Exclusive Interview: CamelPhat discuss Hï Ibiza, upcoming album, and playing at Creamfields
You might have heard of their more recent music floating around the charts over the last couple of years, but CamelPhat have a musical history deeper and more extensive than that of so many current artists. Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala‘s (CamelPhat) relationship as producers and friends goes back way over 10 years, with tracks – including remixes for Avicii and Armin van Buuren – under the name of Whelan & Di Scala paving their way into the industry during their early days as a duo. Firing up the CamelPhat project around the early 2010’s with tracks like ‘Can You Dig It‘ and ‘Girl On Girl‘, it wasn’t until 2015 that things really got going for the duo. With ‘Paradigm‘ and ‘Siren Song‘ released on Axtone, and ‘Constellations‘ coming via Spinnin’ Deep, the Whelan & Di Scala project was set aside for CamelPhat to take centre stage. At this point, the music industry was just being introduced to what would turn into one of the biggest duos in the world.
2017 saw Whelan and Di Scala take things to a new level, with their Elderbrook collaboration ‘Cola‘ taking over iconic music hotspots like Ibiza, and seeing the CamelPhat name spread further than ever before. Chart success soon followed, with ‘Cola‘ topping the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, and even being nominated for a 2018 Grammy award for Best Dance Recording, whilst reaching Platinum status in the UK for sales. The release won ‘Track of the Season’ in the DJ Awards for 2017, and contributed alongside further strong releases to CamelPhat’s award for ‘Best House Artist’ in 2018. Follow up tracks such as ‘Panic Room‘ and ‘Breathe‘ saw continued success for the Liverpudlian duo, who now host a weekly residency at the infamous Hï Ibiza. Hosting the main room alongside Solardo, and with Fisher in the Club Room, the new CamelPhat residency has become the island’s biggest attraction, and is a testament to the skill and craft put into each and every track by Whelan and Di Scala that has led to their immense growth and success, something that is continuing week on week.
We Rave You caught up with CamelPhat during Creamfields, where they headlined a packed out Generator stage on Sunday night up against some tough competition, to find out more about what the future holds for the UK’s biggest duo.
First of all, welcome back to Creamfields lads. How does it feel to be home?
Mike: Good, I can go to my own bed tonight! We left home half an hour ago so it’s great to be here, it’s so much easier.
Obviously you’ve been here plenty of times before, and headlined all around the world, but is this one of the best slots for you as CamelPhat, headlining your home festival?
Dave: It’s the scariest, definitely tonight being up against the Swedes (Swedish House Mafia) and Tiësto too! But obviously we’re no different to a lot of the Liverpool crowd – we’ve been brought up on the Swedes – so if there’s anyone left hopefully they come down to see us in the Generator!
Mike: It’s a bit daunting and we aren’t really sure what to expect, but we’ll just close our eyes and hope for the best!
You’ve got a great spot tonight, but you’ve also moved up the billing in Ibiza… you’ve gone from supporting (Eric) Prydz to having your own night with Solardo; how did that come about? Was a case of it being passed over to you to take the reigns or was it a case of you saying ‘we want to do this’?
Mike: It was originally still offered to Eric (Prydz) to do, but I think he just wanted a rest from the whole European tour kind of thing, and he wanted to stay in LA with his family and stuff, so the next logical step, because we were on before Eric every week and Solardo were on in the second room, was a chance for us to do the Main Room together and for Fisher to come in on the Club Room.
Dave: Yeah, it’s a solid line up every week. Consistency is there at the event, people know what to expect, and people take for granted the locals on the island but they really matter. I know we get tourists every week but obviously you can’t beat the locals and the workers especially are on point, they know good music when they hear it. It’s just going from strength to strength each week!
You mentioned how Eric had cut down on his European tour this year, and it seems like you guys have massively picked up dates this year from all over the place. How has that been? Has there been much time off?
Mike: We haven’t had any to be fair have we, just none.
Dave: Yeah its been like this for two years now. Its just been relentless! It’s the first time we’ve actually looked ahead in the calendar and we’ve decided to take all of January and most of February off, and we’ve never ever done that since things booted off. We actually need to recharge and get away from social media, nightclubs, backstage areas, drinks and everything else.
