As dance music has gradually been assimilated into mainstream culture since the birth of acid house over two decades ago, the renegade spirit that fuelled those halcyon days has slowly drifted into the background. But at just 23 years of age, Brisbane DJ Elliot Clarke is one of a rare breed keeping that spirit alive. While most of his generation are content to follow the status quo to homogenised club nights, Elliot and his band of helpers are busy planning the next mystery location for the OK Kana outdoor party series. While many DJs simply throw down one big track after another in their sets, Elliot is just as likely to carve eight tracks into one-bar loops in Ableton and play them simultaneously to create a track of his own.Yet his endeavours are anything but random, far from it. In fact Elliot has been cultivating his love for electronic music since he was a school kid listening to Autechre and Jeff Mills in his headphones while his schoolmates were getting grass stains on their trousers playing football in the schoolyard. The more leftfield side of electronica has always held a fascination for him, and even before he’d taken his skills behind the decks into the public arena he’d invoked that early renegade spirit by holding experimental broadcasts of his own noise compositions via Winamp.
But it was the sound of techno and vintage progressive that drove him behind the decks, and coupled with the influence of minimal and leftfield house it is quality music of all persuasions which continues to drive him today. By bypassing vinyl and CDs and going straight to Ableton, he’s able to loop, sample and layer any number of tracks to his heart’s content, essentially creating his own remixes on the fly but never losing sight of the dancefloor in front of him.
With his skills in the DJ booth bringing him to the attention of respected local club nights such as DROP, Logic and The Sunday Roast, the next logical step for Elliot was to don the promoter’s cap himself. And his modus operandi as a promoter has been as forward-thinking as his musical approach, although you could argue that the OK Kana party series he launched with Adam Gillett at the tail end of 2007 has looked to the past for inspiration. Held at random public locations around Brisbane as the sun sets over the city (including the Goodwill Bridge and under the iconic Story and William Jolly bridges), these spontaneous invite-only events have developed a cult following amongst Brisbane’s dance music fraternity.
As part of the Moon Bar Collective which also encompasses DROP, Let’s Get Minimal and Bump’n’Funk, Elliot hosts the more conventional Colours monthly party at the Empire Hotel with fellow technophile Fuzion. Since kicking off in early 2008 they can already count international heavyweights like John Selway, Pig & Dan and Alex Smoke as headline acts, establishing Colours as the premier techno event in Brisbane along the way.
But the accolades don’t really matter when you’re pushing a bass bin around the backblocks of Brisbane, like anyone operating on the fringes, Elliot Clarke does it all for the love.