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Lighting a Fuse with Enzo Siragusa

Mark Dale speaks to Fuse mastermind Enzo Siragusa about scaling back his Ibiza commitments, Leeds' undeniable party heritage and why sound is so important to him as a DJ.

26th May 2015

Photo: Enzo Siragusa

Enzo Siragusa's journey to the top flight of underground European DJs is something of a classic tale. He built his rep, started a night, then started making music, formed a label and gained recognition for doing each of them. But although there's certainly a classic element to the tale and the house music he both plays and makes, there's something extraordinary and more ground breaking at play in the world of Siragusa.

The club night he founded, Fuse, has an audience like few others you'd find at a Sunday morning afterparty in London. Similarly that party's sound is like little else happening at that time, even within one of the world's cultural capitals. "Fusic", as his most dedicated audience have named it, has few comparable peers to their ears, a dubbed-out house sound with monstrous sub-bass, referencing drum & bass, UK garage and techno.

And although the party does invite guests, its sound is most definitely defined by the core residents team alongside Siragusa, Seb Zito, Rich NxT and Rossko, who are the showcased artists on the Fuse London imprint, founded in 2011 (watch them in the mix below).

Since that time Enzo has started a sub-label Infuse, intended to showcase like-minded young producers outside the residents team and has, through the growing reputation of both his parties and labels, created a unique, instantly recognisable sound that has become in demand at some of Europe's premier clubs and further still.

Sticking to a formula that demands the highest quality sound reproduction - both in the studio and in club soundsystems - Fuse parties take the residents far and wide, including Ibiza, where the last two years they've played weekly, throughout the season, for Sankeys Ibiza.

Scaling back on dates this year, but moving up in terms of prestige, Fuse's parties on the White Isle in 2015 will occurr on the terrace at Space (find more info on the three planned), often regarded as the best club space in the world.

2015 will also see Enzo release more material from his recently initiated studio partnership with Alexkid as Kilimanjaro, and he will return to Leeds, where he was last seen playing on the terrace at Mint Warehouse at the start of May, to play his second consecutive year as a guest at the beloved Cocoon In The Park event alongside the likes of Sven Vath, Carl Cox and Ricardo Villalobos.

You originally intended your sub-label Infuse to cover producers that weren't part of the Fuse residents set up, with your original label Fuse London focussing on the club's residents such as yourself.

There now seems to have been a bit of a bleed over from what you set out to here. Have you changed the ethos of the labels? What's now the difference between them?

Yeah, originally Infuse was going to highlight others outside the four core residents, but it's just been the lead times with vinyl, you know. It's becoming difficult to get stuff out. We've got music stacking up, so we're just trying to get more stuff out really. But Infuse is still meant to be guests and friends of Fuse. 

You pay a lot of attention to the production on your records. You try and put a heck of a lot of bass on them. To what lengths do you personally go to ensure that nothing is lost in the mastering?

Well, at the end of the day I'm just a DJ who makes music. Typically I'll team up with someone like Alexkid to help mix stuff down, because he's just a genius sound engineer.

He just knows how to make it work, he has that experience. When I'm making my tracks they can be a little bit bass-heavy and I can struggle with it. It's all do-able, it's just finding the right balance between those low frequencies, typically between the kick and those sub bass frequencies. 

Does basic, stripped back music make the best music for nightclub soundsystems?

Erm, it really depends. I'm a believer that if you have a good soundsystem and good acoustics in a room, then yes, if it's a good, stripped back record that has been well mixed and well mastered.

I've just spent a couple of days with Alex working on our new Kilimanjaro stuff and it's so well mixed, where he's really able to get that space and dynamic in the sound, that when you hear it on a proper system, in a proper club, it just fills the room.

Unfortunately not every nightclub sounds that good and that's maybe when, as a DJ, you've got to pull something out of the bag that isn't so stripped back, that does have a bit more energy in the high frequencies, so it will motivate people to dance. 

Do you always soundcheck before a club gig?

Yes, I do. If it's a place I know then probably I won't or if someone's on before me who I trust, who will have soundchecked and who knows what they're doing, then I won't. I just use vinyl and USBs, it's not like I'm going in there with computers, doing live stuff.

Of course you only have so much control over the EQ on the system from the mixer in the booth. How do you approach a system that you've never played on before, that may have a set of EQs that aren't immediately available to you, if you're turning up just before you're due to play?

My golden rule is befriend the sound engineer, don't piss them off. You've got to be really nice to these guys, especially if you've not been there before. Maybe massage their ego a bit. Sound is like music, it's subjective, isn't it. Everyone has their own opinion. So, yeah, be courteous.

If there's some kind of EQ on an iPad or something, it's pretty easy to take out some frequencies, if that's what you want to do. It's not something I like to do, to be honest. I normally err towards balancing the soundsystem between the top speakers and whatever subs they have. I think that's the best way, it's not too complicated. 

What producers and labels are your key influences?

There are so many. In recent years the likes of Peace Division (listen to 'Blacklight Sleaze' below) were a big influence on all of the guys at Fuse. We were really into that sound from the early days of DC-10.

Even more recently, Mountain People have been a big influence. If you go back into the nineties, I was really into drum & bass, so labels like Moving Shadow and Ram Records were a big influence on me personally.

Back then you would go out to different kinds of clubs, so I didn't just go out to drum & bass nights. At the house nights I went to I got more into the U.S. stuff. Francois K and Wave Records were certainly an influence, more of a deep house sound.

