Carl Cox on DJing A New Year’s Livestream, Beatport’s #DanceAway2020 Party (Q&A )
Carl Cox, who is headlining Beatport and Absolut’s #DanceAway2020 New Year’s Eve party, a 20-hour, 15-city livestream across 15+ time zones with multiple artists
For fans and artist alike, New Year’s Eve gigs are like no other. Spirits are higher and expectations can be off the charts in an attempt to bid a proper farewell to the previous year and to kick off the new one on a high note. In any give year it’s a lot to ask, but especially in this one, amidst a global pandemic in which many are suffering and large gatherings for the most part are still prohibited and many events are confined to livestreams.
Pollstar caught up with legendary British DJ Carl Cox, 58, one of the most prolific DJs on earth and who will kick-off and close-out Beatport and Absolut’s epic #DanceAway2020 New Year’s Eve livestream. The 20-hour, 15-city livestream across 15+ time zones will includes multiple artists, including Honey Dijon, Jamie Jones, TOKiMONSTA and Nastia, who will spin from locales as far-flung as Shanghai, New Delhi, Dubai, Odessa, Berlin, London, Saõ Paolo, Miami, Calgary and San Francisco. Here, Cox explains how he prepares for a New Year’s gig, the challenges and opportunities livestreaming before hundreds of thousands presents and his favorite all-time New Year’s performance.
Pollstar What are you doing in Australia?
Carl Cox: I have a studio here and have been working there every day. I’m happy here in Melbourne where its currently summertime. Life is getting back to normal after a strict lockdown and we’re now able to go out and enjoy life.
So Beatport and Absolut are throwing an epic, multi-artist, 20-hour, 15-city New Year’s Eve livestream that starts and finishes with sets by YOU live from Melbourne – how will you approach the opening and closing of such an epic experience? Do you have sets planned out, do you know what kind of music you’ll play?
I have a few ideas for my opening set but I always go in fresh with little planning. For the closing of the 15-city show I’ll be looking at the other DJ’s and try to bring the journey full circle – but really I’ll play what feels right at the time.
Beatport’s ReConnect livestream events have racked up more than 114 million views (500 million impressions), how do you approach spinning for hundreds of thousands if not millions of fans across 15+ timezones including Shanghai, New Delhi, Dubai, Odessa, Berlin, London, Saõ Paolo, Miami, Calgary and San Francisco?
You have to look at each member of the audience as an individual. There might well be hundreds of thousands of them but there is only one of you so you need to connect on a personal level and share your energy with them.
What equipment will you use and how will you gauge audience response?
I’ll be using my usual studio set up and Beatport will use their magic to connect the audience to the artists. I’ll also be getting messages throughout the set as the night progresses.
How have your past experiences livestreaming DJ sets been? What makes a livestream event qualitatively better or worse?
Every stream is different. When I started my all vinyl Cabin Fever show at the start of the pandemic I was playing from home in shorts and slippers. Three months in I was joined live by the Prime Minister of Barbados for the tribute show for my father and now, over 40 episodes in, I have a multi camera studio set up. The show still goes out for free and then sits in my Mixcloud as an audio archive – so I’m basically passing my record collection on.
What challenges and opportunities does livestreaming a DJ set event provide for you in terms of performance, music selection, engagement and feedback?
In a way it’s harder than a live show as you have to work out how the audience will be responding without actually seeing them. That’s why I try to pick the stream shows I do carefully – you want to make sure that the technology is in place and that the audience knows what to expect. It also allows you to support important causes from afar – especially in the year we’ve just had. Streaming allowed me to join line ups in support of the Beirut blast relief and the Ibiza food bank.
Do you have a preference between the three platforms being used for this event in Twitch, YouTube and Facebook?
Anywhere that lets me share my music works for me.
How do you usually approach a New Year’s Eve performance?
Like every other show – I put myself on that dancefloor and focus on giving my best.
What was your favorite New Year’s Eve DJ event ever and why?
It would have to be 1999/2000 when I played midnight in Sydney (Australia) and then flew back in time to play midnight in Hawaii (USA).
Do you think livestreaming will continue on after the pandemic and if so, how?
For sure – live streaming was here before and will definitely be here after. I’ll be continuing my weekly Cabin Fever – The Vinyl Sessions show for the foreseeable future. I also have plans to go into the virtual world.
How was your 2019? And how did it compare to other years?
2019 was a great year. My last UK date was a back to back set with Fatboy Slim in London and I ended the year with three NYE parties in Hawaii. 2020 has been amazingly busy but not on the way I could have foreseen. We’re currently planning as far ahead as 2023.
Do you have a booking agent, who is he/she?
My first port of call is my manager, Alon Shulman.
What do you miss the most about performing in real time/life with fans?
I miss the live audience – everyone would tell you the same. The energy that bounces back from the crowd pushes me further but hopefully it won’t be long before I’ll experience that again. Oh Yes, Oh Yes!
What does the hashtag title of the event “#DanceAway2020” mean to you?
The chance to move past the challenges of 2020 and add some optimism as we go into 2021.
#DanceAway2020 will be available to watch on Beatport’s Twitch channel, as well as on YouTube and Facebook. For a full list of artists, times and more information visit www.absolut.com/NYE2020