Fuzion: A 3 Deck Itch
It all began with an itch, in 1997 to be exact, and thankfully for all techno lovers around Australia, that itch was scratched. From that came one of the best techno DJ’s not only in Queensland, but the country. His 3 deck sets have seen him play regularly interstate at the biggest and best festivals, and now for the first time he gets set to Break Up the Unkle room at Family Nightclub. The man in question is none other than George Alatakis, aka Fuzion, and he catches up with Jake McCauley and chews the fat on techno, Advent*jah, and his upcoming warm-up set for superstar dj and techno god mr Jeff Mills.
How long have you been DJing for?
Approximately 7 years.
What made you start djing?
I’ve always been into music in some form or another and was exposed to electronic music at the age of 15. I had a good friend at the time who was mixing hip-hop and an assortment of other beats and almost purchased all his gear but didn’t have the finances to make it happen. A fair few years past and I still had the itch, so I finally committed and began forging my technique in 1997.
Favourite DJ’s/Live Acts?
Richie Hawtin, Derrick May, Ben Sims, Kazu Kimura, Alexander Kowalski (Live) and Speedy J (Live) is amazing.
Richie Hawtin, Alexander Kowalski, Carl Craig, Mathew Jonson, Oliver Ho, Joris Voorn, Jesper Dahlback, Jeff Mills, DJ Shufflemaster, James Ruskin, Terry Francis etc.
Favourite record label?
Too many to list. I follow many labels closely but also spend a lot of my time finding old or new tunes, or labels that you occasionally see but never listen to. Its amazing what you can find if you use your resources wisely.
How would you describe your style of music and mixing style?
Dense grooves, layered percussion, minimal at times, hypnotic and loads of solid shuffling rhythms. New sounds and new genres within the techno umbrella always excite me. I never really get the chance to settle into one particular sound for too long as I’m always chasing down and finding new productions that influence what I’d like to play. As far as mixing style is concerned, I prefer to utilise three decks when I’m playing a more minimal/percussive sound, in order to manipulate productions and create my own groove. I’m really getting into layering records at the moment, using subtle cuts and edits and creating my own fills fused together with long mixes, as opposed to playing big or obvious tunes. It’s the whole reason I got into manipulating music in the first place. It’s one of the main reasons that drew me toward djing to begin with I think.
Unlike in Europe where techno is one of the biggest dance music genre’s, in Australia it can be seen as one of the ‘smaller’ genre’s in our dance music scene, what are your thoughts on this? Can you see a change in the future of how Australians take to techno? Do you think it’s on an incline or decline in public like?
Techno enjoyed a period in Australia where it was well received and held a strong loyal following, predominantly in Melbourne during the late nineties and the early part of this millennium. However since then, its popularity has decreased substantially.
We can talk about cycles, debate on the subject and play poker with the idea all day long but the fact of the matter is, techno will only enjoy a wider success again if there are people out there exposing and supporting it, contributing to its development from every angle, and promoters who are willing to challenge the notion of money versus music.
The wider audience needs to understand that techno takes on many different forms, from deep all the way through to its pigeonholed harder edge. It deserves the accessibility other genres enjoy for people to be able to experience it in the first place more frequently, and where not seeing that happen at the moment. As for the future, I’m optimistic that with continued support and exposure, that techno can once again appeal to a larger audience in Australia.
As previously mentioned, techno isn’t a massively big mainstream genre like House music or Trance is in Australia, how did you come about to wanting to play techno?
It took me about a year to find a style of music that I was passionate about mixing, and techno came into the picture after listening to a few mixed CD’s and listening to Kazu play techno in all its varied forms around Brisbane. Apart from falling in love with the sound itself, I think the main reason that robbed my attention was its mixability factor. I started out playing a lot of funky looped based techno and basically your given a track that goes for four or five minutes and only changes up in percussion every four bars, no intro’s and no outro’s. Listening to a whole loop based production from start to finish would bore anyone to tears. It was the technical aspect that really drew me to mix techno. You are forced to manipulate records. The fact that it was one of the most challenging genres of music to mix, really inspired me at the time and it still does. It’s limitless in the number of ways you can play it. That factor of progression motivates me.
When a thread on who people wanted to support Jeff Mills @ Break Up was posted, your name was continually mentioned and nominated by punters and in particular fellow techno dj’s & promoters? How does this make you feel to get this recognition by the people who know the techno sound best?
It’s always the ultimate compliment to be recognised by your peers, and in all honesty I was humbled by the response on the thread once I was made aware of it. But its something that I don’t go out of my way to achieve, its more important to me to be the best I can be at what I strive to do.
Most memorable DJ experience?
Definitely the most memorable experience for me was winning the Queensland leg of the first Channel V National Amateur DJ Competition in 1999. Apart from having played some memorable parties in Adelaide, that’s an experience I’ll never forget.
You’ve played alongside some of the world’s best techno DJ’s & acts including Speedy J, Umek, Valentino Kanzyani, Space DJz, Gaetano Parisio Slam and CJ Bolland. What will it mean to play before Jeff Mills @ Break Up?
