ATFC is a house hold name in House music. The chart topping DJ and producer and the guy that brought us 'Bad Habit' and 'Sleep Talk' - if you are a DJ you will almost certainly have played one of his records or danced at a club he had been headlining at. Now 15 years on Aydin The Funky Chile is still pushing the boundaries of Dance music with his innovative sound and constant releases. Beatport voted him House producer of the year ‘08 and ‘09 and Pete Tong recently showcased his essential mix.
So it’s hardly surprising that he has been chosen by to front his own compilation, a soundtrack that is representative of London’s underground dance floors. The result is ATFC In The House: London ’10. We caught up with him ahead of its release to discuss the mix, the re-emergence of disco and his house music awakening…
Your productions have been riding high on Beatport of late, but for those people who might be coming across you for the first time please could you summarise some of your biggest musical achievements to date. Try not to be too modest and tell us how it really is.
I guess my biggest achievement is that I’m still here. Over the past 15 years I’ve seen many DJs and producers come and go. I’m often wondering ‘where are they now?’ and then put my head in my hands when I realise they must have had to get a proper job! That would kill me! I’ve tried to adapt to musical fashions without chasing too hard and I think that may be the key. Specifically though, I’ve had 3 UK Top 40 hits and even appeared on TOTP twice – I’m a member of a dying race as far as that’s concerned. I ran a successful record label ‘Onephatdeeva’ for many years and have DJed in places such as Southend, Sydney, Miami and Minsk and most cities in between. I’m starting to hear the word ‘legend’ or ‘inspiration’ a lot when I meet DJs on my travels and although ‘legend’ may be contentious I’m flattered that they cite me when giving their reasons why they started on the DJ road. I strapped another rocket booster on my back when I re-joined Defected two years ago and have realised a few more dreams since then. The Radio 1 Essential mix was one and this album is most definitely another.
You have been quoted as saying ‘I thought House Music was rubbish until I was 23’. What changed?
House really was a dirty word to me until then. There were two rooms at a club I used to go to (Dance Wicked at The Arches in Vauxhall). The main room hosted by Trevor Nelson was where I heard Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, Soul and Funk classics etc etc, the 2nd smaller room was where I passed through to go to the toilet and guys like Nicky Holloway or Judge Jules would play. It was all pony-tails, white gloves and acid house T-shirts and I hated it. Probably due to the fact I didn’t do drugs or even drink at that time. I was so into Hip Hop and black culture that House seemed to be the antithesis of it all.
Then literally overnight I understood it. I was playing my usual back room, scratch it up set at my residency at Bump ‘n’ Hustle in Bournemouth, tried my first disco biscuit and decided to venture into the main room to hear Simon Dunmore and a guy from New York called Larry Pena play. I eventually found myself pumping my fists on top of a speaker stack to Barbara Tuckers ‘Beautiful People’. A switch flicked in my brain that remains on to this day. Shallow isn’t it?!
How come you haven’t jumped on the minimal bandwagon or any other of the uncountable house music sub genres? What is it about house music that has made you so faithful to its sound?
Well your question quite rightly implies that House music is the all-encompassing term for the different styles. So, I’ll go back to what I said earlier. I have jumped on many bandwagons in a way, just not obviously, and always within the realms of ‘House’. I’ve never strayed too far from the centre line and that’s where you happen to please the most people – it makes sense. I hope that DJs who sit in all camps have played an ATFC record at least once. Over the years I’ve dabbled in electro, minimal, disco, tribal and deep house to name a few but never jumped in with both feet. I believe the moment a producer changes their style really dramatically, they not only lose their core fan base but also attract murmurs of suspicion from fans of the genre they’re trying to imitate. It’s best to take the best elements from any style and combine them with your own. That way you create your own ‘sound’ and please a lot more people, including yourself.
Why is London so important with regards to influencing the rest of the world?
Of course London is a huge influence worldwide on almost every part of life, so it’s only natural that that should apply to music as well. It’s one of the most diverse cities culturally and the capital of one of the most influential countries in the world.
Do you think London’s club scene is still leading the way or has Berlin put a stop to all that?
Hmm…it’s difficult to say because I don’t actually play in London that much. I guess Fabric and MOS are still world leaders but I’m yet to experience matter or *insert another new club here*! London is always going to influence and initiate purely because of the diversity of cultures and therefore music in the city. Places like Berlin might spawn a new fad like ‘minimal’ but they can’t sustain it due to the simple fact of their size and cultural diversity. London is best when it takes ideas from other cities and germinates them – not when it comes up with the idea itself – what is UK Funky all about I ask you? And UK garage before that – come on let’s be honest, it was shit.
Tell me about some of the most influential London DJ's that set up the scene to be what it is today.
I can only speak for the DJs that influenced me and I think when focussing on London I have to regard the original Kiss FM DJs as the main players. All dance music styles were represented and (because they were paid a pittance at Kiss) all went forward and organised seminal club nights in and around the city. Each name, from Norman Jay, Gilles Peterson, Danny Rampling, Trevor Nelson, Judge Jules, Tim Westwood, Fabio & Grooverider, Bobby & Steve, Soul 2 Soul … all had a great club night in their own right and were the pioneers of the modern London club circuit. It’s noticeable that I haven’t mentioned Pete Tong because I don’t think he every ran a London club night back then and I just don’t regard him as a ‘London’ DJ – he’s more national than that.
