5 Minutes With: Optimo

With over 20 years DJ-ing experience and both becoming renowned and highly respected for their memorable and ecstatic deejay sets, Optimo duo JD Twitch and JG Wilkes return to Glasgow for the 6 Music Festival later this month.

Responsible for the nightclub Optimo (Espacio) which ran from November 1997 until April 2010, they sat at the very epicentre of the Scottish Clubbing consciousness in its weekly residency in Sub Club and is widely regarded as one of the most important and ground-breaking clubs of the past 10 years.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Optimo (Espacio), and to celebrate the pair have announced “Optimo 20” which will take place on Sunday 6th August – a one day festival in conjunction with SWG3.

We caught up with Jonnie (JG Wikes) ahead of their 6 Music Festival Late gig at SWG3 on 25 March for a chat about Optimo’s much awaited resurrection.


Seeing as Optimo is named after one of their tracks, how much of an impact have Liquid Liquid had on you?

We were very much inspired by the particular period in New York’s musical history when Liquid Liquid were first active. 99 Records in particular was a label that had released music a lot of people would say was synonymous with a sound or attitude they experienced at the club.

Bands like Bush Tetras, Maximum Joy, Y pants, ESG and of course Liquid Liquid. Liquid Liquid’s raw percussive energy, contagious groove and their DIY approach was something we felt and still feel great affinity with. In fact we became good friends with the members of the band and remain good friends to this day.

Talk us through how you felt after Optimo, club night, finished?

It was time and we were ready to end it when we did. I guess the overwhelming feeling after the last party on a Sunday was – I need to sleep now.

Optimo played host to a number of acts who are now very big, Franz Ferdinand and Hot Chip to name a few, and it was hailed as an end to an era: are there any plans for a revival?

Of the Sunday Night weekly residency – NO! – NEVER!

What plans for new music do each of you have coming up?

We produce separately and remix separately – sometimes collaborating with other people and as solo artists too. We are both always working on projects involving music, sound design, soundtracks and music supervision.

There are a whole bunch of acts joining you at this festival in August, was there any you had in mind from the very start?

No, not really. The line-up is composed only of artists we genuinely admire – that was the premise for the selections. It was also an opportunity to reunite Optimo friends and family at our 20th anniversary, some artists are particularly close to us personally. With the content we were also keen to maintain a fairly even balance of live artists and dj’s.

You’re donating some of the profits to some good causes: was there a reason for this or was it just an act of goodwill?

We decided some time ago that we would initiate our own fund raising program rather than accepting offers to play at benefit gigs which often lost money or where funds raised failed to properly reach those they were actually earmarked to help. Optimo 20 will celebrate Optimo but it will also celebrate Glasgow, a city with it’s own fair share of problems. We acknowledge that and think it’s important to do what we can to help.

What bands are you most excited to see at 6 Music Fest in Glasgow?

Saturday night at SWG3 looks set to be some night! I haven’t looked at who’s playing yet – to my shame. Oh! I hear Depeche Mode are playing The Barrowlands but tickets for that will be rare as hen’s teeth!

You’ve toured over America, Europe and Japan: how do these places compare to one another? Is there a particular location that’s your favourite?

Glasgow still remains our favourite place to play.

Pitchfork hailed you as one of the best DJ duos back in 2006, is there a lot of pressure riding on you following such acclaim?

We put pressure on ourselves to keep things interesting when we play and that’s really all. It’s nice to be acknowledged sometimes but we really don’t pay much attention to DJ polls and end of year lists.

It’s been 20 years since you both started, did you ever imagine it would lead to this?

Frankly, no. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this for a living. Right back when we started out, neither of us had much of a game plan. We were playing because we loved it, probably would have paid to get to play and certainly weren’t thinking it could be a career.


6 Music Festival Late takes place at SWG3 on Saturday 25 March from 11pm-3am. It features DJ sets from Simian Mobile Disco, Optima, Nightwave, Nan Kolè, Dusky, Rebecca Vasment, Lindstrøm, Jungle, MWX, K4CIE, Femme Fresh, Junglehussy, Andy Butler (Hercules & Love Affair), Happy Meals and 6 Music’s Nemone.

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