Already a successful producer, DJ, labelboss and father, techno veteran Nic Fanciulli has his hands full. Yet he's embarked upon another project. The Social Festival, taking place at the beautiful Mote Park of Maidstone, Kent at the end of September. Not only was he born and raised in Maidstone, Fanciulli cites the town as the source of his musical inspirations, taking him back to the early days out clubbing with friends and discovering his passion for house and techno.
Midway through preparations for the two day boutique festival, which will bring the likes of Seth Troxler, Carl Craig and Loco Dice onto the doorstep of Maidstone, Fanciulli took five to enlighten us with a little inside information about the event, sharing his journey full circle from an aspiring young DJ playing out in bars in his hometown, to return as an established professional with the means to throw his own special event...
Obviously you're a DJ, a producer, you've got your own label...how do you balance it all? And how have you found the time to organise a festival?
Well, I've got a really good team, a big group of people who've worked with me for such a long time. We've been doing the Saved parties in Maidstone for about five years now, and it just hasn't seemed to be stressful because most of the same people that we invite to the parties we're really good friends with, so the DJs are always keen! It's easy deal with, it's quite relaxing and the rest of the team take care of most of the other stuff like promotion etc.
So it's almost been a natural progression from the parties?
Yeah, yeah, like there's been no stress trying to push it at all. We're not trying to make it this massive thing. We're trying to keep it really boutique-y and just inviting all our friends to come and play really.
Can you tell us a bit about the choices you made in the line up?
Well, as I said, all of the guys are friends of mine. Everyone who's on the line up is someone who's played for me in the past, or I've played for them... and we've got a few further additions to the line up to come on Friday.
And in terms of the venue, was there something in particular that attracted you to Mote Park?
Well, Radio 1 did their Big Weekend at the same venue back in 2008, and we were quite involved with that. We did all the afterparties and stuff like that and I thought to myself, yeah I'd love to do something like that. Obviously the scale they had it on was totally different. It was like Madonna and all that. After that we started the Saved parties and we got them up to a certain point where I was like, yeah now we can do something a little bit bigger, and a little bit more, you know in an open space, instead of just doing the club shows. And so far, it's going great; the feedback's been really good, and to keep doing it in Maidstone is really great. I mean Maidstone's always had a really good music scene. Back in the '90s we had the longest weekly dnb night, until Fabric opened. A lot of the raves started here in Kent, I think a lot of people travelled from London because they wanted to get out of town and it's only about 55 minutes on the train.
I think for anyone who's got a musical background, there's quite a lot of nostalgia for the music they were listening to when they were growing up. Do you think that's kind of shaped the music that you're making with the label?
Yeah, I mean we've always been based in Maidstone. The studio's in Maidstone. We live in the area and so a lot of the influences for me were listening to DJs in the town when I was younger. You know growing up, going out... There was a club night which was actually run by my manager Serge. It used to get really big names, from Carl Cox, to Sasha and Digweed... It was a really big night. I got a lot of influence from going to that night. Then I started off playing in bars in Maidstone and it just took off from there really. Then I spent a few years not playing in Maidstone, I just travelled, and then a few years ago I came back and I thought, you know what, it would be nice to put these DJs into small places, so we were doing around 600 people a night, so you could come and see people like Luciano, Loco Dice, Carl Cox even. We had all of them last year and it was a really nice environment to see those sorts of DJs. And it's a case of getting the same balance with The Social. You know, it's not about having this huge 20,000 person festival. We want something which is small enough that you get a vibe. It's about trying to keep it quite small.
Yeah, and that's something that's really important with festivals. I mean you can have a great line-up, but it is ultimately about the people you attract.
Yeah, I mean we've definitely kept it in the right direction musically for where we are. The people are gonna come to listen to the DJs we've got playing, who are mainly all in the same kind of area, in terms of the type of music, so it'll be a music-based crowd, definitely, which is important.
Then on the Sunday we've just launched the Family Social. We've got the Brand New Heavies playing. We've got Earth Wind and Fire. It's a more chilled-out vibe.
So offering something in contrast...
In terms of the dance music festival market, there are a lot of festivals in England, in Croatia particularly as well, all across the world...Do you feel that the market is perhaps becoming a bit over-saturated?
I feel that, there are certainly a lot of festivals, but I think the music's becoming so popular, electronic music in general and there's a market for it. I mean we've played five or six festivals already this summer and not one of them have been empty. You know, they've all been really really busy. And obviously Croatia is taking the lead at the moment. We played out there last year and I really rate it."
But yeah, there's nothing really like this in Kent, and it's such a big area..
So it's almost like you're filling the gap in the market...
Yeah... In London you're spoilt for choice, and it's trial and error for us really. We wanna do it and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. There's no pressure with it really. It's been a really nice process doing the whole thing, from finding local people to do the food stands. We're really trying to keep it local.
What can we expect from the site and the layout of the festival?
The site's going to have three arenas. It's going to have the main arena, a second arena, and then a VIP arena. It's going to be musical in all three arenas. There's gonna be art displays, from the local students at the art college, they've been doing some pieces of art for us. We've got the VIP arena which is gonna be run by a really lovely restaurant just outside Maidstone called The Swan, who are going to be doing really nice food, more for the adults, especially the Sunday crowd."
So does it feel like the Sunday might be aimed more at the locals?
"Yeah, I mean I'm a Dad, so I try to think of what you can do as a family... And Earth Wind and Fire were one of the bands that I grew up listening to. My Dad used to play them in the house. You know, they're one of those bands who are just such easy listening. They're so much fun. So I was trying to get the right balance, with something that people can bring their kids to listen to, and we've got funfair rides for all the kids, we've got magicians, so the adults can come and enjoy the music but the kids have got something to do too.
It sounds like you've got it on lockdown! Thank you for your time, Nic, and good luck with it all!
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.