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Charles Webster - Charles In Charge

Author: Cyclone
Monday, 21 July 2008
UK house don Charles Webster is headlining the Future Classic label night this week (as well as hosting a workshop in the Apple Store the day after. 3D's Cyclone had a word.

Charles Webster has long defined quality UK house. The DJ/producer was already established as an underground stalwart when in the late '90s he launched Presence. Indeed, Webster cut the cult Sense Of Danger with Shara Nelson of Unfinished Sympathy fame.

Though Webster is associated with 'the deepness', he's not been tied down. 'I just stay away from any obvious trend because once a trend is not trendy, you're gone with it,' the DJ says. He doesn't believe in disseminating records merely to have something out. 'I'll not make one for three or four months if I feel like I've got nothing to say.'

Webster, originally from the electronic hub of Sheffield, studied photography at art school. He switched his focus to music and, on moving to Nottingham, where he worked at a restaurant, discovered house. (The restaurant owner was, helpfully, also in the clubbing biz.) Webster briefly resided in San Francisco, where he was involved in the label Love From San Francisco.

On his return to the UK, he conceived the vehicle Presence, yielding the crossover All Systems Gone LP. In 2002 Webster issued an album under his own name via Peacefrog - Born On The 24th Of July. This year he's surfaced with a triple-compilation on Defected that, similarly to Renaissance's 3D series, represents different facets of an innovator's career - the producer, DJ and tastemaker. Webster shares home listening favourites from D'Angelo, Brian Eno and, uh, Black Sabbath. For the third disk, he hauls out his key productions, past and present, showing off All Over The World, his latest track as Furry Phreaks with protégé Terra Deva.

Putting together the ambitious package was a cinch. 'It didn't take any effort at all, really!' he laughs.

Webster isn't one of those music lovers who (he jokes) stopped listening to pop records released post-1978. Nevertheless, he expresses mixed feelings about contemporary electronic music. 'I still like as much as I ever did,' he says. 'There's always good - and there's definitely always bad.'

The trained studio engineer is irritated by 'badly made techno' masquerading as house ('it's just people making music 'cause they got a bit of free software'), but concedes that young producers need a starting point.

Webster is versatile. He was involved in Tracey Thorn's acclaimed solo album of 2007. He suspects that Thorn's partner, Ben Watt, recommended him. 'I think it was Ben who suggested it and hooked it up. He wasn't involved in any of the creative side of it at all, but he probably was involved in suggesting it.'

The Miso Records boss, who recently remixed Sydney producer Peret Mako, has several projects in the pipeline. 'I'm always busy,' Webster affirms. He's recorded 'a bluesy ballad' with Robert Owens and is again collaborating with the iconic Shara. Then there's another solo LP as well as a jazz affair with arranger Peter Wraight. The latter, nearly complete, especially excites Webster. 'It's proper acoustic jazz but with electronic elements - it's predominantly vocal songs.'

Carl Craig, watch out.

WHO: Charles Webster
WHAT: Defected Presents Charles Webster through Defected/Stomp / Plays Future Classic Label Night at The Civic Hotel
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 26 July