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Darren Emerson
Darren Emerson (left) performing with Danny Howells (right) in 2017
Background information
Birth nameDarren Paul Emerson
Born (1971-04-30) 30 April 1971 (age 50)
OriginHornchurch, London, England
GenresElectronica, house, techno, progressive house, progressive trance, breakbeat
Occupation(s)DJ, producer
Years active1987–present
LabelsTime Unlimited, Thrive, Underwater, K7, Boxed, Global Underground
Associated actsUnderworld

Darren Paul Emerson (born 30 April 1971) is an English musician, DJ and producer best known as a former member of the British electronic music group Underworld.[1]

Musical career

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Emerson began mixing Hip-Hop records at the age of 14, and by 16 was DJing regularly at local venues. He began to explore House Music and quickly acquired a reputation as one of the top British DJs, and demand for his services saw him playing at top clubs such as The Milk Bar, Limelight, and Venus.[2] Emerson has garnered several accolades such as "DJ of the Month" in The Face and i-D magazines.

In 1990, Rick Smith and Karl Hyde relocated to Romford, where Martin Prudence, brother-in-law of Smith, introduced Emerson to him,[3] with Hyde inviting Emerson to become the third member of techno band Underworld. 1994's dubnobasswithmyheadman was their commercial breakthrough onto the then burgeoning British electronica scene. While working on their second album, 1996's Second Toughest in the Infants, they released the single "Born Slippy .NUXX" in 1995, which was then re-released in 1996 and became a hit following its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie, Trainspotting.

During his time with Underworld, Emerson also founded his record label, Underwater, in 1994. It was initially an output for himself and the artists he met along his travels, but it grew to become one of the most influential dance labels of the early 1990s. Underwater began as a deep techno label, but when Emerson's taste shifted from techno to a more house/progressive house style, the label followed suit. Its sixth 12" release ("Life's Little Pleasures"/"Mr Sonic") came from an artist listed only as 'Ned Flanders', but is rumored to have been Emerson himself.

Emerson also emerged as a much sought-after remix talent, with remixes for acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Björk.

Emerson parted ways with Underworld in 2000 and then concentrated more on his solo career as a DJ and remixer, and also a label owner. "Global Underground: Uruguay" (2000) and "Global Underground: Singapore" (2001) soon followed on the Global Underground label, with "Episode 1" on his new Underwater label following in 2002. He continued to release tracks by himself and new artists on the Underwater records label and eventually gained its own night at super club Pacha, Ibiza alongside fellow DJ Erick Morillo, to hold a joint Underwater/Subliminal Records night. During its second summer at Pacha, his Underwater Records night won 'House Event' of the summer at the DJ Magazine awards. After its success, Emerson decided to host its own full night at Pacha, Ibiza which became an extremely popular night on the island.

Over the past few years, Emerson has been busy touring the world whilst preparing for his own solo debut album. He rarely plays in the UK apart from his previous bi-monthly resident slot at London club The End (a venue which closed down in January 2009). In 2007 he performed at Sensation White in the Amsterdam Arena.

Since 2004, Emerson had been dating British TV presenter Kate Thornton, but on 3 February 2011, Kate announced that they had split up. They have one son named Ben, born in May 2008.

In 2009, he released a third compilation for Global Underground – Bogota and in 2010 he launched a new label, DETONE, on which he has so far released the club tracks "Gracelands", "Decisions", "Hard For Slow" and "Au Go Go", featuring the vocals of the lead singer from Empire of the Sun.[4] Meanwhile, he continues his relentless globe trotting DJ schedule and in the past year,[which?] Emerson has also begun hosting DETONE club nights at East Village in London.


Solo releases

Extended plays


With Underworld

DJ Magazine Top 100 DJs

Year Position Notes Ref.
1997 44 New Entry [5]
1998 58 Down 14
1999 70 Down 12
2000 34 Up 36
2001 30 Up 4
2002 39 Down 2
2003 53 Down 14
2005 233 Out
2007 237 Out


  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Biography: Darren Emerson". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  2. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 109. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  3. ^ "Underworld's Dubnobass ... 20 years on | Music". The Guardian. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Darren Emerson". Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Poll 2019: Swedish House Mafia". Retrieved 18 May 2020.