ABOVE: DJ HARVEY. PHOTO COURTESY OF SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND
Harvey Bassett, better known as DJ Harvey, has done it all in his career—DJed around the world bringing eclectic influences from the states to the UK and everywhere else, and created musical side projects including Locussolus, Map of Africa, and now his latest Wildest Dreams, a psychedelic, satanic-folk rock band.
It’s not surprising Harvey has become such a creative force—he’s taken influences from his travels and honed in on them in his projects. Harvey is really known for playing what he feels, and with Wildest Dreams it’s no different. In Harvey’s new band, psychedelia, classic rock, and Brit-rock drive the music—it almost feels as if he time-traveled to create the melodies found on the self-titled record. Harvey cites a lot of his influences from his mother’s record collection—something that is in itself a version of a trip down memory lane. We spoke with DJ Harvey about 30 years of playing music, going back to the “roots,” and finding his magic moment.
ILANA KAPLAN: How did you decide to create Wildest Dreams—a project quite different from your DJing work?
DJ HARVEY: It basically hearkens back to about 40 years ago. The first music I was really into was my mom’s record collection, which I call “real rock-‘n’-roll.” It’s Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and stuff like that. The first music I sort of decided I liked on my own was really this sort of Second British Invasion type of music—English blues-based rock-‘n’-roll. You take the blues and you add LSD and you get a Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin type of experience. That was very influential for me. I would play in school bands even before punk. I would play cover versions of those records. That music I always dearly loved. I think it’s always been part of satanic, Los Angeles folk music. I’ve had my career of DJing disco, house, techno, and I’ve often slipped in a little bit of that psychedelia—some funky rock music. In recent times, I made a record with my friend Thomas Bullock who is famous for being part of the Wick DJ crew, the Rub-N-Tug DJ Duo, A.R.E. Weapons, and invented electroclash. We had a band called Map of Africa. We made an album six or seven years ago of that kind of music—song-based, blues-based psychedelia. That wasn’t able to reach its potential due to bad label management. That album took four years and $100,000 to make. With Wildest Dreams, it was me still wanting to make that kind of music. I took myself in hand, put together a band and started making what I would call roots music, maybe. Oh this rather sweet spaniel just walked by. I like spaniels. I’m thinking of getting a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.
KAPLAN: Oh nice! What do you plan to name it?
HARVEY: [laughs] Charlie Spanwali.
KAPLAN: I love it. Do you plan to still DJ while promoting Wildest Dreams, or will Wildest Dreams be your new focus?
HARVEY: I’ll definitely keep DJing. DJing pays my rent and it’s what I’ve been doing predominantly for the last 30 years. I enjoy DJing in nightclubs and warehouses, but the focus a little more recently has been the rise of the rave festival. It used to be illegal raves, and now they’re called festivals. It’s all very legitimate. Globally there’s a lot of that going on. I plan to keep DJing, doing remix production and original production. I have a techno-disco band called Locussolus. We had an album out maybe two years ago now, and I’m working on the second one as we speak. It’s all different facets of what DJ Harvey is capable of: blues-based rock-‘n’-roll, psychedelia, satanic folk funk, and techno-disco as well. I think I’ll definitely keep on with DJing.
KAPLAN: Awesome. Will you be playing gigs as Wildest Dreams?
HARVEY: Well, no one has asked me yet, but it would be nice if there’s a concert promoter or someone who thinks it’s a bright idea. I think the album has been well-received. All we need is someone to attempt to make a booking, and we’ll put it together.
KAPLAN: Sounds pretty easy. How did you come up with Wildest Dreams as the name of the project?
HARVEY: It’s just the first thing that came to mind really. There’s nothing really contrived about it. I enjoy naming things. There are no hidden meanings or double entendres particularly. Wildest Dreams just rolled off of the tongue—it conjures up a bunch of things like whatever your “wildest dreams” may happen to be. I’m sure only you know that. [laughs]
KAPLAN: [laughs] That’s true. So, what’s the coolest gig you’ve played in the past 30-plus years?
HARVEY: I have absolutely no idea. That’s a ridiculous question. [laughs]
KAPLAN: There has to be something that stands out.
HARVEY: I’ve done three parties a week for 30 years. Those are absolutely incredible. There are an awful lot of magic moments and fantastic times. I’ve toured the world round and round. I’ve gotten really high and had some brutal hangovers. I’ve enjoyed Bali and Europe. It’s actually really difficult to pin down a specific magic moment. The whole thing is a magic moment. In real-time, 30 years is a speck in time. My career is probably the best thing that’s happened.
KAPLAN: Do you collaborate with anyone else on Wildest Dreams other than your band?
HARVEY: Well, I produced it, so I was sort of the boss overseeing the whole thing. Apart from the band themselves, there wasn’t anyone else making decisions as to how it went down. So, for this particular project, there wasn’t anyone else you might have heard of who was contributing.
KAPLAN: Obviously this record has been getting a lot of attention. Do you think there will be another one? Or is this kind of a one-off album?
HARVEY: I was just having some fun at the time, but seeing the way it’s been well received since then, I thought it might be nice to do a second album. I’ve got conceptually that in mind. I just have to go and record it. I’m not sure if it’s actually been released. I know there’s been a lot of press and promos on the thing. I’ll see if people actually go out and buy it. Do people actually buy records anymore?
KAPLAN: It hasn’t yet. They do!
HARVEY: If they do, and it seems to get a bit of momentum going, I don’t see why I shouldn’t record a second album. It’ll be called “Wildest Dreams’ Nightmares.” [laughs]
KAPLAN: How do you think your DJ Harvey fans will perceive Wildest Dreams?
HARVEY: I don’t know. I think most DJ Harvey fans are probably quite well rounded musically, because my DJ sets can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I mean, I don’t know, but I hope most people won’t be shocked or disgusted by the record, like, “Oh my god, this isn’t techno. I hate Harvey now.” [laughs] I hope that most fans can listen to this and quite enjoy it.
WILDEST DREAMS’ SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT TODAY VIA SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND. FOR MORE ON DJ HARVEY, VISIT HIS FACEBOOK PAGE.