Time Out Melbourne

We jumped at the chance to catch up with one of our favourite London DJs and discover why he's still drawn to outsider music

Erol, last year you worked with Jarvis Cocker on your single, 'Avalanche'. How did that come about?
On the Boys Noize single before that, 'Waves', I suggested that we try to get the most pretentious remix that we could get instead of a club remix, so Gonzales did a piano reinterpretation of it. After that, it was a case of how to follow it without going down the route of getting a brass band to cover anything. So for 'Avalanche', I thought it would be great to have a spoken word reinterpretation. It's far more challenging than trying to get the hottest producer of the moment to rework one of your tracks. And then it was a case of whose voices we were fans of and obviously Jarvis came straight to mind. I'm a big fan of his [BBC] 6 Music show as well, and I've got a show on there too.

Do you ever bump into each other?
We often pass each other in the corridor, actually. Eventually I sent him the track and he agreed to give the idea a go – he recited Leonard Cohen's 'Avalanche' over the top, so we reworked the track to fit it. Then we had to clear it with Leonard, so Jarvis wrote him a letter with a CD and he emailed back saying, "Yeah, I love it, put it out." It's really surreal, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Everything seems so much more exciting when it's not straightforward. I like the idea of doing music that dark, because I've always been drawn to dark, miserable music.

Pulp made outsider music for the indie generation, and you make outsider music for the dance generation. Did you ever draw such a parallel?
I'm more than flattered at that kind of alignment, because we definitely drew influences from the way that Pulp and many of those other bands carried themselves.

In a Time Out interview in 2008, Jarvis said: “playing your own songs is akin to masturbating in public”. What's your view?
I agree if you're in a band, but if you're a producer, I don't know if that counts: you're probably making those records to work into your DJ sets anyway. There lies the difference between being a producer and being an artist. If I was to see Jarvis play and he played one of his own records, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but I do wonder what goes through somebody's mind when they do that.

You just did a wonderful interview with Stopmakingme for the Fabric blog, in which he jokes that you're both fans of "weirding out" people on the dancefloor. So it seems like you've always had that attitude…
I suppose I do have this reputation of playing records to make people crazy, but I think you need to balance that with spooking people out a bit, not making it too easy or too convenient. I've always been a firm believer in challenging people in that way. I don't mind clearing a dancefloor for experimentation's sake – I think it's healthy.

First published on . Updated on .

By Kate Hutchinson   |  

Erol Alkan: Interview video

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