Nic Fanciulli: "Lockdown is like a reset button"
DJ Nic Fanciulli talks about playing Ibiza with Carl Cox, being nominated for a Grammy, and his dream collaborations in a brilliantly comprehensive lockdown life
Published: Monday 4th May 2020
Like many of us, Nic Fanciulli is yearning for Ibiza.
Unlike many of us, Fanciulli is missing the island in a professional sense as much as a party one, having once closed Space Ibiza with the legendary Carl Cox (it's one of his proudest professional accomplishments, up there with the Grammy nomination.)
"Lockdown makes you realise how much you take things for granted," says Fanciulli, and the man's not wrong.
Discover plenty more about one of the great DJs in this extensive lockdown life.
We'll see you on the White Island soon.
What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?
‘Focus’ my new release is coming out on Radioslave’s Rekids label at the start of May which I am very excited about. Rekids is a label I have much respect for. This is my second release for them. Feels good to be back with some fun and energetic tunes that will hopefully lift some spirits out there during this time.
I was looking forward to being back in Ibiza for my Dance or Die residency at Ushuaia this summer. Obviously, it's very hard to figure out if we're going to go back this season or not, you know, it's up to the gods at the moment. That was something I was super hyped about. It was a huge project that we spent the whole winter kind of planning and programming it, but it's obviously kind of to be continued at the moment isn't it? It's hard to say what's gonna happen or not.
One exciting thing that is coming out of this is the fact that I've been able to start writing music again without having the distraction of shooting off every five minutes and getting on a plane and going to a gig to then coming back home to research and go through my music collection to prepare for the next run of gigs. Being in the studio and working on music, the bits that I really enjoyed when I first started my career, that's kind of what I'm most excited about at the moment in this climate. Apart from that everything has been put on hold until the future.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I think the proudest one was obviously getting the Grammy nomination for a record that was not really a Grammy style record of that time. We got nominated for best remix and it was a remix of Tiefschwarz featuring Tracey Thorn which was an underground record in comparison to the other artists in the same category such as Beyonce, Coldplay, Thin White Duke...heavy hitters. And we were just picked merely on the merit of the music that we produced so that was major for me.
While we didn't win, I think I was 28 at the time, it was a really big achievement in my career and something I will always remember, being side by side with these amazing legends that I grew up listening to.
Then I think secondly would hands down have to be, in fact they are both equal because they're both different parts of my career but, closing Space Ibiza with Carl Cox. He turned to me at six in the morning and asked me to jump on the decks with him. We went back to back until closing it out at one in the afternoon.
Playing back to back with him right to the end in a club that he pretty much made an institution was kind of a sorcerer and apprentice type feeling, from being on the dance floor in the 90s watching this guy play, to becoming friends and later closing down our favorite club together. The Studio 54 of our generation.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I would say, to listen to your own instincts. I think there were certain moments in the early part of my career where I listened too much to other people's opinions, which you kind of do when you're younger and you're naive. You kind of take in the information and try but you're heavily influenced because you're wanting to break through. You're wanting to achieve what everyone else is doing and you think that the advice that people give you is always the best, but it isn't always and I feel that I could have made a lot more of my own opinions when I was younger.
That's why now I'd say, for the last 10 years, I've kind of chosen everything I've done. I've made sure that I've made the decision on it. I can get advice and stuff like that but now I make sure that the final say is down to me. I think that's just through age and confidence and being in the scene for so long. I wish that earlier on I would have made a few more decisions that were based on me and not others around me.
What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?
I want to do more every day. I want to play new places. I want to make better music and remix artists that I’m inspired by. That's the great thing about being in our scene that every day you want to achieve more, it's not like you are just sitting there going, ‘Oh, this is cool, I'm just gonna carry on for the next 10 years’. That's why I love working with people from different genres and people from different areas.
If you look at my label, Saved, we've had everyone on there from Loco Dice to Jamie xx. From house and techno to other sounds that interest me, like, projects that are outside of the norm of the house music scene. That's the kind of thing that excites me about this whole situation that one day I could be remixing someone like Radio Slave and then the next day I could be remixing someone like Jamie xx you know, it's such a wide scope. I would like to do more of this.
This is the time right now, with everything on lockdown, that people can collaborate together that would not have had the opportunity to before, because everyone's less busy. We can't go on tour. We have to stay at home. So that side of things at the moment has been fantastic. You know, you can just talk to anyone and say that you want to do something or work on a project and everyone seems very keen to do it.
