Disco night has DJ Erol back in a spin

Erol Alkan
Erol Alkan
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MONDAY: definitively the worst time to call any DJ – and Erol Alkan is no exception.

His sleepy timbre betrays a hectic weekend of DJing, an activity that for the last two decades has complemented an extensive catalogue of remix work, production, broadcasting and club promotion.

High-profile remixes for the likes of Justice, Digitalism and Mylo have firmly established him as a dance festival fixture in the last ten years, but in truth the Londoner has always embraced a wider variety of genres and influences, whether through his now defunct club night, Trash, as a broadcaster for BBC radio station 6 Music, or through his Disco 3000 project, which he will bring to Cabaret Voltaire this Saturday.

Describing how Disco 3000 differs from his more contemporary DJ sets, he says, “For me, it was just kind of picking up disco records which I just felt – or hoped – I could play to a young audience who would come and see me play what they feel is like a regular Erol set, and I could get across to them an excitement with a different set of records.

“It was almost a way of saying, ‘look, I know you like these contemporary artists, you may only be 18 years old or 19 years old and you’ve never heard where it all stems from – here it is’.”

Such a departure from his more indie and electro-house sets reveal not only his breadth of influences, but a desire to have the licence to be different.

Trash, a club night that he established at London nightspot Plastic People in 1997, is a now legendary example of this, but he set it up if not only to showcase his love for everything from David Bowie to Fischerspooner, but also as a reaction against “laddism, I f****** hated it. I hated how horribly male the alternative scene had gone”.

Referring to a prevalent Britpop scene that seemed remarkably hostile to electronic music, this “laddism” would often spill over into club nights that Alkan and his friends attended.

“Some of my friends used to get spat at and stuff at clubs,” he says. “I used to get it as well.

“At some clubs, because I wasn’t playing certain records, people used to threaten me. I was just like, ‘I don’t need to put up with this’.

“In a way I’m kind of glad it happened because that’s certainly something that forced me to want to create something like Trash.

“Really, I just wanted a nightclub where girls could dress up, boys could dress up, everyone could express themselves how they wished to and not feel threatened,” he continues. “The irony of that is that we used to play Stone Roses and Oasis or anything like that. There used to be people that loved that, those bands, but it was just their attitude that was behind it. That’s what I wanted to create, just that safe environment for people.”

Having folded Trash in 2007 (which, incidentally, took place on Mondays), Alkan has stepped back from club promotion (it’s worth noting that he doesn’t like to refer to himself as such) to concentrate on other projects, though he still enthuses about his DJing schedule, however much it might tire him out.

“I’ve played Cabaret Voltaire quite a few times in the past,” he says. “It’s always nice to come back and play something different, and for it not to be a replay.

“It’s always packed, it’s always hot, it’s always sweaty, it’s always great. But it’s just good to kind of do something different as well.”

Erol Alkan (Disco 3000 set), Cabaret Voltaire, Blair Street, Saturday, 10.30pm, £13, 0131-220 6176