Great idea, because even whilst you’ve been touring you’ve been firing tracks out every 3 or 4 weeks and still keeping busy in the studio.
Dave: We make tunes on the road, everything is in the laptop and then we take it home to finish off and master. Obviously we play tracks in the sets and learn from the track before we make tweaks. We’re lucky enough to be able to work like that.
You’ve released quite a few club tracks like the collaborations with (Alan) Fitzpatrick and Riva (Starr) recently, but you’ve also done a few of the more mellow, album-type tunes. You were down in the studio and working on the album earlier in the year: what’s the latest on the album release?
Mike: Erm, we’re just carrying on working. We’ve done about 25 tunes and we feel that we’ve got about 9 solid ones so we’re just gunna keep working and working.
Dave: Sony have signed us and expect 14 records… ‘Be Someone‘ is one of them so we need 13 more, and like Mike said we’ve got 9 that we think are capable of making an album that represents us. It was September that we were talking about initially but they actually wanna put it back to February just to work the singles more because ‘Be Someone‘ is still knocking around the charts and is A-List on BBC Radio 1, plus the next one is coming soon. That’s a Jem Cooke (vocalist on ‘Breathe‘) follow up that’s kind of in the ‘Cola‘ region – not in vocal but in rhythm – so it’ll be interesting to see what it does. There are tracks on there that are like 90bpm that show a different side of us as musicians and where we’ve come from rather than just pouring out what people expect.
Mike: The last thing we wanna do is put 14 tracks on there that are the same, and we want to surprise people if possible!
So you’ve collaborated with Jake Bugg, collaborated with Cristoph… what big names can we expect to see crop up in the future?
Mike: Erm, we’ve done one with ARTBAT that we keep playing in the sets, and they’re like melodic techno.
Dave: Everything about them we love, we’ve been onto them for years and the spotlight is on them at the moment so we’ve timed it perfectly and will probably play it tonight. There’s also Matthias Tanzmann, Green Velvet‘s waiting to do something now, Tom Demac…
Mike: … Miles Kane too. It’s all over the place but it’s good because that’s what our tastes are like.
Dave: We haven’t really got a set style so we’ll reach for everyone.
You’ve blown up massively since tracks like ‘Cola’ and ‘Panic Room’, but you also have some older tracks like ‘Paradigm’ on Axtone and some on Spinnin’ too, with a much deeper vibe. Is there any chance that you might revive that kind of sound in your upcoming tracks?
Dave: Totally yeah. One particular record we’ve done with Leo Stannard, who’s like, a really good vocalist, called ‘Blackbird‘ will probably be track one on the album and it sets a deeper tone. I’m itching to put it out there and I can’t. I’ve been listening to it now every day, but I’ve gotta wait until February to get it out, but it’s more of a personal thing rather than a radio record, and it’s at 90bpm so it’s nice… and I don’t like any of our stuff haha!
Mike: Haha same.
Away from your own stuff, and with the label you’re currently on, what is the situation there? Are you going to keep firing tracks out through them or start doing more of your own stuff, maybe some label nights or UK events?
Dave: Yeah, the plan is to have our own label at some point, sort of like a feeder label, so that we can build up our own tracks rather than just give them to the major labels to put out there. Ideally we want something that can work properly on the dance floor and have the right DJs playing it out, and eventually then we can pass things over to big labels like Sony, who we are signed for, and they can run off with it and do whatever. With the collabs we’re doing it’s important for us to still feature on the dance floor, so if it means going to the likes of Relief (Green Velvet’s label), Moon Harbour (Matthias Tanzman’s label), and Alan Fitzpatrick, then so be it because that’s where we’ve come from.
Mike: Yeah like the Riva Starr tracks we’ve just done are just banging tunes so it’s important to keep putting tracks like that out as DJs, because ultimately that is our passion, so we’ve got to find that balance but hopefully we can keep featuring on these cool dance labels that do so well across the world before we worry too much about our own label.
Make sure to stay up to date on all things CamelPhat on our dedicated news page, and head to their Spotify to check out all their latest tracks before the new release that drops very soon!