Optimo is DJ duo Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes, whose legendary Optimo night in Glasgow (and around the world) mixes up techno, electro, rock and other assorted records out of leftfield.
Optimo started in 1997, though Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes had each been DJing separately for ten years. Both had started out playing different music – Twitch – electro, noisy rock and the eighties New York punk funk of Liquid Liquid (from who they borrowed their name) and Wilkes reggae, funk and jazz. 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. The club also spawned thee labels which released music from amongst others Coil, Chris and Cosey, Jimi Tenor and Orlando Voorn.
In 1997 they founded the clubnight Optimo as a reaction to 4/4 techno all night long. Anything goes was the philosophy and the club night proved to be a hit. “I didn’t care whether it would work or not, or whether anyone would go, it was just something I had to do,” says Twitch. “I love DJing with all my heart but at this point I was so bored with seamless mixing – it was all just too obvious, too predictable and too easy – that I had to do something to preserve my (in)sanity.”
Don’t expect easy club hits at a night at Optimo, depending on the duo’s mood, the sound will veer from sleazy funk to post punk, electro, 50’s swing and anything inbetween. According to their bio, “Serious DJs would come and watch in horror while several times, seasoned trainspotters would come up to Twitch and tell him ‘You’ve lost the plot’ or ‘You can’t play this in the Sub Club – it’s sacrielige!’ or ‘But… you started Pure, how can you do this?’. People would get really angry about it which of course only fuelled the flames!”
These days Optimo is taking the sound to the world with dates across Europe, America and Japan. And while Twitch and Wilkes remain the residents, each week Glasgow is treated to Optimo guests, who have included the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Atom Heart, Luciano, Four Tet and Justus Kohncke.