Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 May 2020

British DJ and producer Nic Fanciulli on what it means to be an EDM artist today

The veteran spinner has been performing in the UAE since 2006

Nic Fanciulli played regularly at Dubai clubs in the 2000s Listen Up
Nic Fanciulli played regularly at Dubai clubs in the 2000s Listen Up

Nic Fanciulli gets rather wistful when he thinks of the UAE. The DJ and ­producer from the UK was one of the first wave of the dance music artists to become a regular in UAE clubs, with his first shows dating back to 2006.

Speaking to The National from London, Fanciulli, 40, says he misses the good old days of popping over regularly to Dubai to spin records at the now-closed Trilogy nightclub in Jumeirah.

It was a period, he says, where the UAE dance music ­community was underground, and its members solely cared about the tunes. “Great times,” he says, wistfully. “The scene back in the UAE was ­really ­different then in that there were not too many clubs. This made the community less ­divided, in a sense. I would come to Trilogy ­regularly throughout the year and I would build the audience and meet the same people. It was almost like a residency. Now that the scene has grown, a lot of DJs come back and play a different venue each time.”

While that may be the case, there is always going to be a space on the decks for ­Fanciulli. As well as amassing his own local fan base, he ­continues to release adventurous material displaying the wide breadth of the techno scene.

His latest EP, Leap of Faith, released under his own label Saved Records, has him ­collaborating with Swiss DJ Black Circle for two tropically inspired tracks. The album’s title song melds a strong melodic piano line with Afro-Cuban rhythms, while the second track, The Breakfast Club, has a futuristic ­sounding synth paired with a riot of Latin American percussion.

Not only does it all seem effervescent and ready for the summer club circuit, Leap of Faith is an example of the deeper creative territory ­Fanciulli is delving into when it comes to his craft. “Timeless – that is the kind of experience I am looking to create,” he says, regarding his approach to the studio and live sets.

“It’s no longer about just ­getting your hands up in the air. It’s more about taking ­people on a journey and having them with me while I am ­creating this more ­sophisticated sound that I worked so hard to get to.”

It is also a sound he looks forward to bringing back to the UAE, eventually. He views the country’s rapid expansion as the region’s most popular party spot as inevitable. The UAE’s growing cosmopolitanism meant the country’s entertainment landscape was only going to evolve.

With that also comes a new generation of fans. Fanciulli and many of his techno peers are beneficiaries of this new wave, which has taken them from clubs to massive open-air festivals.

So, for someone who proudly views his music as “­underground”, how does he feel about performing in front of thousands at festivals?

“Well, if you really break it down, that term ‘­underground’ can’t be applied to a sound. ­Instead, it is more [of] an ­attitude thing,” he says. “­Because what is EDM? It means electronic dance music and that is what I have always played. Now, while the term has been stigmatised to mean commercial, I feel that you can still be a so-called EDM artist and be underground by how you conduct yourself, which is to be fearless, uncompromising and not conforming to what people expect.”

This is one of the insights he offers to up-and-coming artists.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t really paying attention to things, but I just feel like it’s now time for me to be giving back to dance music what it gave me,” he says.

“My advice to people today is to really take it ­professionally. There is a lot of talent out there, and with technology today, anyone can be a DJ. But from watching the people at the top of their game, what I can say about them is that they take what they do very ­seriously and have a very ­professional approach to dance music.”

Updated: March 2, 2020 07:28 PM

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