You have been of invaluable service to the House scene over the past decade. How do you think your sound has evolved in that time?
My ‘sound’ has got slowly tougher over the ten years but then that’s because peoples taste have dictated that. Ultimately I have to feed a family and while I don’t think I’ve ever sold out (not completely anyway), part of my job is making as many people move as possible. I also used to be very reliant on sampling but that’s more difficult today. Before you could use a hefty sample in a track, press up a cheeky 1000 white labels and test the water. If the record generated a buzz you could be confident that clearing the sample would pay off. Now almost all of my records are 100% my ‘own work’ – I may cover other records but rarely use samples. Also the technical aspect of how I work has changed quite a bit. I used to have an expensive acoustically treated studio with fancy outboard gear and vocal booth and a digital desk etc etc. I suffered a bit from the kitchen sink syndrome and my records were quite busy, and while that’s fine, when I moved to Spain I downscaled my equipment a lot and took things back to basics. Just me a keyboard and a Mac. If you listen to my music over the past 2 years I think you can hear the fact I’ve been having a lot more fun in the sun.
In your opinion can you tell me if you believe that there is a sudden resurgence of disco house? Reboot’s ‘Enjoy Music’ on the compilation would be a good example...
Well there’s that and Pitto. I don’t know. If you mean are disco sampling records coming back I don’t think so. Not for any length of time anyway. Because of the reasons I just stated, sampling is lot more difficult and many if not all of the best disco records have been rinsed. The disco vibe, however, is another matter and I think that’s on the way back. Over the past five or six years, the advance in music technology and availability has meant that anyone with a laptop could make a record. Producers with less knowledge or talent would make darker, harder music because in my opinion that’s easier. It takes a lot more work and experience to work with a vocal and make records that are uplifting and joyful. So, the market has been flooded with moody music. I think clubbers and especially women are deciding it’s time for some music that makes you feel happy again. For the first time in a long time recently I’ve been asked to play ‘more vocals’ and although there still aren’t many good songs around right now, when one pops up like ‘Hey Hey’ you can see the impact it has on dance-floors and download charts. This can only mean the public are crying out for more of them.
Tell me about your own productions that you have included in the mix…
I actually only have two of my productions on there. ‘I Called U (The Conversation)’ and, the forthcoming ‘Computer Love’. I think that’s relatively little compared to other DJ/producer mix comps, but then I do have a couple of other remixes on there too. They work because it’s a pretty good reflection of what I may play in a club. It’s strange because when I did the last mix CD – Defected In The House Goa ’09 I think – the mastering engineer called me up to tell me how much he could hear of me in the mix – even though I’d only used a couple of my own tracks. He said that all the records in the mix had that ATFC sound. I suppose my taste runs throughout including what music by other producers I choose to include. Computer Love is the next production of mine to come on Defected and I’m in the process of recording a vocal for it. This is the very early instrumental version that’ll probably never get a full release!
What have you done with this mix? What is the vibe and tell me about some of the tracks that you have included are particularly working it on the dance floor for you right now.
I tried, as usual, to make it a good listen for the car, the party and the iPod – there’s possibly a couple of songs in there for sexy time too!
It’s a good reflection of ATFC the DJ and the producer and, in the process, represents a side of Defected too. Dennis Ferrers ‘Hey Hey’ was the only record that was definitely going to be included all the way through the mixing process. The mix changed quite a bit over a few weeks as new tracks appeared and old tracks resurfaced. It was quite difficult because there aren’t many decent vocal records out there at the moment and I just had to include a few. I got around this by doing special edits with existing acapellas and older tracks to create something new from the combination. My edit of Helvetic Nerds and Juan Kidd & Baumgartner works particularly well by giving ‘Now You’re Gone’ a whole new spin, as does East Young’s ‘Reveal’ with the acapella of Erick Morillos ‘I Get Lifted’. The Conversation is another peak point in the mix but even that wasn’t definitely included until the last minute.
I didn’t set out for the usual chilled out daytime CD1 and banging nightime CD2 but rather let them take their own direction during the mixing process. The way it turned out, CD1 is quite hands in the air and euphoric while CD2 is a little dirtier and groovier. It’s not an upfront selection of hot new tracks or a showcase of classy forgotten ones but a bit of a concoction of both.
Finally – what’s your best general London tip for anyone visiting?
My favourite view of London is from Waterloo Bridge. I used to walk over the bridge from Waterloo Station into Covent Garden every day when I worked at The Royal Opera House. From the bridge you can see the financial heart of London with Canary Wharf and St Pauls, ahead of you is Theatreland and Drury Lane, to the left is the Political centre at Westminster with Big Ben and Parliament and just behind you is The South Bank, which is arguably the cultural heart of the city. I don’t think there are many views, in any country, which encapsulate as much as this one.