As the inimitable Ivan Smagghe is set to play the Halloween party hosted by our disco sisters Trailer Trash and the good ship Bugged Out, we managed to get a moment with the man himself to discuss what Halloween means to him, the roots of his long-standing relationship with Andrew Weatherall and what really scares him.
To really get into the spirit of things, check out this live recording of Ivan playing at our San Francisco friends Honey Soundsystem…
Londoners really get into All Hallows Eve- what’s the best Halloween party you’ve played in terms of effort gone into by promoters and by the crowd themselves?
I must admit I’m not a very big Halloween fan. I think it’s a corporate American thing that’s been imported here. It’s not an English tradition. Or European. It’s a bit of a cashing-in job I think. That said, if you want to have a costume party it doesn’t have to be Halloween. Like Horse Meat Disco. But that’s just their general style of living. It’s not a costume, that’s just the way they are. I think that’s the way to be.
Yeah, Halloween, I don’t mind it, but I wouldn’t put too much into it. If you want to dress up you can dress up any time really.
Do you find the mood different at Halloween events, in terms of reading the crowd and selecting records?
No. Playing records certainly not. If it’s going to be Halloween, it’s always fun if people make more of an effort but it gets into a cycle… there’s Halloween, then there’s Christmas… that whole invasion of things you “have to do”. Do it if you want to do it. I’m French so we do Mardi Gras which is in March/April. 20 years ago Halloween didn’t exist and people were still partying.
You’re playing at Bugged Out/Trailer Trash with Andrew Weatherall- a DJ/producer you’ve often associated with. How did you come to meet?
I was a fan, as were quite a lot of people of my age, but we met quite late actually. We met when I moved to London so about 10 years ago probably. It was quite randomly at a party that I was playing. We’ve got the same booker so that’s how we started playing together and we kinda play similar music. There’s not many people I play joint with… maybe only five or six and he’s one of them. It was a random meeting. Pretty simple. Even though I was a fan I didn’t feel intimidated, he might be intimidating to some people but he’s a gentleman.
You’ve said you have other DJs who you play out with quite a lot, but is Weatherall one you have a particularly close relationship with as you’re so often associated with each other?
It comes from the music I suppose. He’s a bit older than me but we were both listening to other types of music when acid house first happened. And we’ve got our differences, he’s a massive reggae fan and I’m not but it all comes from the fact we’re open minded and not only focussed on electronic music. That makes it work. With other DJs I play with the link is definitely more related to electronic music. We have links outside of music, books for instance. We talk a lot about other things. It’s not only about the music… And probably being moody sometimes. That’s been said about him beforehand and that’s what’s said about me.
What scares you the most?
What scares me the most? Myself. Probably.
And what should more people be scared of?
Not me! That’s a definite no. They shouldn’t be scared of me.
They should be scared of greed.
You recently contributed a remix for and played the Paris launch party for Astro lab’s compilation Treasure Hunting- have you got any more records coming out on the label?
Errr not that I know of. Maybe in the future but not at the moment. I’ve known Laurent (Pastor) for years but I’ve got a lot on at moment.
Anything else you’ve been working on lately- anything for Kill The DJ?
I’ve just finished a remix for Visionquest, Seth Troxler’s label. That should come out very soon. I’ve got a mix coming on Eskimo. But the main thing is really the It’s A Fine Line album on Kill The DJ. Hopefully it should be out before next summer.
Lots of people record under aliases, and Halloween is a time when people get to dress up and pretend to be other than they are. Do you ever wish this was a route you’d followed?
Pretending I’m someone that I’m not? Absolutely not. God, that is so not me. It’s the same thing isn’t it, if you want to do that why would you need Halloween for that? If you want to be someone else just be that person. And that’s it. It’s so complicated just being yourself, if you then had to be someone else… Jesus Christ. No. No.
Ivan Smagghe joins Andrew Weatherall, Waze & Odyssey and Hannah Holland at the Bugged Out + Trailer Trash Halloween House Of Horrors tomorrow night (Saturday 27th October) from 10pm – 6am at Netil House in Hackney. Advanced tickets are now sold out but there are 50 held back for the door- first come first served!
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Tags: Andrew Weatherall, Bugged Out, Dalston Superstore, Hackney, Halloween, Hannah Holland, Honey Soundsystem, interview, Ivan Smagghe, Netil House, Trailer Trash, Visionquest, Waze & Odyssey