Tour Dates Friday 1st March: Sugar, Adelaide Saturday 2nd March: Animals Dancing, Melbourne Friday 8th March: Pitch Music and Arts, Victoria Saturday 9th March: Paradise Club, Sydney Saturday 9th March: Catacombs, Auckland NZ
Twitch and Wilkes of Optimo have nearly 60 years of DJ experience between them, an accomplishment which becomes apparent when witnessing them in action. Developing their style amidst a chaotic Eastern Belfast background in the 80s, venues such as Sub-Club and their very own club Pure, acted as the vehicles for the pair to express their DJ style freely, and in turn become synonymous with the heavy tech-electronic sound that Glasgow is known for.
Since then, their creative ventures such as the Optimo event has become one of the biggest event nights in the UK, and their labels Optimo Records and Optimo Trax have been coined as some of the most influential dance record labels within the industry. Having played headline sets at festivals AVA, Dekmantel, and DGTL, Optimo get ready to return to Australia over 5 headline shows.
Optimo is DJ duo Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes, whose legendary Optimo night in Glasgow (and around the world) mixes up techno, electro, rock and other assorted records out of left field.
Optimo started in 1997, though Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes had each been DJing separately for ten years. Both had started out playing different music – Twitch – electro, noisy rock and the eighties New York punk-funk of Liquid Liquid (from who they borrowed their name) and Wilkes reggae, funk and jazz. Then techno came along and Twitch co-founded Scotland’s first techno club, Pure, which ran for ten years, became legendary, was the first club in Europe to book Jeff Mills, Green Velvet and Richie Hawtin. The club also spawned three labels which released music from others Coil, Chris and Cosey, Jimi Tenor and Orlando Voorn.
In 1997 they founded the club night Optimo as a reaction to 4/4 techno all night long. Anything goes was the philosophy and the club night proved to be a hit. “I didn’t care whether it would work or not, or whether anyone would go, it was just something I had to do,” says Twitch. “I love DJing with all my heart but at this point, I was so bored with seamless mixing – it was all just too obvious, too predictable and too easy – that I had to do something to preserve my (in)sanity.”
Don’t expect easy club hits at a night at Optimo, depending on the duo’s mood, the sound will veer from sleazy funk to post-punk, electro, 50’s swing and anything in-between. According to their bio, “Serious DJs would come and watch in horror while several times, seasoned trainspotters would come up to Twitch and tell him ‘You’ve lost the plot’ or ‘You can’t play this in the Sub Club – it’s sacrilege!’ or ‘But… you started Pure, how can you do this?’. People would get really angry about it which of course only fuelled the flames!”
These days Optimo is taking the sound to the world with dates across Europe, America and Japan. And while Twitch and Wilkes remain the residents, each week Glasgow is treated to Optimo guests, who have included the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Atom Heart, Luciano, Four Tet and Justus Kohncke.
Optimo are renowned for bringing an obscure sound to the forefront of the dance scene. With 20 years of DJing experience between them, the duo comprise 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.
One of Optimo’s greatest achievements is establishing the club night Optimo (Espacio) which was based in Glasgow. The night reigned for over a decade and had an anything goes policy which proved to be a huge success. Optimo (Espacio) featured artists such as LCD Soundsystem, Atom Heart, Green Velvet, Luciano, Four Tet, Justus Kohncke. and even bands like Franz Ferdinand evolved from the Optimo dancefloor.
Individually both members have highly active careers too, JG Wilkes records and remixes as Naum Gabo with his friend James Savage, and JD Twitch does so under his own name, and combined they have remixed some of the world’s most credible acts including Seun Kuti, Franz Ferdinand, Factory Floor, Django Django, Neon Indian, Florence & The Machine, Manic Street Preachers, Blondes, The Hundred In The Hands Ford & Lopatin, Hot Chip, Psychonauts, Simian Mobile Disco and Snow Patrol.
Optimo are the duo JD Twitch and JG Wilkes. They each have over 20 years DJ-ing experience and in the last decade have become both renowned and highly respected for their memorable and ecstatic deejay sets. Twitch and Wilkes exhibit a unique disregard for genres and musical restrictions in their craft, creating a nightclub experience that strikes out into territories far beyond the accepted boundaries of club music.
The duo are responsible for the nightclub Optimo (Espacio) which ran from November 1997 until April 2010. Optimo sat at the very epicentre of the Scottish Clubbing consciousness in its weekly residency in the Sub Club and is widely regarded as one of the most important and ground-breaking clubs of the past 10 years (at one point earning them the prestigious title of Mixmag’s Club of the Year).
Optimo first came to international recognition with the release of How to Kill The Dj (part 2) in 2004. This mix, and the critical acclaim that followed, would catapult the duo onto the international gigging circuit. The next few years would see them travel across the world taking the Optimo party aesthetic to England, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Greece, Bratislava, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia, USA, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and Australia.
Subsequent mix releases illustrated their exceptional maverick determination, raising the benchmark for what is expected from a dj mix and what musical ingredients could be used to create it. These titles include – Psyche-Out (Eskimo Recordings), 20 Years Underground (Soma), Walkabout (Endless Flight), In Order To Edit (R&S), Sleepwalk (Domino Recordings) and culminated most recently with a tour-de-force mix for the Fabric Series with Fabric 52 – Optimo (Espacio).
The Fabric 52 compilation underlines Optimo’s reputation as taste-makers, achieved through their shared passion for clubbing and their encyclopedic knowledge of music. However it also illustrates their skill in assembling sounds from the past and present to create an experience that is definitively futuristic in spirit.
Following this high-point the Optimo team are moving ever forwards, restless for new challenges. Twitch mixed the corner-stone compilation from fellow local label Glasgow Underground for their ‘Underground Sound Of Glasgow’ release, showcasing the best in new electronic music sprouting from the incredibly fertile electronic musicscene of Optimo’s home town. The Optimo duo debuted on the famed Boiler Room mix series in Dec 2012 with a B2B set alongside innovative Germany techno artist Move D (also one half of Deep Space Network).
Further opportunities to hear the Optimo sound can be found on the highly respected RinseFM station where Optimo take to the internet radio waves on the second mondayof every month, between midnight and 2am, providing a topical and up to the minute glimpse into the head-messing Optimo universe. The final essential ingredient to the Optimo success is of course the people. Each Optimo set is different, teased out of the dynamics of a singular group of people – whither it be a tiny basement sweat-box, the main room of a super club or a thousand people in a field – and everything they do springs from the spirit of the crowd and the rhythm of the moment. It is the unique enthusiasm of each crowd, where ever they go, that gives them inspiration – and feeds the joy in what they do.
These are the reasons Optimo have become two of the UK’s busiest and best loved DJ’s. As Twitch and Wilkes say themselves, We Love Your Ears!