It’s like someone asking you if you want to go skate with Stacey Peralta for the day or something. As a second generation Detroit artist, Jeff Mills has played a major role in shaping the sound of Detroit techno. These guys were part of a revolution that was in its infancy in those days, unlike today where dj’ing is almost considered pop culture. It’s more than just saying; yeah I played with Jeff mills, its saying that you have shared a night with a major influence in techno history.
How will this stack up against other internationals you have supported?
I’ll treat it in the same way that I do every other experience that I’ve had playing with internationals. Every DJ creates a different vibe, either through mixing style or musical style and each dj ive played with has unique talent so comparing them would be to essentially rob them of any individual respect. I prefer not to compare DJ’s but to base and rate each experience I’ve had supporting internationals on its own merits. It’s different every time.
This is your first gig at Family Nightclub, regarded by most as Brisbane’s premier nightclub, what does this mean to you and how do you feel about playing at Family? And what are your thoughts about playing in the Unkle room?
Family has always been a venue that ive wanted to experience as a dj. There’s no denying that it’s an amazing venue, and I’m fortunate and excited that the opportunity has arrived. I’m looking forward to playing in the Unkle room due its intimacy, and that’s something I really do enjoy, however techno in the Basement would have been off the hook.
Your famous for your 3 deck sets, is this something we can expect to see from you on the night. Will you change your usual style of music for your set at Break Up? Will the fact you are in the Unkle room be a part of the reason for a change in style?
As far as music and style goes for the night, I don’t think I’ll deviate too much from what I usually do mixing wise, but it will definitely give me the opportunity to play records that I normally wouldn’t play in my sets.
Now Jeff Mills is regarded as one of the worlds finest dj’s, his ability to play a number of styles of techno ranging from harder sounds of techno through to funky, tribal and of course the sound of detroit, has made him a superstar dj throughout the globe, do you know what style he will be playing at Break Up? Will this make your job easier/tougher in playing before him?
Judging from past experiences and recent sets that ive heard, I’m assuming that Mills will play everything from percussive tribal sounds, upfront funky tech and some heavier sounds.
It’s always tough playing before an international act. It’s flirting along the line of creating a vibe in the room while building energy and maintaining interest.
Which other DJ’s/Acts will you be keen checking out at Break-up?
I’m really interested in checking out Mr Scruff. I really enjoy the styles of music that he plays and it will be interesting to see what a dj with his history and experience will do with a five hour set. He’s a dj that plays only what he wants to, and has done so even we he started out playing electro back in the eighties. That’s something that I respect. He hasn’t compromised his style for anything.
You were one of a few Queenslanders’ to make the journey to South Australia to play at one of Australia’s largest festivals, Enchanted Forest. How was that experience for you?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have played at three Enchanted’s so far and have absolutely loved every single experience, playing and being part of such a great festival. It has given me the opportunity to take my sound to a new city, play to a whole new audience, and has given me experience in playing to a larger, diverse crowd. So the experience as a whole has been invaluable and was extremely exciting. Adelaide is a city with an enormous history within the Australian dance music scene, and it shows as soon as you take on the Enchanted adventure. The festival boils over with live acts and internationals and some very talented local DJ’s and Live Acts. The people have a great energy and really get into the whole vibe of things and are very receptive and educated when it comes to music.
You’re opening the Drop room @ Advent*jah back to back with Brad Cahill, tell us a bit about that?
I’m really looking forward to this gig and playing back to back with Brad. I find that when we are in tune with one another we really work well together, and that’s hard to find these days. Playing the opening set might not sound exciting but its going to give me the opportunity to play a lot of the varied house sounds that ive been collecting over the past few years.
With 2004 rapidly coming to a close, what does 2005 entail for you and what do you hope to achieve?
2004 has been a great year for me both as a dj and a promoter. I have a lot planned for the New Year and have some goals that I’d like to achieve. Securing more gigs in Brisbane and interstate is something that I look forward on working on. Getting my head down in the studio and conceptualising production ideas I’ve had for a long time and building the skills to be able to do so has definitely been a long-term challenge. Promoting more Monsters Of Pop events and building our brand along with a possible trip overseas will keep me busy and focused.
You run an event in Brisbane called Monsters of Pop. Tell us about that?
Monsters Of Pop is the brainchild of Damien Wheeler (MagOO), Brad Cahill and myself and was essential created to rejuvenate the life and add value to the local techno community, and the local underground dance music scene.
In doing so our main priority so far has been to provide an avenue for the diversity and accessibility of techno and underground house in Brisbane and to showcase who we think are talented established or up and coming artists who also share the same values in the development of techno on a wider scale.
On a personal level, the events have given me the opportunity to push my sound and expose myself (otherwise unheard of) to the broader techno and underground dance community. I’ve also met a lot of great people along the way and am truly enjoying the whole experience and am excited by future possibilities.
You can catch Fuzion at the following dates:
Thursday 25th November – Break Up @ Family Nightclub
Saturday 4th Decemeber – Drop Room @ Adventjah, RNA Showgrounds 9pm-10pm