As the global dance music community gets ready to descend upon the sunny shores of Miami Beach to attend Winter Music Conference, Ultra Music Festival and the assorted parties and shenanigans known as Miami Music Week, we were stoked to learn that UK techno stalwart Alan Fitzpatrick was heading to North America to play a string of dates — five to be exact — hitting clubs in Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, New York and Miami.
Known for his bespoke DJ sets and top-notch productions on Drumcode, Cocoon, Suara, Bedrock and his 8 Sided Dice imprint, Fitzpatrick, who has remixes in the pipeline for Argy and Dubspeeka, has truly come into his own over the past few years. We caught up with the techno talent via e-mail before he boarded the first flight and asked him about his upcoming North American tour.
You’re about to embark on a brief North American tour. Why only five measly dates?!
[laughs] Come on, we all know it’s not the size that matters most, it’s what you do with it that counts! Seriously though, it is just a two weekend tour and that doesn’t allow for me to cover as much ground as I would like, but I am really happy with the quality of the shows I will be playing. For the circuit I am on, these are the very best venues and promoters in those cities. All but one (Underground Grasshopper, Detroit) are clubs I have played before so I feel like I am returning to familiar ground, which is very reassuring and means I feel I can express myself that bit more freely. Clubs like Stereo in Montreal and Space Miami are legendary venues that have been in operation for 15+ years so I was aware of them from when I first started to get into music as a teenager. Ryze Toronto and Output in Brooklyn are of course much newer projects but they are doing as much to set the standard for electronic music in North America as their more established peers. Despite the stature of these clubs, it is the Detroit show that I am most nervous about. I have played in Detroit before but it was many years ago so for me this is my proper debut in the city that is the heart and soul of techno. That is a big deal for anyone who loves this music and cares about its origins.
What are your experiences like playing in North America? Any specific experiences stand out?
For me, North America is definitely one of my absolute favorite places to visit. Right from the start of my career I have been lucky enough to have a enjoyed a lot of support in USA and Canada, something I put down to how much my early releases were supported by DJs such as John Digweed, Pete Tong and Dubfire, all of whom have such a huge profile there, but I also owe a lot to producers like Gene Le Fosse, who released music on my 8 Sided Dice label back in 2009, and promoters like Sleepy & Boo, who worked really hard to be the first to book me in New York. They have put on some amazing parties for me over the years that really put me on the map. I remember one warehouse/loft party in 2012 which was just insanely good. Every artist needs this kind of support, especially early on in their careers. This has set me up with a very solid foundation, and while I still think New York is the one city where my music is most popular, I am finding that more and more it doesn’t matter so much which city I am in, crowds know their music and love to party which is very energizing and inspiring. For example, I was invited to play Kingdom in Austin last summer which was one of my favorite gigs of 2014. I had heard good things about the party and arrived with no expectations as it was my first time. I wasn’t sure who in Austin would know my music but the place was packed and going crazy with people jumping about with Drumcode flags and recognizing my tracks straight away. Amazing!
“It is the Detroit show that I am most nervous about. I have played in Detroit before but it was many years ago so for me this is my proper debut in the city that is the heart and soul of techno. That is a big deal for anyone who loves this music and cares about its origins.”
Are there any North American artists or labels whose work is currently influencing you at the moment?
It’s funny, I had to think really long and hard about this because I just don’t associate a geographical location with the music I like, so picking out the North American guys took a little time. I am huge fan of My Favorite Robot (the act and the label) from Toronto. I was proud to release a track of my own with them last year, and I love what they do. They have developed a very unique sound. I am currently deeply in love with their track “Magneto.” I have actually been closing many of my sets with it because it has this perfect warm, emotional, end-of-night feeling to it. It is massive! I also want to mention Dustin Zahn as he is not just a great producer and DJ but good friend. Dustin’s music always comes from the soul and he has his own style, two characteristics which I am very drawn too. I included an unreleased track of his called “Fog Horns On Stockton Island” on my latest DUB Sessions mix. It’s quite an unreal track with these strange wobbly and shrill sounds. It’s really spooky and trippy. It takes a special talent to write those sort of abstract tracks.
What can we expect to hear in your sets this month?
Lots of my own music! I have not released any original material since the end of October, but I have been really busy writing new stuff. I must have 50 tracks, way too many to actually do anything with apart from play them so that’s what I intend to do. Tracks people will maybe know already would be a remix of Dubspeeka that I have done for Sasha’s Last Night On Earth label, plus a new Jel Ford remix of my “For An Endless Night” that’s been a really big one in my sets and is released next month on Drumcode. I think I actually prefer his remix to my original now which is a real sign that he has breathed new life into it! There is also a track called “U Said U” which will be the A-side of my next Drumcode EP. Adam Beyer has played that a few times now on his radio show and people are asking me about it all the time so I’m really buzzing to play it out on this tour.
“Organic” is a track I just can’t get tired of. What’s the backstory about this scorcher?
Ah, great! I’m very pleased to hear you say that. The vocal is from an old Superchumbo (Tom Stephen) track called “The Revolution” that was released in 2001. It originally came out on legendary U.S. label Twisted, home to Danny Tenaglia, etc. All these records were huge in UK back then. This was the point in my life when I was totally absorbed in music. Music and clubbing was literally everything in my life so these tracks mean a lot to me. I managed to find an a capella of “The Revolution” a while ago but never found the right track to put it with, then “Organic” happened and it just fitted perfectly. Twisted and Tom Stephen were really great about letting me license the sample, and I am really pleased the idea of using that vocal finally happened and went on to be a big tune for a lot of people. 2001 was basically a whole generation of clubbers ago so lots of the people who are at the parties I play won’t have heard it first time around and that is a cool thing to be a part of, passing down the history of our scene.
Where do you find inspiration and how has that changed over the years?
This is a bit of a cliché but I am most inspired by all sorts of everyday things. This has always been the case. Whether it be other music, like the early Prince tracks that my parents used to play all the time at home or movies I watched as a teenager (lots of my track titles use words or names from movies) or it can be stuff that just happens as I go about my life. One recent example I can give you is I recently played an amazing gig at Ultra Festival in Buenos Aires. The flight back to London is long, like 14 hours, so I did the usual stuff I always do like catch up on promos or watch a movie. On this particular flight I watched a movie called Men, Women & Children. The movie is not amazing but within it there is a reference to the writing of one of my heroes, the astronomer Carl Sagan. Anyway, this got me thinking and I became inspired to write a track which I managed to put together and finish in a few hours on the flight. The juices must really have been flowing because when I listened back to it a couple of days later in the studio I didn’t need to remix it or anything which is very unusual for tracks I write on the road.
Alan Fitzpatrick plays Stereo in Montreal on March 20, Ryze in Toronto on March 21, Grasshoper Underground in Detroit on March 27, Output in Brooklyn on March 28 and Drumcode’s WMC party in Miami on March 29.