pretty much epitomises the 'Hard Dance' scene for me and its been an event that I've been going to since I started clubbing and to be able to play for the 3rd year in a row is a huge honour. Main room Camden Palace next year maybe? That's the dream anyway... A few other things DJ wise including a couple of We Love Hard House Weekends in Eastbourne and a few studio projects too.