Charles Webster is one of the DJs and producers who has left the greatest mark on the world house scene. He was still interested in music as a child and soon began to produce it.
Although a British born, he lives now in South Africa, actively involved in the rich scene there. But he has been performing for a long time all over the world, including in Zagreb where he comes on the 2nd of February for the third time as a guest of the Croatian label Imogen Recordings. Charles, who has two editions for that label, will perform at Imogen Night at The Garden Brewery, along with the Italian house legend Don Carlos and hosts Ilija Rudman and Antonio Zuza.
You are coming to Zagreb for the third time in a short period. Does that mean that you particularly like it here?
Yes, I really like the atmosphere in Zagreb nightlife. The clubs and people are very open minded and people really know how to enjoy themselves… very friendly too.
Since you were a kid you listened to good music. How did your parents inspire you musically?
I was always surrounded by music when I was young… records playing and the radio all the time. It’s very important to expose your children to good music, it will set them up for life and inspire them to search for more music and to listen to all kinds of music.
As a 13-year-old, you started playing several instruments. When did you buy the first record and what was it?
Yes, I had a guitar and a bass guitar and most importantly a synthesiser. I was obsessed with making strange noises and experimenting with sounds. My older sister also bought 7″ records when we were very young so we had quite a good collection very early. My first record was Street Life by Roxy Music.
Why does Kraftwerk have such an important role in defining you as a musician?
They really excited me when I first heard them when I was around eight years old. My mother would play their records. I loved the strange almost child like simplicity of it and the strange and spooky sounds and voices.
Many say that the golden era of electronic music has already passed. Do you see new and exciting producers today? What genres of electronic music are interesting to you?
There is always interesting new electronic music, it seems that you have to dig a little deeper to find it these days as there is lots of very generic ‘drag and drop’ music also being made. I always find exciting new music that has a fresh new sound. Lots of genres are exciting.
You live in Cape Town. We have heard a lot about the exciting South African house scene lately. Can you tell us more about it?
The scene in South Africa is very strong. There are so many parties happening every week. I think when apartheid ended and there were free elections the timing was right in the music scene for house music to explode there. Everywhere you go you hear house music and now South Africa has developed a sound of it’s own which is amazing. I play at really big events, sometimes 15 000 people in a sports stadium… and only playing very deep house. It’s probably unique in the world being able to play that sound to such large crowds.
It is also known that you have a jazz band Webster Wraight Ensemble. What music makes you excited except electronic music?
I love all kinds of music, there is good in every genre. I really feel it is important to be open minded about music. After all its mostly just the same 12 notes, just played on different instruments.
You revealed that great influence on your music has film and painting. Which movies have the most impact on you? What are your favorite movies and directors?
I studied film at college, we had a special project on Alfred Hitchcock, i really loved his overall vision of exactly what he wanted in his films and he would never compromise or make his films by a committee or panel. Same goes for Kubrick. Both guys were very strong willed and stuck to their intentions… and they were right to do so, their movies are still as great all these years later. I love loads of films from every era. Sunset Blvd, Night of the Hunter, Badlands, Taxi Driver, Birdman, The Square etc…
Which painters do you especially appreciate?
I love Goya, Redon, Charles Rennie Macintosh, Rurner, Klee, Miro, Vrubel…
You have two releases for Imogen Recordings. What was your co-operation with Ilija Rudman and Antonio Zuza? Do you intend to continue it?
Yes, I really enjoyed making my releases for Imogen. Very nice guys and easy to work with. I will certainly be working with them again.
Have you ever cooperated with Don Carlos? What kind of music synergy can we expect in Zagreb?
I have never met Don Carlos, but I have been a fan since the early 90s. It’s going to be a great event for sure!