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Erol Alkan


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Erol Alkan has lived many different guises so far; DJ, remixer, label founder, club promoter, radio host, and each with great success. Keen to keep moving forwards, what, one might wonder, allows Alkan to remain such a vital figure in contemporary music, both in the DJ booth, in the studio and beyond?

"I am not afraid of change," Alkan considers. "I have faith that if I'm playing great records that people will connect to them, and I try to stay true to that." Playing records comes easy to Erol, having spent the past two decades at it wherever possible, from a beginning sneaking out of his bedroom to fend off brutish American rock purists while spinning British indie records in small West End nightclubs, to his current club sets that explore the bleeding edge of underground, off-kilter house, techno and disco, albeit to a somewhat more enthusiastic audience.

Although his fundamental understanding of alternative and pop music has earned him acclaim as one of the world's foremost remixers, nudging the likes of Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin and Metronomy further onto the dancefloor in recent years, it was only in late 2013 that Alkan finally released his own EP, 'Illumination'. Although 'Bang' and 'Check Out Your Mind' delivered in Erol's inimitable jackin' and acidic styles respectively, it was the opener 'A Hold On Love' that captured the attention of the scene at large; A shimmering, melancholy anthem, accompanied by a reflective short film from Daniel Bereton, it unexpectedly hit the top of Juno's 'Deep House' charts, reflecting Alkan's ever-expanding musical palette. Further solo material is currently being trialled and tested for release sometime in 2015.

Meanwhile, through his label Phantasy, Alkan's singular creative vision has gradually borne the most satisfying fruit in the music of others. Beginning as little more than a singles club for friends in 2007, it has since released music from the likes of Daniel Avery, Connan Mockasin, Ghost Culture, Babe Terror and Tom Rowlands of the Chemical Brothers, as well as Erol himself. Thinking outside of the perspective of a label head, Phantasy, entrenched in Alkan's home city of London, is seen as a collaborative community effort by it's founder.

"I like the feedback of people on the label. I don't want to place myself at the top of the tree, because that's not why I did it," he is keen to explain. "I don't look down on that, or see anything negative about it, but I didn't set up the label for my career. I want everything on there to be on an equal plateau. I feel far more comfortable that way. To me, the aspect of community is far stronger than to simply be the one in the centre of the group photograph."

As well as lending a helping hand across various releases on Phantasy, Alkan recently co-produced and mixed Ghost Culture's self-titled LP, working with James Greenwood to establish Ghost Culture's detailed, melodic sound that's rooted in both pop and techno. A process not dissimilar to Alkan's experimental assistance in bringing Daniel Avery's universally acclaimed LP, 'Drone Logic' to life.

With Avery, Alkan has found a unique sparring partner when it comes to DJing, with the pair playing several incredibly well received back-to-back sets at festivals throughout the last twelve months, including Field Day, Parklife and I Love Techno. Exploring psychedelic and cutting edge techno and house in spaces not always suited to such subtlety, they also helped introduce Alkan to a fresh audience courtesy of his former protege, ensuring Erol keeps a whole new generation of kids dancing. Notable solo sets during 2014 include Glasgow's Sub Club, London's Fabric and a transcendent morning in control of Berlin's Panorama Bar, which Alkan describes as "just a perfect place to play music."

Despite his ongoing quest to keep things fresh, when the occasion arises, Alkan is happy to give his audience what they want, even if that's not necessarily what they always expect. Among the ongoing development of Phantasy, the long awaited solo productions and a tireless DJing schedule, 2014 also saw the re-emergence of his much loved 'Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve' alias. A decade long collaboration with Richard Norris, BTWS applies a psychedelic tinge and more often than not, an understated groove to an impressive list of alternative artists, such as Interpol, Tracey Thorn, and Midlake, as well a wildly progressive remix of Daniel Avery's own 'New Energy'.

Most impressively, Alkan and Norris also found a rapid ten days in which to re-animate Temples' debut album, 'Sun Structures' in it's entirety. Suitably entitled 'Sun Restructured', it confidently takes the indie rock psychedelia of the original in vibrant new directions, while retaining the celebrated and quintessentially English style of the original recordings. The Guardian hailed it their album of the week, comparing it favourably to the much feted likes of Primal Scream's classic, 'Screamadelica'.

For all of his love of collaboration and nurturing new talent, Alkan is still more than at home alone behind the decks in a club near you, professing to be as excited about DJing as ever before.
Despite playing in the club for over a decade, it was only this year that saw the release of his 'Fabriclive 77' mix, designed specifically for the London club's cavernous main room, and featuring doses of Phantasy (including new Alkan track 'Sub Conscious', made especially for the mix) among music from compatriot labels such as LIES, Running Back and Optimo Trax. Critically acclaimed, it was hailed by The Ransom Note for its effortless combination of both "the peak time, and the cerebral."

But after decades in clubs and in the studio, its on the radio where Alkan has found his most recent home, as a regular among the rotating cast of 6Mix residents on BBC Radio 6Music, besides the legendary likes of Andrew Weatherall, Jamie XX and Derrick May. Having begun his wireless career at the station in 2008, he now spends a quarterly Friday night exploring the new, often out-there records he makes it his mission to uncover, be it from friends, record shops or the promos he's happy to work through. Each 6Mix accounts for a broad span of music, both for and beyond the dark, sweaty dance floors he still adores.

