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Alan Fitzpatrick on storming the Balearics in 2015

Alan Fitzpatrick is back for his biggest season yet and we bagged a Balearic blether before he detonated his ammo on Coxy's Music Is Revolution.

Alan Fitzpatrick was once a 17-year-old music loving raver, who for the first time was released onto the Balearic Isle with the legally required parental permission letter to travel. Fast forward fifteen years and Fitzpatrick is a monolithic techno titan, who is carving up alphabetic characters to give name to his heavy basslined stompers which often leave you feeling like they should have come with a parental guidance sticker on account of their brutality.

We managed to catch the man over a generous portion of plumped up sushi, while I fought facial sweats I can't seem to tame, before cracking down on the questions to get the scoop on the man who claims a spiritual relationship with Ibiza. He had his first taste during the time capsule era of Space and DC10 being open-aired, and waxed lyrical about being unable to go a full 365 days without descending on the White Isle for a session. An Ibiza Virgin, he had already begun to experiment with mixing and had set his path in dance music, but he admitted that his mind was blown open by the madness of Ibiza – particularly Privilege – and the connective power between the DJ, the music and the crowd.

From there, his eyes were fully transfixed on the DJ booth and his pupils have long hit BINGO. The Southampton Englishman has been catapulted through techno's raucous ranks since crashing in as the new kid on the block in the latter half of 2008. He's seen his sound soar after signing to Adam Beyer's Drumcode label imprint, releasing Static/Rubix in 2009. Fast forward once more and Fitzpatrick doesn't miss a carnivorous beat, evolving within his own chiseled musical niche under the broadened techno soaked umbrella.

As a big lover of his sound which boasts a meaty catalogue of sonic stormers in the form of Truant, Skesis and Reflections, you could say I might have been just a little bit nervous. The guy is a universally respected in-demand producer and revered remixer afterall. But I was also well aware of his down-to-earth nature which I got a good sample of; self deprication on ousting the face sweats and asking about my fellow native Susan Boyle (who he had pictured on his Facebook) seemed to be a good icebreaker. Instantly made comfortable with the champ who released an Ibiza dancefloor weapon last year. The said weapon is his smasher remix of Trus' Me I Want You and its one which is still invading our aural vents one summer on.

Turns out that for him, the track was a massive slow burner, crafting it in his studio through a cold February day, a summer smash was not his intention and he admitted he barely played it after making it. But its unexpected rein on the island at the hands of DJs rested in all corners of the dance spectrum, is massively gratifying, and highlights the unpredictable nature of the music industry which feeds into energising his creativity. “You never know what's going to happen, it's exciting. Last year that was ridiculous here. People were telling me they couldn't go a day without hearing it, sometimes four times in the same night, which is mad.”

As the clubbing mecca creeps into August, Fitzpatrick is in the middle of his six summer dates which, after a number of flirtations of playing on the island in past years, comprise his biggest season yet. It was a treat for me to catch him later that night in Space's Terrace for Carl Cox's Music Is Revolution. This date comes just after his three track EP release for Drumcode which features two already heavily in demand dance dynamos U Said U and Love Siren which, with early 90s vocal samples, exhibit his penchant for introducing old school to new school. In a nod to our afternoon blether, Trus' Me's I Want You was blasting out as I made my way into the mobbed terrace which firmly held its power draw against ‘Oh Yes, Oh Yes' chief, Coxy.

"DJs who play vinyl-only aren't interested in trends on Beatport or top tens. It's a different world really. You get to dig deeper."

I'm one of the patient clubbers who's been chompin' at the bit for the release of U Said U since I heard Adam Beyer play it through Drumcode Radio on Soundcloud. When hints of it came ebbing through with the ascending euphoric female vocal hook, I was in the fifth element. He left us with Mory Kanté's Yeke Yeke, unable to beat the bass that has trekked for many years on the beaten track but lost barely an ounce of its solid imprint. When asked to spill about his love for the old school, Fitzpatrick puts it purely down to his taste of loving both worlds and being able to be an educator in dance through introducing this taste for the past to his crowd. “There's not always a lot of people who play a mix of both. I will still play stuff now that kids will be like, ‘is this new?' and I'll be like 'it's older than you'.”

