5 minutes with Alan Fitzpatrick
/// Thanks for joining us today Alan! Where are you and what’s going on right now
No worries. Thanks to you for the invitation to come back to Shindig and for thinking I am interesting enough to be worthy of being asked some questions!
Right now, I am enjoying a rare Friday without the stress of sitting in gridlocked motorway traffic and panicking that I will miss my flight. I’ve chosen to celebrate that win by sitting on my arse at home. Which is handy as it means I have some time to talk to you.
/// Travelling to the far corners of the globe is by no means uncommon for you. Can you name a few standout shows that have really left their mark on you this year?
It’s definitely been a year to remember. The whole summer was pretty spectacular, especially Ibiza, which was mind blowing. Playing 8 hours for El Row in a totally packed Amnesia main room was just bonkers. I really enjoyed the shows I did with Eats Everything and Skream at DC10 for Paradise too, and it was very humbling to see so many people come to the series of ‘We Are The Brave’ shows we did in conjunction with Do Not Sleep at Sankeys. When that club goes off, it really does go off! But if I’m totally honest with you though I’d say the biggest highlight came much closer to home when we took ‘We Are The Brave’ on the road for five days with a huge Void sound-system and invaded fans houses in the middle of the week to throw the maddest house parties. In fact, I’m certain some of your punters were part of the full-on rave in the front room of a student house in Jesmond! That was really something else. Totally raw and such an incredible vibe. That whole week, spent in a tour bus with all my crew and partying every night with fans, some of whom I’d now consider mates, was unforgettable. So many massive moments and special memories!
/// How does such a busy schedule affect the music you make? Does it help or hinder?
A bit of both I’d say. I don’t get half as much time to write music now as I did say two years ago, but at the same time the inspiration I get from having the opportunity to play the music I love to brilliant crowds, at top venues, in all sorts of different countries has definitely made me up my game and become even more motivated to deliver tunes that will knock peoples blocks off. So overall, it’s a positive.
/// Fans love your eclectic approach to mixing and you clearly have a wide-ranging selection of influences. What are the magic ingredients to a perfect mix?
When it comes to playing tunes, my personal taste and “standards” if you like, are all a consequence of listening to and dancing to everything from jungle and hardcore to acid house and trance through the mid 90’s and early 00’s. I really don’t want to sound like a “it was better in my day” merchant, but it was different back then in terms of how and why DJs selected tracks to play. There was a greater freedom because it was all simply newer and fresher than it is now. Plus let’s be honest, DJing is a business now. It’s a career for people. It’s not a case of getting £200 and a “nice one, mate. You smashed it” from the promoter. Just that alone changes a lot in terms of the creative process. For example, lots of my favourite moments DJing are when I get to play a really old tune that no one ever expected me to play but you see a lot of DJs who become obsessed with only playing promos or being uber upfront with the music they play because I guess they feel that’s what makes them standout or justify their status or fee. There is no right or wrong way to do creative stuff as long as your motivation comes from your soul.
/// Can you fill us in on what you’re up to at the moment with your label, We Are The Brave?
Sure! In terms of the music I feel like we have begun to find a good rhythm and balance now. Obviously the label had a crazy first release with “We Do What We Want” becoming some kind of anthem and seriously blowing up beyond all expectations, and if I am speaking honestly I would admit that we were cocky and naive and assumed every release would be “successful” to a certain extent, but the harsh reality is that a new label is a new label and you have to fight for the right to be noticed just like every new label, despite anything that has gone on before, so there have been winners – like Boxia’s massively popular “Point Of No Return” – but sadly some also-rans as well amongst the first half a dozen or so records we put out. While that makes me sad, I always wanted Brave to be about the music and not commercial ambition. I’m wanting to create a vibe. Something people feel they can follow without having the need to know what is coming next, whether they be a fan an artist, or the editor of a magazine. So if I like a track, I’ll sign it, and if people can adopt an open mind they won’t be let down. I’ve loved everything we have signed so far, so from that perspective I am well satisfied.