This time has reignited everything that I used to love about music and made me think, I'm going to record a lot more now, I'm going through the studio stuff a lot more now. It’s like a reset button.
Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?
Ahh, I got inspired by so many different people early on, but to break it down DJ wise I'd say Laurent Garnier and François K, for the simple fact that they could play any genre of music and make it sound like one long set. I was obsessed with going to The End in London when I was a kid to listen to Laurent Garnier play open to close. Same with Francois K in New York. The fact that they could open up with dub reggae and finish on drum and bass and go everywhere in between, house, techno, tech house, etc... and they still managed to make it sound like a piece of art, it was just amazing.
After that Sasha + Digweed just for the fact that they could suck me in and keep me on the dance floor for five or six hours. I would not know a single record, and just come home and be like, wow, what was that?!
They had a patience in their DJing where they weren't worried if people didn't have their hands in the air, they could and, I hate to say it, could not bore you, but they could literally keep you waiting and waiting away and you'd never wanted to leave the floor even though you know you weren't feeling it at that time, because you knew that any second now they could switch that dance floor into like absolute mayhem. I really kind of loved how they did that.
The other one has got to be Carl, hands down. For the simple fact that he makes you feel a part of the night, he makes every person in that room a part of what he's doing with that big smile on his face. I've heard Carl many times and played with him many times and not once has he not been smiling or not on his mic and not playing great music. He's on form every single time.
I think for me, and I've always said this for up and coming artists or DJs or entertainers that want to take advice from someone or look to someone as an inspiration, you just got to look at that guy, and I don't really want to say his age or anything, but you want to say that where he is right now he is still on the top of his game.
Tell us something nobody knows about you...
I grew up in Kenya in Mombasa on the beach. One of my first languages was Swahili because obviously I lived there.
How are you finding lockdown?
For the first two weeks it felt like it was the end of everything because we were very much looking forward to and preparing for the summer. After two weeks I got a bit of clarity like right, this is it, we know we're kind of all in it together. Let's just stick to the rules and try and do what we can do at home.
I have been doing a live stream on Instagram every Sunday and just trying to sort of still feel like we're part of the community and the industry. But everything's been going through like digital online tool malarkey, instead of it being analog in front of people. And yes, I'm getting in my head right now, you know. I can't say that it's easy, and I can't say that there's no point in complaining because everyone else is in the same boat.
I miss that interaction of going to a restaurant or a bar and especially going to a club and playing music to people. But we have to do it with the tools that we've got at the moment and that's only through the internet.
What is the best thing about lockdown?
Spending time with my family. You know, that's the only answer I can give you. And I think that's the same answer for most people. Not being on my mobile phone or laptop as much. Spending the whole day with them, having my young kids running around, they need a lot of attention. I'm actually becoming a calmer person because of it.
Worst thing about lockdown?
Not being able to go and play music for people and not being able to travel.
Top tip for surviving lockdown?
Just to stay indoors and just ride it out. I found myself learning. I've always made music, but I've never actually learned to play the piano so I'm taking an online piano class. I'm also learning Spanish online. I'm just trying to do things that I've always made excuses for not doing.
I think if people can, they should use this time to figure out the things they have always wanted to do. There's a way of doing it through the internet, or by reading books. Like I said, use this time to reset and think about what you actually want to do. There's people that are probably reading this that don't know where they want to be and what they want to be or what they want to do, and I think they should use this time to kind of figure that out. Make a plan of action and just get inspired.
If you could be in lockdown with one other person, alive or dead who would it be?
I reckon Fisher certainly because I've got a friendship with him, but I think that also he is someone that would definitely just keep you entertained. I was on FaceTime with him this morning and it just cheered me up seeing him on the screen. He would be that person that would never let you get down, would make you laugh and just cheer you up. It would be humour all the way around so yeah!
You could say well, I want to be isolated with Robert De Niro but I don't know how Robert De Niro is dealing with everything on a lockdown, you know, I mean, but I know that someone like Paul (Fisher) would cheer me up.
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is over?
Seeing my friends, and when I say friends, I'm also talking about everyone that I've worked with over the years. Just going back to it, playing the clubs and just getting back to normal life.
Lockdown makes you realise how much you take things for granted. This is just the reality you know, this never ever happened before. It’s not even happened in my parents lifetime, so something like this, it just blows your mind.
To go back to see those people that I wouldn't have probably seen for six months maybe you know that I see pretty much on a weekly basis. Yeah just have a glass of wine with them and just chat shit.
Watch Nic’s new weekly Instagram talk show 'As I Was Saying…’ every Thursday at 9pm