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Burning the fuse at both ends with Enzo Siragusa

On little sleep in the midst of back-to-back parties, FUSE's founder dropped by.

Unsure of what to do with ourselves, we were milling about in the lobby of a hotel. Enzo Siragusa's, to be exact. Though he had yet to materialise, the receptionist informed us a wake-up call was requested. As it happens, we were running a little ahead of schedule.

Before long, a ruffled figure emerged, creeping down the stairs and pawing at his eyes.

Dishevelled? A little. Yet still polite enough to greet us with a smile and warm handshake, Enzo disclosed he had managed to get a few hours sleep... though we weren't sure if we believed him. After exchanging pleasantries, we offered him a drink. He declined.

No coffee, no water, no Berocca, no aspirin. No need. He's a seasoned pro, after all.

During the early years of the eponymous A Decade Of Rave, you could be forgiven for attributing Enzo's current state to self-inflicted excess. FUSE started life at 93 Feet East as a renowned after hours, Enzo and his friends immersing themselves in London's after-party culture.

But on this day, the reality was very different. Those bleary-eyed sessions have been largely resigned to the history books. Enzo is now a husband and father with a young family. In addition, his career has skyrocketed.

The day before was his birthday. His current condition, excused. Belated salutations were offered. A birthday worth remembering? He insisted it was a tame one… by his standards. Not that he gifted himself much time to appreciate it.

Three massive gigs in the space of two days down with international travel thrown in on top. Later that night, he was set to play again. BODYWORKS closing party at the behest of industry pals Solardo and CamelPhat was calling.

Enzo is experiencing the toll of being a DJ in demand. Crucially, he wasn't complaining. We asked how the shows went.

Tobacco Dock was immense. It was a sick party.” And there it was. Still rubbing his eyes, granted, but that cheeky Sicilian grin definitely registered. When it comes to the rave, or even just talking about it, no level of tiredness can stifle Enzo's enthusiasm.

Last year we took the Car Park and that was really cool. It had this low ceiling, intense vibe. I was a bit concerned we weren't going to be able to replicate that same kind of energy this time in the new room. But we smashed it, mate."

Balearic vibes at East London's Tobacco Dock on Saturday 21 September
PHOTO | by Luke Dyson

"It was rammed. It had this natural light coming in and it felt kind of like the old Amnesia terrace in the morning, you know what I mean? It had that vibe. It was just going off! From the beginning to the end. I couldn't ask for more, really.”

From Tobacco Dock, it was straight to the after-party (an official, open-to-all, public affair on this occasion). Following that, a career debut at Barcelona's infamous Row 14 - the spiritual home of elrow.

“Brilliant, it was my first time playing there. I was able to smash it out a bit more than usual and stray away from the deeper stuff I usually play. It was my chance to have it.”

Madder still, it was only a week earlier when he was last on the island. His feet had barely touched the floor and he could be forgiven for being a little disorientated. On that occasion, he was guesting for tINI & the gang at Underground.

Another sick party - I think it was one of their busiest of the summer,” he mustered with a glint of pride. “For me, Underground is one of the most special clubs on the island. They've beefed up the system and it sounded great.”

It seemed an appropriate point to tell him about our own FUSE induction.

Weirdly, it had started on Ibiza, not in East London. It was the Wednesday doubleheader. Head down to Playa d'en Bossa beach for tINI at Sirocco and then move onto Sankeys for FUSE afterwards, refuelling en route. Special days. It was the ice-breaker we were hoping for.

There's this magic when tINI and I get together. We're just two DJs that know each other inside-out. Even though our careers might have taken slightly different routes, we just gel back together.”

Now relaxed in our company and seemingly prepared to shrug off his on-setting narcolepsy, not even sleep deprivation could dampen Enzo's passion for the rave. With an eye on the time, we knuckled down to talk it out.


Enzo Siragusa on Ibiza

Ibiza seemed like the most logical starting point, but the forlorn figure that Enzo cut did not scream a man about to DJ to several thousand partygoers in Hï Ibiza's Theatre. To warm him up, we decided on the most classic of opening gambits: where his Ibiza journey all began.

