For just over a decade, Alan Fitzpatrick has been something of an ever-present entity in the upper echelons of the techno world. While other contemporaries may enjoy a more vaunted celebrity status, the devotion of Fitzpatrick's fanbase speaks volumes, and the calibre of his release history is undeniable – with projects on iconic labels like Drumcode, Figure, Cocoon, Hotflush, Bedrock, Mosaic, and of course his very own We Are The Brave label.
The latest – a seven track EP entitled 11:11 The Awakening – sees the producer draw from his deep well of unreleased tunes to offer up a selection that showcases the versatility that has been a fixture of his career to date.
So with this first release of 2019 now under his belt, and a a growing list of festival appearances already in the calendar for the year, we took the time to catch up with Alan to find out what we can expect from him, including some previously unannounced and unexpected collaborations on the horizon.
Hi Alan, what are you up to at the moment?
I've just got into my studio actually, working on a few bits at the moment. I take all of January off, pretty much. I'm back to work on the 25th but I've had three weeks off pretty much, so I'm just in the studio sorting music out and prepping for the year, getting our events together, going through demos and all that sort of thing.
January 25th is also release day for the new EP right? Tell me a bit about that.
It is yeah. Last year I didn't have a massive amount of music out, I was so busy touring which sort of came off the back of the success of the last few releases. But I want to put out a body of new music again. Going into this new year I've got quite a lot of new music planned to come out, like I said I'm here now in the studio and I've got my 'Unreleased/Unfinished' folder which has probably got 100 tracks in there.
A hundred tracks?
Yeah it's mental really, I've got loads of stuff. So basically I put together this selection of seven tracks, off the back of having a lot of music sitting on my hard drive that I felt was good enough to be released, but that I hadn't done anything with. Then after playing all of the tracks on this EP together, these ones seemed to click and work as a package.
I mean it's not a mini album, it is just a big EP. I'm sort of over the concept of the album I think nowadays. It seems like a lot of music so people seem to want to call it a mini-album, or an album, or whatever. But it is just a seven track EP really.
Like I say, the only reason there's so many on there is because I've got so much music that I want to put out and let people hear. So the way to do that is by sticking it out there.
What sort of time frame are we looking at, over which the tracks on this EP had been made? Months or years?
There are a couple of tracks on that EP – one called 'Stand Up' – which I've had on my hard drive for about four or five years. But then there are other tracks that are really fresh and new.
The track 'Eleven Eleven' was originally written for an EP on Drumcode, but in the end I couldn't quite get the other tracks that I wanted for that EP to sound right, so I ended up shelving that track for a little while. Then I got Polymod to remix it, it sounded wicked, so that was the basis of the whole EP. That track 'Eleven Eleven', with the Polymod remix, was going to be an EP.
But then, as I say, between that being the planned release and me looking through my hard drive I thought: "You know what, let's just get a load of stuff out. This all works together, so let’s put it out as a big EP."
It's a good way to start 2019, and to get the music heard. So I added 'Ego', 'All Hopes Fade', 'Dead Beat Exile', 'Toasted Pitta', and that's what we've got now – and I think my favourite track on there is probably 'All Hopes Fade'.
When you're creating a project, how often does it happen like this – where you look back through stuff you've already made – compared to sitting down and saying "Right, I'm going to create X number of tracks for this new project I'm doing"?
I tend to write a lot of music anyway, generally. Whether that's in my studio, on my own, with Reset Robot, on the road… I'm always sort of working on new ideas – so generally I have tons of music to go into anyway. I never really approach a project saying "Right, I'm gonna do a new EP so I've got to write two new tracks" – it just ends up naturally being built by the tracks that I've already got finished.
So I might finish a brand new track tomorrow, and then think about what works with that from what I've already got, that I want to put out. Then I can formulate an EP, rather than starting with the idea that I need a new release and working on that.
I've got plenty to call upon, as well as new stuff. And nothing's ever old, know what I mean? The concept of old and new music is only ever for the consumer. For example, I've just told you that 'Stand Up' is five years old, but to you that's a new track because you've only just heard it for the first time. So I work on that basis really, when something's ready, it's ready.
Does that make it easier for you in terms of capturing a certain sound or identity for the music? Rather than having to write according to what you want to put across at any given time.
Yeah that seems to be the best way for me. Because a lot of stuff comes in waves, you'll have genres, styles and particular sounds that people are into at the moment. And then that will stop, and it'll be something else. So I tend to find that I can write whatever; some stuff will get shelved because it doesn't work in the timeframe or in relation to what people are into at the moment, but then things will come back around again.
I imagine there's a lot of people in our scene that have written a lot of rave-inspired stuff and shelved it for a while, say in the mid-2000s where it was all minimal, and they're putting it out now.
Yeah I was going to ask about that, it seems like those hardcore and rave sounds are becoming more prevalent. What's your take on that, particularly as someone who started out in the hard house scene with Testube Babies?
I think those sorts of sounds have always sort of been there anyway, but I think people are getting a bit braver nowadays to just drop an older track, or to do something slightly different. Especially with the whole thing of everyone wanting to be exclusive, have the best promos, and be ahead of everyone else in this drive to have something that no one else has got.
I think crate-digging, and dropping older stuff that people may not have heard before – especially younger audiences – is a great way of doing that. There are so many tunes that I will still play now, and people will say "What's this? Is this new?", wanting a track ID… “mate, this is 25 years old”. But again, it's new to them so it's all good.
