This part of the story started in 1997 with "Optimo".
At this point, Twitch (Optimo protagonist no. 1) and Jonnie Wilkes (Optimo protagonist no. 2) had each been dj'ing separately for ten years. Both had started out playing different music - Twitch - electrobeat, noisy rock, hi nrg and er, goth while Wilkes was working in a reggae club. Then techno came along and Twitch co founded Scotland's first techno club ? "Pure" - which ran for ten years, became legendary, was the first club in Europe to book Jeff Mills, Green Velvet and Richie Hawtin and spawned 3 labels which released music from amongst others Coil, Chris and Cosey, Jimi Tenor and Orlando Voorn. Meanwhile, Wilkes had started Glasgow's longest running techno club "My Machines" which still runs to this day. He quit a successful practice as a visual artist to concentrate on dj'ing and music production.
Around 1996 / 7, Twitch was getting bored rigid with all night techno sessions. "I was travelling the world playing this music and the audiences were getting more and more closed minded and the music was becoming more and more boring. I had had enough - I love MUSIC, not a particular micro genre of music. I tried to preserve my sanity by making music. With my musical partner M.P. Lancaster, I started a 'band' called Mount Florida which was as far away from techno as I could get. We signed to Matador records and released 3 eps and an album. They didn't exactly set the world on fire but it was a wonderful and liberating experience which i intend to return to at some point"
At the same time, the opportunity to do a Sunday night in Glasgow presented itself. The Sub Club is probably the best club in Glasgow and as Twitch had played there a lot, The Sub Club offered him the night with the freedom to do whatever he wanted. "I nearly declined at first as at that point I was at a real low point and didn't know if I wanted to continue djing. But, I thought - fuck it! - here's a wonderful opportunity to do EXACTLY what I want. I have a stupidly big record collection so this was the ideal chance to dive into it and play my favourite music, which is what djing should be about really. It's a bit of a Scottish thing that djs play in pairs so I needed someone to share the mischief making with me. Jonnie Wilkes was the obvious choice - he is open minded, I knew he would 'get' the idea right away, and he likes a party (the most vital ingredient)".
So Optimo (Espacio) to give it its full name was born in November 1997 and at first it was mainly just friends who came along. As it turns out, this was probably the best way for the club to develop as it gave total freedom without pressure to experiment and work out a new way to dj. Samplers, laptops and fx units were incorporated and soon they had developed a club totally unique to the city and indeed any other city. "After running the club for 18 months, we were having the time of our lives. It had totally reinvigorated our love of music. Then a very strange thing happened. The club took off literally one week from the next. It was as if suddenly people 'got it' and from then on, it was packed - weird!"
One of the things about Optimo is that it doesn't book djs, preferring to book live acts instead. Some of those who have played include Atom Heart, Peaches, The Rapture, ESG, Matthew Herbert, Jeans Team, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Akufen, LCD Soundsystem, Opel Bastards, Jimi Tenor, Kid and Khan and Liquid Liquid.
Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes continue to do their own thing. They constantly find themselves lumped in with various trends by the media, but for anyone who has actually been to the club, they will know that Optimo doesn't really fit in anywhere, which is why it will outlive any trends or hype. To put it simply, Optimo is about playing music from any genre and any era that could be considered danceable. Now Optimo is in demand around the world and can't keep up with the requests for djing gigs. "Our solution to this is to only play gigs we really want to do. We control every aspect of what we do ourselves and it is VERY important to us that we only do things that will be fun for us. The day it stops being fun is the day we will end it all!"
The club also has a record label called OSCARR (Optimo Singles Club And Related Recordings) which releases records on a very ad hoc basis - so far, among others, Bis, Creme De Menthe and Electronicat have had 12" singles released. Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes also both produce their own music independently of each other some of which will see the light of day on OSCARR. Together as OPTIMO they will be fronting TIGERSHUSHI's second edition of the KILL THE DJ serie to be released in October 2003. Jonnie has music forthcoming on the mighty Kompakt label while Twitch has a 12" EP including his cover of James White "Contort Yourself" on ZE records, to be released in September 2003.
This 12" single is the first release of a serie called ZEVOLUTION whose the original idea was to ask various artists to cover one of their favorite songs from ZE records back catalogue. Twitch is brilliantly opening the ball !