Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alan Fitzpatrick - Drumcode Radio Takeover

In case you missed the memo, this week is officially Alan Fitzpatrick Week. Not only is Alan’s latest (some say greatest) EP “Life Through Different Eyes” released on Drumcode, but he is also the star of Drumcode Radio as he takes over the show with a guest mix he has put together especially for us. If you are lucky enough to live within the transmission range of any of these stations you will have be able to hear Alan’s mix at some point in the last few days. If you don’t, or you want to listen again, you can catch up with the show from Thursday 9th March via Drumcode Radio's soundcloud.

Our friends over at Beatportal have also joined in the spirit of Alan Fitzpatrick Week by choosing to host an exclusive video interview with Alan that you can check out on their site along with preview clips of the five tracks from the “Life Through Different Eyes” release. As if all this wasn’t enough for you, Drumcode also took some time out with Alan to talk about his guest mix for Drumcode Radio and to chew over what is on Alan’s mind right now, which turned out to include dubstep, getting back into buying vinyl and being a champion of vocal techno…

Having listened to your new Drumcode Radio mix a few times, it certainly feels like what people would expect from an Alan Fitzpatrick set but with maybe a few different flavours in there. How did you go about selecting the music for this mix?

Well, I messed around with the track list quite a few times. I initially did one mix and then decided I wanted to use this track or leave out that track so had to redo it two or three times in the end.  It can be quite hard to get a selection together sometimes because you want to use tracks that will be brand new to people or that most listeners would not have heard a lot already. I also wanted to use a few really raw sounding tracks, which is the direction my sound is developing in at the moment.  

Having been out on the road with you and listening to your sets, it occurs to me that you are generally playing quite broad at the moment. How do you see it?

My gigs are really varied, with me sometimes playing earlier in the night or playing last so I get to play with a broad mixture of DJ's before and after me. Depending where I'm playing you might hear me play quite tough but sometimes it will be a lot more groovy. Id say maybe two years ago I was playing less varied music, more straight up techno stuff. Now I'm a lot more open to different stuff because I am enjoying spreading the sound across different styles. 

Has that been a concision decision by you or more of a reaction to what you sense crowds are wanting? 

There is a bit of both really. I think from the end of 2010 and through 2011 I was getting quite board of hearing the same sort of records with a lot of people producing the same sound. Then last summer I got to play quite a few festivals or day parties where I was able to play a lot more groovy stuff ,which was great so I guess I'm carrying that on while keeping the groove tough. I think its good to keep it interesting, both for me and those people who come to see me play.

How is the approach of selecting music to play different for you when you do a radio mix compared to preparing a set for one of your weekend gigs?

The thing with radio mixes, is you have to think about all the different situations people will be listening to it in. You've got people listening live on a Friday night or on their iPod a week later on the train in to work or via Mixcloud at home when they are cooking dinner or whatever so I think it is important to have a selection of styles on the mix to cater to that variety of situations. For example, when I did the Essential Mix that was two hours and broadcast at 3am so I wanted to showcase more what my DJ set is like. But for this I wanted to cram in everything you'd hear from me from midnight to 6am. That's why it starts with a Burial track, ends with a melodic track and in the middle its tough.  

I was going to ask what was behind the choice to open the set with the Burial remix?

I just really like it. I have played it a few times at after parties but I played it in a club for the first time a few weeks ago in Rotterdam and it really went off so I thought it would be a cool track to start the mix as it sets things up really nicely. I also really like the concept behind Burial with no one knowing who the guys is and it is all a bit of a mystery. Archangel is one of my favourite tracks from his album and this bootleg is really nice.

So are you into a lot the dubstep stuff?

Only really the Burial kind of vibe. There are a few other artists who are making that same kind of thing and I like a lot of the dubstep that OstGut Ton release and I have to say that Scuba's new album is wicked.  It is like dubstep beats but it’s not really what a lot of people would immediately call dubstep. It is more kind of just about the atmospherics and the melody. Almost like it’s own mini genre within dubstep. I guess it is just very different. You listen to Burial's album and it seems he has walked down the street recording whatever sounds are going on around him and then layered these mad chords and melodies in amongst it all.

How would you classify this sub genre? Have you heard anyone out a name to it?

It’s all just dub for me and I'm really into that. Like when I did my Sub Dubbed track, which was a very different sound to dubstep, but it is all based around dubby bass and the whole dub concept. The Burial stuff is very electronic and crosses over many genres really. I get the feeling that he probably listens to lots of different stuff to come up with the music he does and I find that interesting too.

It is interesting, for example if you go and hear some of these guys play they are selecting their music from quite a broad range of styles which must be inspiring to see as a DJ?

Yeah, it’s great to hear people playing deep house and more garagey stuff and then tracks that are basically old school rave tunes slowed down or really dubby techno. Its amazing how much stuff crosses over, for example I looked at my iTunes playlist recently and I am playing all sorts of stuff at the moment, albeit all still very much based around techno but I think our genre really encompasses so many different styles, and in general I feel like I can get away with playing quite a range of stuff such as the Ron Costa track on Rawthentic which is in this mix and I class it as techno but a lot of people would call it tech house as it really groovy.  

