Seb Fontaine interview: A New Prototype

Ahead of the launch of his brand new promotion, we chatted with Seb Fontaine.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 7th Nov 2018.
Originally published: 5th Nov 2018

Dance music has always possessed a revisionist streak. Early house was very much inspired by disco, whilst in creating techno; the Belleville Three looked to the past sonic adventures from European synth music and Afro-American funk to create their imprint of the future.

That fondness to openly broadcast influences from the past lives on, everywhere from Mella Dee's obsession with rave-driven warehouse music, up to Denis Sulta rinsing late 90s chart dance. It's not just the sounds that constantly reappear - many of the dancefloor custodians that helped shape the era still ply their trade.

The likes of Pete Tong and Sasha are still hugely relevant tastemakers, not to mention the UK's biggest DJ being another who came up during the same period, a certain Carl Cox. We've also seen a re-emergence of the most vital components of any club scene; the ravers. As dance music matures so too have the people that populate the dancefloors, no longer only the domain of wide-eyed youth.

Clubbing brands such as Gatecrasher, Cream and the Hacienda have all seen a revival in recent years for events driven by the music which dominated them in the last century, bringing along their esteemed residents for the ride. DJs such as Graeme Park and Scott Bond have had the opportunity to celebrate that timeless music alongside newer sounds, as has Seb Fontaine, the legendary Cream resident. 

He's behind a brand new project in his adopted hometown of Liverpool, Prototype taking the name from his seminal mix CDs of the late nineties and early noughties. Ahead of the launch on Saturday 17th November at the Williamson Tunnels, we grabbed five minutes with the DJ to chat about what the night holds in store.

You're back in Liverpool and it's behind a new project. Tell us what Prototype is going to entail...

Prototype was an idea that we had between myself and the 303 boys. We were after a night that encompassed the kind of music that I had put on the Global Underground albums of the same name, distinguishing it from simply a classics night.

We wanted it to be more underground in approach, bringing the best new music alongside some of the lesser well know but equally great tunes from the era we all remember so fondly.

It'll be in the Williamson Tunnels. Have you played there before?

I haven’t but to me it looks like The Cross in London where I ran my Type night from 2001 to 2007. There is something about tunnel and underground venues that I just love, so couldn’t be happier with the choice to do it there. Everyone who sees the pics of the Wiliamson Tunnels has remarked that it will be like The Cross all over again, so it feels good to be reconnecting with that vibe once more.

You'll always be forever associated with Cream in the city, particularly with the Spirit of the 17th movement which has seen that timeless era pushed forward again. Why do you think people keep returning to that period of time, and what is it about that music that has endured so much?

I think it’s just that it was such a big part of our lives. We were the generation that helped build what the clubbing scene was, and has become. We stood in the rain, we got on trains, planes and long car rides to go and see our favourite DJs. I think that what we did was special, and even if we aren’t doing it religiously every week like we used to, we still missed it, and needed to bring it back.

The amount of people that have made friends, connected with old friends and started going out to events again is huge since the explosion began. However it needs to evolve, and be fresh, so it's important that this is not just some revival night. It needs to be inclusive of some of the fantastic new music out there, and also be accessible to new and younger clubbers who are keen to experience what made what our generation did (and still do) so special.

You're a regular or due to play with other big parties of that era too, such as Club Class and Clockwork Orange. Have these parties been good at keeping that vibe from their earlier shows alive, or has a lot changed on the dancefloors of the nineties to those of now?

The atmosphere at some of the events has been just as good as it was first time round, so I don't think too much is different in all honesty. That said, it would appear though that recovery times are a little longer ha!

Now dance music is a bit older we're seeing a much broader age section on a dancefloor, which to me feels much more inclusive. Do you think that's the case in the shows you're playing?

100%, I love hearing people come up and say that they used to get the albums or listen to the radio shows but were too young to get into clubs, so now they are getting to finally do the whole thing properly. I think it’s fantastic seeing younger clubbers standing shoulder to shoulder on the dancefloor with the originals... which is my polite way of referring to the older crew.

We've talked a bit about the past, but I know your DJ sets don't just play old classics and focus on a lot of modern upfront music as well, which is something that is obviously very important to Prototype as you've said. What stuff out there has been exciting you of late?

Wow, it’s a pretty healthy time for music if you dig deeper. You need to get past the crust of music that just seems to be made to sound like another previously successful tune. Then there are some modern classics in the making, it really is great.

Where else have you got shows coming up?

We have the big Butlins Cream weekender coming up soon, gigs in Glasgow for Colours, Maidstone for Club Class as you mentioned, and just a full diary of great gigs. I’m a big lover of small gigs as much as big ones so there's a lot to choose from really.

There’s even a nice selection of exotic gigs in warmer climates, perfect for this time of year when you want to escape the British weather every now and again.

Finally you've been given a Delorean and you've got the chance to go back to the younger Seb Fontaine at the start of his DJ career. You're allowed to tell him one bit of advice... what would it be?

Haha , some of the advice wouldn't be printable. There are also a few lunatics that might be best avoided thinking back but really, I don’t regret much in my life.

I would certainly mention that joining a certain club as resident in Liverpool would be a smart move, resulting in many friendships and too many great nights out to count. I loved every bit of my time in Liverpool, which is another reason that makes the 17th so exciting. 

P.S. Seb... buy some bloody bitcoins!

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