The Riverside Festival sees electronic music pioneer Carl Cox renew his relationship with a Scottish crowd. The musical affection between superstar DJ and a Glasgow audience stretches back over thirty years.

Back on stage after two years of revisiting the origins of his career, you will see a different version of this revitalised proponent of house music. He brings me up to date with emphatic, unassuming enthusiasm.

Carl started the year with a string of US dates that had been postponed since the start of the pandemic. “You can imagine, if you were 18 years old and you want to go to your first event, missing out on growing up within this music to then come out and then get kapowed by us lot bringing all the new tracks. It’s just incredible.” Carl is sitting in a studio in Australia where he performed 52 live shows broadcast through lockdown.

“I wanted to show people my history of becoming a DJ, break out the vinyl collection. Some people were surprised that I even played records, everything is done from a computer or CD decks these days”.

Scottish audiences will remember Carl operating three turntables at the same time in the early 1990s.

“I had to roll my sleeves up and show people where I came from. It was like a soundboard of my music. I was consumed by doing these shows”. 

All this time in the studio led to him returning to making his own tracks . “I said to myself in 2010, I would never do another album because that was my third album that I put out through my own record label at the time. I just found the way people listen to music is quite throwaway. 

“So you could do as many records as you like, but most people only like one or two of them and then go, "Well, that's it."

You put your heart and soul into your studio for six months and every record is crafted in such a way that you're wearing your heart on your sleeve and everyone goes, "Yeah, next." You know? Unless it’s really popular, it’s on the radio and they can TikTok to your music, a lot of it falls on deaf ears.”


Live jams, using machines from the studio to build a new sound in front of an audience, is now the latest version of a live Carl Cox performance: “I’m not sure if I could DJ again because I’ve got this zest of energy to perfom this music. I think it’s necessary to introduce it to the Glaswegian crowd.”

In terms of his relationship with Scotland, Carl thinks he was always destined to play here and make that connection. “I started visiting Scotland to play bouncy techno which had great energy to it. The Scottish crowds always gave me the best appreciation.

“They always kept me coming back for more. I played Edinburgh at the Royal Highland Centre. I played the Barrowlands in 1992. When I broadcast my rave set during lockdown, the amount of people who want me to copy what I played at Barrowlands because of what it meant to them, the requests where astronomical. I tried to play parts of it and find the vinyl.” 

I suggest it seemed at one point in time like The Arches in Glasgow was becoming Carl’s home crowd. “That place was always just incredible to play at. The louder they shouted it, the harder I would play. I’d arrive, see the crowd, I'd get out the car and everyone's screaming and shouting because they can't wait for me to get on. I'd be backstage then, you'd just feel the energy, and I step out and the heat would just rise in the room. I will always love Scotland for what it gives back when I play.”

Carl Cox headlines Riverside Festival on Friday 3 June. Speed Trials on Acid, a collaboration with Fatboy Slim, is a single from his 17-track LP Electronic Generations which will be released on September 16 this year via BMG. His autobiography, Oh Yes Oh Yes, was published last year.