One Night With. Optimo at Hifi 18/03

HiFi and Wire’s in house ‘One Night With’ series sees them pick a range of flawless selectors, offering them an entire night to showcase the breadth and depth of their record collection. For their latest edition, they invited Glaswegian DJs JD Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes, known commonly as Optimo, to soundtrack the evening.

Simply referring to Optimo as a duo feels a bit reductive, given their influence on Scottish and British club culture. Their 13 year weekly residency at Glasgow clubbing institution Sub Club was seen as an educational privilege, where you were as likely to hear obscure post-punk records as you were heads-down techno. It is likely that a number of the city’s recent wealth of artists were influenced by formative experiences watching Optimo play.

Their decade of experience playing music all night meant that they were unlikely to be fazed by the pressures of being afforded so much time, and it was striking how at home they looked behind the decks. While often DJ duos consist of one person mixing and the other nervously standing around waiting for their turn to be handed the headphones, Twitch and Wilkes were completely at ease. When Optimo played, there seemed to be no concrete definitions of how long either DJ was in control; often while one was playing, the other wandered into the crowd to talk to a friend or prepare a drink.

The night began with them playing a mixture of afro-edits, druggy disco and new-wave inspired synth pop. Their more obscure cuts were juxtaposed with classics such as Cultural Vibe’s ‘Ma Foom Bey’ and Cottam’s infamous edit of ‘Bola Johnson’. Their changes of direction were expertly navigated, as the chugging disco slowly became slo-mo house and the beats-per-minute began to peak, it was surprising to realise that they had ramped up the pace to the point where they were playing UK funky without there being a discernible change in vibe.

At peak time, they showcased a rich knowledge of exactly what sort of music can lift the roof of a club. Finding the common thread between ‘Inflation’ by Crazy Cousins, Objekt’s new ‘Needle and Thread’ and Daniel Maloso’s ‘Ritmo Especial’ exhibits the breadth of their taste and how vastly different songs can be make sense when contextualised through their ability to cause chaos on a dancefloor.

As the crowd went wild, Wilkes and Twitch stood behind the decks surveying the scene, looking like it was the most natural thing in the world to make a group of people lose themselves like this, which for them, I guess it is.

John Hardy


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