We knew Enzo would have a story to tell, and true enough he was ready to open up. Was it infatuation at first sight?

I knew as soon as I got here, to be honest. It was 1996. Just the energy, the parties, you know. I was going raving in the UK, but I was into jungle. When I came to Ibiza, it was a whole other level of clubbing. It was just a mixed bag of people, culturally."

"I went to Amnesia and thought 'This is incredible!' going on until midday. Who carried on to midday back at home? Back then you could party for seven days straight, 24-hours a day.

You could go, right, I'm going to go to Space, then Bora Bora, then DC-10, back to Space. It didn't stop.

I did lose my marbles a few times, might have almost left in a straitjacket! (laughs) But I loved that. That was the magic of the place. Manumission at KU at the time, unbelievable. I remember looking around me thinking, 'What is going on in here?' It was just chaos - so vibrant.

I fell in love with it and I've been back every year since.”

And what about the first time he played?

First time I played here was probably around 2003 when I came here for the season. I played at Eden in the garden back when they had an outdoor area. Every once and while they had a party where they opened it.

You'd never get away with doing something open-air through the night anymore.”

By now, Enzo had livened up and was in full flow. The signs of wear and tear had all but vanished.

Turning our attention towards the party later, would it be fair to say BODYWORKS is one of the more mainstream parties you've played?

Yep, it could be viewed that way, but the guys have done an amazing job and they've smashed it this season. You know, I'm viewed as an underground artist to a degree, but it's not something I really subscribe to.

We live in a digital age. Everybody has access to information on their phones. They consume information this way and ultimately, you're playing at a party with 6,000-7,000 people who have all bought tickets. That can only be a good thing.

You know, I just want to play to different people in different situations because I'm a DJ. Why would I limit myself by saying, 'Maybe this is a little bit too mainstream'?

Wherever I play, judge me on the music. I'm really looking forward to playing at Hï Ibiza. I played there earlier in the summer for Black Coffee. That could be argued to be veering to the mainstream side, too, but I really enjoyed it."

And would he play any differently?

I always approach a DJ set in exactly the same way. I look at the crowd in front of me and I read it. I look at the person who is playing before me and after me. I think about the scale of the room in which I am playing and what would resonate best.

When I play an hour and a half set, I might not be able to go as deep as I might when doing an all-nighter. It's circumstantial, but ultimately the mindset is still the same. When I play at Hï later, you're going to hear Enzo.”


Enzo Siragusa on FUSE

Conversation naturally steered onto the topic of Enzo's FUSE brothers. The collective is a close-knit band. Their shared passion for house music - and partying - unites them. It's something we are keen to discuss further, not least in light of A Decade Of Rave.

Collectively, we're all cut from the same cloth. We came from the dance floor; we're ravers. We're just a bunch of party people! That's first and foremost. We've all got a very strong passion for the scene. All of this music we've grown up with- that is ultimately what bonded us.

All the boys feel the same as me about the music. You'll hear it in all of our material.”

The second part of Enzo's album was imminent, set to drop in a matter of days. We'd already had a sneak peek.

Whilst part one was wholly solo (if you're willing to overlook a cameo from Rossko turning his hand to MC duties), part two is entirely collaborative, featuring hook-ups with the full gang. How did Enzo find the process?

It's just easy working with them. Essentially, we're just a bunch of mates.”

There's banter, ribbing, egging on - of course there is. Like Enzo says, a bunch of mates. That aside, this wasn't just the case of mucking around in the studio but a project that Enzo and the FUSE family poured their heart and soul into.

When we work together, we learn so much from each other. At the same time, everyone's working on their own individual stuff. We're all developing as artists. Every time we go back to the studio, we learn something new.”

Keen to know if the process of releasing two full LPs has been a rewarding one, we quizzed him if he were likely to revisit the format in the near future? Or whether it's due a hiatus? The industry, and FUSE as a label, lean toward high-impact single releases after all.

"Rich and I have got more stuff on the go, Seb and I have got more stuff on the go. I plan to do stuff with Archie at some point. You can expect more.”


