Super-club XXL serves up some of the biggest dance, electronic and club hits of recent times, and now promoter and owner Mark Ames and resident DJ Paul Morrell have memorialised their favourites in an album of two halves. Here Paul explains more.
Hi Paul, tell us about your involvement in the XXL album.
I have been a DJ and producer for almost 20 years now and in that time have worked with various great labels. A label that I have a particularly good relationship with is Newstate, which are responsible for the release of some of the biggest compilations on the market today for super clubs including Pacha, Godskitchen and Cream. I happened to tell the head of A&R at the label last year that I was the new weekly resident at XXL. The guys at Newstate were particularly interested in pursuing the idea of releasing a compilation targeted at a gay audience, and as XXL is currently the biggest UK gay club supporting dance music, it seemed a great idea. So I spoke with the owners of XXL who immediately took to the idea and we got the ball rolling.
The concept of the album was to produce a ‘two mix’ compilation. The first mix, by XXL owner Mark Ames, focusses on XXL classics, from early electronic gems such as New Order’s Blue Monday and the Paul Oakenfold remix of U2’s Lemon, through to more contemporary classics including Kiesza’s Hideaway and Faithless’ Insomnia.
I then produced the second mix, which is a more contemporary club set. Because I play a variety of sounds at the club, the mix progresses from house through to full-on big-room EDM. I have chosen a selection of tracks that I feel best represent the diversity of sounds that I am currently supporting at XXL; European artists such as Tiesto, Hardwell, Don Diablo, Afrojack and Sander Van Doorn all feature.
Was it easy to organise?
The process of organising an album is actually rather tricky. We were asked by the label to submit our ‘dream track list’, and both Mark and I wanted to represent the club in its truest possible form. However, unfortunately, several of the tracks that we felt should feature on the album were just not possible. Artists such as Whitney Houston and Madonna were impossible to gain clearance from, as they simply do not usually allow their work to appear on compilations. We felt that these artists would have been an asset to the XXL Album as they are gay icons and important in XXL’s history. We discussed the fact that the album should have a strong ‘gay theme’ as well being dancefloor credible, and fortunately we have also managed to incorporate divas such as Kylie, Boy George and Alexis Jordan on both mixes. The team at Newstate, Mark and I are extremely pleased with the outcome, and feel that the album will give clubbers a piece of XXL to take home with them.
Why do you think this is the right time for an XXL album?
In today’s contemporary media based society, everything is accessible at the touch of a button on your iPhone. It seems silly that a brand such XXL hasn’t had an album until now, and therefore bringing this element on board will help everyone gain a taste of the XXL sound. The club pulls in a phenomenal amount of dance music loving guys on a weekly basis, so the support for the club is absolutely huge. We are hoping that this will allow our regulars to listen to the sounds of the club whilst at home, but also give new guys a taste of what to expect if they are planning to visit the club for the first time. This album makes the XXL sound available to everyone.
How did you go about deciding what to put on your mix?
The majority of the tracks on my mix are all from my sets at XXL, from the house cuts at the beginning through to the more EDM and future house sounds at the end. It was difficult to select an appropriate track listing as I am one of two Saturday night residents – the other being my good friend, Alex Logan – so I tried to incorporate a little bit of his tribal sound as well.
Out of the 20 tracks, which would you say are the biggest on a Saturday at XXL?
Virtually all the tracks on the album is an XXL floorfiller, but if I had to name some of the biggest, I still believe Insomnia by Faithless is one of the best pieces of dance music ever written. I now play the Avicii remix regularly, however the original version opens Mark Ames’ mix. Another ‘gay’ classic on my mix is the DADA remix of Kylie’s Timebomb. I regularly play this on Saturdays at XXL London, and Fridays at XXL Birmingham, and the reaction is always huge. Due to the genre I play, this is one of the few Kylie tracks I do support (as well as David Guetta’s mix of Wow), and it always has a massive reaction. The more current anthems such as Oliver Heldens’ Flamingo, and Sander Van Doorn’s WTF are also massive.
Finally, how can people get hold of the album?
The album is available for download and streaming at the end of May from all major online stores such as Spotify, iTunes and Beatport.