This is â€˜The Spotlight.â€™ Many artists pass through D.C. on a weekly basis, but this column highlights one specific artist who happens to be playing in the district during the week. That way, you may join their journey in influencing the house music landscape.
There is no question that London based artist Erol Alkan has helped shape dance music as we know it today. As a DJ, he needs little introduction â€“ in 2006, he received Mixmag’s renowned DJ of the Year Award. Nine years later, he shows no sign of slowing down â€“ he still plays approximately one hundred shows a year. As the label boss of Phantasy Sound, Alkan has helped bring artists such as Daniel Avery and Ghost Culture into the limelight. Alkan has gained respect from his fans and peers alike as a producer and remixer, and he has even been called the inventor of the mash-up.
Before his show tonight at U Street Music Hall, we had the opportunity to interview Erol Alkan. You will find the interview along with one of Alkan’s mixes below:
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PB: In an interview with Red Bull Music Academy Daily, you said that your earliest memory of music (which may be your earliest memory) was sitting on the floor of your old home with your toy Dansette player. For our readers who arenâ€™t familiar with Dansette players, they are record players. Most children play with firetrucks, dolls, or stuffed animals, but you were playing with a Dansette player â€“Â how did this happen? Who gave you this toy and how would you play with it?
EA: It’s true, the Dansette player is the only thing we had to keep me amused. It belonged to my parents. I don’t recall really having many toys when I was younger.
PB: When did you first know that you wanted to be a DJ? Was it an epiphany, or did you come to realize your passion over time? What inspired your decision? How old were you? Were your family and friends supportive of you becoming a DJ, or did they want you to pursue another occupation?
EA: Maybe around 2006 when Mixmag made me ‘Dj Of The Year’.. It seems weird but before that I treated it quite differently, when that accolade was given to me it made me realise what I’d achieved through quite an honest pursuit.
PB: In that same Red Bull Music Academy Daily interview, you said that your â€œuncle remains the person who seems to be the most enthusiastic about music.â€ How did he continue to support and influence you as you gained popularity as an artist? Would you say that he is your greatest influence? Who or what else had a significant influence on you as an artist?
EA: He was. unfortunately he died around 14 years ago so he didn’t really see where my love of music took me. Everything influences me in some way. Much of what I do is driven by what I dislike rather then tracing what I do like.
PB: What’s the most moving piece of music you have ever heard? What about it moved you?
EA: Impossible to answer.
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Elvis Costello
PB: In an interview with Miami New Times earlier this year, you said that you â€œdon’t read any EDM-natured magazines or websites â€¦ I live next door to a very illustrious and famous writer, and he knows I’m a DJ. I fear what he thinks I do, as his perception of the â€˜DJâ€™ may be informed by what EDM and the media has created. I feel the need to take him to one of my gigs so he can see what it is I actually am.â€ Over the years, you have had an enormous impact on dance music and DJing. You have even been credited with inventing the mash-up. So why distance yourself from a scene that you helped create? What is it that separates you from EDM DJs? Is it your style of DJing? Is it the style of music you play? If not a DJ, what are you and why do you want share this with your neighbor?
EA: I’ve not followed EDM so can’t really answer this.
PB: If you could change present-day EDM in any way, how would you change it?
EA: People seem to enjoy it, so I wouldn’t wish to change something which others enjoy solely because I may not agree with it. My whole career has been focused on creating something I want to exist, and with that comes the acceptance that others can do the same.
PB: Thank you for your time. We look forward to hearing you at U Street Music Hall tonight.