Is that something you think has grown over the years, that idea of crate-digging – both in terms of DJs and consumers – wanting to have that old-school record that no-one's heard?
I think so, it seems like much more a popular thing. I think for DJs as well, some people get fed up – there's so much new music everywhere, that it's nice to be able to dig and find old music as well as to keep things fresh.
There's so much new music being put out there now, it's hard to keep up. It's so throwaway – a label will release a track and then a few weeks later they're promo-ing and putting out another one, so the older one just seems to fall into the big pit of music. So to be able to dig out older stuff that might have worked years ago, and test it out on new audiences, is a cool thing I think.
You see it all the time now, like there's that Gerd Janson tune in the charts now which is basically a remake of that Awesome 3/Kicks Like A Mule 'Don't Go' track. And you see that sort of thing all the time where people are re-jigging this, and doing edits of that, and making new versions of old tracks – and it seems to work, people are into it, you know?
Yeah for sure – and what's your view on stuff like the Identification of Music group on Facebook, and that sort of clamour from fans to know what these unreleased tunes are, or what these older tracks are that they might not know?
Yeah that's a big world. I never really dig into that sort of stuff, I don't really have enough time to look through, but I know they exist and I know that some of my team know about all that.
But I think it's a good buzz, I'd be the same if I was a punter. I think it's cool the fact that nowadays – and I saw it it when I did 'We Do What We Want' – that people can see a video online, not know the name of tune, and then it builds that sort of buzz. Literally the first time people hear a track by a DJ that just been made and is untitled, it can completely blow up before it's even been signed because people are hyping it and wanting to know what the track is. I think that's quite a cool thing.
In that situation do you think there's more to be gained from releasing those sorts of tracks, or from keeping them as that kind of unreleased track that you might just keep for you and a few mates to play? I'm always keen to hear what DJs think on this because I've heard different attitudes from different people.
I do make stuff that I just keep to myself and don't release. But certainly from my point of view, anything I make that I'm able and allowed to release should be put out. Because ultimately I'm making it for the people, and it's no good me playing stuff that only I've got because if you want people to enjoy that as well you've got to let them have it really.
You've been at this for over a decade now, so I just wanted to look back over some of the standout moments from those 10 years. The first one that struck me was the collab with Sasha, as someone who came into the dance music world in the 90s like you did I can imagine that must have been a pretty big one?
Yeah that still feels a bit mad now. I've done a back-to-back set with him, and obviously we had a release together. It's one of those things I'll always be able to look back on and just think: "Yeah that was sick."
I've always been an admirer and a fan of Sasha, as most people in this scene have, so it was an honour to work with someone like that. But also it felt like a nice tip of the hat from someone I really respect, knowing that he wanted to work together on something.
We clicked pretty early, had similar interests in the studio, and it seemed to gel. I think we're gonna do something else as well, for his label Last Night On Earth.
Are there other figures in the scene that you want to work with?
I guess so – I mean I'm not massively a collaborator. But there are a few kind of curveball collaborations that I've got coming up that might surprise people.
I'm working on some stuff with Jamie Jones, I've just finished a collaboration EP with CamelPhat, and I'm doing an ambient project at the moment with Reset Robot. But I've also got some really tough, harder stuff coming out as well. I'm right in the middle of it all at the moment. The stuff with Jamie Jones and the CamelPhat stuff, but also some really underground techno. So it's nice to be able to do a bit of everything
It must be nice to be in that position where you can explore those different styles. I see you as someone who can do those sorts of things without it feeling completely unnatural – working with those sorts of names, along with the harder, more underground stuff.
When those exclusives come out of the CamelPhat tracks I do want people to be like "Woah, what the fuck? Alan Fitzpatrick working with CamelPhat?", or vice versa, because to me that’s the interesting thing about working with different sorts of people.
Those tracks are techno tracks, they're not going to be chart tunes, but it's still that case of working with people you don't necessarily expect to be working with. As well as being able to work with your heroes and stuff.
I'd like to be able to have a release on Drumcode, or a collaboration with Adam Beyer, or something on a more underground techno label, and then something on a more housey label, because it's interesting to keep people guessing.
It sounds like you're going to be pretty busy in terms of releases. Is there anything else we should look out for this year?
Yeah other than the releases, I've got the Alan Fitzpatrick's Day Festival happening again in March. Second year, which is on Paddy's Day, hence the name...
Lots of other festivals in the calendar as well – Awakenings, Arcadia London, Hideout. Shows at Watergate in Berlin, at Motion in Bristol. Loads of Ibiza stuff again this year - DC10, Amnesia and even some We Are The Brave showcases. It’s already looking pretty nuts, and I thought last year was busy!
Yeah it's sounds pretty hectic to be honest…
It's looking really busy yeah. Last year I went through a bit of funk – I found that although I was having a lot of success and stuff was blowing up, I wasn't in the studio as much as I wanted to be, and I didn't feel as focussed as I do now.
I was struggling to get good label events – not that people didn't want to do it, I was just busy working as a DJ and I struggled to fit it in. So this year looks a lot more structured, and there's something in there for everyone.
We've got lots of We Are The Brave events, lots of Alan Fitzpatrick events, lots of productions and new concepts coming, which is what keeps me bubbling away. It should be good.