"Having the 6 Music show is great, because I can present music that I might not play out", Alkan acknowledges. "But what happens in clubs, that's where you can create real magic, especially when it comes to bringing people together. I find that to be the greatest thing about it as such, and view myself more as a vehicle for the music."

Before long, it will be a decade since Erol Alkan shuttered his still dearly missed weekly London club night, Trash, at the peak of it's popularity. But with it's communal spirit still living on and evolving through Phantasy, and with a production and DJ schedule that's as busy as ever, what's the next objective for a man so determined simply to follow the instincts that have served him so well.

"I want to make great records, or be part of great records", explains Alkan succinctly. "I cannot play music I do not believe in, and I don't want to be someone I'm not."

John Thorp

Erol Alkan

Erol Alkan

  • 16 Mar, 2018

    Erol Alkan: Village Underground Is Sold Out!

    Erol Alkan's 'To The Rhythm' at London's Village Underground on 23rd March, is now SOLD OUT!.

    village underground
  • 06 Mar, 2018

    Erol Alkan: New 'Reworks' Website

    New 'Reworks' website is live:

    "Throughout the 14 or so years I've been remixing other artists music, one thing has remained constant: There is never one single approach that works better than another. The creative process can be a complete mystery, but being able to manage your creativity, even when things aren't quite going your way, is the only real skill one can have, I feel that's all I'm able to share with anybody else. I used to spend days, weeks, and sometime months going round in circles, and ending up nowhere. Looking back, those mixes were the ones in which I feel aren't my best. As a result, and through trial and error, I don't feel I became any better as a remixer, artist or producer, I just became better at making decisions, having confidence and trusting my instinct.

    We've built a website which details the approach I took to 10 of my reworks, which were part of the 'Reworks Volume 1' compilation. You can listen to me talk about the technical and creative approach, as well as to my relationship with some of the artists who allowed me to mess with their work. Imagine it as 10 mini podcasts.

    I hope this can help any of you who are starting out making music, or have an interest in the creative process, even if you're not familiar with my work."

  • 28 Feb, 2018

    Phantasy Showcase At The Great Escape Festival

    As part of 2018's edition of The Great Escape in Brighton, London based record label Phantasy present an official late-night after party at The Arch. Featuring it's founder, producer and DJ Erol Alkan, fresh from his 'To The Rhythm' 13 week sold out XOYO residency and 'Reworks Volume 1' compilation. Alkan is joined by a very special live guest in the form of Factory Floor member Gabe Gurnsey. Rounding out the bill are Cowboy Rhythmbox, the esoteric London duo consisting of Dj Nathan Gregory Wilkins and Richard X.

  • 13 Feb, 2018

    Festival No.6 2018

    Festival No.6 takes place in Porthmeirion, North Wales from 6th to 9th September, and features many Primary Talent & Decked Out artists.

    ...Django Django
    ...Anna Calvi
    ...The Horrors
    ...Marika Hackman
    ...Erol Alkan

  • 12 Jan, 2018

    Erol Alkan: 'To The Rhythm' Tour

    Following his recent critically acclaimed 'Reworks Volume 1' collection, and 2017's thirteen-week sell out XOYO residency in London, Erol Alkan takes the distinct sound of 'To The Rhythm' to a series of best loved club spaces across the UK.

    Each event is giving Erol Alkan full control of both the sound and lighting systems, to present his unifying and unpredictable vision of club culture, all night long. On a winding musical journey that has seen Alkan thrive as a producer, chameleonic remixer and radio host, from the era of seminal club 'Trash' to the present day, his spiritual home has been in the DJ booth.

    'To The Rhythm' promises a sublime atmosphere to experience an enduring, evolving figurehead of electronic and alternative music at his finest.

    See his artist page for forthcoming tour dates.

    erol tour
  • 02 Jan, 2018

    Erol Alkan: NYE On BBC 6 Music

    Erol Alkan's three hour New Years Eve show on BBC 6 Music, is now available on the iPlayer.

    bbc 6 music
  • 30 Dec, 2017

    Erol Alkan: BBC 6 Music On NYE

    Erol Alkan will be live on BBC 6 Music on New Years Eve from 22.00-01.00. The show will consist of a selection of his favourite records from 2017 plus music from the future, and some special guests.

  • 12 Dec, 2017

    Erol Alkan: Reviewed In Resident Advisor

    Erol Alkan's remixes album 'Reworks Volume 1', is reviewed in Resident Advisor.

    'Reworks Volume 1' is a musical overview of what makes Erol Alkan one of his generation's most iconic remixers. Framing a corner of his career in perspective - a success in taking on any source material and melding it into something of his own. Alkan's philosophy towards a remix is to "re-produce" work as if the original never existed.

  • 20 Nov, 2017

    Erol Alkan: On BBC Radio 6 Music

    Erol Alkan was the special guest of Lauren Laverne on her BBC Radio 6 Music show.

    6 music
  • 15 Nov, 2017

    Erol Alkan: DJ Mag 'Best of British' Nomination

    Erol Alkan's 'Reworks Vol.1' has been nominated for 'Best Compilation Album' in DJ Mag's 'Best of British Awards'. Online voting is available on the link below until 22nd November, winners will be announced at an event on 14th December, at The Egg in London.

    dj mag
03 Mar 18WigwamDublin, IRELAND
23 Mar 18Village UndergroundLondon, UK
24 Mar 18HiddenManchester, UK
13 Apr 18Reading RoomsDundee, UK
14 Apr 18CavesEdinburgh, UK
18 May 18The ArchesBrighton, UK