Mission Makers Podcast | London | UK
EP 011 / 21.03.2022
To close Season 3 of Mission Makers, we welcome one of the biggest names in the electronic music scene, Lee Burridge. A man who needs little introduction, Lee is one of the founding fathers of electronic music and has been a key figure in igniting the rave scene globally.
We kick off the episode by going back to the beginning of Lee’s story. Growing up in the quaint and picturesque Dorset countryside, Lee told us that unsurprisingly there wasn’t a hugely established music scene but despite that, music was always the thing that he gravitated towards the most. From an early age, he leapt every opportunity to play music in his quiet hometown, but things very rapidly changed when he got to play in South East Asia for the first time to launch his DJ residency, a residency that not only sparked a whole new musical culture in that region, but that also catapulted him to global recognition.
Every month when the moon is full, tens of thousands of tourists and locals gather to party all night on beautiful beaches all over South East Asia - or more infamously known as the full moon parties.
Lee played a key role in catalysing its rise in popularity, helping to firmly establish the rave scene in South East Asia. He shares with us the cultural shock he experienced when moving to the bustling atmosphere of Asia from his quiet hometown in Dorset, and how these years ultimately prepared him for his move to the vibrant London scene in 1997 as started gaining attention from many visiting promoters and artists.
After establishing himself in the UK scene alongside trailblazers such as Craig Richards and Sasha with legendary residencies at Fabric, he talks of his desire to move away from the minimalist sound to find a more melodic and groovy vibe that ultimately resonated the most with his audience. After taking much inspiration from the hypnotic sunrises on the Burning Man Playa, something Lee cites as the best event he has ever been to, the inception of the All Day I Dream (ADID) concept was born.
Beginning on a rooftop in Brooklyn, New York, Lee began hosting daytime parties that ended after the sacred time of sunset with each production paying close attention to the sound. The topic of space is something that is of huge importance for Lee and his parties, with more organic aesthetics such as bamboo and nature playing an integral role to complement the feelings of the music. Lee mentions that the New York skyline was the perfect setting for his parties and using decor that had a ‘feminine edge’ created the perfect juxtaposition. Lee’s focus on the interplay between music and space is what has made his parties so synonymous with New York.
Both through the success of the ADID vision and his creative partnership with Matthew Deekay, Lee has been able to create a definitive and unique sound that has stood the test of time and unsurprisingly, this sound has grown into one of the biggest labels in dance music. His affiliation to Burning Man and the 7-10 hour sets he plays there still remain one of the playa’s best kept little secrets, based on one simple philosophy for his creativity “I just wanted to make people smile”. There is no doubt he has brought happiness to hundreds of thousands of listeners.
In our signature style, we move on to discuss the wider societal issues that affect the music industry. Upon speaking of the gender imbalance in music, Lee affirms that ‘the [gender] inequalities remain with the industry and not with the crowd.’ He says that good music is good, ‘creativity is genderless’. Yet despite this, Farah points out that only 2% of DJs are female and so there is still so much work to do.
Linking mental health, music and the pandemic, it is humbling to hear Lee open up on the crippling anxiety he has had at times from the pressures associated with his level, and how various meditation techniques have allowed him to resolve this anxiety. He shares that transcendental meditation, unlike mindfulness-based meditations, has been particularly effective for him to focus on clearing the mind of thoughts. This type of meditation is based around focusing on a single mantra, repeated silently.
So profound has meditation been for Lee, that he recently partnered up with Jamie Jones to collaborate with the music meditation app MEYA to further promote the importance of message of protecting mental health through music. Lee describes the link, saying ‘there’s a hypnotic nature to repetitive beats’
Revealing the biggest misconceptions in the electronic music scene, Lee unhesitantly insists that ‘talent is measured in social media numbers’. He affirms that popularity is no true indicator of an artist’s capabilities and that it is the industry's role to seek out artists with smaller followings of all backgrounds.
Lee shares that “I like to put on smaller artists to close up parties. I've never been hung up on the idea that we need to put the biggest DJ on the end, in fact I like going the opposite direction because I believe in them. It’s a place for them to show their talent and release their music.”
As a pioneer of All Day I Dream, his hallowed sets at Burning Man regular and his advocacy of music’s place in mental health, Lee Burridge is undoubtedly an underground national treasure.
Lee’s episode can be found on the video below and on iTunes and Spotify.
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THE RISE OF THE FULL MOON
ALL DAY I DREAM
MUSIC MISCONCEPTIONS + MENTAL HEALTH
Lessons To Fuel Your Mission
Creativity is genderless
Supporting creativity builds progressive communities
Talent should never be measured in social media numbers