Few people in the music industry are as well-rounded and accomplished as
British superstar DJ Dave Ralph. Even fewer are as candid and forthright
with their opinions and observations of the constantly changing world of
dance music. Currently touring the United States to promote his recent compilation
CD, Love Parade: Berlin, Ralph plans to take a few months off over the holidays
to settle into his new home in Miami, finish preparations for his January
wedding to long-time girlfriend, Kristie, and begin building his dream studio.
expansive career in the music industry began 23 years ago in his hometown
of Liverpool, England, where he schlepped records around town as a mobile
DJ. To make ends meet, Ralph worked as a truck driver during the day until
the late 80s when his father passed away. With a new focus on his DJ career,
Ralph landed residencies at a variety of pubs and nightclubs around England,
including the influential Cream. Over the next several years, he tried his
hand at and succeeded in just about every role in the music industry, including
club manager, producer, and recording artist. Arguably his most recognized
work to date, Ralph wrote, remixed, and provided the vocals for the Bassheads
"Is Anybody Out There?" He also enjoyed a successful 10-year run
as an event promoter, during which time he founded two DJ management companies
and the independent label, Glow Records.
of music Ralph plays at live events has continually evolved over the years.
Drawing on influences from rock, Motown, and disco at the beginning of his
career, he began dabbling in techno and acid house, and eventually settled
into his current love of lush, progressive trance. This cycle could very
well repeat itself. "I come from a rock background," he says,
"So to work with Peter Gabriel or Creed would be amazing. I want to
do some rock music electronic rock combining rock with a melodic
vibe in the studio."
for now, the focus remains on dance music, and Ralph is optimistic about
its current path in the U.S. "I think whats going to happen is
that in the next few years, dance music will become mainstream. It will
become more commercial and more corporate," he predicts. "I just
hope that America stays true to the way it is right now so that the emphasis
will remain on listening to great music."
in stark contrast to what Ralph believes is happening at home in England.
Although the U.K. has enjoyed a long run as one of the top exporters of
cutting edge dance music, Ralph has observed some unfortunate changes. "Since
Ive been coming here for four or five years, America has shown such
an amazing and fresh vitality," he notes. "I really think that
England has gone stagnant now." Ralph attributes this trend to the
over-commercialization of the party scene, and the resulting shift away
from the music.
upsets me to see magazines with this weeks or this months drug
surveys in them. They think that theyre going to sell well,
obviously they are selling magazines by putting lines of coke on the cover
thinking that its really cool but I just think thats
sad," Ralph regretfully reports. "Theyre just glamorizing
the whole drug culture. I mean, drug culture is very much a part of what
Im about not to say that I would condone it or dismiss it
its just a part of what I do. But its moving away from music
and into some sort of corporate world that I dont really dig. Its
just moved so much further away from music than it should have."
distaste Ralph expresses for certain aspects of the dance music scene is
clearly outweighed by his passion for it, and the respect and admiration
he exhibits for his peers. When asked which mix-masters have influenced
him the most, three well-known names are quickly revealed. "Sasha,
because hes the most innovative person that Ive ever come across;
Laurent Garnier, because its his fault Im here now. He gave
me the passion for this whole music thing, and turned me onto trance in
1992; and Paul Oakenfold, because he gave me a break." (Ralph toured
in support of Oakenfold both on his 1996 Perfecto Tour and his 50-city U.S.
Kinetic Tranceport Tour.) Another highlight in his prolific career occurred
during his stint as a club promoter some 10 years ago when Ralph convinced
Paul van Dyk to pack up his records and head west for his U.K. debut. We
all know the tremendous results of that brilliant move.
the favor, Paul van Dyk invited Ralph to Berlin for what would become one
of the most profound experiences of his life. "The magnitude of the
party just blew me away," says Ralph, recalling the first time he played
at the infamous Berlin Love Parade four years ago. "Two million people
at one time in one place dancing to the same music certainly says something
very important. [The parade] actually came from gay culture, freedom of
speech, freedom of expression, and the Berlin Wall coming down."
the Berlin Love Parade as "the achievement of a generation of people
that are committed to enjoying themselves with as little fuss as possible
in a safe environment." Citing the low numbers of arrests and almost
non-existent violence, despite being the single largest dance festival in
the world, Ralph attributes the events immense popularity and success
to the sense of freedom and unity it creates in a city that not long ago
was deeply divided. Remaining true to its original concept throughout the
years, this annual celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
unites a massive and diverse group of people through the one true international
the success of Tranceport II, Kinetic Records was anxious to work with Ralph
on a follow-up project. Inspired by his revelation in Berlin, Ralph first
pitched the idea of doing a DVD to capture the essence of the 10-hour Love
Parade. Due to cost restraints, however, a continuous mix CD was recorded
instead. The CD does, however, include a video clip of the event (the very
first to feature live footage of the parade). It may only be a brief visual
of what Ralph refers to as "the single most significant party on the
planet," but he is hopeful that it will entice people to experience
this "amazing achievement of humanity" for themselves.
truly excited about his plans for 2001. After settling into life as a happily
married man in sunny South Florida, he will set out to revolutionize the
nightclub experience by introducing innovative visual technology into his
DJ sets that will incorporate video projections and computer graphics. When
hes not traveling around the country, Ralph will concentrate on remix
projects and original productions in his new studio.
A lot has
happened to Dave Ralph during his 23 years in the music industry, but through
it all, he has remained true to himself and to his fans. "Im
still the same person that I was when I started out, but Im more aware
of my personal time now," he says. "I realize now that I cant
give everything; I have to keep a little bit for myself. Thats the
only real change that I see in myself. That, and Im a lot wiser now
[laughs]." It sounds like Ralph may have actually found the ideal balance
between work and play. This will no doubt help him continue to break down
barriers as he entertains and inspires countless people around the world
with his remarkable talents and love of music.
For more information and updates, please visit www.DaveRalph.com.