A musical ambassador since he was in short trousers, a professional DJ since his early teens, a veteran of acid house and a champion of techno, Carl Cox emits a love of his work that is dangerously infectious. Check him when he's behind the turntables and you can't mistake his ecstatic visage, dripping with sweat as his head bobs up and down to the beat, his hands pumping the air whenever they're not manipulating the turntables, his body swaying back and forth, frequently taking to the mike to share word on the latest underground tune he's about to break. You name it, Carl's been there and done it, but he's never lost sight of the point of it: playing music, breaking tunes, spreading love, celebrating life.
In 1977, aged 15, Carl got a set of turntables and began working as a mobile DJ. Disco was the first music that captivated him but by the early 80s Cox had moved on to playing the same music as other young London DJs - rare groove, New York hip-hop and electro. He was perfectly placed to hear Chicago house music in its earliest forms, and when the epic 'Acid Trax' by Phuture (a.k.a. DJ Pierre) came out in early '87, "I was just 'This is it.' I would do my parties, and I'd play old rare groove and hip hop and soul and I would say 'Right you've got to hear this Phuture track and people would just stop. It's funny because all the people who thought I had freaked out then are the people who are making the music now."
As a founder of the sound, Carl rode the exploding British rave scene. He played the opening night of Danny Rampling's legendary Shoom, co-promoted The Project with Paul Oakenfold, held a residency at the Zap Club in Brighton and at the Sunrise rave in 1988, hooked up a third turntable for his dawn-breaking set, got 15,000 kids back on their feet, and established a personal rep for three-deck wizardry.
The next step was to make music, and Carl's 1991 debut single for Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto label, 'I Want You,' gave him a top 30 hit and a Top of the Pops appearance. Two more singles also made the charts. But Carl was a reluctant pop star and as the masses moved onto fluffy house and trance, and the hardcore created jungle, Cox retreated into the club world that had nurtured him and instead embraced the underground sounds of techno. "Techno drives home somewhere," he says of his core music. "It takes you to an element of surprise, not knowing where you're going. It's scary but wonderful at the same time."
Carl’s classic releases include his 1995 mix CD, 'F.A.C.T.', which became a techno benchmark, selling over 250,000 copies and Carl’s 1996 EP 'Two Paintings and a Drum' again broke the British top 30. Alongside Carl’s ‘Ultimate Music Management’ company, which counted Josh Wink and Laurent Garnier among 27 clients, there was the Ultimatum record label, for which Cox recorded his third top 30 UK single 'Sensual Sophis-ti-cat.' In 2005, Carl’s third album, ‘The Second Sign’ caused a stir across Europe and reached number 3 in Spain’s national chart. Also gaining critical acclaim was speaker freaker ‘Dirty Bass’ a collaboration with Christian Smith and the funky ‘Give Me your love’, both released on 23rd Century Records, an outlet for his own burgeoning production output.
After forming Intec Records in 1999, the label went on to score a series of underground hits and celebrated its 50th release in 2006 with two Carl Cox productions on the label - ‘Spoon’ and ‘K’Pasa,’ the former a tribute to Carl’s friend Mark Spoon (of Jam and Spoon fame) who sadly passed away.
In 2008, Carl returned to Ibiza’s Space for the seventh year in a row, with a line up stronger than ever. Hands-on as usual, Carl welcomed a whole bunch of iconic mates including Francois Kevorkian, Laurent Garnier & Fatboy Slim. In keeping with the Carl Cox & Friends concept that has travelled the world, the line-up included talent spanning many genres of electronic music, from drum and bass pioneers Roni Size and DJ Marky, breaks heads Evil Nine and Adam Freeland, house/breaks maestro Bushwacka! and Freemasons, to Locodice and James Lavelle. In 2006 Carls Space night won ‘Best Ibiza Club Night’ at the Ibiza DJ awards which really shows how far the night has come since it was started and how people have taken to the diverse line-ups Carl has created. Each year the night gets stronger. In a year when some clubs on the island have suffered the ‘credit crunch’ and resorted to giving away free tickets, Carl retained his night with good numbers, amazing parties and amazing guest DJs.
2008 has been another phenomenally busy year for Carl, taking in venues across the USA, South America, Europe, the Far East, as well as a massive tour of Carls’ current reside Australia, which included the Big Day Out Festivals. He also hit Miami for the Winter Music Conference hosting his Carl Cox & Friends arena for the 4th year running, played various exclusive F1 parties across the world for sponsors Red Bull, played at the much talked about Burning Man festival in Nevada as well as claiming the SW4 crown once again, with his performance at the Clapham Common festival in London.
Carl also returned home this year for his first UK club dates in three years, bringing a diverse Carl Cox and Friends line-up to London’s legendary Heaven nightclub, with another date at Brighton’s Brighton Centre and further events in the north of England. The nights were a huge sell-out success with Carl joined by a stellar cast, hand-picked by the man himself, including Loco Dice, Green Velvet, Klaxons, Fedde le Grand, Pendulum, breaks don Rennie Pilgrem, protégé Jon Rundell and one third of X-Press 2, Ashley Beedle. Coxy, as with all of the Cox & Friends and Space events he puts on, ensured that ticket prices were kept at the lowest possible price, with the aim of creating the best possible vibe on the night.
Two other highlights this year prove that Carl Cox is still resolutely at the top of his game: first was the invitation in September to play at one of the most anticipated club launches in years, London’s newest superclub, Matter, a state-of-the-art, 2,600 capacity venue and one of the world’s most technologically-advanced clubs. And secondly, Carl was voted best DJ of the last 25 years by Mixmag readers, an accolade that Carl appreciates fully: “It is a big honour to be considered the No.1 DJ after such a long time. I am very happy that people still enjoy my music. Music is my life and I have worked hard to try and share that.”
Carl’s ‘Global’ radio show has now reached over 4 million listeners and is broadcast across 24 countries worldwide, making him one of the most important broadcasters on the planet. Look out soon for the forthcoming DVD, which is an insight into Coxy’s life, following him on his travels around the world, with interviews from friends, family and industry figures along the way. The DVD will feature a full set recorded live from his sell out gig at Matter in London and promises to be an absolute must for all dance music fans. Also look out for Carl’s highly anticipated third artist album and further mix compilations. There are no signs of slowing down for Mr Cox!