Alan Thompson: The Interview
What have you been up to recently?
Well I’ve just come back from Asia where I did gigs in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. This year as been hectic for me with gigs worldwide. I would say that 85% of my gigs are now overseas, so I spend a lot of time on aeroplanes and in hotels. I love it though, it keeps it fresh for me. I really like the challenge of playing in a new club and to a crowd who I have never played to before.
Describe your musical and dj’ing style.
Its essentially house, sometimes vocal, sometimes deep, sometimes tribal but always FUNKY. I have played house since I started DJ’ing 13 years ago. The it was more Chicago jackin’ house, a bit rough around the edges but still house. I try not to pigeon hole my sound to be honest, I always say I play house! That can mean different things to different people. I love to play long sets, ideal is 5/6 hours. I like to build a set, drop old tunes and surprise people. I don’t think you can do that with 1½ hours. I like to layer my tracks with long mixes, starting more vocal and taking things a little tougher towards the end of my sets. I suppose I’m known for playing quality funky house music…
How did you get involved in music?
Like most people I suppose, going clubbing. I first got in to clubbing through the jazz funk scene when I lived in my home town of Swansea. It wasn’t until around 1987 when house music started to appear in the UK that I seriously got in to music. The sound that was coming out of Chicago at the time blew me away. I had to find out what was this new sound? Like a lot of people discovering the scene at the time I was going to the M25 raves as well as clubs like Spectrum, Troll and of course the infamous Shoom as well as more glamorous parties like Puscha. The Trade came along in 1990 and changed my life completely, firstly it was the fact that it was after-hours, not starting till 4am and the music and DJ’s… I had never heard DJ’s play like this before and knew that this is what I wanted to do, within months I had bought my decks and mixer, taught myself how to mix and was playing at Trade, a dream come true I suppose. And the rest as they say is history…
How would you say your musical style has progressed since you first got involved in music?
I still play house, I suppose I have just moved with the times, at the end of the day DJ’s can only play what’s being made and released. Music today is better produced but essentially it’s the same 4/4 house music as back in the day. Although recently I have noticed that a few producers are trying different sounds, for a long time its been the disco loop etc but producers are getting inspiration from other genres.
Who was the very first dj you ever saw in a club?
To be honest I can’t remember the first but I can remember the first that I took notice of, his name was Dave Thomas and he was a soul/jazz funk DJ from Swansea. He played at the clubs I went to when I was 17. It was Dave’s sounds that got me into the jazz funk scene.
Who was the last dj you heard who you really liked?
There have been many to be honest, I like to listen to DJ’s who play other styles rather than what I play. I was in Bulgaria and heard a techno DJ there called Stefan who was fantastic, his tune choice and technical skills were excellent, and his set just full of awesome funky techno, which I love.
What’s the weirdest/funniest moment you’ve ever encountered club wise?
Too many to mention….
Have you done anything embarrassing you’d like to share with us?
DJ wise? Well the usual I suppose, taking the wrong stylus off the record, letting a record run out without having another ready, playing the wrong mix of a track, the usual thing….
Do you have a club which you really like playing at?
Several, my Sunday night residency at DTPM which is held at Fabric in London, I have played at DTPM for over 10 years and this is my DJ home. The crowd are loyal and fantastic to play to. Then Zouk in Singapore, what a club! Amazing sound system with a crowd to match who know their house music. Space terrace Ibiza, again another amazing club, what else could be better than playing house music on the terrace with the sun shining and the beautiful people dancing.
How much time do you spend on music a week?
I have no idea…. I can spend up to around 10/12 hours physically dj’ing, then there’s the time I spend going through the records I get mailed, that I suppose may take 3 hours a week, then buying records might take up around another 3 hours.
How many records are there in your collection?
I would say around 6,000 at the moment. I moved house 4 years ago and sold a lot of my collection then as I don’t have the room for them. Most are kept in my loft so in some ways it seem silly to keep them but they do have sentimental value and there are some gems in there too…
What are your biggest tunes in your record box at the moment?
Here’s my top 5:
#1Bobby Blanco - 3am - White
#2 Roland Clark –Resist - Fluential
#3 Salif Keita – Madan -Mixture
#4 Spiller – Sola - White
#5 Mood 2 Swing - Can’t Get Away -Defected
Before being a full time dj, what were your last 2 jobs?
My last job was as an area manager for a menswear company in central London called Coles, I had worked in the retail trade for 12 years before giving it all up for DJ’ing. Prior to that I was a waiter when I first left school in Swansea.
What would you love to do jobwise if you weren't a dj?
A wildlife vet in Africa…..
What are your favourite labels?
Defected, Fluential, SoulFuric, Illegal Beats, NRK, Kidology….
What one thing can’t you stand about clubland?
People who go with a bad attitude and others who are quick to slate everything, clubbing is about going out and enjoying yourself, making new friends and have a good time. Not criticising everything.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I snowboard and like to take a winter holiday, I love Whistler and Vale for that reason and for a relaxed sun holiday it has to be The Maldives as a also scuba dive.
How do you like to unwind?
Dinner with friends…..
What are you going to be doing soon?
As I say its pretty hectic for me at the moment and have many tours coming up including South Africa, Russia, Middle East, Asia and Australia. I’m planning on getting in the studio when I get some free time as I have several ideas for tracks.
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