Our gargantuan EDC Mexico festival hits Mexico City in a few days, and we’ve tapped UK phenom (and EDC Mexico 2019 DJ) Redlight to throw together an official mix to mark what promises to be another unforgettable adventure.
Redlight—real name Hugh Pescod—has been in the game for a long time, despite his boyish visage. Now based in London, Redlight was raised in Bristol, a British city that was brimming with deep, dark, and moody sounds in the 1990s when Pescod was getting off the ground, both as a DJ and a producer. Only, he didn’t go by Redlight then; he was known as DJ Clipz in his more feral days.
Bristol become a hotbed of post-rave sounds coming together, from the emergent and frenetic drum & bass scene to the birth of downtempo, ‘90s staple trip-hop. Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, and so on were bringing this dark, seductive, soulful lowtempo offshoot of breaks to the masses. Pescod gravitated toward jungle and drum & bass, as visionaries like Roni Size started to emerge out of the Bristol scene.
“I’ve always done music, since I was a kid,” he told Ask in 2016. “I was a DJ who used to play a few instruments, and eventually I ended up in production. I’ve been producing since I was young, but back then, the equipment wasn’t readily available—stuff like Ableton and Logic—so it was a different game, really. Now, you can make music very easily and cheaply, and anyone can do it, which is why there’s so much good music out there. I don’t think you ever lose that urge to make more music.”
Pescod was sort of always tinkering in music, and it was having a few influential DJs that really got him to start pursuing this as something more. As a child, he fondly remembers going to “lots of warehouse raves and jungle raves. DJ Randall [of Metalheadz fame] was one DJ that definitely shaped things for me the first time I saw him play,” he muses. “Also, I had a Sven Vath tape from Universe, which was sick.”
“Back then, for me, it was all about making music to go into a club with your bag of dubplates that you’ve cut somewhere and you want everyone to get down with.”
In the ‘90s, he started to play around with some hardware and software. “Atari and Cubase and DAT were my introduction to that world. I started in about ’95 and did a course at college. Then, I moved to London and worked with various labels and different people.” His work as DJ Clipz would be released on labels like Hyper Records, Militia Recordings, and Full Cycle Records.
Pescod’s education in Bristol has been foundational to his whole sound and approach to music. “When I was a kid, I used to work for Roni Size in Bristol, and used to DJ with Krust and Die and those guys, and went all ‘round the world, spending all my money on dubplates. Back then, for me, it was all about making music to go into a club with your bag of dubplates that you’ve cut somewhere and you want everyone to get down with. It’s a competitive thing, and I think that’s always stayed with me—that’s my teaching.”
As he moved into the ‘00s, he started to be commissioned for his fair share of remixes. “I’ve been remixing music since 2002, when I used to do jungle, and I’ve always found that people just want a bit of their chorus in the remix. That’s the key to being a remixer! But if you’ve built a big enough name up for yourself that they know, they’re going to shift a few copies and get it played on the radio, they’re always going to come to you, especially the majors. They need hits—specialist plays and club plays—and they need to go to people who can provide that and make their music hit in a different area. I don’t mean that cynically; it’s just business. I understand why they do it. For me, though, I’ll only pick vocals that I know I can do something with. I turn down more remixes than I accept. It’s like making music with samples: If the samples are bad, the song’s going to be bad. Same with choosing vocals for a remix. If you’re in a lucky position of being able to remix Mary J. Blige, Tink (hip-hop artist) and people like that, you know what you can do with those palettes.”
And he’s produced many remixes since then. But as was common for many in the scene, Pescod eventually lost the “magic” from drum & bass and decided to change both locations and sounds for a while. In 2009, he left Bristol and moved to London to pursue bass from a housier perspective.
It’s been in this last decade that he’s seen the most commercial appeal—big-charting singles like 2012’s “Get Out of My Head” and “Lost in Your Love.” He insists there was never “one big break.” “Some tunes have connected more than others on radio or in a commercial sense, but it’s not like all of a sudden you have a #1 dance album and you’re massive in Shanghai. It’s more like a gradual thing. Some years are better than others, but I think that’s just the nature of creativity. You have to have troughs to have peaks. It’s never been about, ‘how can I become a star’; it’s been about, ‘how you can make something that’s going to make people flip.’ For me, that’s the buzz.”
“Whoever works the hardest and keeps their eyes on the creativity gets the most out of it. I know lots of amazing, talented people, but talent isn’t enough in the creative world.”
In his several decades of working as a DJ/producer, he’s refined his craft and created a sense of discipline. In this mix, you can get a sense of anything-goes house style and a guy who certainly knows how to rock a party. But beneath the fun, there’s a serious attitude. “Now, it’s all about work ethic. Whoever works the hardest and keeps their eyes on the creativity gets the most out of it. I know lots of amazing, talented people, but talent isn’t enough in the creative world. You have to have energy to work harder than most, because you truly love to create and push it out into the world,” he explains.
Redlight recently dropped the new full-length ACTIVE with a huge roster of special guests, with the single “Sports Mode” on the horizon.
Even though Redlight has moved on from Bristol, you can’t take the Bristol out of the boy. “I haven’t lived [in Bristol] for nine years, but there’s always a need for people to move to the city because of the culture and relationship it has with music. So, they can get some of that magic sauce in their music. And tons of youngbucks who’ve grown up there—they’re the ones with the unique style.”
Redlight is playing at EDC Mexico 2019, which takes place Saturday, February 23, and Sunday, February 24, at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit the official website.
- Redlight EDC Mexico 2018 Mix Track List
Glowie “Body” (Redlight Remix)
AC Slater & Redlight “Ultra Hype”
Boeke “The Funky Track”
K Trap & LD “Edgeware Road”
Redlight ft. Dread MC “Crazy”
Asquith “The Conditioning Track”
Redlight ft. ETS “Missing”
Redlight ft. Abra Cadabra “Freaky”
Sly-One “Drum Party”
Chris Lorenzo vs. MAW “Drumstick”
Redlight ft. Sweetie Irie “Zum Zum”
Metro Boomin “No Complaints”
Sly-One “Flute Thing”
N.Y.T.A “24hr Party People”
Distinkt “Brands” (Redlight Rerub)
Hugo Massien “Ndima Ndapedza” (Edit)
Redlight ft. Asabe “Bags”
Anti Up “Hey Pablo”
Snow ft. Dread MC “Intensity”
Redlight ft. Asabe “So Nice”
Bala Bala Boyz “Bana Zamba”
Redlight “Get Wavey”
Redlight ft. Lisa Mercedez “Everyday”
Redlight “No Numbers”
Chris Lorenzo “Hallucinations”