Life never seems to stop moving for Lee Burridge.
Known by many superlatives, from energetic to plain crazy (maybe), Burridge is a rarity who is loved by clubbers and peers alike for his antics, personality and most of all his genre bending DJ sets that go on forever…while never seeming to last long enough.
Yet after more than two decades of DJing, Burridge somehow continues to keep things fresh and goes to work with a smile everyday. Then again, wouldn’t you if you had his job?
Whether he’s partying in the desert at Burning Man, mixing the latest three disc compilation in the “Balance” series or playing at annual affairs like his now legendary LoveLee gig in San Francisco or the Halloween Bash in New York, Burridge is always in the thick of things.
While enjoying the pleasures of the 17 hour flight from San Francisco to Sydney on little sleep, we were lucky enough to catch up with Burridge again and get an update on the new album, his pioneering 365 project and much more.
Clubplanet: It’s been a while since we’ve last chatted, so first off, how are you and what have you been doing lately?
Lee Burridge: I’m completely mangled through a mix of jet lag and attending the Burning Man festival. I just spent nine days in the desert caning it and then drove back to San Francisco (which ended up taking 15 hours) only to sleep briefly before boarding my 17 hour flight to Sydney where you find me now...apart from that I’m very good looking thanks!
I know you’re gearing up for a huge tour, but before we chat about that can you tell us how the 365 project, which has taken you to New York, Ibiza, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Denver and Hong Kong to cultivate relationships with each city’s crowds and work with a local artist, has gone?
Don’t forget Florence! It’s actually done for the time being. I started this project way back in 2005. It went amazingly well during the first year. Since then I’ve refocused on New York for a further period of four months.
The main idea was to develop a closer and clearer understanding between myself and the audience. I really feel I learned a lot about each place and also felt I expanded the connection between myself and everyone who attended each event. It was a great project to run with.
What were your favorite experiences from 365? Tell us about the gigs, the people, the cities, the foods and the things you’ve experienced that you wouldn’t have happened without undertaking this?
I like the fact I made a lot more friends and actually got to know people’s names for a change. It is tough traveling in and out of cities a few times each year, seeing familiar faces but not really getting to know anyone.
I spent much more time with like minded fans of electronic music. Now we call each other every day ha ha ha!
I don’t remember any gigs not working out – which was a miracle seeing as there was always the chance that playing such a high volume of gigs in one place so soon after one another always had the potential of back firing and people deciding to give one or more a miss. It seemed the idea excited people as much as it did me and everything worked out fine and dandy!
What was the toughest part about living in so many different places in such a short amount of time? Were there any disappointments during the project? Did you miss home, your family and friends?
The only downside was the one that I go through regularly anyway. I don’t get to spend much time with my family and friends in the UK. I guess I’d like to have spent more time in Phonica records but apart from that I didn’t really miss Eastenders or HP sauce.
What are your plans for the 365 project in the future?
I’m looking to resume the project in 2008 with a whole new list of cities I’m interested in taking it to.
You also recently launched your own label, Almost Anonymous, to distribute the music you produce during the 365 project. How’s that been going and what’s it like working on a label?
I really wanted to put out vinyl. It was one of the key reasons for starting the label. Everyone is turning their back on the format and I still feel strongly about contributing to keeping it alive (if only on a small scale).
It’s tougher and tougher to sell records though. Being a new un-established label makes it difficult to stand out, be noticed and sell music, even digitally. Unless you’re releasing obvious hit material tracks get lost in the dearth of releases each week.
Collecting music has really moved to the back burner and it seems DJ’s are now more interested in buying music just to use as a tools in the clubs as opposed to buying music they will build into a collection that they can return to time and time again.
It’s just not the same keeping files (if they bother to keep them) on a hard drive. That aside the label is moving slowly but surely and I’m happy with it so far. I think I’ve made about 28p profit. I’ve been a bit slack due to the mix CD commitments but have a few things I’d like to try and put out before the end of the year including the Exercise One remixes of “Treat ‘em Mean Keep ‘em Keen” that Ewan Pearson used on his Fabric 35 mix CD.
So, here we are, nearing the end of 2007 and you’re a regular in the DJ Magazine top 100, you play at the top clubs around the world, you’re respected by clubbers and your peers and you’re about to release the twelfth installment in the highly successful “Balance” mix series, but are you having as much fun DJing as you were a year ago, five years ago or 10 years ago? Or better put, does it ever get old for Lee Burridge?
I’ve been DJing now for 24 years and it’s just as much fun as ever.
I’ve always said that when it becomes a ‘job’ I’ll give it up as I think being passionate about playing music is a really important factor in making a night enjoyable for people who attend the gigs.
It’s still a fantastic feeling to play amazing music to people and get a response from music they might not have heard before.
Oh, talking of the DJ Mag top 100 I predict that I won’t be in there this year. I’m so over the whole ranking thing. It’s not about your popularity these days (aside from the trance mafia) but about your marketing campaign or going out on the interweb and canvassing for votes. I didn’t bother emailing anyone this year as those begging messages from people you’ve never heard of has become stale and annoying. Resist!
You always bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the booth every time you play, how do you make sure that you get up for every gig?
Twenty five red bulls are always at my bedside. But really, I’m honestly excited to play so getting up or staying up has never been a problem. Tuesdays are the problem. St John’s Wort anyone?
Where are some places that you’ve played recently which have really stood out? Talk a little about what made those nights and the people so memorable.
Romania is exciting right now. I’ve been going for years and it gets better and better. Amazing looking girls actually go on mass to clubs! Sound systems are phat and people know how to have a good time for hours and hours and hours.
The summer season there has club nights that then spill out onto the beach (with the requisite power station at the end of the lovely beach!!) an