PRODIGY TO PROTAGONIST: Nic Fanciulli
Nic Fanciulli first caught our attention when he shared the decks with the legendary Derrick Carter at Club Garden. His ability to blend into the previous set and make it his own created a lasting memory for all.
Fanciulli’s versatility to open, headline or close a night is not only a reflection of his artistry but his character. His collaborations on and off the decks have changed the electronic landscape the world over. His tour schedule, production and record label have solidified him as a protagonist for quality dance music.
Presently he is in the studio putting the finishing touches on his upcoming album with EQ Recordings (Balance 021).
For information on Fanciulli’s Asian tour, check out his website.
Fanciulli graciously took some time off to grant us an interview.
How did growing up in Maidstone influence your career?
Maidstone has definitely had a big impact on my career. We had a thriving electronic music scene in the late ‘90s. My favorite club was a place called Atomics; this is where I really learned about electronic music. Atomics hosted a Friday night called Club Class. All the big names would feature there, from the likes of Sasha & Digweed all the way through to Carl Cox. Then on the Saturday night it would be a drum and bass night called Pure Science, which at the time was the longest weekly drum and bass event in the country. I was exposed to so many styles of music that it taught me to become more open minded and creative in what I was playing myself.
When I became resident for Club Class it was the best feeling. This was my hometown and I was playing at the best night in the area. Week in, week out I would get to warm up for the likes of Pete Tong and Paul Oakenfold, so each week would be different, but my job was to always make the crowd ready for the main DJ. This is where I learned to become a real DJ, as I think it’s the hardest part of DJing. I got a lot of help from the guests that played and I still owe them all so many thanks for the help they gave me. I think that’s why I still always try and push new talent, as I wouldn’t be here now without the help of my peers.
What is your definition of a DJ?
It’s hard to say really as there are so many aspects of a DJ. But I feel the most important thing is connecting with the audience. At the end of the day, the DJ is an entertainer, so you need to have that connection in order to keep the audience entertained. I think the main thing, and I always stress this, is that you have to enjoy it yourself as this will always come through in what you do and help create that connection with the crowd. The rest then is down to what you play, and that’s where the people decide if they like you or not.
What do you attribute to your success as a DJ/producer?
I would have to say my residency at my local club night Club Class. As I mentioned before, it was a place that used to invite all these remarkable guests, so I learned to be very adaptable in certain situations, from opening the night to closing the night and everything in between. Every week would be a different situation, and I learned from my mistakes. You need to read the crowd and also recognize the time and place to play certain records. This was an area that I made mistakes in during the early part of my career, but I learned quickly to fix them. I also learned a lot from the guys that used to play week in, week out. The majority of the DJs were genuinely nice people and did not forget we all started in the bedroom making mix tapes.
Once I was happy with my DJing, I wanted to learn how to make music. I got put in touch with a producer named Andy Chatterley and we started making records. We collaborated under the moniker Skylark. He was the guy that basically taught me everything in the studio. I owe him so much.
What was your initial reaction when you were nominated for a Grammy?
Shock. I think it was because I never imagined that a deep house record would be on their radar. We were up against the likes of Madonna and Coldplay. We didn’t win, but it was something that I’m really proud about.
Who is your favorite artist at the moment?
I think James Blake did a great job to create a very underground sound and getting it to the masses. Of course, from the house music world there are some really exciting new artists like &ME, Clio, Philip Bader, Andrea Olivia and Alex Tepper that are really influencing my sound at the moment.
What are your best and worst moments for you as a DJ?
Stopping the wrong CD player during a live Essential Mix on Radio 1. That was not the best thing I could have done. Being nominated for a Grammy was one of my many highlights.
Where is your favorite club?
Womb — Tokyo. It’s simple. I love the culture and I love the people. They are one of the most patient crowds in the world and I get away with playing records that I would never dream of in other clubs. I would play there every week if I could.
Is there a track that you never get tired of playing out?
Laurent Garnier — “Man with the Red Face.” This is one of those records that we all dream about making. It’s a record that you could never imagine writing. In fact, it really is that clever. I only have to play a second of the record and people know exactly what it is. To sum it up, this track is a complete masterpiece and so ahead of its time when it first came out.
What distinguishes clubs in Asia from other regions?
I’ll be honest with you and say I don’t know. I don’t really judge clubs on places, but by how the night goes.
Do you feel that technology is replacing or improving a DJ’s set?
I think technology evolves constantly and the audience’s expectations are changing all the time, so you constantly have to adapt, whether that’s through technology, music choice or mixing styles. Technological advances are always exciting, but there’s a certain character and feel to playing vinyl that cannot be replicated. I’ve chosen to use Traktor with CD controllers. I find that I still get the hands on approach by using the CDJs but then I get the added bonus of having lots more music and EFXs. At the end of the day all that matters is that people are enjoying themselves and having fun on the floor.
How does one make the transition from DJ to producer?
As a DJ you learn to see what works and what doesn’t, which is always a good start. Then after that you have to really learn the hardware. Nowadays, it’s so much easier as computers make the whole process that much easier.
What was your vision when you created your record label Saved?
It was originally a label to release my own music. But then I realized people would get bored of just my own music. We were getting sent so many amazing records that I wanted to sign too, so it just made sense. Our vision is simple — if it’s good and I play it, we will put it out.
What can we expect from Nic Fanciulli?
Wow that’s a hard one to answer about yourself. I think that I always try and bring enjoyment with the music I play and I also like to throw in a few surprises, like a special re-edit of an old record that I did. Every set is different, but I always play with the same goal of bringing energy to the night.