Erol Alkan has never played by dance music’s rules, which might explain how he’s lasted so long through changing trends and fickle tastes. Since the halcyon days of ‘Trash’, his decade long nightclub in London and later, as a resident at Bugged Out, Alkan has long been blending orthodox dance music with unorthodox tastes. Bringing alternative flair to Dj sets, informed by a adolescent diet of psychedelic and indie rock bands, Alkan mixes techno, house and rock music in a way that most other Djs cannot. All of that means these sets are as exciting for techno heads as those on the peripheries of dance music—in other words, Alkan bridges the gap between two musical worlds and shows there doesn’t need to be a divide in the first place.
Through his label Phantasy, Alkan champions other artists who are at the forefront of this crossover, including Daniel Avery, and he’s been a mentor to many as both a Dj and producer. Radio residencies have included shows for Boiler Room and BBC6 Music, as well as a touring duty taking in some of the worlds most celebrated clubs including fabric, Fuse, Sub Club and Berghain.
Alkan’s unique approach to dance music comes from what he calls a “skewed perspective,” having always been an outsider to the scenes he swims in, with an instinct for occasionally going against the grain: After winning the accolade as ‘Dj Of The Year’ from Mixmag, he retreated back into the indie world, producing alternative bands rather than predictably touring the nightclub circuit. Alkan is an artist who has always done what feels right to him, stating that that “the spirit” of his music has been the same since he was a teenager. With feet in both worlds, working on upcoming albums by Daniel Avery and legendary shoegaze band Ride, proving that Alkan is at home with throbbing techno as he is at glacial guitars.
And while Erol Alkan is a renowned producer, he might best be known as a remixer—another way that he effortlessly brings worlds together. His new compilation ‘Reworks Volume 1’ looks back on over a decade of realigning other artists, including his classic versions of Justice’s “Waters Of Nazareth,” Connan Mockasin’s “Forever Dolphin Love” and Death From Above 1979’s “Romantic Rights,” remixes that have added new perspective and dimensions to the originals, at times perform alchemy, turning rock into dance music on reworks for Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and he’s just as comfortable taking on fellow dance music producers like Lindstrøm, Daft Punk and Hot Chip, which lead to the classic rework of ‘Boy From School’.
‘Reworks Volume 1’ is a survey of what makes Erol Alkan one of his generation’s most iconic remixers, and puts his a corner of his career into perspective. A success in taking on any source material and melding it into anything else. His philosophy of a remix is to “re-produce” it as if the original never existed, avoiding to transplant a vocal on a contempory dance beat or add a four to the floor 808 kick drum underneath a rock band, instead, taking an considered approach to build something new that offers a different way to look at the music in front of him. A remixer with his own recognizable stamp on everything he reworks, continuing a long tradition that began in the 1970s with artists notable artists Larry Levan, Arthur Baker and François Kevorkian into more recent contemporaries like DFA, Theo Parrish, Dj Koze and Carl Craig.
This collection of reworks illustrates that his distinct style of remixing is just another layer in what makes him special in dance music. Unpredictable, but with a Midas touch—you never quite know what’s coming, but you can count on it to be special, something which is shared for his Dj sets and productions, too. Erol Alkan is a dance music artist with an alternative sensibility, a psychedelic approach and a punk outlook—what makes him stand apart in dance music is what makes him one of the genre’s most enduring and influential artists.