INTERVIEW: The Legacy of Dave Haslam

A Night for Manchester Mind/CALM with DJs Seth Troxler & Dave Haslam

Dave Haslam is a prolific Manchester figure with a life’s worth of DJ sets behind him. He played at The Hacienda on over 450 occasions and even closed it when it shut its doors for the last time, twenty years ago. The adored nightclub has remained in the memories of thousands and is now considered a notable part of Manchester’s history. And yet, Dave has had an incredible afterlife. A man of many cards, the city-legend continues to DJ but has also worked as a radio host, a journalist, a writer, an event host, and a lecturer at both Manchester Metropolitan and Salford Universities.

I came across Dave’s night on Facebook whilst I was researching him for MCR Live, and saw that all proceeds from the event were to go to the mental-health-focused charities Manchester Mind and CALM. I got in touch with Haslam and we arranged to meet in West Didsbury in cafe/bar Folk. On a sleepy Sunday morning, it took five minutes to spot my interviewee, who was sat half-hidden in a dimly lit corner. I introduced myself, and amongst the whirring of a heavy-duty coffee machine, we began to speak about his involvement with charity, his event, the issue of mental health, and the importance of connection.

Haslam is a ‘big fan of charity’ who has stayed true to this self-proclamation throughout his life. Right back in the 80s, he raised for the miners during the strikes, and he’s hosted nights to raise money in the past. For example, he did an event in Liverpool in support of the homeless. Dave remained grounded concerning his charitable activity. ‘I don’t feel at all hesitant about putting my name to causes [but] I’m not under any illusion that anything that I say or do can change anyone’s lives or help anyone. Just like anyone I think I just do what I can’. He humbly continued, ‘I’m not making myself out to be any kind of angel, it’s just an honour to be able to get involved, and if people have a good idea or a great cause then I’m always happy to encourage it.’  

This brought us onto the two organisations that Dave’s night is supporting. The Manchester man holds ongoing relationships with both charities. He detailed an example of his work for CALM: ‘About six or seven years ago I curated a compilation album and… We raised about £30,000’. This incredible amount of money is unsurprising considering that the album included quality tracks from several big Manchester names including Everything Everything, Elbow, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Whilst contacts like these are a little bit out of most people’s reach, this shouldn’t deter anyone from giving fundraising a go. As a DJ, hosting events, curating music and performing are all part and parcel of Dave’s daily life. What he essentially does, is take his personal interests and passions and dedicate them to the cause of others. In turn, what we should take from Dave is that dedication, because it can create real change.

Dave’s night ‘Legacy’ is taking place this Thursday at South. And he isn’t alone in hosting it. It is named as it is because it brings together two generations of club culture. Co-hosted by Detroit’s finest, in the form ofSeth Troxler, ‘Legacy’ presents us with a hoard of respected producers and DJs. Keeping it local, Haslam and Troxler are set to be joined by DJs from top Manchester brands Zutekh and Micron, as well as New Order’s tour DJ TinTin. Other performers include house-expert Esqueezy of Copson, and Nick Warren of 90s electronic duo Way Out West.

Since Seth Troxler is not only of a different generation to Dave Haslam but also another country altogether, I inquired about how the pair met. ‘In November, which is eighteen months ago now, I decided to sell my entire record collection… It was quite an instinctive thing. I posted it on Facebook and the next thing I know, it’s shared all over the internet and I get dozens of emails, including one from Seth’.

I’d read about the trade between the two DJs before, but I hadn’t been aware that it was how the two artists met. Reports read that Troxler handed over a quarter of a million pounds in return for a career’s worth of records – roughly 4500 of them. Although he carries a huge name, Seth Troxler was humble enough not to assume that Dave had heard of him (he had). The tech/house legend wasn’t humble in any other sense of the word: ‘Funnily enough, he introduced himself saying “Hi Dave, I don’t know if you’ve heard my name but I’m one of the world’s greatest DJs”’.

Following this introduction, which was charmingly described as ‘quite cheeky but true’, the pair met up in Amsterdam and held a ‘party’ to seal the deal, unwittingly preempting ‘Legacy’.

You might be wondering why the event is being held in support of mental health. If you’ve read Dave’s article on governmental cuts to mental health services, then you’d be aware that he holds the issue very dear. He seems to see mental health problems as a very human, common experience. ‘I think that there are a lot of taboos around mental health… it’s a very long-term problem, I think it’s an increasing problem. I think that it’s not something which is properly funded by the government. Unfortunately, it’s left up to charities to deal with’.

I asked Haslam about the charities that he’d chosen to support. He explained that CALM has a focus on young men, adding his thoughts that ‘men particularly find it hard to talk about emotion and what’s bothering them’. In addition, he supported Mind on the grounds that its local activity in Manchester means that is has a ‘connection with the city’. Connection and community, or, ‘a sense of solidarity’ is something that Dave clearly found important as a response to mental anguish.

‘I think that if you are growing up or living in a city then the one thing that you crave is somewhere where you can meet people who are likeminded, people that you get on with, your tribe, and that’s kind of what the Hacienda was to a whole generation’. He expanded on the community of the Hacienda with clear affection. ‘It really connected people, and it connected people in a very physical space which kind of reinforced everybody’s similarities. You’d be dancing next to people that ordinarily you might be a little bit wary of, or you might not normally have come across’. It’s easy to see this ring true with contemporary clubbing culture. Whilst times may have changed, the strong connection between the individual, and the experience of music has not.

Dave explained why this is the case: ‘I think that music can be a really perfect way of helping people deal with what’s going on in their lives… In some ways  I think it has to do with the message of the music resonating with people’ However as a DJ, Dave also offered another perspective. ‘DJing is something that I absolutely adore. I think it actually helps me in my life, going out and playing my favourite music to people who appreciate it’.

Whilst on the note of a shared appreciation for music, I thought to ask Dave what he personally appreciated. ‘Good Life by Inner City. I don’t think I could ever listen to that without being uplifted in a way,’. Feeling impossibly yet somehow intensely nostalgic for the past (embarrassingly, I was born in 1997), I found this 1988 Hacienda classic an immensely satisfying response.

Dave and Seth’s night ‘Legacy’ is on Thursday the 13th of July. If you like thought of uplifting both yourself and others via the power of music, then go ahead and check out the Facebook event page here, or buy one of the last remaining tickets here on Skiddle at £13.75.

And if you can’t make it to Legacy or miss out on tickets, you can still donate to CALM here, or Mind here.

To find out more about CALM click here, and to get a bit more information on Manchester Mind, have a look over here.

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