Oh yes, oh yes! Why veteran DJ Carl Cox is still number one

Oh yes, oh yes! Why veteran DJ Carl Cox is still number one | Soho House

The three-deck wizard celebrates turning 60 with a new album and a series of blockbuster gigs, including Brighton Beach House

Saturday 2 July 2022      By Andy Morris

After five decades of four-on-the-floor from the three-deck DJ, to many of us Carl Cox still remains the number one. This summer the ‘People’s Choice’ turns 60, a techno veteran in every sense. He has accomplished everything that one might hope for as a DJ: an era-defining residency at Space in Ibiza, playing to one million people at Berlin’s Love Parade, DJing the turn of the millennium twice on the same night (first on Bondi Beach, then in Honolulu), as well as surreal gigs at everywhere from the Houses of Parliament to Stonehenge.
Cox is also seen as an overwhelming jovial force for good, an elder statesman whose catchphrase ‘Oh yes, oh yes!’ extends to his warm approach and bear hugs to newcomers and old-timers alike. Sitting in his home in Brighton, his 150,000-strong record collection in the garage next door, he seems as effervescent as ever. 
The DJ is currently preparing for a busy summer: a residency at DC-10 in Ibiza, a roadblock Brighton beach performance, a new album called Electronic Generations, and a headline gig at OVO Arena Wembley. His ready laugh – and tendency to describe basslines phonetically – makes him great company. Here, he talks about his return to the White Isle and how he remains so relentlessly positive.
Oh yes, oh yes! Why veteran DJ Carl Cox is still number one | Soho House
What do you still love about Brighton?
‘I’ve been here since 1985, but it doesn’t change that much. It still has that punk, university crowd, gay, straight, lot of arts people doing poetry, vegans doing painting thing. I love the fact that you have to, as an individual, find your own path in Brighton. You can bum around or you can create something conceptual. If you live in London, Brighton always used to be for “dirty weekends”. And you can still do the “dirty weekend”, but you can actually go to some nice restaurants as well, down at the promenade. You could even jump in the sea – but I wouldn’t.’ 
What do you like about Brighton Beach House?
‘There are sofas everywhere, areas you can work and talk. You can literally go there for breakfast and still be there for lunch, and not feel like you’ve been in the same place for so long. I didn’t think they would ever have a Soho House in Brighton. And it’s just a wonderful place to be. Whoever has the purse strings has just gone, “Right: go for it.” They’ve done an amazing job and its quality everywhere. But if you try and take a picture of someone... you’re out. If you got a mistress or something like that, you’d be pretty safe down there.’ 
Oh yes, oh yes! Why veteran DJ Carl Cox is still number one | Soho House
What do people get wrong about you?
People kind of know me and will talk about “Yeah, Space, Ibiza.” Or “That record you had out ‘I Want You (Forever)’”, and that’s it. They don’t know me for anything else. My agenda now is to give people more. I didn't want to just be back on the treadmill. If you look at a lot of the DJs, they’re proud of how many gigs they’ve booked in the next three months. I see that list and think “That is no life.” I’m going on the premise that less is more.’
Your fifth album, Electronic Generations, is out this autumn as well as a massive Wembley gig. What do you think is missing from dance music now?
‘If you listen to the music now, it’s polished. It drops at the right places. It’s obvious what’s going to happen next, and the crowd is just following it. For me, at the Wembley show, it’ll be more live show, less DJing, so there won’t be anyone else’s music. Right to the end at my show, I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants. That’s the only thing that drives me. Because the rewards come from something that is not easy. It pays back dividends because you spent your time, energy and money to deliver something above and beyond expectations. I’m not looking for accolades, I’m just still feeding the dance floor, feeding my own soul, and sharing the love of music.’ 
Oh yes, oh yes! Why veteran DJ Carl Cox is still number one | Soho House
You’re going back to Ibiza this summer…
‘Yes. I could have just rested on my laurels and just done all the other clubs, but I didn't want to do that. I’m playing in one of the smallest clubs on the island for eight weeks. I’m just gonna bring back the vibe of Ibiza this year. At the moment, you’ve got Hï (bottle service), Ushuaïa (bottle service), Amnesia (bottle service), and Pacha (bottle service). Pacha is nice; they’ve spent a fortune on it – why shouldn’t people go and have a good time? But at DC-10, there’s no VIP tables. If you wear a nice Prada shirt, it’s gonna get sweaty and horrible. If you want to get a beer, you’ve got to get it yourself.’ 
How do you protect your mental health?
‘I lost my father, I lost my mum and should have gone mad having gone through the rave scene. We were supposed to be dead and buried by now; all that “DJs are the new rockstars”. Over 30 years, I’ve had ups and downs: lost the cat, car stolen, house broken into, record didn’t do as well as it should, my friends love me, my friends hate me, people want to kill me. I sat at home in 2020 watching my dad’s funeral on YouTube and couldn't leave the house because of the pandemic. I took strength and solace in knowing that my mum and dad would want me to carry on doing what I’m doing at the end of the day. I’m reaching out to people with the music that I love to share. That was the very thing that got me through everything.’
Carl Cox plays the sold out ‘On The Beach’ in Brighton on 23 July. His album, Electronic Generations, is out 16 September (BMG) and he plays OVO Arena Wembley on 17 September. 
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