Mike Mannix: This is great Alan thank you for talking to us at iconic underground magazine. Ok over the 15 years since you burst onto the global scene, you’ve had a meteoric rise to the A-lister platform you now hold, give us some background on how it all kicked off for you in Southampton in the UK.
Alan Fitzpatrick: Nice one Mike. From a young age, I started to listen to the early rave tapes and anything I could get my hands on from my mates in school. I got my first set of belt driven decks at 14 and I felt comfortable playing on em pretty much from the start. I spent all my spare time on my Sound Labs, I spent all my money from any job I had on vinyl and at that stage, I wasn’t genre specific, if a track was good I played it, I played a bit of everything and I loved and still love crate digging.
I also used to get inspired by going to go down to Bournemouth on Friday nights as it was quite varied in styles from Trance, Drum n Bass and everything in between back then as well as the line-ups from Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox etc. I was recently given a huge volume of music from a friend of mine called Shadow Child, an archive of all the best tracks from the 90s, every Metal headz release, every RAM record, all the XL stuff – there are some amazing bangers from back in the day, and now it’s all digitized like most of my collection, as I don’t travel with vinyl anymore!
MM: As well as being a global headline DJ, you are also recognised an exceptional producer, especially now with your current relationship with the mighty Drumcode releasing monsters such as ‘Skeksis’, ‘Always Something For Nothing’, ‘For An Endless Night’ and ‘Prometheus’ whats key in the whole production process?
AF: I have a great relationship with Drumcode and been working with Adam Beyer for about 10 years, he’s played a lot of my stuff with some of my biggest releases being on his label.
When I’m heading into the studio, most of the time I have a rough idea of what I want to achieve, although sometimes I’m in there just messing about a bit and hit on a good idea and go with it. When I started with Skeksis I was working on a techno track and playing with some ideas when I came across a vocal that I liked, and eventually, the whole track ended up getting built around it, happy accidents!
At the moment I’m starting to build up my hardware again and I’m getting a new Moog, a Sub 37 and a Prophet. I also do a lot of stuff in my mate Reset Robot’s studio, we’ve worked together a lot, and it’s well documented we used to do hard dance techno together, and he’s got a lot of hardware in his set up.
MM: Tell us about your smash it “We Do What We Want” on your own label ‘We Are The Brave’ what was the inspiration for starting that label and that track?
AF: With regards to my label “We Are The Brave” I actually took a lot of inspiration from ‘Drumcode’ and how far Adam had taken that. I wanted to work with something that gave me a bit of freedom and something that I could call my own, put all my passion into and build something from the ground up.
In terms of the track ‘We Do What We Want’ we knew it was good and we kinda actually rushed it out to see what the feedback would be like, and by popular demand, the track actually blew up before it even had a name funnily enough. People were online all over social media about the track and it pretty much went viral from there, it had like 300,000 plays before the track was even named and that was just a rip from a YouTube video at the festival. Its mental it wasn’t even the actual track and it created a monster, this was the perfect way to launch the label and we couldn’t have asked for anything better with so much exposure, we just pushed on from there.
The meaning behind ‘We Are The Brave’ is that it’s a place for good music, it doesn’t matter what genre it is as long as it’s a good track we will push it. That’s the best way for us, not to have everything too formulated and we are brave enough to do it.
MM: So what producers and DJ’s you taking notice of these days?
AF: At the moment I’m getting a lot of inspiration from some of the new guys that are coming up like Boxia, Leonardo, Neil, Thomas Evans, it’s difficult not to get inspired by the hunger they have for it, they are very talented lads.
MM: You have also gained a loyal and growing set of followers over the last few years, why do you think this is?
AF: It’s all down to hard work mate, simple as that! I’ve been working really really hard putting in the graft and the hours eating and breathing it, it eventually pays off. A lot of my new followers have only got into my stuff since I started the label ‘We Are The Brave’ even though my history goes back longer than that. I’ve been putting in the effort continually over the years just kept on plugging away, I must be doing something right haha.
MM: Persistence pays off eh, I know you now have people going back to your earlier stuff and getting involved with all of that as well?
AF: Exactly mate, only took me 15 years to be an overnight success, haha and that’s the cool thing about it as it’s always regenerating itself. So now I have countless new people coming to my gigs buying my music alongside the fans who’ve known me for years still coming. If they still want me to play, then it all adds to the longevity and I’m grateful.
MM: So you coming to Ireland soon to tear it up ‘Fitzys week on the black stuff’ (Guinness) DJ tour, tell us a bit about the 6 dates. What’s your connection to Ireland?
AF: Yeah man, I’ve got some Irish blood going way back and I do seem to do really well in Ireland at my gigs, there’s a great connection with the people they really like what I do, it’s one of my favourite places to play, and it’s the first time that I’ve ever done consecutive shows one after the other in Ireland. The only other time I came close was a gig in District 8 in Dublin and when the tickets went out on sale on Thursday, they sold out so fast they asked me to play on the Friday night as well! That’s never happened before.
So this time around everybody was just asking “can you play here?”, “can you come there?”, so now I’ve got gigs in Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Sligo, and Galway so I’m gunna be flat out in the Range Rover for the week, I’ve got my PlayStation and we’re just going to take Ireland by Storm!!
MM: Haha wicked man, so what’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life?
