His playlist may be unknown, but DJ Miles Cleret delivers essential funkadelic tunes. He talks to Alan Perrott
It's doubtful that the Big Day Out has ever handed a stage over to an accidental one-man preservation society. And it's seldom you get the chance to feel worthy by watching someone play a bunch of old records. But Miles Cleret offers both those things. He's a mild-mannered Pom on a mission to expose the funkiest musicians you've never heard.
He's devoted to travelling the world uncovering long forgotten records in places with unpronounceable names. It's a task that has so far taken him through Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Panama, Colombia and sundry Caribbean islands and into collaboration with English notables such as musician/producer Will Quantic.
"It wasn't anything I ever planned on doing," he says from a holiday home in the equally exotic Karekare. "I was on holiday in Ghana with my wife and had a few days to kill which gave me the chance to go record hunting. I somehow ended up in the home of this local radio DJ who pulled out his father's old collection and began playing track after track of the most amazing stuff. It was a lightbulb moment and I decided on the spot to come back as soon
as I could to do some serious digging.
"From then on it's been a bit of a detective story. I go somewhere new for a few months, start knocking on doors and see what turns up. Loads of this stuff only sold about 200 copies or something because no one could afford to buy or market them, so they're not even known in their own countries.
As far as I'm concerned that makes them as endangered as any bird, building or what have you and music has to be played to remain alive."
Cleret releases the best of what he finds on his own independent label, Soundway Records, but as his presence at the BDO bill shows, he also gets out and takes his stuff to the people.
"I could never have done anything like this even 10 years ago. The music industry might be in big trouble, but the opportunity remains for smaller-scale operations like mine. The internet means I can get my stuff out through a few key online retailers and specialist stores, so it's a great time to be passionate about music and doing your own thing."
- Miles Cleret appears on the Lilyworld stage from 4.15 to 5.30 and will also be at Khuja Lounge tonight with Cian and Scott Doughboy.