Carl Cox
Carl CoxCarl Cox

A musical ambassador since he was in short trousers, a professional DJ since his early teens, a veteran of acid house and a champion of techno, Carl Cox emits a love of his work that is dangerously infectious. Check him when he’s behind the turntables and you can’t mistake his ecstatic visage, dripping with sweat as his head bobs up and down to the beat, his hands pumping the air whenever they’re not manipulating the turntables, his body swaying back and forth, frequently taking to the mike to share word on the latest underground tune he’s about to break. You name it, Carl’s been there and done it, but he’s never lost sight of the point of it: playing music, breaking tunes, spreading love, celebrating life.

2009 was another phenomenally busy year for Carl, taking in venues across the USA, South America, Europe, the Far East, and Australia. He hosted his Carl Cox & Friends arena for the 5th year running at the Miami Winter Music Conference and returned home for his first full UK tour in over a decade. Carl Cox 24/7 kicked off last April and saw Carl descend upon some of the UK’s most legendary clubs, including London’s Koko, Glasgow’s Arches, Bournemouth’s Opera House and Manchester’s Sankeys – coinciding with the worldwide release of his first ever DVD – Carl Cox 24/7. With over 80 minutes of exclusive interviews and footage, and an additional 45 minutes of bonus live footage from the opening night of matter, this DVD gave a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of one of today’s biggest DJ stars.

It was at the tender age of 15, that Carl was given a set of turntables and began working as a mobile DJ. Disco was the first music that captivated him but by the early 80s Cox had moved on to playing the same music as other young London DJs – rare groove, New York hip-hop and electro. He was perfectly placed to hear Chicago house music in its earliest forms, and when the epic ‘Acid Trax’ by Phuture (a.k.a. DJ Pierre) came out in early ’87. “It was then that I thought, ‘This is it,’ says Carl. “I would do my parties, and I’d play old rare groove and hip hop and soul and I would say ‘Right you’ve got to hear this Phuture track’ and people would just stop. It’s funny because all the people who thought I had freaked out then are the people who are making the music now.”

As a founder of the sound, Carl rode the exploding British rave scene. He played the opening night of Danny Rampling’s legendary Shoom, co-promoted The Project with Paul Oakenfold, held a residency at the Zap Club in Brighton and at the Sunrise rave in 1988, hooked up a third turntable for his dawn-breaking set, got 15,000 kids back on their feet, and established a personal rep for three-deck wizardry.

The next step was to make music, and Carl’s 1991 debut single for Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto label, ‘I Want You,’ gave him a top 30 hit and a Top of the Pops appearance. Two more singles also made the charts. But Carl was a reluctant pop star and as the masses moved onto fluffy house and trance, and the hardcore created jungle, Cox retreated into the club world that had nurtured him and instead embraced the underground sounds of techno. “Techno drives home somewhere,” he says of his core music. “It takes you to an element of surprise, not knowing where you’re going. It’s scary but wonderful at the same time.”

Carl’s classic releases include his 1995 mix CD, ‘F.A.C.T,’ which became a techno benchmark, selling over 250,000 copies, and the 1996 EP ‘Two Paintings and a Drum,’ which again broke the British top 30. Alongside Carl’s ‘Ultimate Music Management’ company, which counted Josh Wink and Laurent Garnier among 27 clients, there was the Ultimatum record label, for which Carl recorded his third top 30 UK single, ‘Sensual Sophis-ti-cat.’ In 2005, Carl’s third album, ‘The Second Sign’ caused a stir across Europe and reached number 3 in Spain’s national chart. Also gaining critical acclaim was speaker freaker ‘Dirty Bass,’ a collaboration with Christian Smith, and the funky ‘Give Me Your Love’, both released on 23rd Century Records, an outlet for his own burgeoning production output.

Carl formed his own label, Intec Records, in 1999, going on to score a series of underground hits and enjoying eight years at the forefront of electronic music, until its closure in 2006. For Carl, Intec was always about delivering music of quality and originality, which meant the label signed and released an array of lesser-known underground talent as well as those of the techno elite, including Marco Bailey, Preach, Sebastien Leger, Valentino Kanzyani, Trevor Rockcliffe and Bryan Zentz. Over the last four years, one of Carl’s most frequently asked questions has been whether Intec would ever re-open its doors, and all the time, Carl has never stopped receiving new music from budding DJs. “I hadn’t signed anything on Intec for 3 years, but people were still sending me their records,” Carl admits. “I’m all about new music, so I’ve been playing these tracks in my sets, but I wasn’t putting them out, which was a shame. Lots of stuff was lost amongst all the other music and it was frustrating that I couldn’t get behind them.”
2010 sees the launch of Intec Digital, re-born for a new digital generation, with the same musical ethos of unearthing original, fresh and exciting techno music from around the world. “It’s a whole new start,” says Carl. “The original Intec stood for something, very much of the time, but we’re bringing it back, we’re updating it, but with the same team of people, the same passion for new music and the same philosophy.”
As well as stunning new releases and remixes from the biggest names in techno, Carl himself will be releasing his much-anticipated artist album, ‘All Roads Lead To The Dancefloor,’ later this year. “I started on this album over two years ago, but I just didn’t have the time to work on it until recently. As soon as we finished at Space this year I threw myself into the studio to finish it.” It should be worth the wait too, as Carl tells us: “It’s the most forward-thinking album I’ve ever made. I’ve missed making music a lot and I’m looking forward to finally getting it out there.”
This year also sees the release of Carl’s first ever Global Underground album, ‘Black Rock Desert,’ taken from a storming two hour set in The Opulent Temple in the Black Rock Desert last summer. “When I finally decided to do a Global Underground mix it just had to be here,” says Carl on his favourite festival, which he’s resolved to return to every year. “Everything aside from the entrance fee is free. It’s all about sharing and contributing to the experience. It doesn’t matter if you are a big DJ. It’s all about what you want to give. I’ve spent a lot of my own money to play here, but I don’t care. I give people my music and I get back a lot of love. That’s enough.”

Summer 2010 will see Carl return to Ibiza’s Space for the ninth year in a row, with a line-up stronger than ever. Year after year, Carl has been entertaining the masses, even winning ‘Best Ibiza Club Night’ at 2006’s Ibiza DJ awards. Marking a change in direction from traditional Ibiza line-ups, Carl and his guests have always strived to break down musical barriers and present a new way of thinking about DJ talent, production and lighting, with DJs of different genres, the best in their field, together on the same dancefloor. Iconic friends like Moby, Fatboy Slim, Josh Wink, Francois Kevorkian and Laurent Garnier have all taken to the decks for Carl’s ‘Carl Cox & Friends’, and most recently ‘Join Our Revolution,’ which launched last summer with an extended season of 12 nights.

2010’s ‘The Revolution Continues’ will be no different. “Last year was about supporting new music and not standing for second best,” says Carl, “wanting good production, good talent and at a reasonable price. Join the revolution and demand the best!” ‘Carl Cox at Space 2010 – The Revolution Continues’ starts in July and as always, the night is one of the cheapest on the island.

All this and still Carl’s ‘Global’ radio show is breaking records, now reaching over 7 million listeners, broadcast across 24 countries worldwide, making him one of the most important broadcasters on the planet. He lives half the year in Melbourne, Australia, and continues headlining the best clubs and parties all over the world. With his Global radio show, Intec Digital, Ibiza 2010, Global Underground album and his highly anticipated new longplayer, he shows no signs of slowing down. “After the Ibiza seasons, after the festivals I’ve done, after my own events, albums and remixing,” says Carl, “the story still continues in a massive way – there’s so much more still to come.”