From Bristol to Big Booty, Will Clarke has quickly become a “house” hold name in the house music scene.
Long before Will Clarke joined the Dirtybird flock, he had a residency in Ibiza. Hailing from Bristol, he was working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and losing track of time from behind the decks. Over the past few years he’s really started to come into his own sound and with the release of his EP Big Booty, he has become a staple of the house scene.
As one of the beloved members of the Dirtybird Family he has taken the stage at their annual Dirtybird Campout events on both coasts, while also playing sets at their renowned BBQ events too. If you didn’t think he was busy enough, Will is constantly working in the studio and on a seemingly endless tour of playing festivals like Beyond Wonderland and EDC Las Vegas as he brings his upbeat vibes to the world.
Having caught his set at the Dirtybird Player’s at Club Space during Miami Music Week and again at Phoenix Lights this month, I was excited as ever to chat with this house music maestro. Below you’ll find his thoughts on some of his recent tracks like “No No No”, upcoming events he’s playing, and some tips on how to keep your beard as luxurious as ever.
Stream Will Clarke – Take A Seat on SoundCloud:
Having performed at Dirtybird Campout a few times, what is it like working with the Dirtybird family?
Like you said, they’re my family. They’re the kind of people who helped me get to where I’m at–Claude, Justin, especially. They’re amazing. It’s not like it’s work with them. They tell you the truth, they play your records, we all get on super well, we all party hard… it’s fucking amazing to be honest. The Campouts are unreal. I don’t know if you’ve been to a Campout?
Yeah, I’ve been to both the West Coast and the East Coast Campout.
Ah, okay, yeah–so, they’re just amazing. It’s not like any other festival. I’ve got two favorite festivals in the world, and one is Glastonbury back in the UK–I live fairly close to it–and one is Campout. They’re amazing. The Campout has an amazing vibe and spirit of community, I have not seen that anywhere for a long time.
We were fortunate enough to catch your set at Club Space during Miami Music Week. Was that your first Miami Music Week, and what did you think of the turnout for the event?
No, I think this was like my fourth or fifth time at Miami Music Week? Can’t really remember for sure because I did one several years ago when I was 20. I came over to play a few gigs, but I actually was not old enough to get into any of the clubs, luckily, I had a fake ID from the UK so it was easy to get into the clubs since the American door guys are not used to seeing the UK ids.so they don’t know if they are fake. I went everywhere. 2018 my third proper one playing on real parties.
The turnout for Space was crazy–the Dirtybird fans always come out. I heard it went on until the afternoon on Saturday. Claude told me that there were still five people in the club at 2PM while someone was playing drum & bass. I kinda wish I was there, but then again I was very happy being in bed. It was really really good, man, it was actually my favorite Miami Music Week this year.
Originally you’re from Bristol. How would you say house and tech house differ there from the scene in the US?
I wouldn’t necessarily say just the house scene. It’s very different in the whole of the UK and Europe compared to how it is here. We don’t really have “EDM” as such in the UK. We had dubstep, and here it seems to be a lot “EDM” leaning than the dubstep I know from the UK. There are several exceptions, of course, and no disrespect, it’s just different cultures.
I guess one difference is I was allowed into clubs at 16, whereas, you are not really allowed in clubs until you’re 21 here. Both our licensing laws are very different. So apart from Miami, which is 24 hours, most of the cities in the UK can go until 4, 5, 6 in the morning, sometimes 9 in the morning if you get different licenses (permits).
And very few clubs can do that here.
Yeah, exactly, so the music and the scene is very different. There’s no pros and cons – it’s just different. You can’t compare them. People 18 and up here go to 18 and up clubs, but in Europe, everything is 18 and up. Please don’t misunderstand this is not a dig at the American club culture at all, but sometimes I wish the two were more alike. But having said that I love the US, I live here half the time. I absolutely love this place. We just have different scenes for so many reasons, but good music does win out in the end, I think that anyhow.
Your latest single, “No No No,” has many sample sounds and an eerie vocal track. Can you tell us a little bit about your process of building those layers?
[Laughs] This is the most simple record ever. I found the sample which is this really infamous and a Jamaican woman named Dawn penned the record … She has an amazing voice and I think it’s from back in the 80’s. It’s actually an old reggae record. Anyway, I wrote the drum and the bassline in maybe half an hour, and then I was literally looking through all my samples – I’ve got loads of acappellas’ and stuff and it just worked, and I just made it and it really worked.
So yeah, honestly, I didn’t know if I was even going to release it. I don’t really like releasing records that have other people’s samples in, but shhhh all good so far… So… yeah, touch wood, we’re good.
Since your Big Booty EP dropped, many producers have included you in their setlists and numbers just keep growing. What’s it like hearing your songs being played by other people?
It’s kind of crazy. And it goes through phases, obviously, I know when a record is going to be stronger purely because everyone is playing it, if that makes sense? So, “No No No” was a big record. I’ve got a new one coming out called “Take A Seat” and, it seems like there’s a lot of people playing it, which is really, really nice.
It’s amazing when you see DJs like Jamie Jones, Eats Everything, all the Dirtybird guys, and back in the UK, it’s getting support from Radio 1 and things like that so… yeah, it’s kind of still surreal, even though most of those guys are my homies if you know what I mean. It’s like, Green Velvet played “Take A Seat” at Miami Music Week, and it’s kind of like, damn, Green Velvet knows who I am? You know what I mean? It’s absolutely amazing, man.