There is a lot of exclusive stuff in the mix can you tell us about some of the tracks people may not have heard before?

Well there is a first play anywhere for a new collaboration I have done with Jon Gurd called “Electric Love” and also I'm pretty sure this will be a radio debut for my remix of Cari Lekebusch's old Steady Motion record. Also the Adam Beyer & Joseph Capriati collaboration, the Mark Broom track on Beardman and the Bryan Chapman track “Box Of Voices” are very new and unreleased. There are also a couple of tracks from my new Drumcode EP too.

You mention Bryan Chapman... you have been playing quite a bit of his stuff recently but maybe people don’t know too much about him?

Yeah, he’s doing cool music. I know him through Jon Gurd - he is Bryan's engineer. Bryan had a alias a few years ago called Echo Vacio and they did a release for Sci+Tec but he is working on his own now. I really like the way he is doing things. He has sent me about 10 tracks, which I am playing and really working hard on his music so it’s a pleasure to support him and push his music. 

Turing the attention to your new Drumcode tracks, you said you are really pleased with “Always Something For Nothing” in particular. The reaction to the release has been really good off the promo and it seems that all the tracks are getting a lot of support in certain places. That must be very pleasing?

Yeah, I’ve seen a variety of people having a number of favourites rather than everyone focusing on the one track or whatever. There seems to be a bit of music for everyone in there. Some people are supporting the "Up All Night" track, some are playing "Prometheus", and some are playing "Always Something For Nothing". I have listened to the EP for the last six months and I haven't really heard anything which relates to it massively which I think is a good thing. I really like my music to stand the test of time and not be so throwaway and to be different. Especially the “Always Something For Nothing” track, which has a big diva vocal in the middle and you, don't see other people doing that, especially on a Drumcode record!

So are you on a one-man crusade to bring vocals into techno?

Its funny, I played in Portugal the other week and one of the guys I know there said he really enjoyed the set because I played a lot of tracks with vocals and I laughed but when I looked back at what I played he was right. I don't know why that is but I guess I am really into my vocals at the moment. I guess it is an extension of the music slowing down a bit and now it’s slower you have the space to work with vocals in tracks. 

How is it listening back to your own music in the mix as opposed to hearing to it from start to finish in the studio or on the computer at home? Does your opinion of tracks change much when you play them out?

Yeah, I think you only really get to know the records when you hear them played out on a proper system and in the mix. You obviously spend quite a bit of time with new tracks on repeat, listening on the headphones after you have finished it or have it on in the background when I’m driving so I can get a feel for it but you never really know how the track works until you hear them out.

Of the tracks that are on the mix are there any that have been real solid plays for you in your club sets recently?

Yeah, the remix I have done for Cari is working really well with the vocal drop in the middle and “Always Something For Nothing” is one of my favourite tracks I have written. Also the last track, the Alexandra Kowalski track “Crossing The Borderline” is really cool, especially the remix that is on the mix. Its really deep and I love the strings and melodies. Its definitely one of the tracks I always keep to play in the last five tracks of my sets if I am playing last.

You mention the remix of the old Cari Lekebusch ‘Steady Motion’ record you have done. Were you aware of the track from back then?

Yeah, I’ve got it somewhere at my Mum and Dads house. I think it is from 1998 and it had two mixes of Steady Motion on one side and it had some Adam tracks on the other side.

How did you go about remixing a track that is 15 years old?

I’ve only used the loops and the vocals but Cari managed to salvage all the initial stem parts so there are some parts that weren't in the original that I have been able to use in my remix, which was great. I’ve made it quite groovy but still tough with a big kick drum, big bass, big vocal. Every time I play it, it works. Its just one of those tracks people remember and any time you get to revamp an old record it is always fun.

Speaking of back-in-the-day vibes, I notice you included Nihad Tule & Bauri's 'Schordz' track which was on Drumcode Ltd. Are you picking up a lot more vinyl these days?

Yeah, it’s important for me to buy vinyl. I don’t think you ever get rid of the addiction of buying vinyl. It’s a collector’s thing. But also for me it is about keeping things interesting. I have been DJing for about 14 years so I always have to keep changing because if I only ever played with the same method I would get bored of it. It’s like how people change your car every few years because they want a change. For me, going from playing vinyl to playing CDs then playing with Traktor professional for a few years and then back to CDs and vinyl just keeps it interesting. That said, I never stopped buying vinyl, as I always liked having it for mixing at home but more recently I have been buying a lot of vinyl only releases. The other week I was playing in Germany and I was at an after party. The guy who played after me was using only vinyl and he had about 6 record boxes so I ended up staying at the party for about three hours because he was playing loads of stuff id never heard or never owned and I kept saying 'what’s this, what’s this' and writing it in my phone. So for me it is important to buy those vinyl only releases so I can keep up with everything that has gone on.

So are you playing vinyl in your sets these days?

