Originally from Maidstone, Kent, and the son of an Italian footballer, Nic Fanciulli has been pushing driving, sophisticated tech-house for the best part of 10 years. His career started when, at 22, he slipped a mixtape into pockets of Club Class promoter Serge Bienati, who made him resident. A Mixmag cover CD in 2003 solidified his popularity, and his productions flourished. Aside from a batch of his own successful rollers on Renaissance and Ovum, Fanciulli has worked alongside a roster of respected house-heads including Steve Mac and Rolando. His Buick Project, a collaboration with Skylark partner Andy Chatterley, earned him a Grammy nod back in 2007 – the same year he did his One + One tour of America with his friend James Zabiela.
Having held residencies at Space, Il Muretto and Ministry of Sound, Fanciulli has become an international figurehead of house. His label, Saved, run with his brother the producer Mark Fanciulli, has been putting out a plethora of groove-laden house and techno from established artists such as techno legend, Marc Broom, as well as growing talent such as Jordan Peak, with a recent Subb-an release catching the attention of a fair few. Mixmag caught up with Fanciulli at his studio in Kent.
What’s going on with you today?
I’ve been up since seven re-wiring my studio. It’s been one of those things I’ve needed to sort out for a while, so I’ve got my brother on hand to help.
7am? You were up early!
I’m a dad now, so it’s pretty standard! Plus I’ve always tried to stick to a 8am to 5pm working day so I can catch up with my mates for a few beers after work and watch the footie.
Do your mates still come to your gigs?
They’ve seen me so many times now, and they have other commitments. And they’re wise to me now – to get them down there I’ll say I’m on at midnight when really I’m on at 4am!
Being a dad we guess you’re not getting much sleep...
Luckily I’ve never needed much, which is handy when you’re a DJ. In a way the lack of sleep while being a DJ is good preparation for being a dad.
Seems most DJs we speak to complain about sleeping patterns.
Ha! Yeah, they all say that but they wouldn’t swap it for the world.
So your brother helped you rewire the studio. Is he a bit more technically minded than you?
Well, when I started out, the computer was literally a sequencer and everything was far more hardware- based. Whereas now, people like Mark study the ‘correct way’, through musical engineering courses and are a lot more technically minded. My brother might only do three records in a year but they’ve all sounded sonically amazing. We’ve had a Neve desk that we’ve been wanting to put in and finally got round to doing it.
Do you two argue a lot over things?
Not too much, we’re a close family. Obviously we have disagreements. When he made ‘The Tide’ I didn’t really get it, and told him so. Then he played it to Joris Voorn who signed it and it went to No.1 on Beatport straight away.
Bet he was smug about that!
Yeah, I did the typical A&R and ummed and ahhed. But you can’t get it right every time. I’ve a lot to thank my brother for. When I was gigging across the world I didn’t give the label enough attention. He came in and gave it the love it needed, and now it’s better than ever.
You’ve just finished a compilation for Balance. Was it easy to make?
I get so stressed over mix CDs. It’s really difficult because I want to create something that I can put on in ten years’ time and go, “Yeah that’s cool, I didn’t try and copy the fashion or the trend, I went straight in and picked good records!” DJ Rolando is a good benchmark. I can put on any of his compilations and still get the same feeling as I did when I listened to them seven years ago. But that puts the pressure on, and it’s taken me about six months to put the mix together. Even on the last day I couldn’t help but squeeze another track in! I’m happy with how it’s turned out though.
It must be so difficult to make a mix CD because you don’t know if people are going to listen to it alone on their iPod or on the speakers at a party...
That was exactly what’s going through my mind. I recently did a gig with Joris Voorn and we were adding loads of delays and effects to get the crowd going. When we listened back to it the next day we were like, “That’s fucking awful!” But at that moment, it was the best thing ever. But you aren’t going to want to listen to something like that when you’re out for a run or whatever.
With so many radio shows and podcasts around do you think mixes have become less special?
I certainly try to keep some of my special edits and remixes away from podcasts. Also, clubs will record your sets and put them out without telling you – that’s always an up-hill struggle. A week later there’s a six-hour Nic Fanciulli set online. But only two hours of that is you, and the rest is the residents and so it’s false advertising, and if they play a shit tune you get associated with it.
With the release of ‘The Tide’ last year there’s been a lot of attention on your brother. Did you play a big part in getting Mark into house?
When I was starting out we used to have afterparties at my parents’ house, and Mark was always up listening to the music. We had everyone back at the house – the whole Radio 1 crew came back after I did the Essential Mix. It was a good set-up – my mum didn’t mind the parties at all, she was pleased that we were around. I guess that got him going, and then he got a set of decks and started playing warm-up slots. But while I was into Todd Terry and Masters at Work, Mark had a far more obscure taste and got into a lot of Detroit techno like Model 500 and things like that – so I learnt a lot, music-wise, from him too.
Who is your DJ hero?
Laurent Garnier. He’s done the marathon, not the sprint. Didn’t just blow up quickly. Kept it real.
Have you ever thought about getting the Buick Project back together? Wasn’t it a five-piece live band?
That’s right. It was a successful project and we did a handful of gigs that went really well. But as anyone who’s been in a band will know, its tiring. To control six people who’ve all got their own personalities and opinions is really hard. Have you seen the film Dig! with the Brian Jonestown Massacre? Great to watch, but being in a band isn’t for me.
Finally, what’s coming up with Saved Records?
We’ve got a Loco Dice release coming out along with a couple of Radio Slave tracks. We’ve also got a track by a new artist called Clio due for release, as well as one by a group called &me who are one of my favourites right now. When we do our Saved club nights we book people we get on with, and it makes for such a nice environment. So in Miami we had Mark, Matthias Tanzmann, Subb-an, Stacey Pullen and Andrea Oliva. Great DJs, and just as importantly, great guys.
Nic Fanciulli ‘Balance 21’ is out in May