in 1997, two Glasgow-based DJs created a night at the city’s Sub Club venue as a reaction to the domination of run-of-the-mill 4/4 techno. Two decades on, and JD Twitch and JG Wilkes’ Optimo
brand has travelled the world, mixing genres and hosting the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Four Tet in pursuit of eclectic, essential club nights.
This month their Optimo 20 tour lands in Beijing. Here, the pair pick out their highlights from the past two decades.
Who’s the daddy?
Wilkes: My son Walter was born on a Sunday at 9pm in 2001, and because fathers couldn’t stay overnight at the hospital I was DJ-ing three hours later. I felt like the luckiest guy alive, having witnessed the birth of my son then playing music in my favourite place. It was that day that John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas died, and Keith [JD Twitch] played 'California Dreaming' as a finale to the night. What a rollercoaster of emotions.
The filth get involved
Wilkes: One week we landed ourselves in Stewart Street police station, being interviewed by officers regarding some explicit art film we had (inadvertently) screened. The police insisted on retaining the material for 24 hours to 'give it a full and rigorous examination'.
Twitch: Our Optimo 20 festival [in August this year] was, in 30 years of DJ-ing and putting on club nights, the best event I have been involved in. Dream line-up, next level production and the best crowd imaginable.
Sets on fire
Wilkes: One night the faulty fire alarm in Sub Club meant we had to evacuate 550 people three times. Everybody was evacuated with the fire brigade arriving, inspecting the premises, then getting everyone back inside. Hardly a single person gave up on us. We got it fixed and the show went ahead – it was wild.
Wilkes: [US musician] James Chance’s false teeth fell out into his saxophone case at soundcheck.
Twitch: Liquid Liquid, whose song 'Optimo' we named the club after, played [our night]. We went to New York and wouldn’t leave them alone until they agreed. An everlasting friendship was the result.
Twitch: Recreating the film Apocalypse Now one Sunday night in Sub Club, complete with explosions, a jungle, actors pretending to be dead GIs, authentic sound design and lots of smoke, was so much fun.