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Carl Cox, Eric Clapton and me – the untold story of Sergio Vilas

First off, Señor Vilas, let’s find out a bit more about the artist behind the many musical aliases, including Kube 72 and D00sh.

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First off, Señor Vilas, let’s find out a bit more about the artist behind the many musical aliases, including Kube 72 and D00sh.

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Sergio Vilas AKA Ian Cheshire.

Tell us a surprising fact about yourself. Remember this is a family publication!

I used to put on dance shows for my family, when I was about 10 – I really got into watching Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows and wanted to be a dancer and go to the Pineapple School – it didn’t last long as I got into hip hop so started breakdancing instead.

If you could fly anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

I think I would fly to Iceland, I’ve never been and would love to go there one day.

Who would you most like to meet and why?

Either Elvis or Eric Clapton, but probably Eric Clapton as we have a lot in common, not just playing the guitar but many others things that have happened in his life. Plus he was a big influence on my guitar playing.

What is your first musical memory?

Wow, that’s a hard one considering my memory is not as good as it was for remembering things when I was young. However I know I was taken aback by Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ video on Top of the Pops, I was 6 at the time.

What music did you listen to growing up?

Absolutely everything, my mum was into the Stones, Barbara Streisand, Queen, Imagination, Elvis and all the fifties and sixties music, Elaine Paige. My dad liked Bread, The Beatles, Cream, Alison Moyet, Beach Boys, Randy Crawford, BB King, Fleetwood Mac. My brother had a big influence on me as well, he picked up loads of eighties music. I was about eight then and so hearing not only all the UK synth-based artists like Depeche Mode, New Order, etc. but also the artists from the US like Grandmaster Flash, etc.

Who is your all-time musical hero?

Eric Clapton. I have seen him about 20 times now. There is a deep connection for me with both my mum and dad and my guitar playing, but also I am awe with how much he has done for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The way he bounced back after the death of his son, that is truly inspiring to me.

10 Things We Learned From 'Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars' Doc ...
Eric Clapton. Relaxing.

Do you remember the first time you walked into a recording studio?

I do. I was 19 and was blown away by the mixing desk.

Who else was there in the session?

It was just me and the owner. I was cutting some tracks for a gig in Switzerland; this club wanted a blues guitarist. Sadly I didn’t get the gig but it was a great experience working in the studio and with a producer.

When you first started out, which artist did you aspire to?

That’s easy, Carl Cox, his three-deck mixing was just sublime and still is.

Your live CV is seriously impressive, with appearances at – reads from rather long list – Tresor (Berlin), Turnmills (London), Waegenburg (Hamburg), Club Grant (Poland), and a residency at Triebwerk (Dresden). Is it possible to pick out a couple of highlights from those shows? Difficult, I can well imagine.

Well Tresor was definitely a massive highlight, if you love your techno and you’re a DJ then there’s no better place to play. Also my time at Triebwerk, it was like my second home, I made many friends there and still speak to them – it was a crazy place, proper industrial set up and the crowd were just nuts. They would run parties from Friday all the way into Monday morning. Supporting artists like Dave Clarke, Joris Voorn, Claude Young were also incredible highlights but warming up for Carl Cox was the big one for me.

Were you still doing any residencies before the pandemic arrived?

I have a residency at The Hotbox in Chelmsford, playing under the Cosmology banner.

Have you retired your Kube 72 and D00sh alter-egos?

Yes, both have gone. Kube 72 was retired after I came out of rehab, I had to start fresh and it held too many memories that at the start of my recovery were just too much to deal with. D00sh had to go, it was a name that myself and the other half, Danny Oliver, came up with, but I took it from Stephen Mulhern as he used to say it a lot. It was fun name that I thought would amount to nothing, but we had loads of releases under it. <laughs>

Your career seems inextricably linked to the seemingly larger-than-life Carl Cox! What’s he like in person?

He is fantastic, really enthusiastic, very approachable and extremely kind.

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Sergio Vilas, Carl Cox, and Nick.

You have a huge-sounding new lp out now called Persistence on Dear Deer Records. It covers tracks that have been influenced by Detroit, Ibiza, and classical music. Please tell us a little more about what you had to persist at!

Well, this album took me about nine months to make, it was a real step away from my normal club techno sound. I had to persist with it as I was in and out of actually completing it, I thought people who liked my sound would just laugh at it; however, I first got into dance music by listening to John Digweed, Sasha, and Nick Warren and I was drawn back to these kind of sounds and so I just thought you know what let’s take the risk, it’s not for the people, make the album for yourself and so I did and that helped me a lot. I sent it to three labels at the start and Dear Deer came back and I was just blown away that they wanted it; they have artists like Robert Babicz on their books so I snapped up the contract. Each track tells its own story, the opening track is the same as the title of the album and although I have been making music for over 13 years I still get moments where I want to jack it all in, so ‘Persistence’ was a fitting title plus a lot of people have now described it as the perfect sunset track, a good opener if you are on at 9 pm in Ibiza. ‘Bewitched’ is the opposite, i.e. the sun coming up, I love that track, it’s probably one of the most commercial-sounding tracks I have recorded but I can’t ignore the chord changes in it and it makes me feel good, so I hope the listener also feels like that. The Weather All Take is a nod to Andrew Weatherall, I wanted to try and do something similar to his work with One Dove, I still listen to that album, it’s incredible.

