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Rowan Blades


Artist Biography

Monikers: Breeder, Rowdent, Sirenize
Genre: Prog and the coolest twisted electronic sounds


Not actually sure which bit is more tedious – reading DJ biographies or the punishing task of writing them (often with a gun nuzzled to your brow, lest you get big ideas and say what you really think). Typically, these screeds of verbiage are characterised by a great tangle of sycophantic waffle and the kind of desperate self-promotion traditionally reserved for hookers, politicians and other soldiers of ill repute.

But Rowan Blades – who this particular screed is about – is not like the others. He doesn’t subscribe to the idea that DJs are avatars, the cult of the superstar DJ utterly repulses him.

Having been half-blinded by the avarice of fame and notoriety during those glory days as one half of Breeder, Rowan experienced the fickle, all-consuming nature that had come to epitomise dance music in the late 90s. When Breeder split in 2001 (or rather, when Breeder was put on ice – Rowan isn’t altogether ruling out a comeback), Rowan took time out to reflect.

This is the bit in the movies where a montage (complete with epic power ballad) would capture Rowan in a Rocky-style struggle to overcome his demons and find spiritual awakening – no doubt involving crack dens and brass houses, that sort of thing.

Of course, that is the slightly embroidered Hollywood version of events. What really happened was an unremarkable but ultimately life-changing DJ gig in Prague, where according to local legend, Rowan discovered that the more time and effort you put into DJing, the more rewarding it would become. Or rather, don’t be one of those ‘big name’ DJs who trade exclusively on their own manufactured hype with little or no regard for artistic endeavour.
This is the mantra by which Rowan Blades now abides – the preparation for a gig, he says, is just as important as the gig itself. This means hours trawling websites looking for obscure tracks that other DJs might have overlooked or simply didn’t have the inclination or patience to find in the first place. It is an exhaustive method, but one that proves his relentless passion for the job.

In 2005 Rowan resolved he was tired of the UK and the associated bullshit one must countenance in order to succeed there – not to mention the inexorable monopoly those ‘big name’ DJs have earned by way of media subterfuge. Thus he packed his record box and jumped on the next available flight to Australia.

Here Rowan based himself in Sydney and soon bagged a residency with Chinese Laundry Club. Given the scant volume of gigs Down Under and the relative solitude imposed by expatriate life, Rowan was able to quietly contemplate his DJing career and what he wanted out of life (cue Lotus position and Zen-like humming). He realised that he was happy with just a handful of select gigs a month rather than being whored out ad nauseam by some big faceless agency every night of the week. Yet despite this welcome repose, Rowan feared the lack of work in Australia would leave him ostracised – a forgotten talent, left (in his own plaintive words) to grow a long grey beard and sit cross-legged in the sand. So he moved on.

The life of any international DJ is nomadic by default – an itinerant whirl of hotels, airports and expensive restaurants. Yet now with the rise of the so-called digital revolution, the geographical hovel an ‘international DJ’ calls home is of little relevance beyond convenience – as long as there is a decent international airport nearby, the world is their mollusc.

Ergo Rowan has swapped Sydney for Buenos Aires; the capital of the South American club scene and a perfect base camp from which Rowan can explore the region he admires most – both culturally and in terms of playing records. He says it’s because of the Latin party spirit, the enthusiasm and above all, the infectious vibe – something he can reciprocate in spades. You see, Rowan is a raver at heart. He’s not motivated by the carrot of vast riches or material gain, he just loves what he does. It might be a cliché and a little bit New Age, but for Rowan (an unassuming borderline tofu head) the ultimate reward is seeing other people happy – and not in the smug and conceited ‘I made them happy’ sense, but because: “happy people send out positive energy, which is very contagious”. Told you – tofu head.

Another reason for Tofu Rowan eloping to South America is his residency with Warung. Raised high on wooden stilts – one side overlooking the beach, the other side overlooking the jungle – Warung is an empyrean paradise tucked away in the idyllic folds of Praia Brava, a desolate stretch of beach near the resort of Itajai in the south of Brazil.
It is a magical place, most notably in the first pious refractions of dawn. For when the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, it does so in perfect alignment with the dancefloor. It is the kind of club dreams are made of – and a club where the world’s top DJs are quite literally begging to play. Which speaks high volumes of the confidence Gustavo Conti and the team at Warung have in Rowan to make him their first non-Brazilian resident and international ambassador for the club. Indeed. It’s a tough gig Bucko, but somebody has to do it.

And there we go. Not quite so tedious an exercise after all. Rowan Blades – a pretty damn good DJ by all accounts, even for a tofu head. (Terms and conditions apply. Batteries included.)

Ben Edwards, DJ Magazine (www.djmag.com)

Read more: www.myspace.com/rowanblades#ixzz10qW1yN6y

There's a great interview here, giving you an insight into the artists thoughts: www.definitive-culture.co.za/posts/view/interview-rowan-blades