We all know Erol Alkan as a great communicator and sharer of music, but it’s fair to say that the wait for the first solo material from the DJ, club promoter and Phantasy Label boss has been rather a long one. So why has he chosen the autumn of 2013 to release his debut EP? “It’s getting to the point where even though there is a lot of great music around, I just felt like I needed to get my hands dirty” Erol says. “If it doesn’t exist, create it.”
This drive and love of creativity while getting his hands dirty extends right back to the late 90s. Manning a phone in his North London bedsit, Erol would do the legwork promoting Trash, his legendary club where the idea of the indie night as a haven for lager-loaded lads was thankfully put to rest as genre divides collapsed and Electroclash bloomed.
At Trash, Erol fostered a community where people came round to the idea that Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ was a kindred spirit to The Smiths’ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. It was where Erol first played his bootleg of Kyle Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ and New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ that was later used at the Brit Awards, and which led the unassuming DJ, with his ripped jeans, long hair and black leather jacket, to getting booked to support Madonna and Daft Punk.
Erol Alkan never expected to be offered a residency at Bugged Out (halfway through his debut set for them), be awarded Muzik’s ‘Best Breakthrough Dj’ or to win the coveted Mixmag DJ Of The Year award in 2006. Club scene outsider Erol’s victory was a case of David versus Goliath; the winner from 2005 was Paul Van Dyk, the year afterwards was Armin Van Buuren, “Guys who are pretty much dance music industries” Erol says. “I made no bones about the fact that I fell into Dj-ing electronic music by accident, via a lucky break, but it doesn’t make me any less of a fan of the music.”
As he became increasingly in demand across the globe, he expanded his creative palette, producing critically acclaimed albums by The Long Blondes (‘Couples’), Mystery Jets (‘Twenty One’) and Late Of The Pier (‘Fantasy Black Channel’), all groups who followed the Trash aesthetic of smart music to move to. The same went for remixes, with Hot Chip, Kindness, Franz Ferdinand, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scissor Sisters, MGMT, Justice, Connan Mockasin, Metronomy and Tame Impala all getting the Alkan treatment. “It’s not so much about putting my sound to a it – the hardest part is making something sound like you but also sound exactly like the artist” Erol says of his reworks.
These might have been played out by DJs from a huge range of backgrounds – 2manydjs, Michael Mayer, Tiga, John Digweed, Pedro Winter, Ata and Daniel Avery to name but a few, but Erol is especially proud of the personal response to Tame Impala’s ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’ and Metronomy’s ‘The Bay’. “Joe from Metronomy sent me a wonderful text when he heard the rework of ‘The Bay’. That’s an important thing for me: if you take somebody’s music, mess with it and give it back to them, for them to respond ‘that’s great, I love it’, then that’s the greatest success. I’ve personally experienced that myself, when Gonzales reworked ‘Waves’ into a solo piano piece, or LFO remixing ‘Roland Rat’ and completely blowing my mind.”
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