Erol Alkan Finds Beauty in Imperfection
"It's those little things that remind you that I'm just a human being playing records, trying to connect with people."
On Sunday Diplo’s Mad Decent label takes over Williamsburg Park in Brooklyn with the third of five Block Parties taking place this summer around North America. In addition to appearances by Major Lazer, Zebra Katz, Reptar, Boscoe Delrey, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXQuire, Bonde Do Role, Riff Riff and Lunice, the bill includes a rare New York City appearance by London-based electro DJ/producer Erol Alkan.
Known for producing acts such as Late of the Pier, running his red-hot Phantasy Sounds label and spinning his fiery brand of electro-house all over the world, Alkan says he met Mad Decent's fearless leader and Mad Lazer heah honcho over IM of all places.
"I met Diplo on the Internet, actually,” recalls Alkan, talking a few hours before a gig in San Francisco during a whirlwind U.S. mini tour.
"One of my best friends was an A&R around the time and he connected with Diplo over a few things. Obviously I had heard of him and there was such a buzz on him around 2005/2006 when he first started coming over to London to play. I was a fan of what he was pioneering at that moment. My friend suggested I give him a shout on iChat about making a beat. We got to talking, and the first thing that struck me was his sense of humor and we got on really well because of that. Then subsequently we found ourselves on the same lineups on festivals."
With upcoming releases by Daniel Avery due out on Alkan's Phantasy Sounds label, the next few months will find Alkan promoting his upcoming compilation, Another Bugged Out Mix / Another Bugged In Selection, due out September 4. Recorded live and featuring an array of club classics from Ron Hardy and N.Y. House’n Authority — as well as Alkan's reworking of Connan Mockasin's "Forever Dolphin Love" — Alkan says he took a lot of time and care into planning the massive, 49-track double release. But when it came down to recording the actual set, he flowed with the vibe he was feeling, intentionally not running his mix through Ableton or Traktor.
"I kind of did it all in the moment," Alkan says of the mix compilation. "It all boils down to the fact that I think every single record on their own is a great record. Mixing them all together I didn't want it to be joined together my computer trickery...I judged them how they'd follow into one another together naturally."
Alkan says a quote ("great DJs play great records") he heard from legendary DJ Andrew Weatherall greatly influenced his latest release and will no doubt be heard in the records fans will hear at Mad Decent's party.
"I want to join together a series of what I feel are great records from all different times and eras into something that makes sense towards an exciting sound that I think is relevant and current and will hopefully sound fresh in years to come."
Having made a bold choice by recording his mix live sans computer technology (something that is almost unheard of nowadays), Alkan is proud of the end product — even if it isn't 100 percent perfect. "It's those little things that remind you that I'm just a human being playing records, trying to connect with people."
Erol Alkan plays the Mad Decent Block Party co-sponsored by Société Perrier on Sunday, August 5. Bugged Out / Bugged In is released on September 4.