Palmistry on how his father’s death inspired ‘Afterlife’ and working with SOPHIE on Rihanna material
JD Twitch, aka Keith McIvor, is one half of the DJ duo and legendary Glasgow night Optimo. Both him and his partner in crime, JG Wilkes, rose to fame via their deep knowledge of all stripes of dance music, and their ability to specialise in, as they once told me, “not specialising.” Twitch started out in music over twenty years ago both playing in bands such as the late nineties no wave duo Mount Florida and DJing as a co-resident at Scotland’s fledgling techno night, Pure, in Edinburgh. Twitch and Wilkes joined forces to start Optimo in 1997, and continue to DJ together, though they layed their weekly session to rest in April 2010.
Anyone who’s lost themselves in Glasgow’s Sub Club on a Sunday night during their weekly party will probably agree that it was something truly special that’s been rarely matched in energy, hedonism, and friendliness. Personally, I will always look back on 2003, when a mate left their 2002 NYE mix CD in my Camden student flat, full of an eye-opening mix of electronic(ish) music from Arthur Russell to Green Velvet to Liquid Liquid to Basic Channel. That mix, and a pilgrimage to their Sunday soiree soon after, got me hooked on good dance music and blew my teenage mind with the sheer possibility of body music. All of this new and/or deeply underground music was suddenly accessible, and presented without any pretension, and I’ve always believed that this (lack of) attitude has played a huge role in what is so special about Optimo.
As you can tell we at Dummy are huge devotees, so it was a natural choice to ask the guys if they could provide a mix to celebrate hitting the triple digits. This themed mix on love comprises many genres and decades, old vinyl classics playing out alongside Ableton-driven mashups, and a delightfully perverse avoidance of the obvious in true Optimo style. Thanks so much for listening to the Dummy mixes over the last couple of years and here’s to the next hundred!
How’s it going?
Good thanks. I have been away most of the last two months so it’s good to be home for a bit and catch up with myself.
Can you tell us about this mix?
I find it really hard to do straight ahead mixes when I’m at home; i just can’t get into it when I’m on my own and not in a club so having a theme is a big motivator. While these are mainly dance floor tracks it’s not a dance floor mix per se as I find home mixes are very different to how I play live. “Love” seemed like a good theme and also offered up a bit of a challenge to not put together a set of ultra saccharine songs and also to come up with something that was vaguely amusing, at least to me. The mix was done on two turntables and a laptop and is maybe a touch rough in a couple of places but then I’ve never been one for seamless mixing as it sends me to sleep.
Any honourable mentions that didn’t make the mix, but were seriously considered?
So many! i went through my records for a couple of hours and had literally hundreds of “love” songs so there’s a ton that didn’t make the cut. I nearly went down the route of doing a sordid sex mix instead, but there’s only so many cum noises one can handle listening to. Originally the mix ended with “Love Hangover pt 2” by Diana Ross but I changed it at the last minute.
What are some things you’ve really loved this year?
I have been very fortunate to visit some places I’ve always wanted to visit this year and fell in love with South Korea in a big way. I’ll refrain from geeking out but there was lots of music technology both old and new that got me hot under the collar. Musically there is too much to mention / remember but I became increasingly aware that it is impossible to keep up with all the music I buy and am sent. if there are still djs a thousand years from now, maybe evolution will give them a second set of ears? Book of the year for me would have to be “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. I like her a lot but I’m a huge Robert Mapplethorpe fan so it was a real revelation to read about his early life. It also inspired a project that if it comes off will be the most ambitious venture Jonnie and I have ever undertaken.
What’s coming up for you over the next few months?
Always touring and always appreciative that people want to have us come and play. Apart from that, lots of remixes to finish and working on a pile of releases on Optimo Music for next year. i only managed three releases this year and while I don’t want to churn out the releases I’d like to put a few more out next year. The first fruits of my collaborative project with Neil Landstrumm called Doubleheart are imminent with a 12” due shortly on Nonplus Records. We have an album completed so hopefully that will see a release next year and we might do a handful of all hardware live shows. I finally completed production duties on Tussle’s album which was immensely enjoyable so I may do some more production work next year. Lastly I’m in the process of making a dancehall record based on the Sleng Teng rhythm. I’m normally opposed to making music that slavishly recreates something from the past as I don’t really see the point but I am a Sleng Teng obsessive and want to do this purely to put a smile on my face. There will be a male and female vocal version so I’m trying to track down a suitable male vocalist at the moment.
Skinny Puppy – Love
Deee-Lite – What is Love?
AR Kane – A Love From Outer Space
Konk – Love Attack
Rework – Love, Love, Love
Headman – Be Loved (Daniel Avery’s Divided Love mix)
Soft Metals – Hot On The Heels Of Love
K.X.P. – 18 Hours Of Love (An Optimo (Espacio) mix)
Klaus Nomi – I Feel Love (Live At Hurrah, NYC 1980)
Mark Stewart – Fatal Attraction (Love Is Contagious)
Roni Griffith – Love Is The Drug
The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love (Emperor Machine mix)
Kraftwerk – Computer Love
The Balanescu Quartet – Computer Love
Love Can’t Turn Around acappella
Levon Vincent – Love Technique
Traxx – XTC For Love
Art of Noise – Moments In Love
Round Two – New Day
Loleatta Holloway knows about love speech
The Monks – I Hate You