That West Coast sound too, for a while. Naked Music, I found, just had some amazing productions coming from Moulton Studios, people like Jay Denes and Miguel Migs. 

At Fuse you play alongside your fellow residents a lot. At guest slots, even at festivals, you're often playing alongside DJs who are roughly from the same kind of ballpark that you're in. Are there any DJs you really enjoy from other genres, who people might be surprised to learn you're into?

There's lots. I like Larry Levan and a lot of the stuff he used to play. I have some of those disco records myself. Gilles Peterson, I really like the kind of stuff he plays, that's nice music to listen to.

But unfortunately I don't really get to go out to gigs any more, like I used to, cos I'm constantly on the road and when I get back I just try and spend time with my family and loved ones. So I rarely get time to go out and check alternative stuff out, but I still love all kinds of music. 

Fuse London has got a very distinct sound. Are there any current artists who are making comparable stuff to you, or who you would like on one of your labels?

I'm finding there's a young generation of producers out there who are sending me music that have our kind of sound, but it's evolving it a bit, which is really cool - putting their own slant on it. I've had a young kid called Maksy sending me stuff and it's just incredible.

A guy called Inner, who I think is from Romania, we've put something out by, but he's got another one coming. There's just so many, but generally they tend to be young, as yet unknown talents that we're getting really excited about.

Last year you played all 19 weeks, on Tuesdays, at Sankeys in Ibiza. This season's looking a lot different for you. Less dates, a change in venue, you're down to play at more than one venue. What's happening there? Why have you scaled things down? Why have you left Sankeys?

I just think I've kinda done it. We've done two years of weekly Tuesdays and prior to that we've been there for two years, from their first season and I realised that I wasn't playing that much else outside of that, whereas I had been doing a few years ago.

So I felt like I wanted to play a few different clubs and, most importantly, I wanted some of my time back (watch Enzo at Sankeys Ibiza below).

I would have been happy going back to Sankeys, but a scaled back season just didn't fit in with their programme. The dates that we wanted, that would have to fit in around my other dates on the island, weren't available.

The way they programme their club is that they're open seven days a week with weekly residencies, so we would have had to piggyback with another brand just to be in the club, which doesn't really work for Fuse because we just want to do our own thing. But getting some time back has been the main driver.

I realised that over the last two years I've not made that much music. The season in Ibiza takes seven months of your year. You don't just turn up and play for five months, there's a month beforehand where you're moving over and sorting your stuff out, then the month after, getting everything back and fitting back into life in London.

I've just built my studio here and it's sounding great, it's not a place I want to be leaving right now. I want to be in there, jamming out tunes, making music, collaborating with friends. So, I'd rather dip in and out of Ibiza, live in London and as I've not got a weekly gig, it means I' can play a couple of gigs at Cocoon, one at Paradise, there'll be a few other bits, no doubt, playing for tINI and the gang. I just think less is more really. 

While you were doing your Sankeys Ibiza residency, one of the things you said that you'd enjoyed most was that the club had a really underground vibe compared to other places out there.  How do you feel about going from that kind of confined, underground setting to some of your more traditional, glitzy, big clubs?

I suppose I'm really looking forward to it. Over the last couple of years I've played a hell of a lot, I've been to a lot of different clubs and I already do that kind of underground thing here in London, so it was time to do something else over there.

From a sound perspective, I think the guys from Funktion One are gonna be out there at our opening party and they themselves say that the terrace at Space is their standout best soundsystem. To be able to play on that and work with the guys from Funktion One and Space, well, you can't get better, can you? That was a big draw for me. 

Who else is good in Ibiza at the moment?

There's a few. Cocoon seem to be coming back hard. Sure, there was a dip, but last year was really good and this year their programme looks really strong so I'm really looking forward to playing with them.

Underground seem to be programming some really good stuff, I looked at Zoo Project's line ups the other day and they seem to be booking a lot more underground and credible artists whose music I buy a lot of. That's interesting for an island that, in many ways, is becoming a lot more commercial in its music.

You mentioned Cocoon. You're again playing their outdoor party in Leeds this year, Cocoon In The Park. How does playing at that event differ from other festivals or outdoor performances?

The main difference is that it's one big stage with nothing else going on around it. You go to most festivals and they have huge line ups, many stages vying to attract people's attention.

When I played last year it was amazing. Not one of the DJs played from a laptop, they all played vinyl and CDs, which I thought was really cool. You don't really see that much at festivals, or just one stage and thousands of people, but that's that party.

Do you think Leeds has a particular affinity for that kind of sound or is it just that it's one of the UK's clubbing capitals?

Definitely the latter. It has a real party vibe. Obviously London is a lot more diverse in its culture, the different kinds of events that go on there, the different kinds of music you can go out and listen to, but Leeds has got that real party vibe. It's been a party town since I was a kid and first started going out, it's always had that.

You've lived for a long time in London, yet you've also spent time living in Ibiza and you have family and heritage in Italy. Where do you see yourself living in the next ten years?

Oh, London, for sure. I can't see myself leaving, I love it here. 

More info on Fuse Ibiza.

Find Cocoon In The Park tickets.

Head here for all upcoming Enzo Siragusa gigs.

Disclaimer: The article above has been contributed by the event promoter or somebody representing the event promoter. As such we take no responsibility for accuracy of the content and any views expressed are not necessarily those of Skiddle or our staff.

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