All that said, the last two singles have really connected – “Magnetic Dog” with an incredible Trevino remix – RIP 🙁 – and Gary Beck’s “Just One More”. Next up in December is a really exciting collaboration between myself and an artist who I have been a fan of for some time. I can’t reveal who it is yet, but we’ll be announcing it next week. I’d be lying if I didn’t ‘fess-up to feeling like I needed to pinch myself a couple of times to double check it this collaboration release was actually happening! The whole process has been hugely enjoyable and it’s all come together brilliantly. A very fitting way for us to round off the year and go into 2018 all guns blazing.
/// You played Shindig last year for a very special night with Drumcode. What is it about Newcastle, Shindig and Northern crowds that stand out?
Energy… Energy…Energy… Basically you lot love a night out, don’t you ha ha! – so there is a special energy about Northern crowds. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle… always goes off. Did you see the live stream of the Steelyard Arena at Creamfields this year? OMG… it was like a football crowd… everyone tuned in to one vibe and getting right into it. It was the same at Warehouse Project the other week and they’d all been at it since 8/9pm or something mental. And let’s not even start on Scotland or Ireland. Fucking crazy bastards hahaha! But yeah, that last time at Shindig was huge. It was sooooo hot too that it made the fact everyone was going bananas from start to finish even more impressive. Bravo! Can’t wait to do it all again!
/// What advice would you give to young producers/DJs who want to play gigs and get their productions released? Should you concentrate on one aspect more than the other? Or, try to balance both studio work and gigs?
I think it’s widely accepted now that in order to be noticed to the point where you can attract a crowd then you have to release music. It’s kinda sad that being considered a DJ only isn’t enough. I mean I know I’d rather go out and dance to a shit hot DJ than someone who can write a sick tune but can’t move a crowd. Makes sense, right? But that’s the whole point of how commercialised the scene has become. In the main it’s all about selling tickets so it comes down to profile and we’ve all seen it time and time again where one big tune can make a career for someone because the majority of punters want to go out and hear the tracks they buzz off. I mean I have had situations this year where I’ve took a load of stick on Twitter for not playing “We Do What We Want” like 8/9 months after it was released. I get that those shows where I did not play that track might have been the first time someone who loved that tune might have seen me play and therefore wanted to hear me play it, but at some point I have to draw a line in the sand and move things on. Otherwise new music doesn’t get a chance to shine and things will get really boring for me and those people who come to see me play regularly.
/// What kind of challenges have you had to face over the course of your career to date?
I think the biggest challenge that has consistently been there has been creating and maintaining a good balance. That could be early on in my career when my music was performing really well but I wasn’t so busy as s DJ. Or it could be the opposite when I was fortunate enough to be getting so many offers to DJ that I could have done maybe 10 or 12 gigs a month but been absolutely shattered and left with zero time for family or making music. Or it could be creating enough “me time” with hobbies and stuff, but then realising I was neglecting certain parts of my business. It’s a constant battle to find the optimum balance.
/// Top 3 career highlights so far?
I’d say it’s impossible to be accurate with these kind of lists but I’ll give it go for you:
- Steering my ‘We Are The Brave’ brand through its first year in which we not only released great music, but put on some wicked parties and doing it all my way.
- Getting to compile a mix CD for Fabric because as an 18-21 year old I used to go to the club all the time, so that was a dream come true.
- Being awarded a BBC Radio 1 Essential New Tune in 2009 for my track “Reflections” because at that point I still had a day job and that felt like a real turning point for my career.
/// What have you got planned for the rest of this year?
December will be one of my busiest months ever actually. As I mentioned my latest collaboration on ‘We Are The Brave’ is out on the 8th December, so press and radio stuff around that as well as loads of shows, including a week-long tour of Ireland where I will play every night – Monday to Saturday – which is pretty mental. Then of course there is New Year’s weekend when I’m doing six shows over three days. So, I am really looking forward to putting my feet up over Christmas.
FITZY’S WEEK ON THE BLACK STUFF TOUR 2017
MON 11TH DEC – THE LIBRARY, LIMERICK
TUE 12TH DEC – SIXTH, SLIGO
WED 13TH DEC – CYRPUS AVENUE, CORK
THU 14TH DEC – ELECTRIC GARDEN, GALWAY
FRI 15TH DEC – SHINE, BELFAST
SAT 16TH DEC – DISTRICT 8, DUBLIN