DJ/producer Ian Carey has really been around, starting in Baltimore in the early '90s, living in Amsterdam, Spain and now West Palm Beach. But wherever he goes, he creates big-beat dance-floor bombs, spinning for huge house-music labels such as Hed Kandi, Ministry of Sound and Defected, and has sold more than 10 million records. His anthemic sound was on display recently at SET Miami, with Chicco Secci opening. Carey talked to Miami.com about his history and what could be expected from his set.
How did you get into DJing and production?
I grew up in the music industry, really - my father ran a live sound-reinforcement company, sound and lighting, so we toured all over the States with different rock and country bands back in the '70s and '80s. So I kind of grew up around music equipment and things like that, and I had a basic understanding from a young age, and the DJing thing kind of was easy to pick up after having that background.
How would you describe your sound?
Right now I guess house music, and my artist stuff would be in the commercial or mainstream house realm, where the goal is to make records that work well in nightclubs and also on radio.
What can we expect at SET?
I've got a lot of new music I've been waiting to play, and I've been working on things in the studio that I'm gonna test out. There's quite a bit of new stuff I've picked up, and I'm just waiting to let the crowd have it.
How long will you get to play?
Two hours, maybe longer if it's really going off, but normal set time is two hours.
Was there much of an electronic music scene in Baltimore?
It was just very underground, but it wasn't very big.
When you moved to Amsterdam, did you experience a bit of culture shock?
I had been traveling a bit back and forth already, so I wouldn't say culture shock, but there's definitely different things about living in Europe that we had to get used to.
And now you live in West Palm Beach?
Yes, I just recently moved back to the States - I've been here for about a year now after living in Europe for seven years.
How are you liking South Florida?
It's nice - it's a good place to live, and I'm enjoying it. It's close to Miami, but it's still really quiet out here, a good quiet place to work.
So you're not a big party guy?
Um, no, I think at this point, after doing this for 15 years, I'd be dead [laughs]. I don't have very much spare time - I'm playing basically every weekend unless I take time off, and during the week I really don't have the energy to go out. Especially because I'm spending all that time working in the studio.
How did you end up hooking up with some of those big labels you've appeared on, such as Hed Kandi, Defected and Ministry of Sound?
It's like you just start making records and people hear you, and if you make something good, then everybody wants you. So it kind of all happened at once, and once you know a few of the main people in the music industry, you meet them all and you know everybody.
Is it kind of like a bigwig like Pete Tong picking up a track, and then it blows up?
Yeah, anything like that. When I started, I was partners with Jason Papillon and we were Soul Providers, and we had some success with that and went our different ways, and I started producing under my own name. Around 2004, I was doing a lot of remixes, and I developed my own sound, the Ian Carey sound, and it was in high demand. So that really helped get my name off the ground.
Have you performed at Winter Music Conference?
Yes, not every year, but I've been going on and off since 1999. I did my own party in 2000 or 2001 at the same club, but at that time it was called 320. We did our own label night there, and it went off really well, and that was a fond memory.