Optimo is renowned for bringing an obscure sound to the forefront of the dance scene. With 20 years of DJing experience between them, the duo comprises of Scotsmen Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes, and it was evident from their 1997 inception that they weren’t your average DJ. Before the techno and before Optimo, both artists would play different styles which included electro, noisy rock, reggae, funk, jazz and more. Ahead of their imminent return, we were lucky enough to chat with Optimo’s Jonnie Wilkes.
Hello gents it’s a pleasure to have you! Australia has become a kind of a second home to you with ten visits in ten years – what’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Australia?
Thank you! Yeah, that flight’s a killer from Scotland but it’s worth it! Of course, it’s the sunshine that springs to mind first – coming with that is the opportunity to play parties outside, eat great food outside, swim and of course meet the wildlife – we love the Australian wildlife.
With your frequent visits to Aus, what can you tell us about the changes in the dance scene down under?
Australia has always been fertile ground for great music, all kinds of music. As far as dance music is concerned – the scene seems very healthy indeed. It’s good to see smaller and less commercial festivals doing well and sticking to their guns, booking interesting line-ups.
For those that know you well, they’ll know you ran one of the most famous club nights in history: Optimo (Espacio), an event you now take all over the world. Have you put any thought into bringing it to Australia?
The party was EVERY week for over 12 years and it’s important to remember that it was very much about the people who supported and attended so faithfully week in and week out. They made the Optimo (Espacio) party what was. It’s wonderful to experience that “one-ness” with your crowd and when it happens out on tour, often very far from home – it’s the most rewarding feeling you can imagine. So yeah, that’s the level of connection we always aspire to make when we come to play.
With your background and experience, what do you feel like makes a perfect event?
As I said before – connecting closely with the crowd is what any artist strives for. This is made even more possible with great quality sound and that’s something we insist on. The technical stuff is important, everybody benefits from good sound and production but also good value and good facilities for the paying customers is essential in our eyes. We’re looking for properly balanced, exciting and adventurous line-ups that come from the heart with a genuine love of music and we want to work with open-minded promoters who actually get us.
Finally, you’ve both got quite an extensive record collection, what are some modern bands or artists that you’re really enjoying?
The Golden Filter