Darren Emerson is now one of the most influential figures in dance music - and so he should be, after a career spanning more than 17 years. And counting…
Whilst growing-up on a diet of hip-hop, break dancing and later acid house, Emerson brought his first set of decks at 14 and began DJing in clubs at 16. Inspired by DJs such as Jazzy M, Emerson would travel two hours on a train from his hometown in Essex to visit record stores across London for the latest vinyl. His first gig was at a club called Outers in Southend, playing early Chicago and Balearic house. He then progressed onto the Milk Bar and Limelight, DJing alongside Johnny Walker and soon gaining recognition as DJ of the month in both the Face and I-D magazine - bookings from across the UK and beyond followed…
Emerson soon chose to ditch his job as an established city trader (or ‘runner’ on the stock exchange) and take on dance music full time. At recently turned 18, a friend introduced him to Rick Smith and Karl Hyde, Smith and Hyde had been in a band together for several years and needed a new injection from a DJ/Producer – in the form of Emerson - and the rest is… Underworld.
Signed to Junior Boys Own - whom Emerson was already producing for, the band released three albums: ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman’, ‘Second Toughest in the Infant’ and ‘Beaucoup Fish’ - and have since sold over a million albums world wide. Their hits include Cowgirl, Rez, Dark and Long and Born Slippy – all still DJ classics. The band were also renowned for their stunning and unpredictable live shows.
2000 saw Emerson depart from the band and go at it solo style. Although Underworld had been his passion for 10 years, he wanted to branch out; to expand DJíng and to work with producers he was meeting on his travels across the world.
The first collaboration saw Emerson and DJ cohort Sasha produce the Ibiza classic - ‘Scorchio’ – a perfect accompaniment for Space on Sundays. Re-establishing himself as a tech-house heavy weight, two Global Underground compilations soon followed; ‘Uruguay’ and ‘Singapore’ proved that Emerson was back to doing what he does best; showcasing his party-wise selection of deep, chunky house and funky techno cuts to perfection. Emerson has also, since his first remix for Gat Décor’s ‘Passion’ on Effective Records in 1992 (Emerson’s first label), remixed tracks for Fat Boy Slim, Hatiras’ ‘Spaced Invader’ (Defected) the self signed bands Meeker and gus gus to Emerson’s now Underwater imprint.
Emerson started Underwater Records in 1994. Initially to release records for his friends, the label has, since it’s inception, seen releases from Meeker, Ned Flanders, Steve Mac, Mutiny and of course Tim Deluxe – whose ‘Sirens/ We All Love Sax’ and ‘It Just Won’t Do’, has managed to put Underwater firmly in place on the independent label spectrum. The first album released on the label – a compilation mixed by Emerson and Deluxe was released last summer – entitled Underwater: Episode One, which exclusively included Emerson’s solo track H20. Underwater: Episode Two will be released in June and is mixed by Emerson and Mutiny. Emerson has also signed Icelandic band: gus gus, to the label, whose hotly anticipated deep house, electro clash album: Attention was released in October and bought another facet to the label. Emerson has also remixed Gus Gus’ latest single release ‘David’ – bringing a jakin’ tech-house cut to the package.
DJing wise, Emerson has his hugely successful Underwater residency at London’s The End on the last Saturday of every month. The residency began in February 2001 and has since seen the likes of Fatboy Slim, Jon Carter, Medicine8, King Unique, Tim Deluxe, Lottie, Kidstuff, Yousef, Future Shock and Mutiny kick the dancefloor into touch. In 2001 and 2002, Emerson paired up with Erick Morillo to create Subliminal V’s Underwater at Pacha, Ibiza. The night won Best Ibiza Club for both years at the Muzik Awards. This year (2003) the nights are going solo, Emerson will take Underwater to Tuesday nights at Pacha thought-out the summer from June 24 to Sept 23.
He is also DJing across the UK and the world - and at some point he sleeps!
Paard van Troje, Den Haag
Off Corso, Rotterdam
Flanders Expo, Gent
Hotel Arena, Amsterdam
Off Corso, Rotterdam
Ahoy Rotterdam, Rotterdam
Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam