The Answers With… Carl Cox, a multifaceted DJ

The superstar DJ, professional race car driver and accidental watch designer lives each moment to the fullest

Anyone who has ever had a night out soundtracked by DJ Carl Cox probably remembers not wanting it to end. Whether you’ve partied to Cox’s marathon sets at the legendary Space Ibiza, where he held a 15-year residency, or danced with abandon at the iconic Zouk Singapore, rated by him as one of the best clubs he’s played at, the 61-year-old guarantees a euphoric time that meanders through cutting-edge and classic house and techno tracks.

Cox, who started DJing at 15, cut his teeth in the then-burgeoning UK rave scene in the 1980s. He was among the first wave of superstar DJs who emerged and dominated the global clubbing circuit in the 1990s, and remains one of the most enduring and forward-thinking names in electronic music today.

Besides continuing to headline dance music festivals such as Ultra and Burning Man, Cox is also involved in various aspects of the business, from running record labels to being an ambassador and partner for the world’s most renowned clubs. He is constantly pushing boundaries on the performance front, too. The Hybrid Live shows that he did in 2023 involved a combination of DJing with live manipulation of samples, drum loops and visual effects.

Away from music, Cox is an avid petrolhead and watch enthusiast. He started Carl Cox Motorsport in 2013, which supports various teams and different styles of motorsports, from sidecar to motorcycle racing.

Carl Cox wearing the limited-edition Defy Extreme Carl Cox. Photo by Zenith

Extending his love for timepieces beyond collecting them, Cox even collaborated with Swiss watch brand, Zenith, a partnership that has birthed two limited-edition collections. The first was Defy Extreme Carl Cox in 2020 and the second was Defy 21 Carl Cox edition in 2023. Limited to 100 pieces, the latter is clad in stainless steel and gold, driven by a state-of-the-art movement that measures time to 1/100th of a second. It features turntable motifs on the dial, a perfect hat tip to a DJ known for his impeccable sense of musical taste and timing.

What is your current state of mind?

Busy. I’m on tour again and played the Hybrid Live shows, which keep me on my toes.

Tell us about the first time you felt touched by music.

I remember hearing my dad playing his records when I was a small boy. It must have inspired me because I started DJing at the age of eight.

If you could relive one of your gigs, which would it be?

There have been so many amazing shows. Maybe the ones that I literally went back in time? I ushered in the year 2000 with a set in Sydney, and then jumped on a plane and flew ‘back’ to 1999 to perform at the New Year celebrations in Hawaii.

Besides music, what pursuits do you indulge in that would surprise people?

Motor racing. I’m involved across four, three and two wheels, and I’m also a professional drag racer. In 2022, I drove at 251mph across the quarter mile.

Photo by Zenith

How did your collaboration with Zenith come about?

I met Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare over a dinner. We became friends first and then had the idea to do something together. The connection was instant. There are some factors that bring us in common, from frequency to extreme sports and watches.

What do you like best about the latest limited-edition watch that you did with Zenith?

I love it. Being a big part of the design and process means a lot and I am super proud of it. Of course, the three deck references on the watch dial always makes me smile.

What does success look like to you?

It is different for everyone. For me, I’d say true success comes from hard work, rather than something based on luck. The best feeling to have is when you work hard at something and it turns out well.

What would you consider to be a most underrated virtue?

Loyalty. Towards others and towards yourself.

What material possessions are you most attached to?

I’d have to say my cars and watches. I’m a professional racing driver now but have been into cars all my life.

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

I get inspired every day. There is always something that jumps out and makes me go ‘wow’.

What are you looking forward to most days?

To put my feet up for five minutes. At the moment I can only manage two minutes!

What have you done recently for the first time?

I’ve played some amazingly iconic venues in 2023, including Central Park in New York and the Great Pyramids in Egypt.

How do you find calm?

Calm? In my world? You must be joking! You know the saying ‘calm before the storm’? Well, I’m always in the storm.

This story first appeared in the January 2024 issue. Purchase it as a print or digital copy, or consider subscribing to us here