Having created the legendary Trash night, the first place in London that really gave dance music to indie kids, Erol Alkan helped educate a whole generation of club goers through his cross pollinated, genre spanning DJ sets. Still held in a deserved high regard as a result of this timeless influence, his remixes and production work also stated a heavy claim to his wider musical knowledge, outside of the DJ booth, with production credits to his name for bands like Mystery Jets, Late of the Pier and Klaxons. Since playing here in Farringdon for Bugged Out in the early noughties and sporadically for Kill Em All in the years that have followed, he’s since started a record label called Phantasy; a label that FABRICLIVE is proud to be supporting on Friday 2nd September.
“I've always had a great time playing fabric; it feels different to other London clubs.” Erol informs us. “Maybe it's because it's the only one still standing from the days of when I used to go to Bugged Out/Boutique parties there as a fan.” His work has inspired a lot of people, including FABRICLIVE regular and Kill Em All resident Daniel Avery, aka Stopmakingme. There are similarities in the way Avery DJs, his melding of styles and love of weird, almost awkward records that astound a dancefloor but make complete sense rhythmically or in terms of atmosphere stems from Trash’s influence. He’s more than aware of the high regard he holds Erol and in his own words "I jumped at the opportunity to talk about records with one of my very favourite DJs..."
So ahead of Erol’s record label Phantasy’s takeover of FABRICLIVE on Friday 2nd September, where Erol will be playing twice – solo in Room One and going back to back with Switch in Room Two, Stopmakingme caught up with him to discuss influential records and trade B side tips exclusively for the fabric Blog.
Dan: I remember hearing on your old Trash radio shows you talking about some records which used to clear the dancefloor but eventually, due to your persistence and changing tides, became anthems in there. Is there one in particular which stands out?
Erol: Yeah, 'Silver Screen Shower Scene' by Felix The Housecat is the main culprit. I'll always remember the first time I played it and people just looked over at me in disgust. Within a month the same people had radically changed their fashion sense and we'd all forgotten about it… So I don't think clearing floors or annoying the audience is by any means a bad thing, in fact, I sometimes think I'm doing something wrong if I don't at least try. The cult of trying to please the crowd seems more evident today than ever, and I don't feel that is 100% of a DJ's role in our particular corner of music.
What's your favourite Switch moment? Watching you play his remix of Spank Rock at Maison in Bournemouth (RIP) is a memory which will always stay in my head.
There are too many. I'll never forget how I met him: I was given his phone number by somebody I met backstage at Bugged Out's NYE party in 2005 (I think) and told to just give him a call as he'd love to hear from me. So I did and we spent an evening on iChat sending music back and forth. He sent me so many brilliant productions, many of which still sound like the future. But to pick one track would be hard, I'd be torn between his Black Ghosts and Spank Rock mix. Spank Rock may just edge it as it's so unpredictable. I reckon it'll get an airing at fabric for sure.
Another favourite memory involving Switch actually involves the Mystery Jets. When I first went into the studio with them, they declared that they wanted to sound 'like Switch', which was really refreshing to hear from a guitar band, and ambitious. I knew it wouldn't make sense to try and jack the Jets up as such, so instead I recorded the band running through a bunch of ideas which I then chopped up and made a track out of which they named 'Crosswords.’ 2 months later I received an unexpected text from Dave saying that Sinden had played him the track, he loved it and it sounded like 'the most futuristic production he had heard on a band in years'.
After ‘Blue Monday,’ what's your favourite New Order single? I met Arthur Baker recently and was talking to him about how he made 'Thieves Like Us' with them. I was nearly weeping in a slightly drunken haze (I wish I was making that up…)
'Bizarre Love Triangle' without a doubt. It maybe could have been 'Temptation' as well, or even 'Crystal' as it was one which was released in Trash's lifetime and felt like one of our tracks, but BLT is such a great song even without New Order performing it. I've never really had the big chat with Arthur about New Order. I've wanted to, but never got round to it… I've played his Juno 6 though, the same one which was used on 'Confusion' apparently…
What's your favourite example of a record where the B-side is a million times better than the A? A hidden gem on a record which you've worn out from playing too much.
Many of these began life as B sides: Stone Roses 'Fools Gold', Madonna 'Into The Groove', Mylo 'Drop The Pressure', Gloria Gaynor ' I Will Survive'... there's countless more. I suppose the one which relates to me most is 'Drop The Pressure' as I had to persuade Mylo to put it on his album, as the first draft didn't contain it. I had been playing it out and went back to him enthusing about how big the track had grown, and the next time I had bumped into him he had witnessed the reaction to the track and included it. That's also the reason why he asked me to remix it. As for digging out a B-side for sets, 'Lady' by Adam Ant was a Trash staple, as was 'Into The Light' by The Pixies. 'Comfort Comes' by The Manic Street Preachers was given a regular spin. There's plenty.
Going through your collection, is a there a 'dance' label which means the most to you? And is there a particular record which symbolises how you feel towards it?
Good question, I suppose as well as loving Creation and Factory, I do have a huge love of Warp, Outer Rhyme, Vinyl Solutions and Depth Charge, as I bought all of those records back in 1990 and still cherish them now, with respect to Depth Charge, I still love their current output. To pick one would be hard.
I can't wait to hear the Ewan Pearson remix of 'Avalanche'. What's your favourite of his remixes? That's almost too tough a question to answer isn't it? Simple three note basslines make me go funny so his remix of Mocky still gets me every time. Damn, so does his Freeform Five rework...
I really love the remixes he has put together for us, Ewan has been one of the most consistent producers over the decade, and he's also a wonderful human being, I've never tired of his company. But to pick one of his productions would be hard. Of course his Freeform Five mix is a classic, but his mixes for Goldfrapp a few years back were also stunning. His dub of 'Train' which I used for my One Louder mix CD still sounds so fresh.
Do you have a favourite Pulp album?
Possibly 'Intro' or 'This Is Hardcore.’ I used to go watch Pulp in 1992, around the time 'Babies' first came out so I also have a huge love for 'Separations' which came out around 1991, some amazing tracks on there. I think 'This Is Hardcore' is a seriously underrated record; 'Party Hard' is possibly one of my 3 favourite Pulp records by far. An amazing track and video, please link to it!
I know we're both fans of 'weirding' people out on a dancefloor (in a good way) as much as making them dance. You can hear your love of psyche come through even when you're playing techno. Has there been a record this year which has really done it for you? The Gatto Fritto remix of JR Seaton still makes my heart stop a bit whenever I play it on a proper system.
Yeah easy, In Flagranti's 'Worse For Wear'. However standard the musical climate can get, you can rely on those guys to keep it pretty weird.
What's the campest record you've played? And did Riotous Rockers give it to you?
"Cruising The Streets' by Boys Town Gang. There is no camper record as far as I know. And no, the Rockers did not introduce me to that one this time.
Favourite Manics track? I learnt how to play all of The Holy Bible on the bass when I was 17/had far too much time to waste. Surely the best album of all time with 'c*nt' as the third lyric in the first song?
Picking one Manics track is really hard... I may go for 'Motorcycle Emptiness' as I have never tired of that song. To me it's absolutely perfect. If I were to pick another track it could be from 'Journal For Plague Lovers' which I really loved.
Phantasy takes over Room One and Two with performances from Erol Alkan (solo in Room One and back to back with Switch in Room Two), Gesaffelstein, Canblaster, Paul Chambers, Stompmakingme and Filthy Dukes on Friday 2nd September. Durrr have programmed Room Three including a DJ set from Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Rory Phillips, The Lovely Jonjo and Todd Hart of the Dalston Oxfam Blog.