By Eric Mackinnon
A musical ambassador, a genre innovator and a veteran of dance, trance and techno music.
DJ Lange has carved a repuation. and a legacy of playing music, creating and breaking new tunes and seeing the world - all the while becoming a regular in Stornoway for an annual set having fallen in love with Lewis life.
From playing to thousands in Ibiza, to the tranquility of a beach set on an island in the Philipines, or from a frenzied appearance on BBC’s Top of the Pops to headlining dance festivals across the globe, DJ Lange had done more than most in the industry - including packing out Stornoway’s The Clachan Bar so much people could literally barely move inside to pub for what he recalls was a ‘manic gig.’
“Playing in Stornoway is not the normal dance music circuit,” admits Lange with a warm smile as he chats to the Gazette following his most recent visit this month.
“I would say I continue to visit now, 15-years on from my first trip, because I fell in love with the place. That and also what draws me back is friends like Paul (Matheson) and his partner Kirsteen. The gig is obviously hugely fun too.”
Well known in the island musical industry, and beyond, are George and Paul who this year celebrat the 30th anniversary of their musical partnership. It was the pair, who began with the famous Outlaw Disco in the early days, which branched out into dance music and lured Lange north to the isles.
Reflecting on the initial invitation to take his turntables across the Minch, Lange said: “The first time I ever came up to Lewis was in 2000 and I had a request to do an interview for Dancevibe on Isles FM.
“I spoke to Paul and he explained about the scene here and the island but he also sent me a bottle of whisky down in the mail too as a wee incentive to come up.
“And a video of the island too as I had explained I really enjoy interesting landscapes.
“He invited me up to play the old Twilights club which was realy fun and I’ve never stopped visiting now.”
Since penning his first recording contract in 1997 - Lange has exploded into the mainstream, becoming a bonafide global draw in dance circles. And Paul is under no illusions as to the drawing power of the man he now considers a dear friend.
“Lange has been great and has been coming up supporting us since 2000,” said Paul. “Pretty much every year bar one we missed since then. It’s a great buzz for the local scene to have a guy like him here.
“Lange puts on a show comparabel to anything on the mainaldn and to have a global name being willing to travel here to Lewis for a gig every year and bring that superclub sound to our doorstep is brilliant. He’s a great night out and with him we have definitley got something right.”
Seeing Lange and Paul chat in the latter’s Lewis home it is easy to see the friendship and the bond which has been built up between them. Lange smiles as he reveals his island pal takes on the role of driver during his trips north to show him the sights of both Lewis and Harris where he has become besotted with our unspoiled beaches.
“I’ve been all over the islands in my trips up and I’ve always said that even if there is no opportunity ti play a gig then I’ll still try and sneak a trip up as I love it so much,” he insists.
“Playing a gig here in Stornoway is one of the more remote shows I play but I have also played sets in places like Borocay Island in the Philipines.”
The conversation turns back to last weekend’s set - coinciding with the 30th birthday of our own George and Paul as local music pioneers.
“Crikey,” he grins as he casts a glance towards Paul. “30 years is a long time indeed. They have been keeping this going since the early days when Paul had a cool mullet. Those guys have been oushing on the island to provide people with great live entertainment for such a long time.
“He has taken it to a new level with his new tent too he has brought in for Stramash.”
Playing across countries, and continents, must require a different approach musically but Lange says dance music fans share a lot of similarities while conceding there are often differences too.
“You have to tailor sets for everywhere you go,” continued Lange. “It wouldn’t work to play here what I play in China for example. There is always abit of tailoring as you get to know what works. In China you have to play a little more well known stuff s there isn’t a kind of purist trance following. The clubs are more commerical so you need to play hints of things people may know and cut back on the long breakdowns etc.
“Here I still play a lot of what i do everywhere else but as this trip was the celebration of 30-years of George and Paul I slipped in a few classics and remakes so there was a bit of an emphasis on the old stuff.”
While the club scene both locally and nationally and even internationlly has changed and evolved over the years, on home shores there remains the constant presence of the mega-popular George and Paul.
For three decades the likeable pair have organised and hosted live music events spanning years and genres in equal measure. But what is the secret to their longevity.
“Commitment,” reckons Paul.
“That’s what keeps us going. The island was a very different place when we started. The social scene was so lively with live music, discos and so much choice and varety with venues open from Wednesday through Saturday in many places.
“George and I began with mobile discos and we were always very busy. We were known as The Outlaw Disco and we did weddings and the likes. That changed down the line when we went one-track.
“We are both into all kinds of music like rock music and the Manchester movement -hence all the flowery shirts George used to have. We made a concious decisuon to move away from rock and into house music in the erly 90s and we progressed from there.”
After 30-years on the musical coal face of the island scene does Paul see a 40th anniversary?
He adds with a laugh: “We will carry on at the same pace and it will last as long as it lasts.”