August 30, 2014

Erol Alkan: Bugged Out/Bugged In

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When working in the studio, Erol Alkan is a hoarder—in the best possible way. The trailblazing DJ/producer never throws away any piece of music he creates.

In fact, the identifiable synth riff from “Lemonade”—his 2010 collaboration with Boys Noize—was fished out of the trash and slapped onto another piece of music Alkan was working on. Two hours later, a stomping club hit was born.

Considering that the London-based Alkan became known as a DJ in the early days of the mash-up craze, it shouldn’t be surprising that he excels at marrying two different musical entities. But when making a DJ-mix compilation these days, he simply prefers a level of authenticity—with few technological tricks.

On Another “Bugged Out” Mix/Another “Bugged In” Selection—his second installation for the Bugged Out brand—he went for it live, using the same set-up he would in a club setting—four linked Pioneer CDJ-2000 players and a DJM-900nexus mixer, plus his music on a 32G USB stick with all his “recordboxes” visible on the screen. The mix was completed in a couple of “live” takes, without any Ableton alterations.

“I use Ableton for pre-production, if I want to change the speed of a sample or jam a remix, but then I take it out,” explains Alkan, over a frosty glass of watermelon juice at a trendy L.A. hotel. “The cool thing about a 900 mixer is it also acts like a soundcard. You can plug a USB out of it straight into your computer, into Pro Tools or Logic—all digital, no conversion, totally pure sound.”

The Bugged Out Mix disc (CD1) spans 30 years of music, but it maintains a modern pulse. You have versions of ’80s cuts like Mike “Hitman” Wilson’s Psychedelic Remix of Children of the Night’s “It’s a Trip,” Model 500’s “No UFOs (D-Mix)” and the Obi Blanche Edit of Ron Hardy’s “Sensation, but also Alkan’s relatively recent mixes of Connan Mockasin’s “Forever Dolphin Love” and Spandex’s “The Bull.”

“The connection,” he says, “is how the records run into each other. The pace of it, bringing the fader, making sure this track is bubbling underneath this one, as records take each other over slightly or as elements take each other over—that’s the connection. I want to judge it on, ‘That felt right! That’s it! That’s the one that’s going to stick!’ That’s when you know you’ve got what you need.

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