R$N caught up with esteemed UK producer Nic Fanciulli ahead of the release of his new Balance compilation. Having risen to fame at an early age, Fanciulli has remained at the forefront of house and techno over the past ten years. His own label, Saved Records continues to go from strength to strength, as dedicated to on the second disc of the new compilation. We spoke to Nic about the process behind making the mix in addition to his early days breaking onto the scene.
Thanks for speaking to us Nic, how are you? What are you up to right now?
Thanks for having me too. I'm currently on my way to Asia for a three week tour of my upcoming Balance compilation, so lots of touring mixed with a bit of studio time!
You seem to really enjoy Asian tours, I have seen you talk about Womb being the best club in the world in previous interviews. What is it that is so exciting about Asia for you?
It's great to see the appreciation for what we do somewhere that's so far from where we're based. Womb is a really special place for me and I love playing there, there's always an amazing vibe and the people are great to be around. Add to this their absolute love of music and you've definitely got a winning formula for the best club in the world! Asia, generally has such passion and excitement for music that it really translates in the crowd when you're playing.
Seeing as though dance music is so affected by technology, it must be really inspiring for a DJ to be playing their art in such a technologically advanced climate?
Technology is such a big topic for discussion in the DJ climate these days. My view is that it’s important to stay relevant and to remain interesting in the performance you're bringing to the crowd. I'm a huge fan of vinyl and began my career playing on vinyl but logistically, you cannot compete with the ease that travelling with a digital setup brings. I do miss the feel of 1210's whilst in front of a crowd though, but everything is so digitalised now with WAV files and music production software that you have to keep with the times.
Congratulations on your new Balance compilation, we think it’s a real corker. It seems like a real labour of love. Was it hard to let go and completely finish it, or did you get to a place where you were happy to be handing the final version in so to speak?
Thanks! It totally was a labour of love. It was great to be able to showcase the music and artists that I love through the mix. With anything creative it’s always hard to get to a point where you feel it’s finished, but I went over and over the mix hundreds of times and felt at the end that we really accomplished something that I'm proud of.
What was your aim with the compilation?
My aim with any compilation is to make something that really stands the test of time. It's important to stay relevant and I think when you listen to compilations by, for example, Rolando - they still sound so relevant and so good today. So this was kind of my benchmark, especially for the first CD. With the second we still tried to achieve this but also really showcase the upcoming artists on the label and bring the overall mix to the dance floor.
You say that you wanted to create something that would stand the test of time. I would be interested to hear your three picks of compilations / albums that have really lasted the distance for you?
I listened to it in a lot of different places on a lot of different systems, but one of the most effective methods I found was to go for a drive. Its rare mix CD's and compilations are listened to on big studio systems so I really wanted to focus on what the average listener would hear. Sometimes after a long day in the studio I'd bounce the mix down, go for a drive and just listen and make notes in my head. Then when I got back to the studio, I used these notes to improve the mix. Listen, Analyse, Repeat.
Was it a hard process to whittle down everything that I’m sure you had targeted to what actually made it onto the CD?
Really hard. There's so much good music around at the moment that we basically shortlisted about 500 tracks. This became 400, then 300 and so on. It's hard to cut some tracks out but ultimately you want to bring the best music in the best possible way so you have to be ruthless
Did going through all the Saved material for CD2 really bring home the achievement you have made with the label over the last few years?
It was so enjoyable to be able to showcase some of the amazing artists we have on the label. We were lucky in that a lot of the artists made remixes and original tracks exclusively for the compilation.
What plans have you got for Saved this year? Will The Saved Weekender be on the cards again for example?
I think just more of the same. Really pushing the great music we're lucky enough to be sent and to bring great parties to people around the world. We're really going to be stepping up the game this year with our residencies worldwide so you'll be seeing some surprises for sure!
Is pushing new talent still high on your agenda for the label?
Massively. Without new talent breaking through, the whole dance music scene would never evolve. It's always great when you hear a great record by someone you don't know and then have the chance to work with them and be a part of their career.
You broke through at a very early age. Were there people who gave you a real hand in making it? Who were they?
I think it was different back then. I think James Zabiela and I were probably some of the last artists to break through on DJ’ing alone - producing is something that came later. Nowadays you have to make records to get noticed as there as so many DJ's worldwide. I had some great help from people like Deep Dish and Pete Tong - I owe these guys a lot.
What differences can you see between the young Nic that was emerging onto the scene and the established name you are today?
I think I've become a lot wiser! It's so easy when you're young and you have all these great opportunities around you, to get sucked in and forget why you're doing it. My priorities have definitely changed since I became a father as well - this really puts everything into perspective!
Do you have still have people that you look up to and admire today?
Laurent Garnier is my absolute hero. It's amazing the way he just does what he loves and remains relevant. He doesn't follow trends or get sucked into anything, just a great guy with a great outlook on life. I also really respect guys like Carl Cox & Rolando as these are the guys that have been pushing and driving the scene from the very beginning and without them there wouldn't be nearly the amount of opportunities there are available today to young aspiring DJ’s and producers.
By Tom Jones
Nic Fanciulli - Balance 021 CD1 (Preview edit)