Masters of conjuring deep, disco-laced house music, Swiss duo In Flagranti have honed a reputation for creating sure-fire dancefloor records, mixing eclectic sets which convey their idiosyncratic tastes and distinctly non-formulaic approach to DJing.
With a discography spanning four LPs and countless singles on labels such as Kitsune and Codek, their latest EP 'Headrush' arrives courtesy of Erol Alkan's always-intriguing Phantasy Sound, an imprint associated with cool names like Daniel Avery, Riton, Boys Noize and Switch. Here Alex and Sasa take five to share with us the roots of their musical orientations, and to discuss the changing status of the DJ within an increasingly competitive industry...
Your music has a distinct disco-tinged electro sound. What are your musical backgrounds? What could you call your biggest inspirations, or things which have or continue to inspire you?
ALEX: “We experienced a lot of great music firsthand from TV, radio and magazines in the '70s, things that were fresh and new back then, like The Sweet 'Ballroom Blitz', irresistible in 1973, we both loved it. The '70s had it all, Led Zeppelin, Les Humphries Singers, Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Queen, Abba, Sex Pistols, Donna Summer, Buggles, M's 'Pop Muzik' and lots of novelty records like Paco Paco 'Taka Takata'.”
There are so many flavours thrown into your work and you certainly don't seem to conform to any generic conventions. Is it your intention to create a new sound or are you aiming to recreate the music that has inspired you? The new material (tracks such as 'Locker Keys for Tops') has a more techno sound. What sound were you aiming for with the new productions?
SASA: “I personally don't try to recreate, I don’t think I’m good at that. I do get inspired by other people's music, but when I start working on a track it's all intuitive... while working on music, I don't really think in terms of music styles like techno/house/disco.
“When I have a rough mix then I sit back or dance around the studio and just listen to a loop of the mix for half an hour or so. Then I imagine being on a dancefloor or hanging at a bar hearing this music... or wondering what I would mix it with if I was playing records, if I feel it affects me. And in a certain way then I know it can do that to other people as well.
As for the bassline on 'Locker Keys'... think back to In Flagranti's meat-packing remix of 'Oh Missy' by Woolfy — we have done hard and dark basslines before!”
And could you describe your music in three words?
ALEX & SASA: “Dope as shit!”
At what age did you both get into dance music?
SASA: ”My first time in a club, or 'discotheque' as it was called back then, was in 1977. I was 11-years-old.”
You also have a strong image which compliments the vibrancy of your music...
ALEX: “Most people have no idea what they're looking at when they see our 12" sleeves, it’s just a picture from a past era that I stuck on a cover. I like to create collages that fool the viewer into believing that this is a real photograph. I fake history and make it look real, but it’s fantasy: my stylized version of the past.
I enjoy the process of finding images and combining them. Remember, I work analogue, not Photoshop — there is no resizing of paper cutouts or tear-sheets, the images have to work perfectly together in order to get the effect I'm looking for. The collages and videos are like the music we make. We work with our past: images, sounds, movies, everything we liked growing up in the '60s, '70s and '80s. It's like memories mixed in a giant blender and re-assembled to form a fantastic conundrum — that's In Flagranti today.”
How does the dance scene in Switzerland compare to the UK?
SASA: “I can't speak for the whole of Switzerland, but in Basel we had an amazing club in the early '80s called Totentanz, where I first started DJing. A lot of bands that were doing interesting music at the time came through, bands like Liquid Liquid, Kas Product, Maximum Joy, Virgin Prunes, Wall of Voodoo... then later on in the mid-'80s I started doing warehouse parties with a couple of mates.
My first time out in London was in 1990, it was during the carnival and I happened to be staying in Notting Hill. I have never seen anything like it before... all these trucks filled with soundsystems. Soul II Soul and the Wag Club were great too.”
As far as DJing is concerned, what are your general intentions for the sets you play — is it about crowd-pleasing or do you try to introduce clubbers to new sounds?
SASA: “I think 'crowd pleasing' has a bad rep. When I DJ, I want to please the crowd... and I want to introduce them to new sounds at the same time. To me it's all about timing and feeling the crowd. You can't play the same set to every crowd, you have to feel your way through.
Sometimes it takes time and other times the party is jumping after two records... as you gain recognition and status it's even more crucial to be exploring and trying to challenge yourself.
Finally, what's on the cards for In Flagranti in the near future?
SASA: “With our new release as the main event at the moment, we don't want to spoil it by talking about any further projects just yet... let's leave it open for next time.”
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