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James Organ Interview: The Art of Playing Festivals

Crowned as this summer’s ‘One to Watch’, James Organ has earned his stripes as the new face of UK’s rising techno scene with his dark, up-front style combining all things house, techno, and tech-house.

Since emerging from his hometown of Liverpool and its notorious underground club scene, James has left a James Organ substantial mark on the electronic music circuit over the last few months with his signature blend of crisp hi-hats and rolling basslines. Gracing the likes of BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage, Space Ibiza, Wildlife, Parklife, V Festival, Leeds/Reading Festival, and Creamfields – just to name a few. All of this is backed up by his onslaught of releases on labels such as Roush, Decay Records, Witty Records, with upcoming projects already in the pipeline on Nervous and many more.

Capturing music lovers around the globe with his unique style that is synonymous with club and festival sets, both James Organ’s mixing and on-stage presence over-flow with energy from start to finish. Playing to rammed festival tents with 6,000+ ravers is now the norm for the Liverpudlian, who since late 2016 has graced the likes of We Are FSTVL, The Warehouse Project, and many more.

⬇︎ Get to know this rising star as we discuss ‘The Art of Playing Festivals’ below ⬇︎

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MCOT: So tell us, who is James Organ?
James Organ: I’m a Liverpool based DJ and producer, with releases on labels such as Saved, Roush & Decay Records. I have forthcoming releases this year on Nervous Records and Junior Sanchez’ label Brobot and more, plus I’m starting to lock in some great DJ dates including Parklife Festival in Manchester, Creamfields, The Warehouse Project, Wildlife, Hideout Festival etc. I have lots more dates to announce in the near future which I am massively excited about.

MCOT: In three words, describe your sound. 
James Organ: Deep / Groovy / Versatile .

MCOT: How do you prepare for a festival vs a club show?
James Organ: Whether I play in the club or at a festival, I’ll try and go in with a number of different playlists to account for anything on the day. You generally get to play a lot tougher or peak time at a festival because people seem to be more up for the party early on, but this isn’t always the case. My advice is do your research, know your tracks in and out. You can never be too prepared.

MCOT: What would you say is the biggest difference between the two?
James Organ: The size of the crowds tend to be a LOT bigger than those you are used to in the club (from personal experience). The art of the warm up DJ is also a little different at a festival, as you tend to have to jack it up a lot earlier.

MCOT: What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered whilst playing at a festival?
James Organ: I’m pretty new to the scene, so the biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to playing to bigger crowds than normal. I’ll probably be able to comment more on this as time goes on…

MCOT: Do you ever get nervous before getting on the bigger stage?
James Organ: I get nervous before getting on most stages. It’s a big thing for me to make sure that every gig goes as well as it can and with this comes pressure. I always seem to dwell on what could go wrong on the day, especially for the bigger gigs, but normally I’ll find that once start and play a couple of tracks I start to find my groove. I’ve always been nervous because I want to make sure that I succeed.

MCOT: Do you find that your style and sound changes when playing at a festival, if yes, how so?
James Organ: I think what you play can be different in any scenario, whether you are playing at a festival or the club, small or large crowds or whether you are playing towards the start or at the end of the night. These factors can all influence what you play and every DJ needs to make sure they are aware of these factors and understand where they need to be musically when they step up. For example, the warm up DJ should do exactly that – warm up. Don’t overdo it, set the tone and tee up the room nicely for the next DJ. If you are playing late, understand when the right time is to jack it up a notch or two.

MCOT: What track is your ultimate dance floor weapon for the festival crowd? 
James Organ: Such a tough one to answer, but based on my last couple of big gigs, I’ve played an Intellidred Remix of DJ Assassin’s ‘A Face in the Crowd’ and it’s been KILLING it. It’s not that new, but seems to resonate really well. What a banger.

MCOT: You’ve got a big season still to go this summer, what gigs are you looking forward to playing the most and why?
James Organ: Definitely Creamfields, as I’m playing on the Steelyard stage alongside a lot of the names I’ve looked up to for many years. For me playing alongside the likes of Richie Hawtin and Marco Carola is definitely one from the bucket list and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

MCOT: Do you have any DJ rituals you do before going on stage?
James Organ: I normally take my shoes and jeans off, spin around and clap my hands 3 times… (Not really – I don’t really have a ritual, couple of beers and a banana normally). 

MCOT: What are your top 3 biggest – do’s – and – don’ts – when playing at a festival? 
James Organ: Do’s = Take waterproofs, portable phone charger always, remember to pick up your food voucher on the way in. Don’ts = Wear white trainers, expect to see every DJ that you plan to, meet your heroes.

MCOT: In your career thus far, which has been your favourite festival to play and why?
James Organ: So far I’d say either Parklife Festival in Manchester or Hideout in Croatia. For both, the crowds seemed really tuned in, with crazy energy, allowing me to play lots of fresh new underground music. At Parklife, I played in the new HANGAR tent, which holds approx 10,000 people. Within 5 mins of my set (I played first), the tent was almost full, which was amazing. At Hideout I was DJing on the same stage as Alan Fitzpatrick and Paul Woolford, which made for a PARTY. Hopefully many more of these to come! 

MCOT: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose and why? 
James Organ: I’d say the obvious choice would be Burning Man, due to the nature of the festival, where it is (in the middle of the Desert in Nevada) and the music. However, the likes of Movement Detroit, or Timewarp Festival in Mannheim stand out too.  These types of festivals are definitely the pinnacle of where I want to be, with everybody from Carola, to The Martinez Brothers, Sven and more all sharing the same love for these places. I think it’s a mixture of great people with good energy, the location and a collective love for the music. These are the fundamentals to a great festival in my opinion.

MCOT: And last but not least, how do you take your tea?
James Organ: My favourite tea is a Par-Tea.

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