This week we were given the chance to speak to Graeme Park. Graeme is a veteran, having DJ’d for over 25 years, most significantly as a resident of the legendary Haçienda nightclub in Manchester during its heyday. This year, The Haçienda are celebrating 30 years since they first opened, with a series of parties all over the country. With the celebrations set to arrive at Mint Warehouse in Leeds this weekend, we spoke to Graeme about his history at The Haçienda and looked forward to his set on Saturday celebrating the club’s legacy, and by extension the legacy of house music as a whole.
LS: The Hacienda was one of the world’s most famous nightclubs, but closed over ten years ago. Can you tell us about your relationship to the club and the celebrations this year for those that don’t know?
I was a massive Factory Record fan so used to visit The Haçienda a lot when it opened in 1982 (Factory Records, along with New Order and others owned The Haçienda). When I was asked by the club to cover for Mike Pickering while he was away on holiday in 1988, I jumped at the chance. When Mike returned I was asked to stay and played pretty much every weekend for 8 years. It was an amazing period that will never be repeated and I became friends with New Order (who asked me to DJ on their tour of North America in 1989) and Tony Wilson who I had the utmost respect for.
LS: You’re renowned for your love of vinyl and extensive collection, but it’s difficult for a vinyl DJ to survive in the MP3 era. Do you still play records out today and how much do you think medium matters?
It depends on the gig. I do take vinyl with me if I’m driving, but if I’m flying or getting the train I don’t. However, I do use Serato with vinyl discs which means I can control the tracks I play like I used to when the only choice was vinyl. From a “show business” point of view it’s great, because as far as the punters are concerned I’m using vinyl.
LS: What do you think of the house scene in the UK today and how it’s changed over the years?
There are some great tracks being made today that sound like they were produced 20 years ago. Things go in cycles and I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. At the moment house music is on a massive up, but I try not to worry too much about that I just continue to do what I’ve been doing for over 28 years: concentrate on what I do and doing it to the best of my abilities.
LS: You’re set to play with Frankie Knuckles this weekend for Hacienda 30. What can we expect from your set?
I never know what I’m going to play until I play it. As I’m playing after Frankie Knuckles (my favourite DJ in the world), there’s no point planning too much because I have no idea what he’s going to play or what the vibe will be. When I arrive I’ll take everything in and start thinking about what to play. That’s when my 28 years of experience pays off.
LS: Finally, what have you got planned for the future?
2013 is shaping up to be a busy year with my diary already filling up. Look out for an EP of original material from my Yellow & Black Project as well as remixes too, including a Yellow & Black Remix of Factory legends Section 25. The Yellow & Black Project are also working with an amazing singer/songwriter from Blackpool called Karima Francis. I’m particularly excited about this because her background is folk and blues rather than dance. I’ve got two more Leeds gigs this November and you can get full details of those and all of my forthcoming dates and everything else I’m up to (including details of my participation in this year’s Movember campaign) from http://thisisgraemepark.com
Catch Graeme tomorrow night [Saturday 10th November] at Hacienda 30, alongside Frankie Knuckles, 808 State and more at Mint Warehouse. Tickets are £15.