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John Digweed & Talking Heads’ Poverty Payback





Bedrock head honcho John Digweed chatted to Vice Magazine recently about his 20 year long career as one of the world’s most popular underground DJs and revealed that he attributes his longevity to his earliest experiences of being a broke, unknown DJ.


“The first five or six years when I wasn’t earning money probably made me who I am today,” he mused.


“That was a critical time in my “education” because I used to go play in clubs for nothing just to be there during the day, setting up the sound systems, cleaning the lights, all that stuff. And because of that I’ve gained a really good understanding of how a club works.” (Vice/ Thump)


His recollections struck a chord with those of Talking Heads/ Tom Tom Club duo Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth who chatting to New York magazine similarly cited their extreme poverty during the early Talking Heads years as being a key factor that contributed to their later success.


“We lived in a loft with no heat, no shower, no bathroom, no toilet. We would have to go to friends’ houses to take a shower,” Tina recalled, of the mid 70s period when they first started supporting the Ramones as total unknowns at CBGBs.


“There was a work sink, and there was daytime heat, but it would be turned off at 4 p.m. Of course in the summer, it was hell. But in a way being that hungry and being that poor was a real motivator,” she suggested.


Discussing the ‘starving artist’ phenomenon in her 2003 book Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900–1939 Virginia Nicholson identified more common traits.


“A minor artist with no money goes (just) as hungry as a genius,” she noted.


“What drove them to do it? I believe that such people were not only choosing art, they were choosing the life of the artist. Art offered them a different way of living, one that they believed more than compensated for the loss of comfort and respectability,” she said. (Among the Bohemians: ‘Subversive, eccentric and flamboyant – the Bohemians ate garlic and didn’t always wash; they painted and danced and didn’t care what people thought. They sent their children to co-ed schools; explored homosexuality and Free Love. They were often drunk, broke and hungry but they were rebels . . .’)












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