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The Cult of DJ Harvey

He's the most name-dropped DJ around, seemingly a byword for everything that remains cool and authentic in dance music

  • Tim Sheridan
  • 21 April 2016
« Read this article from the beginning

If anything, the hysteria surrounding Harvey says more about the importance of a quality crowd than any sub-messianic DJ bollocks. There is a VERY large element of hype. Hype in the purest sense that everyone is so buzzed up they construct the vibe and fan it to fever pitch. You can slot anything good into that vibe and it becomes much bigger, 'great' even. It's always been more about the crowd than the DJ. And quite right too.

The hype of a Harvey gig is the opposite of the the stand-still-and-watch-and-film-it-on-your-phone crowd. The hype demands involvement. The atmosphere is always fizzing with electricity at all the Harvey gigs I have attended. This has always been the essence of house since it started as disco: the party is the star. DJ and crowd are just elements of a whole. It's unfair to hang criticism or indeed the credit entirely on Harvey's shoulders for the success of his renaissance. Our most esteemed and professional party people have adopted him, and they have elevated him up to his plinth of plenty.

And he has absolutely risen to the demand of the hype which lets face it is pretty rare. It is very easy to go to see a big EDM star and be disappointed. I don't know any who say that of Harvey. I'm saying this as a well known grim-faced Victorian northern sourpuss, so understand all this comes grudgingly from the heart, like being force-milked by some dastardly chrome fingered sucker machine.

Fans do say he has the ability to make some very crazy records work that many others would just not pull off. I say he doesn't really 'make things work' the crowd allow him to. There is a distinction. You take the same set, literally the same, and get someone else to play it and it might well fall completely flat. I've always said that about the sets I've heard from Larry Levan. Anyone else who did those things would be bottled off. A DJ needs a certain amount of chutzpah and bags of charisma to reach that level, but in the end, the crowd let it happen. Frankly they should do it more often.

Ultimately not many DJs actually have 'DJ' in front of their names as a formal title and it actually be justified. So look past the hype, the queues, and the house music arrivistes appropriating him to prove their credentials (Rolling Stone recently named him #10 in their toe-curling '25 DJs who rule the Earth'). DJ Harvey is definitely one who has earned it.

DJ Harvey plays Ministry of Sound this Saturday

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