I do sometimes take a handful of vinyl with me to gigs or I burn the tracks on to my SD card but I see a lot of people playing vinyl. I think vinyl has become sexy again because of the resurgence of deep house and it’s just a better visual thing. When people are having a good night and partying and you see the DJ pick up the record and wipe the vinyl and put the needle to the record it just energizes the vibe more than clicking a mouse on a laptop.

What stuff are you looking out for on vinyl? What labels or artists?

A lot of bootleg stuff. I got a few things from Raw Series and this new David Bowie Lets Dance bootleg called On The Fly which is really really cool. The Drumcode Ltd stuff is always really good too and also a lot of stuff from Germany and a few American bits but its all fitting really well in my sets so its working well for me and keeps my sets fresh. Its kind of weird really because its gone full circle. 10 years ago if you wanted to be upfront you had to burn stuff on CD but now to get stuff that no one else has got you go to the record shop! But it also keeps me really honest with the way I am using my music. If you carry a record bag with 100 records in it you don't go and buy a new set of 100 records next week like you can do with digital. So you use vinyl for longer and get to know the record better and you use them in more creative ways, which is a lot of fun. 

Having gone from vinyl to Traktor via CDs and then back to CDs with a bit of vinyl have you found the style with which you DJ has changed because you are using different formats?

Id say I am back now to playing at my most comfortable, playing tracks how they were meant to be heard, playing full tracks. When I was using Traktor you could quite easily get lost in using four decks and the style would be choppier because you could bang this in, bang that in. The flow is a lot nicer now. I think as well that there is a part of me now, especially because now I am writing my own music, that wants to play the tracks in the way they were meant to be heard, as a piece of music. Opposed to someone playing the first four beats looped over something else. I think it is important to respect the tracks and play them in the way they were meant to be heard, rather than mixing in parts.

So you don’t miss the freedom of using the laptop?

No, not at all. It is very easy to get caught up in all the technology. There is so much new stuff being developed and everyone is competing with each other to be the newest but for me it became a case of 'who cares, just play the music’. It did become too much about the technology and not so much about the music and that is what made me stop. At the end of the day I don’t want people on the dance floor thinking "Ooo, what’s that flashing red button”, I want the focusing on the music and enjoying the show that way. So I’m all for the back to basics backlash! It is creating a nicer vibe, a more musical vibe that has a better flow.

Are you coming across other DJs on the circuit that have only ever been digital DJs?

Yeah, and its mad that people are now DJing but they have never ever mixed on turntables. I think every new DJ should have a pair of decks before they start using the computer. I just don't get it. How can you ‘feel’ the music if you have never beat matched? You have a button that will do it all for you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against using laptops – I used Traktor for two years myself - but I think as a DJ you need knowledge of everything, digital set ups and turntables, if you are going to be as good as you can be.

Finally, I wanted to ask you about the track you have done with Jon Gurd that appears on the mix. You have done a few collaborations recently with Adam and Cari and now this new track with Jon. What do you get out of that process that you don’t get from working on your own?

Well, I’ve never really been one for working with other people, I’ve always just done my own thing but I’m just really into these people music so I’ve been very interested in making music with them to see how they do their thing. Also I guess it is a challenge for me to do things differently and get myself out of that studio comfort zone. It’s been refreshing and educational so far.

All the collaborations you have done so far you have done by being in the same studio. Is that an important part of it for you or do you feel it doesn’t matter if you are in the same space?

I’m not really sure. The next few collabs I have planned won’t be like that. For example, me and Gary Beck are doing a track and just sending parts back and forth so I’m going to try doing it this way and we'll see how it comes out. It will be interesting to answer this question after I’ve done these next tracks.

Where are you at with those projects?

Just at the conversation stage. I’ve been chatting to Gary about what to do and he is due to send me some loops over in the next few weeks and I am going to be on tour with Joseph on Colombia towards the end of March so we might get the chance to start something on a plane ride or in the hotel.

Great. Well that sounds like an exciting cliffhanger to leave the conversation on. Thanks for guiding us though the mix you have done for Drumcode Radio and we look forward to seeing the reaction to the new EP and your other projects when they surface. In the meantime, we shall all enjoy the mix. Here is the tracklist:

01. Burial - Archangel - Saso Recyd Edit - Unrealeased
02. Ron Costa - Kissal - Rawthentic
03. Pehr Genlogue - Pincer Movement - Agaric Remix
04. Alan Fitzpatrick & Jon Gurd - Electric Love - 8 Sided Dice
05. Mark Broom - SQ18 - Beardman
06. Alan Fitzpatrick - Always Something For Nothing - Drumcode
07. Bryan Chapman - Box Of Voices - Unreleased
08. Truncate - Mira Mar - Truncate
09. Cari Lekebusch - Steady Motion - Alan Fitzpatrick Get's Ravey - H Productions
10. Nihad Tule & Bauri - Schordz - Drumcode Ltd
11. Adam Beyer & Joseph Capriati - Congenial Endeavor - Drumcode
12. Alan Fitzpatrick - Mohawk - Drumcode
13. Markantonio & Roberto Capuano - T4 - Analytic Trial
14. Alexander Kowalski - Crossing the Borderline - Ray Kajioka Remix - Damage Music Berlin 


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