Marc Vedo sweetly schooled those at Mansion Nightclub in dance music this past Saturday night. He handed them their sonic diplomas right before his cohort and tourmate Boy George took over the decks. At first, the packed room was staring up at the crotches of dancing, glittering, and barely clothed acrobats overhead. But with the British DJ's classic-house selections, the attention quickly shifted to their own moving bodies.
Vedo has been DJ'ing since he was a teenager and seems to have played in every corner of the Earth, from Kenya to Dubai. He's also been managing Boy George, one of his closest friends. Together, they're bringing the joys of house music to eager ears worldwide. And to close out this year's Art Basel Miami Beach week, these stalwarts of the genre pasted smiles across every face in the place.
We sat down with Vedo before his set and spoke with him about working with people in funny hats, arguing with Boy George on tour, and making sure Americans know dance music isn't only 10 years old.
New Times: Is this your first Art Basel?
Marc Vedo: Yes. It's interesting. I'm not sure I've ever been to a place like Miami before.
This is your first time here?
Yes. I've been through here many times connecting down to South America.
You've been to Ibiza and stuff. Not the same?
Yeah, but I don't know how to explain. This is, like, the women have even bigger implants, the blokes are even bigger. Everyone's competing for muscle and big boobs.
You do football, as they say overseas. And I read in an old article, you played chess. Do you still?
Well, I kind of got into that when I was really young, and I loved the strategy, so I just carried on playing. But I don't really want to talk about my chess-playing days.
You still play football?
Yeah, I play a lot of football. I play a lot of tennis. I was just in three tournaments in the U.K. I try to play as much tennis as possible when I'm back home. I do a lot of running. Lots of 10k runs, every day.
What's going on with Koolwaters?
I set up the company ten, 11 years ago, it was like an events company. We were doing shows all around the U.K. And then we started expanding abroad, and now it's become a management company. And we've taken on five new artists recently. They're all Top 100 artists. We've expanded quite quickly in the past six to eight months. We're a record label as well. We do compilations, we do t-shirts, everything basically. We're a one-stop shop.
Who are the new artists?
We've taken on a guy called Mike Candy, who wears this weird little yellow helmet. He's huge in Europe. I think he'll be massive in the States. And he's really exciting. He's kept us really busy. We've got DJ Antoine, he's from Switzerland. And Quentin Mosimann, who's French. And DJs From Mars, they're Italian, and they wear funny hats as well. Basically, we're taking on anyone with funny hats!
What do you think about what's being made overseas as opposed to in the U.S.?
Because of the EDM explosion here, there's a lot of commercial crossover and the artists are pushing that sound. Which is great. But it's very commercialized. You can go anywhere and hear the same stuff. In Europe, the sound has completely changed. It's much more underground, it's very deep house, it's very old-school '90s house music. But it's modern. It's very interesting, tech house is really big.
The sound is really different in Europe. Especially this summer, you notice a big difference. I think at some point, that'll cross over. Because I think all the kids that are getting into it now, it's important, because it's going to feed the scene for years to come. They're going to get older. When I started out, I used to listen to awful music. Hopefully, they'll progress, and mature, and listen to intelligent music rather than bom, bom, bom.
Has this shift affected the kind of music you make and play?
Kind of. I think two years ago, I started moving with the sound as it was changing, and then I made a decision that it wasn't really where I wanted to go. So, I was going to stay true to what I really wanted to play.
So, I started producing that kind of music now and playing those clubs. I've actually tried to play that sound in clubs that cater more to, like, the big room, Afrojack sound. And we just did a tour in the U.S., which was really interesting, because all the clubs we played have had all the biggest DJs playing there. The same complaint from all the promoters is you can book the Top 20 DJs and they'll all play the same music. All of them. It doesn't matter who it is.
They said it was a breath of fresh air, we came over, played our sound. It was different. People liked it. So hopefully, that's a good start.
You're more authentically in touch with what's happening in the underground?
Yeah. The commercial side brings in the kids, and they don't necessarily understand the whole... Some people in America think that dance music started six years ago.
Do they really?
Yes. [Laughs] Well, if you think some of them are 17 or 18, they were only 11 or 12, six or seven years ago. They had no idea. They have no idea that house music originated from a club in Chicago called the Warehouse. Then it transformed the world. And now they think David Guetta started house music.
That's tragic. How do you bridge the gap between people who know about house music and those who don't?
The hope is these kids won't only listen to that sound. The idea is, if they come to a club and watch us play and we play good music, and they go and listen to it for the first time, they might actually turn and come over to our side... The dark side. [Laughs]
You and Boy George have been touring for a while. Any good stories come from it?
Yeah, we had an argument yesterday. [Laughs]
No, no details. We spend a lot of time together. We make music together. It's kind of a strange relationship. I'm also his manager, as well, so I have to look after a lot of the stuff that goes on. We have a big team that does all the logistics, advertising and marketing. So yeah, I have two or three heads all the time when I'm talking to him. So it makes for an interesting relationship. Yesterday, you know, there's like this crossover all the time. We're really good friends, when we don't argue! [Laughs] He's also the godfather of my son.
That's really cool!
I told him he has to behave.
How old is he?
He's two and a half. And he watches this video George and I did all the time. He always goes, "That's George, with his hat!" He recognizes him. And then when he turns up with no makeup or hat, he's like, "Who are you?" [Laughs] With his beard now as well.
What are you working on next?
We're planning on Ibiza now. We're planning our new residency at Amnesia. Which is amazing. One of the highlights of my career. It's just incredible. The club, the vibe, the people who go there. We're planning that. We have a compilation we're releasing on an Italian label called Hot Fingers. Mixing 15 tracks on that and just playing out.
And on your own?
I'm actually doing a lot of stuff on my own. I did a lot of it with George, and we've kind of made the decision that it's good for us to do lots of stuff with different people as well. So, I've got six or seven collaborations coming out with different people and George has one with Roger Sanchez. A really cool producer in the U.K. called Hot Since 82. That's the kind of stuff I'm trying to set up for him and do my own stuff. I think it's good. We split, and then when we come together, hopefully it's a bigger force.
Last dumb question. What do you think about the future of dance music?
I don't think it's ever, ever going to end. And it's technology, so the more technology, the different the sound, the better the quality of the music. I just think it'll carry on progressing. With a lot of other styles. I don't know if those people into rock, they might not like me saying it, but I think rock is rock. It'll never change. But with dance music, I mean, how many new forms of dance music have appeared in the past 10 years? I think we've got lots more to come!