Certain DJs have the uncanny ability to reflect your musical taste almost exactly while also expanding your knowledge and appreciation of styles that you've yet to explore. For me, and many others, one such DJ is JD Twitch (AKA Keith McIvor) of the group Optimo. With partner JG Wilkes, Twitch has been running the Optimo (Espacio) club night every Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, since 1997; they also maintain a label called Optimo Music. Wilkes and Twitch don't sleep much.
Twitch is the opposite of a specialist. His expertise extends over several musical genres: psych rock, dub, various African styles, early electronic music, punk, funk, soul, disco, experimental, jazz, post-punk, Tropicália (in 2007 he collaborated with Os Mutantes in a project called Trocabrahma), house, and techno. Eclecticism is all well and good, but if you have crap taste, diversity is a scourge. Gratefully, Twitch possesses exquisite aesthetics and an insatiable curiosity that leads to frequent discoveries of hidden sonic treasures (he possesses about 25,000 records).
Twitch's ascension to the elite echelon of selectors didn't result from cool calculation, but rather almost from chance. "I neither wanted nor intended to be a DJ," Twitch says via email. "When I was 18 or so, I was always getting asked to provide the music at parties and play alongside bands, as I suppose I was renowned for having a lot of music. Then a good friend of mine talked me into playing alongside him at this club night (this was way before I discovered mixing records together). Next thing I knew, I had fallen in love with playing music for people, and it gradually became what I did for a living. I was more inspired by giving an outlet to music I loved that people hadn't heard before rather than by any particular person."
With an eclectic, freestyle DJ like Twitch, one wonders if there are any genres he won't touch and what elements are crucial in tracks that form his sets. Surely there must be limits. Twitch's criteria couldn't be simpler: "If I like it, I'll play it. I look for music that moves me or that has a certain energy I like. While I don't like using the term 'soul,' I'd say everything I play has to have been made with passion for the music."