For the final chunk of the season, the destination for his operation onslaught is Sankeys Tuesday Tribal Sessions. From Space to Sankeys; two nights, set in two very different venues, both of which draw on his ability to spontaneously progress his sets from the vibe offered by the crowd of the time slot. What goes down a storm in a smaller capacity basement might not resonate to the same degree as with a larger capacity terrace; he found he can lay down the “groovy stuff” much more in Sankeys. Similarly, the unique vibe of Ibiza means Fitzpatrick might play to crowds who aren't already familiar with his sound, his club gig falling into their rave timetable by chance, meaning he has often recruited a new army of fans. “It keeps you on your toes cause you can't just get away with playing what you normally play because people have never seen you before.”

The pool of dance music diehards yet to see him is steadily closing, with 2015 being another hike in the number of bookings, gigs and festivals dotted the world over. The result is some heavy duty fatigue, with Alan often unable to explain to airport security control where he's just stepped off from. When asked where he gets his inspiration from to continuously bring in the ammo, it's further removed from vibrating speaker havens than you might imagine. Countryside cycles are included in what keeps him, and consequently us, on our toes. “I don't like to listen to dance music when I'm not playing... well not that much.” He sets aside two days a week to rally through the bass heavy stuff for work and after that, the bassline is dropped. “The less I listen to that stuff, the fresher it is when I do listen to it. The more space you have between the dance music stuff, the longer you can enjoy it for.” As a DJ who visibly gets a kick out of what he's playing, a characteristic clubbers feed from, having him scunnered by the tracks we love would be a terrible consequence that we'd pay for.

The Balearics aside, Fitzpatrick's schedule is ransacked. In a case of literal old school, he's busy with two of his music producing childhood buddies on their Whistleblower imprint. Alongside Fitzpatrick is Reset Robot and Rhymos and the three of them are intent on releasing original material that doesn't fall slam within the confines of a club smash. One of the obvious pluses of bouncing off long-time mates in the studio is being comfortable enough to, if need be, call it out and simply say, “that's sh*t.” I doubt it happens often, but there's nothing quite like constructive criticism from an old pal reduced to two words.

Another project keeping Alan's zing zinging is his vinyl-only label ESD, an acronym for what music pleasure is based on: explore, search, discover. It harks back to the days when sourcing that track that set your senses on fire could be tough, and in some cases, impossible. No Shazam, wham bam thank you mam, found it and there it is already in my Youtube favourites, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Spotify, Last FM and my granny's magic teapot. His desire was to use ESD as a path to return to the exclusivity the music industry once had, step out from the commercial success whirlpool and more firmly into the underground. To execute this, each release is limited to between 300 or 500 copies and it only has a limited online presence. “You only get it once and it's gone. No promos, no nothing. DJs who play vinyl-only aren't interested in trends on Beatport or top tens. It's a different world really. You get to dig deeper.”

Despite old school tendencies in music and spirit, he admits that the digital age is a big part of where he is now. “It's different now, everyone knows everything straight away. Someone on the other side of the world can watch your DJ set ten minutes after you've played. There's no hiding from anything now which is cool because it exposes you to everywhere. Certain markets you'll play and you'd never get to go there if there wasn't this phenomenon.”

His captivated audience is global wide and they're eagerly watching for his next movements. In keeping with that little slice of exclusivity he has a tendency for, and as a little teaser, our beady bass battering eyes will be seeing something very special from Fitzpatrick in the next 12 months. A new album is on the cards which is going to see him utilising an even "braver" approach for production – prepare to be ready for techno and house to be spliced with anything from jungle to dub. But what's really got our anticipation going, is his experimentation with a live concept project - musicians and vocalists in tow - who will inject his ammo, the old and the yet-to-be-sampled new, with fresh ferocity. It's still in its infancy but imagine the likes of Reflections and U Said U taken to a completely different live level. It's going to be magic, no doubt.

Until then, if you're passing through the Balearics, find out when you can put this man in your calendar here.


WORDS | Aimee Lawrence PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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