In Tune With Each Other: Erol Alkan

"Most of it was drawn from memory..."
Erol Alkan 2012.JPG
Initially giving off an air of reluctance, hesitant to answer my questions, it soon becomes apparent that Erol Alkan is a man who considers every word or opinion he utters.

Talking to him a few days before he plays Glasgow’s legendary Sub Club with his Phantasy label-mate Daniel Avery, he describes the reasoning behind starting his own record label (in 2007) as having “as much control as possible”:

“It began by finding music that we wanted to release, and that’s what the first releases were all about. It wasn’t until later I realised that I could release any music I’m involved with and be able to track every creative element from start to finish.”

2012 has been a busy year for the 38 year old - his Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve collaboration with Richard Norris released Black Noise, a two track twelve inch in May; and this month, Alkan released the sequel to 2004’s 'A Bugged In Mix' - 'Another Bugged Out Mix' and 'Another Bugged In Selection'.

Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve is a project founded on the pair’s love of psychedelic music, and a chance for him to find, what he calls “relief” from the electronic club music that made his name: “I feel that if I have this other persona, it can only sharpen all of my musical senses rather than just be committed to one sound or one corner or subgenre of dance music, it shouldn’t consume every area of your creativity.

Eight years since Alkan released 'A Bugged Out Mix', the record that helped - along with Soulwax - define the mash-up phenomenon of the early to mid noughties, the producer believes that it was the right time to release its successor, having not felt a connection to music as strong as then, until now:

“I’ve probably got around 20,000 records, they’re all records that I just had the idea ‘that would work together’ I always believe that if an idea sticks around longer than it should do, then it’s a really good idea. Most of it was drawn from memory.”



With the rebirth of the 'superstar DJ' in the past few years with Deadmau5, Skrillex and David Guetta, what does a man widely respected by his peers, but relatively left-field, think of electronic music’s return to the mainstream. “Do I feel it’s better when it’s underground?" he asks. "You know, what I think there’s a lot of underground music that’s f**king bollocks; underground or over-ground, it doesn’t matter to me… I’m not interested. If they make a great record that gets my attention, then it has my attention. In the same way I’m not gonna give props to someone that a bunch of other people think is cool if I don’t like it.”

On the subject of popularity and success, Alkan is equally ambivalent towards the presence of electronic music tropes in chart R&B: “It’s happened all through history, that’s what pop music does; it’s always been a reference to what’s happening. I’m not really involved in that world, so it has absolutely zero relevance to me.”

He has also sat in the producers chair for various bands, Mystery Jets being the most high profile example; hinting at future projects that are in the pipeline he says he enjoys, “bringing music to life, the whole recording process, the performance, every aspect of production.”

Collaboration is a running theme throughout Alkan’s career and with his love of the studio producer role, there is the impression that he craves the traditional Rock band environment as an alternative to the clichéd solitary DJ hidden behind their laptops and turntables:

“I call it the collision, that area where you feel that you’re, kind of, in tune with each other.”

Words by Stephen Walsh

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'Another 'Bugged Out' & Another 'Bugged In' Selection' is out now.

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