AF: Good question, I think it’s definitely been finding the right balance between my work life and my family life just trying to figure out the best way to be the best father and husband with the right balance because I’m away a lot, and that has been a massive change for me. But I’m happy now we seem to have hit the right balance as I’m home one weekend every month and the kids travel with me a lot as well. It’s taken a little while but myself and my family are now the happiest we’ve ever been.
So, that enables me to stay motivated and happy to enjoy the job and the family life because so many in this industry are either divorced, separated, and they don’t see their kids etc. So the challenge for me was trying to keep all that together, as I’m not going down that route.
MM: Regarding modern technology….. Sync buttons, constructions kits, and templates what are your thoughts on this?
AF: I suppose there are two sides to this story, I think it’s great there are so many software platforms that enable people to have a go whether it production or DJing with very minimal outlay, they can use demo versions, plugins, VSTs they can start by just messing around with them and hitting buttons straight away allowing creativity and interest to blossom. So in that regard, I think that is a good thing if it enables them to push themselves and maybe make a name for themselves eventually injecting new life into the scene.
On the flip side if you want to learn to DJ properly or professionally, you’ve got to learn the roots and that’s beat matching on vinyl or CDJs whether technology negates the need to beat match or not there aren’t any shortcuts about learning your craft and being qualified to do it you’ve got to have done your homework, train your ears. If the sync button was removed so would 90% of the worlds current DJs.
MM: Also Social media stats logos branding and image seem to be more important these days?
AF: Mate, it’s a reflection of the way we all consume information, now so many people post up every movement on Instagram or Facebook, every single thing they’ve done in the day. 20 years ago you didn’t know what superstar DJs had for their breakfast, if you wanted to find out about someone back then you have to buy the magazines, and then by the time you got it back it be all dog-eared because you’ve lent it to all your mates who are also reading it for all the info.
Nowadays you just send them a message on Twitter and you ask them yourself or are you just go on the Instagram and it shows you what they’ve had for breakfast, where they’re going to go in a minute, or how many times they have run up and down the hill haha.
Also a lot of promoters now book DJs because they’ve got like a million likes even though they’ve never heard them play a dam set, it’s a very different world and it’s very hard for the younger people coming up now not to get caught up in that and get caught in the trap and fakeness of it all.
But, that’s just the way it’s getting done now so the new model is if a wannabe DJ looks cool and acts cool they must be a good DJ, haha and people will just assume they are going to be good because of their online profile which of course is bull.
Everything goes in cycles so at some point people will not really be interested in that model anymore and be like ‘show us what you can really do’, so if you value credibility and are an up-and-coming DJ or producer and are really wanting to get real Instagram likes and followers on Facebook etc then set up your smartphone where it’s recording you playing your set live and show people what you can do!
MM: It’s a totally saturated market these days for producers and DJs alike any advice on creating a niche?
AF: Yeah, unfortunately, it’s not enough just to be good at being a DJ it’s about production and producing your tracks, talent, and dedication to working hard mixed in with some sort of wow factor that people will want to take an interest in you. Remember through and through there are no shortcuts you can’t really jump ahead of anyone, you’ve got to put in the graft and not be standing on anybody else’s shoulders. So all I’ll say then is good luck because it’s fucking hard it’s not all glam like everybody thinks it is, it’s not all about the parties, there’s a lot of travel, a lot of boring waits in the airports, lots of sleepless nights and stress. So if you think you’ve got it, prove it and show the world!
MM: Exactly, so what drives and motivates you then Alan?
AF: The passion to succeed, to try new things and continuously pushing myself to do more. My kids and family motivate me. They’re of an age now where they see my videos on YouTube and there’s so proud of what I do. Once I get the bit between my teeth I just push push push and go for it, there’s not a lot of things that I give up on and the fans, of course, are a huge motivation seeing the passion that they bring to the parties to see you play it’s hard not to get a buzz off that, as long as people want to keep on watching and listening I’ll keep on playing!
MM: Ok nice one, tell us then what pisses you off about the scene and what do you love about the scene?
AF: Hates – Fake DJs and all their crap hangers-on, booth whores that hang around and get in the way. Loves – That it’s always evolving it’s always changing the energy it generates it’s exciting, amazing clubs come and go, styles come and go, fashions come and go it never gets dull, just when you think we’ve conquered it then something else breaks out.
MM: Biggest gig festival moment?
AF: There’s been a few man, the Mandarin party in Argentina 12,000 people in the park all singing the lyrics back to one of my tracks and the crowd were absolutely having it that was a pinch myself moment, Arcadia at Glastonbury was amazing, it was surreal and Ibiza has certainly been really funny as well, pulling an all-nighter at amnesia that was goosebumps, with lots of brain cells lost haha.
MM: I’d say so man, OK Alan, So what’s next on the radar for 2018?
AF: I just released my collab “El Jefe” with Sasha, which was pretty massive to close out the year. For 2018 there’s a new single coming out on ‘We Are The Brave’ called ‘Joyrider’ and I got a new EP coming out too, as well as some more ‘We Are The Brave’ label shows coming up. Not forgetting to mention another house party tour, where we set up sound systems in houses and go for it! I’ve also got Paddy’s Day in Ireland at a festival which has been renamed Alan Fitzpatrick’s Day so that will be a big one and also a very busy summer in Ibiza as usual.
MM: Nice one Alan
Live Interview – Page Design – Editing Mike Mannix
Photography – Grant Jones