In The Age Of EDM, A DJ Talks Crate-Digging and House Obscura
UK’s Erol Alkan is pretty much a legend in glitchy house, London parties and frequent collabs with Boys Noize. But when the aggro club stuff has gone to bed, Erol digs in his crates. After one particularly intense, sweat-soaked session, he begat Bugged Out Mix/Bugged In Selection, a two disc real-time DJ set featuring some of the most random, insane house music you’ll ever hear in one place, hailing from just about every decade.
Bugged Out is made for the club, while Bugged in is probably better for the afterparty. Both albums are a mad delight, and a journey through history where a track from ten years ago flows surprisingly well into the original Chicago era. It’s out already on !K7, so we talked to him about his plans for the album, the property damage it caused, and the complete insanity that is house music.
So I wanted to talk about Bugged In and Bugged Out….
Did you listen to them?
Did you like it?
I did. A lot.
Which disc do you like better?
Well, I thought Bugged In was interesting but admittedly Bugged Out is the one that hit me in a visceral way and made me go: damn.
Personally, it’s more fulfilling and complete for me to do a CD in two parts because I’m always interested in which certain people like more.
For you? Which one do you like better?
Because I mixed the CDs live, Bugged Out had more of an impact because I had to work off the energy of the music. Bugged In doesn’t have the same type of energy. I made a conscious decision to make the CDs live. I did a few rehearsals, did one run-through. When I recorded I wanted to kind of create the same energy on my own that I would have had there been like, 400 people in the room with me. I wanted to literally sweat. And I did. I had to take my shirt off halfway through. Even one speakers flew off the mantle piece and put a hole in the floor. I’m standing right next to the dent in the floor. It’s like a tattoo of the CD in a sense. It has a relevance. Putting those records together, putting those records together in that sequence in that way in that tempo made sense to me. It kind of marked a moment, and this bend in the floor is like the marking on me.
Were you into most of the groups or genres when they were dropping in the 80s?
I didn’t know anyone like Ron Hardy or Mike “Hitman” Wilson in the ’80s unfortunately. It’s been something I’ve discovered between then and now. One thing I didn’t want to do was put a mix together that was based too much on now. A record made 30 years ago is as relevant as a record released today. The opening by Smith N Hack is about a decade old now, and I think it still sounds so fresh. It doesn’t sound dated. When you’re putting these things together, you hope that you are reaching out to music fans, people who have a curiosity, or young ears…
For me personally it’s all about digging. It’s a case of digging really going through my record collection, and records I still found fresh in hopes of putting them together in a cohesive manner.
There’s something awesome but a little more sinister about the olden house days and Chicago house.
I feel that some of the records from back then still sound as interesting and weird now as when they were first released or first made. I like strange music. I like music that sounds otherworldly. I love the mystery of music, and the oddness of music. Those are the things that I naturally gravitate toward. That Chicago era was musically insane. It was kind of psychedelic and invigorating, kind of like what the psychedelic music of the 60s is to me — which im also a huge fan of. Something about those records strike a chord with me. I’ve never really been able to work out why, but I don’t really want to overthink it.
You’ve mention that we’re currently in an era that reminds you of electroclash — in the sense that music strains are all coming together. Can you tell me more about that comparison and what’s happening now to make you say all that ?
What I meant by that is there’s a lot of artists from many corners of the world where we’re starting to see some kind of affinity, and the joining of everybody together. Electroclash for me was the best. The most interesting end of it for me was how strange that music was, and how dark. But it never goth or anything, and it was music that no matter what, whether it was heavy or light, it appealed to every sex and sexuality equally. Right now you could kinda say, well last year you could say, that the big electronic movement a year ago was very kinda male heavy, all about testosterone and aggression. Something interesting that is happening now which I feel a part of is polysexual. That to me is really important.
What are your plans with this?
I don’t know what happens after this. I think with the last Bugged in Bugged out CD. I supposed my direction for this CD was to correlate great records which I felt had a great relevance, and I don’t know what happens from here on out. None of it has been contrived. The ultimate compliment is if someone puts it on at a party and bounces it all the way through. Or pretends to DJ the whole thing.