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‘It could physically crush you with its volume’: James Murphy and 2ManyDJs’ Despacio soundsystem hits London

By Time Out London Music

This weekend in Chalk Farm, three DJs will be doing their bit to ensure that clubbing never gets boring. Despacio, the immense labour-of-love sound rig designed and built by former LCD Soundsystem genius James Murphy and vinyl junkies 2ManyDJs, will be landing at the Roundhouse for three nights of unadulterated disco bliss.

Murphy and 2MDJs (brothers David and Stephen Dewaele) will put the soundsystem through its paces by blasting out floor-filling funk – it’s a simple but sublime formula that offers a unique clubbing experience, and one which royally blew the lid off Lovebox festival in July. Oh, and the Roundhouse will be decked out like a jungle in case there wasn’t enough fun on the cards already. We quizzed two of the beat-geeks to get the full story.

James Murphy

How powerful is the soundsystem?
‘It’s 80,000 watts for about 1,500 people. It’s enveloping, it’s warm, like a nice roaring fire. But we don’t throw anybody in. We do turn it up at moments, and I feel it pushes the fight-or-flight response a little, which is nice.’

Has David or Stephen ever played a curveball record which made you think ‘Erm, hang on...?’
‘For sure, that’s part of the fun. Sometimes you’re like ‘‘Dude, what are you doing, what are you doing?’’ I think sometimes we both might have a plan and then it gets thwarted by the other. I like that.’

Why the jungle theme for the Roundhouse?
‘Having a theme just seems like more fun. It’s not strict and you won’t only hear jungle-related sounds. It’s usually an opportunity to make some cheap and funny décor. We all like the weird experience of transforming spaces, it’s kind of a lost art these days.’

Will you drop any jungle tunes?
‘No, there won’t be a lot of drum ’n’ bass, though most of the songs will have drums and/or bass in them.’

What’s your favourite jungle animal?

Why monkeys?
‘Because they’re fucking cool, man! But don’t get me wrong, I like big cats as much as anybody.’

David Dewaele from 2ManyDJs


For anyone who’s never experienced it, what is Despacio?
‘It’s a night where James Murphy, my brother Steph and I play vinyl-only from open-to-close, on a bespoke DJ soundsystem. But that doesn’t explain how magical it is. It’s so far out of the realm of normal DJ culture that it makes no sense whatsoever.’

What makes the soundsystem special?
‘It’s the loudest disco soundsystem in existence. It could physically crush you with its volume, but we don’t use it that way. We just ensure we have an incredibly high quality sound. It’s all analogue and the amplifiers are built into seven speaker stacks around the room which makes a really beautiful Stonehenge of sound.’

Who’s got the bigger record collection?
‘Well there are two of us. So, obviously ours is bigger.’

Does James have a signature dance move?
‘Yeah, he shakes his head as if he’s drying his hair.’

Like a L’Oreal ad?

Are you ever tempted to head into the crowd and dance, and just leave the others to it?
‘We do it all the time! We did a Despacio show in Hammersmith a while back, and we just went into the crowd and handed out tangerines and pasties to everyone, because it was 2am and they were hungry.’

Can we expect similar crowd appearances at the Roundhouse?
’Perhaps. Maybe you’ll see us coming out of the jungle.’

Despacio is at the Roundhouse tonight and Saturday September 12. Read the full interviews with James Murphy and David Dewaele here.

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