Archie Hamilton

"Arch came from the FUSE dance floor. I remember when he was just a really young guy. He was just there religiously every week. It was an education for him, I guess. He's probably listened to me play more than anybody else. "

"He adopted parts of my style and now he's got his own. He's been influenced by Ross, too. Archie is a great producer; he's worked hard."


Rossko

"Rossko has got a great ear for music. He's a DJ who has transitioned into producing. That takes time. Rossko just released his first EP on FUSE although he's released on the label before when we did a V/A, the Blossom EP was his first solo effort."

"Thinking back, he was probably my first ever fan! (laughs) He used to follow me about and come to my gigs way back. We're talking, like, 2004?"

When did you find out he could MC? At an after-party, presumably?

He always used to tell me about his MCing, the grime kind of stuff he was into. With Rollin' Riddim, I just had him chatting on the phone and I recorded it. I was goading him on, saying 'come on Ross, spit a few bars!' Just mucking about, really.

We're always mucking about and doing stupid things. We're pals at the end of the day. I'm always encouraging him to break into a flow and that's how that track happened.”


Rich NxT

"Rich is the nicest person I know. The greatest and most genuine human being I think I've ever met. I say that to everyone. I feel like he's an enlightened being of some kind. Quite frankly, I don't understand how such a nice guy can make the filthiest music!

I would say he might be the most talented one of us when it comes to music production. He's very musical."

"We met at a rave. I think it was actually at Cocoon in Amnesia. He and I are a little bit older. We were both into ‘90s hardcore and stuff like that. We bonded really easily. He was one of FUSE's original residents, really.

For me, he's pioneered that sound. I've had the most inspiration from Rich and Seb.”


Seb Zito

"Seb is just a great guy. He's one of my best pals, you know. As a DJ, I don't think there are many other people who I'd rather listen to. If I were planning to go out and have a dance, I'd want to be seeing him. Seb is technically one of the best DJs out there."

He's done a few of those garage nights for WILDCHILD this past summer that seemed to capture the imagination of many people.

"You know, I always struggled to mix garage. On the turntables with a pair of decks, he's just incredible. He never gets a mix wrong."

"In terms of production, over the past years, I've watched him work so hard, put the hours in the studio and now bring his music next level. I lean towards a deeper sound, but Seb is making bangers. That's great because it's a different vibe and different style. It works.”

That's an interesting comment because we were quite keen to ask you something actually. There's a bit of dispute about what you'd actually label the FUSE sound. The party and label have quite a distinct signature that has even seen it dubbed ‘Fusic.'

What's your own personal take on that?

I suppose it's a melting pot of UK sounds. For me, it's just house! - the dirty word ‘tech house' that people don't like anymore. Other people say its ‘deep tech.'

The FUSE sound is more a style of play. All our residents have it. We don't just walk in and smash out bangers. It's an energy and a mood.

Call it what you want, but for me, it will always be just house."


FUSE on Ibiza

FUSE might have only had the one date on Ibiza this summer, but it was a corker. Much like the London show we had discussed earlier, the party was a collaboration with the Martinez Brothers' Cuttin' Headz.

To add further prestige, the event on Friday 2 August was also FUSE's debut at infamous Ibiza hotspot DC-10 as Enzo and co took over the club room with Chris and Stevie Jr looking after the terrace next door.

On the night in question, Enzo would take the decks all night long. But in a nice twist, he would be joined by members of the FUSE family throughout the night, playing back-to-back in the latest stop on the A Decade Of Rave tour.


We have to ask you about the dynamics of multiple b2b partners in a single night.

I haven't done it in an all-night-long format before, but previously I've played a lot of very long sets with the boys. Or maybe where I've played back-to-back with one of them and then back-to-back with another.

But that's definitely the first time I've done a b2b with everybody all night long.

It wasn't the initial plan, but it was something that was mentioned in order to do something a little more interesting. It worked. It was actually quite challenging for me, working through the different styles, especially the half live, half DJ set with Guti.”

Yeah, how does that work?

"It's hard work! I had to be the one mixing most of the time. Obviously, if Guti was bringing something in that was slightly out, it was easier for me (as the DJ) to get it back in sync. It was two hours of constant work, but it was ace.

