25 June 2024
  • 25 June 2024

Optimo (Espacio): JG Wilkes talks to Mill Magazine

on 14 December 2023 0

Along with JD Twitch, JG Wilkes forms half of the legendary electronic duo Optimo (Espacio). We spoke to him ahead of their gig at Paisley Town Hall in November 2023 about their longevity, playing alongside Bicep and their excitement about the shows…

The Paisley one is particularly interesting. Historically, it wasn’t a location for electronic music, so it’s an interesting context. Mark, one of the founding members behind Melting Pot, is a friend of mine. He books us for some of the bigger shows and did some smaller things together too.

He’s Paisley born and bred, lifelong St Mirren fan too. He was telling us one day that they were refurbing the town hall, pouring millions into it, so there’d maybe be an opportunity to do some music events in it.

Renfrewshire isn’t a place I know that well, but I’ve begun to spend a bit more time in it lately and discovered more about the region itself. I played at Club 69 a wee while ago and used to go there regularly in the 90s, so there’s history there. I saw some pretty amazing artists. So, we were like aye, Paisley’s intriguing.

We didn’t talk much more about it, but he eventually came back and said that the people at the council were really receptive to do something. Sometimes, things in these civic buildings can be a bit sterile, but the team behind the building seem really supportive of making this a special event, as well as making the sound excellent.” 

You’ve been longtime friends of Bicep, as well as noted influences on them. How did you get them involved in the show? 

Mark knew about our friendship with the Bicep guys, so we said ‘we’ll give Matt and Andy a shout’. We see them out on the road and we’re always talking about doing something. Last time we saw them was in Greece and they were playing live at the Olympic stadium.

Their schedule is insane, but we kept saying we’d do a DJ thing where we play together. They came back and said ‘aye that’s great’, I think they were quite intrigued that it was somewhere other than Glasgow. 

They’re younger than us, so I think during their formative years of experiencing electronic music, it was our parties they’d come to. I guess that’s just a generational thing. They’re really special artists in their own way and it’s impressive to see how they’ve navigated the scene. Their blog [Feel My Bicep] showed their passion because you couldn’t run something of that depth without that.

I have to hand it to them as I think they do it for the love of music. I’m happy that we’ve managed to influence them, whether that was musically or with the DIY spirit we work with that lets us take risks. Either way, they seemed to create something way more popular than what we do (laughs). It couldn’t happen to two nicer people. 

Optimo (Espacio)

Photo by Andrew Cawley

How does it feel to be the first DJ’s to play this brand new venue? 

We’d talked about doing something in Paisley, in terms of whether there were risks about people wanting to travel there, how they’d get back and all this but I think people are really excited about getting out to Paisley and partying somewhere else for a change! Plus, they’re excited about the idea of Bicep and Optimo coming together, as are we. 

I was out in the town hall yesterday and they had a new soundsystem that we were listening to. The spec of the venue is really high. They’ve not f****d about here at all, it’s proper. I just thought that people were going to be really impressed. Obviously the level and detail and finishing is amazing, but people are going to experience really great production there too. It’s really going to leave its mark in that way so aye, I think it’s going to be a good one. 

Now that you’re approaching the 26th anniversary of Optimo (Espacio) on the 30th November, how does it feel to still be so prominent in electronic music after all this time? 

For us to have the longevity to still be able to play all over the world, in pretty unusual locations sometimes, is something I feel very fortunate for. We’ve managed to remain relevant, I hope (laughs). 

Quickfire Q&A with JG Wilkes

Favourite track at the moment (in October 2023)? Charlotte Bendiks – Steikesexual (Optimo Music)

Album of the year? V/Z, Valentina Magaletti and Zongamin – Suono Assente (AD93)

Favourite Sunday morning track? Alice Coltrane – Rama Rama

Optimo (Espacio) played Paisley Town Hall on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th November 2023. Keep an eye on upcoming gigs by following them on Facebook.

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