The house and tech house scene have really blossomed in the last few years. How do you think that this popularity has affected either way that you produce or the way that others in the genre are producing?
I don’t really like to put genres on things. I think, especially in Europe, tech house for me is pretty boring. It just all feels and sounds the same. I have not seen a lot of risk or stepping out of the box lately, but you never know when it will happen. One of the many things that I love about the States is that it feels more open and people are more likely to take chances. I like that.
As for me, I don’t really like having to pick a genre to put myself …Am I Tech House?? I also have some records that are techno and yeah, there are a few records that are tech house, there are a few records that are house, like… I don’t really give a fuck. That’s just my music. [Laughs]
You’re playing EDC Las Vegas in just over a month. Is there a difference in how you would cater your set for that size of crowd versus a club show or Dirtybird Campout, for example?
Yeah, of course. I don’t really plan sets, but for big festivals, I’d kind of plan a rough set. But honestly, obviously the whole point of playing is to entertain the crowd, but I also want to play some stuff that they don’t know. I’ve been working on some edits that I’ve played today just to give them something a little bit different and it’s just, I don’t know… Vegas is a strange one because when I play Vegas, I always tend to have to play a little bit harder, just because that’s Vegas.
And it’s the crowd.
Yeah, and they’ve been fed EDM shit for so many years and now it’s really nice to see because now Vegas is slowly getting more and more house and techno acts, and it’s really nice to see. We’re doing a few more shows there, and there’s a real young local crowd, like 18 to 25-year-olds that all want an underground vibe but they’re not quite getting it so it’s really nice when we go to town that the vibes are really good.
Who would you like to do a collaboration with this year?
This year or generally?
Fuck! I do a lot of collaborations, but they’re only generally with the same people. So me and BOT work together really well and we’ve got two records – an EP and then another single that we’ve completed.
But there’s no one you want to reach out to and…?
Yeah, there are loads of people, man. But they’re not really necessarily… house music acts if you know what I mean. I’m pretty lucky. I’ve done a collab with Claude, I’ve done a collab with Justin Martin… It would be amazing to do one with Green Velvet. Me and Shiba have done one, me and Walker & Royce have done one…
But I want to collab with different people and not in my genre. So like I did a remix of London Grammar last year. I’d love to do an original record with them. I love her voice. I want to do different stuff. I want to do stuff that people aren’t expecting. And I think by doing that, it keeps people on their toes if you know what I mean.
We’ve heard that you’re a little bit of a health nut – you work out a lot, you eat right, you don’t drink – how do you find time to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road?
It’s kind of easy, right? It’s a choice. I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs, but that’s a choice. I haven’t really ever done that in my life. I don’t know. From when I was three, I played rugby to quite a high standard up until I was seventeen. I did martial arts, I did athletics, so I always kept fit and healthy. It was always something I enjoyed.
So when it’s a habit, it becomes easy.
Yeah, right? And I’ve changed my diet up recently, so my life sucks bad. I’ve given up chocolate at Christmas, it is still on my rider, stupidly, so I see it every time. I’ve got three massive bars of chocolate in my bag and I can’t eat it. I gave up soda a year ago, and then I gave up bread two months ago. So I’m just seeing how it goes, but my life’s boring. But yeah, I think I train a lot when I’ve got a bit of downtime, so when I go on the road by keeping my diet tight, I can still train a little and maintain it. But I’m not a super health freak.
I saw you play the DoLaB last year at Coachella, and that was a super sick set. What’s it like to play there?
It’s fucking amazing, it’s kind of an honor to play for them. I don’t get nervous at sets, but I was kind of shitting my pants a little bit there. It was a good set, and the guys before me were fucking killing it, and I was like how am I going to follow that? I don’t know who it was – they were like a band, DJs, and there was a changeover where there was silence, and I was like, I hope people don’t leave… do people know who I am? But it worked out really well and it was amazing to say you’ve played Coachella. I love the Do Lab crew.
Our final question is a fun one – having such a luxurious beard, are there any tips or secrets you can share with us on how you maintain that?
Get a barber that’s really good. Honestly, I don’t let anyone in America touch my beard because I’ve had five barbers in America fuck it well and truly. I’ve got my barber back in the UK, a guy called Mike Lowe near my hometown, and I don’t know why, but he’s just good. So I look after it when I’m on tour when I’m in America, just lots of oil, and then when I go home, I get it refreshed and it looks amazing. But yeah, man.
When was the last time you shaved your whole beard off?
Oh dude, I’ve never shaved it. I’ve had it for four years. It actually started… My parents run a charity in the local town – it’s a mental health charity; they provide counseling. And it’s called Somewhere House Somerset. And I was going to grow a beard and after a year, I was going to shave it off to raise money, but in that year, it had gotten pretty big, and I had done loads of press shots. That was when I kind of got pretty successful and my career started to grow, so if I shaved it off, everyone would have said, “Who the fuck is this kid DJ’ing?” Because I look like a 12-year old gay porn star. [Laughs] So I spoke to Mom and Dad, and I was like, “Guys, I’ve got to keep it.” And they were like, “Yeah, we get it.”
It looks good though!
Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
[Laughs] Mine was getting, like, on my lip, and I couldn’t even deal with it.
Well, you have to grow it out, and you look like a bum for a while. You look like a crazy man for a long time, it looks really shit, and then suddenly when your barber just cuts it, and you’re like, fuck yeah, it looks good.