[Ian didn’t know that Dot Allison, One Dove vocalist, also features in the first edition of Even Butterflies Make A Sound. Coincidence, hey?]

Did you go into the studio with tracks fully formed in your mind or did you develop the pieces in the studio with Chad Stegall?

I want the budding producers out there to know that all my music is made in my front room. I have a studio set up like most home producers and so I’ve crafted my sound by adapting to my surroundings and using very good headphones when the missus is watching EastEnders! So stepping into the studio is really easy for me and all the tracks I wrote before and then I got in touch with Chad and he listened to all the album and then he said ok let’s make ‘Persistence’ and ‘Bewitched’ a 9/10 (he rates everything like this). They were a 7 he said, I was really intrigued as I had not done a lot of collaborating like this before. He added the piano, moog, and other synth sounds and bass on top of the pads and drums I had. Lc3 is my son Luke, he produces himself and I could not get the bass on ‘Bewitched’ to fit and be as funky, so I thought let’s ask Luke, he came up with the bass rhythm and the piano arpeggio. I then got the structure down and worked with Chad to nail the finished sounds.

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Please tell us a bit more about Mr Stegall.

He’s an amazing pianist, producer, and friend. He and Mark EG signed one of my tracks on their USUK label and so I knew Chad and dealt with him a lot – it just made sense to tap him up and ask for his advice as I rated them both. I didn’t know he was going to work on the two tracks, but he just said ‘yes, let’s collaborate on these’. He also said to put in the stabs on ‘Enchantress’, after the break, he’s a great bloke and I have a lot of time for him. He said the only person he would get to master the album would be Mark and, boy, was he right, Mark did an awesome job.

You don’t tend to sit on an album for too long, so what are your medium-term musical plans?

No I don’t, I love making music, it’s my go-to chill out thing … but also a love–hate relationship. That’s ok though, I think for me it’s healthy not to love it all the time. I have issues with getting attached to things very easily. I have another album in the wings, so I reckon by the end of the year you may see another album and quite a few single releases, lots in the pipeline and I already have some of my newer tracks signed on some great labels. I also have a live show I am streaming at The Hotbox and I’ll be playing my album and a few unreleased tracks. That’s on the September 4 from 8 to 9pm GMT. Plus my fortnightly show on Studio 808 called Cosmology on Thursdays 6 to 8pm, so lots going on and some more collaborating as well.

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Sergio Vilas at The Hotbox in Chelmsford.

Is there any particular music you’d like to explore?

I discover so many artists on Bandcamp. My mate Dickie also sends me new bits of jazz or Brazilian music. I am getting into a lot more of the US-based rappers like XXXtentacion, Denzel Curry, and the UK’s Slow Thai, it’s so different but I find it intriguing.

Are there any female and/or BAME artists that we should look out for?

Jaguar, she’s a great DJ who is doing so much at pushing new artists on BBC Introducing Dance. She is also an active member of the LGBT+ community. She supported my Record Store Day release in 2018 on her show she had on Reprezent Radio in London. I think she is running a night called Utopia in London once we can get out clubbing again.

Your recording career has spanned nearly 15 years, after which recording did you think, and no need to be modest here, did you think ‘Yes, I’ve made it!’

Probably back in 2007 when I warmed up and met Carl Cox. I handed him my first CD with three tracks on them. He played at Monegros in Spain the day after and the first track he played was the first track off that CD. I didn’t not know until about four months later, I never thought of checking YouTube, I nearly fainted when I did. <laughs>

When not in the recording studio or playing out, how do you relax/what are your past-times?

I love rugby and still play touch rugby and would love to play contact again but I had to give it up the other year as I broke my shoulder, still I scored two tries, not bad for my age, lol. I also love nature and am also a budding astrologist and love having a fire in the garden and getting the scope out.

Sergio Vilas, thank you very much for your time. Best of luck with the LP and stay safe.

Thanks for asking me, take care and hope to see you soon.

Sergio can be found largeing it up at: https://www.facebook.com/sergi0vilas The Persistence lp (Dear Deer) is available at beatport: https://www.beatport.com/release/persistence-lp/3035109 (other online retailers exist).

To win a FREE download of the album, please email EBMAS with the answer to this question: Where was legendary DJ Carl Cox born?

The editor’s decision is final and no chat will be entered into about it! 

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