Dark Circles have only been releasing music over the past few years, each time with infrequency but serious impact, and always on their own, specially tailored imprint, DC Trax. They also nailed a weird and wonderful remix of Phantasy’s own Future Four (a creative partnership between Erol Alkan and The Emperor Machine founder, Andy Meecham), which has become a go-to selection for the likes of Gerd Janson.
Consisting of the acid-tinged dream team of Iain Bogg and Matthew Waites, both of whom have been DJing for decades, the music of Dark Circles is a case study in the power of acid techno, with shades of Chicago jack and even the vintage days of proper proggy house. Of course, such students have an impressive record vault, one showcased here in the latest #PHANTASYMIX, exploring all different sorts of energies and texture over an hour and change, without ever taking their feet off the gas.
We caught up with DC’s own beloved North-Londoner, Iain Bogg, to talk formative influences, the benefits of running your own imprint and why despite their fruitful studio partnership, we might not be hearing a Dark Circles LP anytime soon.
How did you meet, and what are the records you bonded over?
We met approximately 2005 we were both resident Dj's at Rick Haley's Nottingham emporium of debauchery, Liars Club.
The first track we bonded over was during a back to back DJ session, when this underground anthem hit the decks we knew there would be a long term partnership on the cards.
The Dark Circles production partnership didn't occur until around 2013. We soon discovered a mutual love of the non suicidal variety of tech-house, of which this one was close to both our hearts:
Our productions are often drenched in acid when we have a mental block, we put this in in the studio and rub ourselves with sand paper until the magic starts to flow again:
If theres's ever a time we need to remember why people need to dance for a second this gets an airing.
What are your thoughts on the hardcore band that share your name? Any chance of a remix swap?
To be honest our involvement with them has been minimal since they issued the restraining order against us. We'd happily swap anything with them, except girlfriends.
Are you working towards a larger project, such as an album, or happy just to release killer club singles?
We've amassed a fair bit of material over the last few years. the fourth release on our DC Trax label will be released around the end of October featuring remixes by people who have been inspiring us, Vin Sol, Jackie House, Scott Fraser and Shun from Japan who is creating some incredible acid right now. We've just put the finishing touches to another EP of original material as well. As far as the thought of albums, we love EP's and I'm not entirely sure the format of an LP of club bangers works. Having said this we are contemplating a spoken word poetry release based on the plight of urban foxes that could easily spin out to a gatefold double LP.
You run your own imprint, DC Trax. What are the advantages and disadvantages of distributing your own music?
At first the thought of doing everything ourselves was very daunting as we had little to none experience in the field. We were lucky enough to work with Curved pressing and Above Board distribution who totally take the pain away from the process and simplify it as much as possible. The advantages and disadvantages are very obvious, we have total control, sound, format, artwork, promotion. The disadvantage is don't expect to cover your costs from a release. If you enter a project with the intention of breaking even and on top of that making money from DJ gigs off the back of it you should take a step back and think more about your output. The most important thing is your love of what you're making and that you want to share that with people.
Discounting the process of impressing a label boss, do you therefore have pretty high quality standards?
We are our own incredibly tough bosses! We've never released a record we aren't entirely happy with at the time and spend a lot of time beating ourselves up as part of the process. When we completed the latest EP at the weekend sat back for a second and thought about how we've progressed since the start. That is something that is incredibly important to look at the evolution of your work and remember that you never stop learning throughout.
Would you say the project leans more heavily on UK or US influences?
Probably the luckiest thing about this partnership is how broad our musical influences are. Neither of us have been tied down to a particular genre throughout the years. As the elder of the pair of us, it's great to see some of the influences of UK Hardcore coming back at the moment and creating a rawness I can recognise when I listen to dj sets by someone like Avalon Emerson or even Jackie House's remix of our Papoose track. Patrick Russell from New York's The Bunker is a recent influence on us both but there's no way to say which side of the Atlantic sways us! For us personally, tying ourselves down to one particular sound or influence would hold us back.
John Thorp, September 2018.