All those guys are my friends, Guti included. I enjoyed the concept. Not only that, but it pushed my DJing ability."

Another interesting element, this burgeoning relationship with Cuttin' Headz you have going on. That's successful link-ups in London this year and last, Amsterdam for ADE and now Ibiza, too. How did it all start?

I have been friends with the Bros' for a long time. We were actually with the same agency several years ago. They have been long-standing fans of FUSE and have raved at the party in the past. Likewise, I've always admired what they do. Over the years we've worked up a good rapport.

Musically, the collaboration works. If you have a traditional rave - where you have room one and room two - we complement each other. You have them doing their thing in their way, then we next door doing something a little bit different. It's a good vibe between both camps.”

The Martinez Brother's Cuttin' Headz and FUSE camp complementing one another at DC-10

Is that a relationship we're going to see continue in the future?

Possibly, yeah. Every time we see each other, they always say, 'This just works, doesn't it?' And it's true, it really does. So why not?”

Okay, now the most pertinent of questions… a single date this summer: quality over quantity. But we've got to know, what is the likelihood of FUSE having a bigger presence on the island next year? Could we seen the return of a weekly residency?

Never say never, but it's not something at the top of my agenda if I'm honest. London is still my primary focus. Look, I just love putting on raves that the team and I can do something special with.

Behind the scenes, the whole team take great pride in the parties that we throw. I think Ibiza is a place that's changing. For me as an artist, I've come here this summer and played for so many different parties, I've had a lot of fun doing that. I want to keep doing that."

"The one-offs have worked well for us. When you have a residency, it's added stress, you know what I mean? You end up getting dragged into the business end - and then the political end - of the island.”

Enzo spoke like a man burnt by past experience; then again, maybe it was good, old fashioned realism. It's a reminder that even in the most whirlwind of love affairs, there's a thin line between love and hate.

Steering him back onside, we returned to a subject we know is dear to his heart: Underground. Conveniently, FUSE's sister imprint INFUSE threw a party there a few weeks later. That starry glint returned.

Underground is the perfect environment for a party like ours. INFUSE is the essence of what this brand was always about. The guys who are playing are great DJs. Together, it's the perfect recipe for a great party.

All of the big stuff is ten-a-penny. If you're on the island, you'd be silly not to experience something as intimate as that.”


Our interview drew to an end, but for Enzo Siragusa time did not stop. He had to get ready for BODYWORKS later. There was an invitation to join Solardo for dinner, he said.

“We're going to Balafia! They do the best food and this amazing homemade aioli that's pure garlic.” It's praise for the restaurant we've heard many times before.

After BODYWORKS, it was a return to the UK, albeit via Thomas Cook-induced chaos. Only a fleeting visit back to loved ones, Mint Festival in Leeds - another FUSE stronghold - was the weekend after. He played b2b with old friend, Loco Dice.

Talk about career-trajectory, from there, he moved onto South America: Colombia, Peru and a date for RESISTANCE in Chile. He even threw an appearance in Sheffield. Why not? Then it was time for arguably the biggest of them all: Time Warp New York.


PHOTOGRAPHY | by Michael Tomlinson

A Decade Of Rave is over. Enzo Siragusa and the FUSE camp celebrated the party's 11th birthday at Studio 338 in London on Saturday 23 November. Joined by Archie, Rich, Ross, Seb, East End Dubs and Casey Spillman, afterwards they headed to FUSE's roots and moved onto a breakfast shindig at 93 Feet East.

Ibiza-based FUSE fans needn't miss out. It might be the off-season, but Enzo Siragusa is back on the island at underground haunt Octan Ibiza on Saturday 30 November with the Capadi Rebels for Follow Your Rebellion.

Pre-gig: at Platges de s'Illa Grossa (left), mid-gig: playing at BODYWORKS closing (right)

And as for his BODYWORKS appearance? He smashed it, as per. Sleep or no sleep, we hadn't expected anything less.

A Decade Of Rave Volume One and Two are out now and available from all reputable download stores.

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