My name’s DB Burkeman, but people may have heard of me through music as DJ DB or Simply DB. I came to NY in 1989 from London, where I was one of the main DJs and promoters at Peter Gatien’s Limelight there. I was really only planning on staying 3-6 months, but I fell in love with this crazy city, and then Wini, who I would go on to marry, and have two amazing kids with. That was over 20 years ago. I met you, Steve, in the early 90s working for all the “cool” clubs—MARS, Redzone, MK—and although grateful for the heaps of cash people like yourself were paying me, I quickly realized if I wanted to eat more than pizza everyday, I’d need to do more than DJ for hip clubs. So my late friend Dorian Chinner and I started throwing our own outlaw parties under the name of “DEEP.” At the same time Gary Pini & Cory Robbins of Profile Records offered me an A&R gig putting together the Best Of Techno & House compilations. Gary and I were then given our own imprint, Sm:)e Communications, which went on to become a seminal 90’s electronic label.
Well fast forward to the mid-90s, when DJ Dara and I opened Breakbeat Science, the first and only record shop dedicated to D&B. This quickly became a label, and also the very epicenter of the jungle scene in the U.S. In ‘97 I got hired by Warner Bros. records to set up their “ELECTRONICA,” (I hate that word) label. What a fucking disaster. Then Ministry of Sound poached my partner Andrew Goldstone and myself away from WB to head up the U.S. version of the dance label. Fucking disaster number two. Fast forward to 9/11. Not only was that the death of 3000 innocent people, but I believe it was the death of the music biz as we knew it, or at least, the tipping point where downloading music for free became the norm. I kind of knew it was over, but many didn’t yet.
Yes, one of my best friends who’s also my agent, jokes about how I hitched my wagon to a real winner with the whole jungle/drum n’ bass thing. If I’d stayed with house, techno, electro or even trance (god forbid), who knows where my DJ career might have taken me. But I do still love that jungle music. I still get booked to play an occasional rave, or d n’ b night in some sad club that’s hurting for business, in some city that has seen better times. In NY, I mostly get booked to play old school sets.
Since I’m pretty much unemployable, other than for a record label, and there are none left, I’ve been “ducking and diving,” trying all sorts of creative projects and entrepreneurial schemes to make a crust. There’s too many to go into here, but some have worked and others failed. Other than music, the only other thing that I’m passionate about is art.
Sadly, I think those days are gone. The divide of the “haves and the have nots” continue to get wider worldwide, and resentment grows with it. It’s always been the people who are economically hurting that produce the most original and interesting art/music.
I actually think the lag in time is less now than when I was first in America. I think we were five years behind back then. Now, because of the internet, DJs can hear about, and get the same music instantly. The problem is American’s taste may be lagging.
I’ve absolutely no idea what you readers may know, but here are 5 tracks from when I fell in love with Wini. She still requests them.
Os Gemeos have been working on a huge wall of PS11in Chelsea. Max & I rolled over there on the off chance that we could meet them. Big surprise to see FUTURA on the boom lift. The twins signed our books & said they would contribute some tags to the sticker exhibit!
The collberation wall is incredible!
As is the book : )
There are several works that I've never seen before & a few that I'd seen in books, but when you are confronted with the scale of the real things, its mind blowing.
I particularly loved the two square camo paintings, as they are colors that differ from the prints i've wanted for 20 years.
An exiting moment for a me as a father. Max wanted to spend his own pocked money to buy his first piece of art.
(thus helping keep my mate Michael at the foundation in a job : )