Over the last few years, two artists that have established themselves firmly at the epicentre of the UK’s currently buoyant underground music scene in their own right is Secondcity and Mark Fanciulli.
Many of you who favor your house to possess a distinct level of groove will be familiar with their productions, having both emerged with a series of successful releases across a plethora of exciting labels. One thing that has become evident over the last few years however, is the friendship the pair have acquired both on and off the dancefloor.
With Fanciulli enjoying a wealth of success with his own imprint Between 2 Points as well as the likes of Moda Black, Saved and Rejected, and Secondcity on Circus, ABODE and Avotre to name but a few, both have shared the booth and collaborated on projects to excellent effect. Having recently dropped the ‘Circuit’ EP on Chus & Ceballos’ Stereo Productions, we caught up with both artists to discuss how their careers began, the importance of friendship in the industry and how theirs developed into a fruitful one both on the dancefloor and in the studio.
Electronic Groove: Hi guys, thanks for talking to us. Can we start at the beginning of your careers and fill us in on how it started for you both, did DJ’ing or producing come first?
Secondcity: Thanks to you. DJing came first when I was like 15, I used to play house hip-hop, dnb, jungle, anything that I could buy and get my hands on at the time, or anything that was given to me. I used to just DJ at parties and play a lot of 7-inch stuff, 12 inches, a lot of old disco records my mum used to have. I never thought about producing at all until I was about 21, so it all came later down the line. By this point I was already working in London which made things harder. I decided to quit my job and just went for it.
Mark Fanciulli: Thanks guys. For me DJing came first, I got a pair of turntables at 14 and would spend my pocket money on new music every weekend at my local record shop. I didn’t start to fool around with production until around a year later with some entry-level software and then progressed to more professional DAW’s like Ableton Live, which I think was version 4 at the time. It wouldn’t even support mp3’s!
EG: Was there one record or production early on that made you think ‘this is for me’?
Secondcity: No, I’d even say up until now I’m still my biggest critic, it takes me a long time to get into stuff. At the time of putting it out, especially at first, I was always sceptical but after some time passes I reflect and think “this is good, I like this record”. It’s all a part of learning and I grew up listening and playing broad varieties of house so it took time to find my feet. It’s why I like to do collabs because it gives me the opportunity to make something without overthinking it.
EG: Do you remember your first rave?
Secondcity: It was a field rave, so sick! I don’t know how it happened but a few of my friends used to get quite well-known DJs to come down and play at these parties put together, it was very random. I went to many club nights such as Fabric when I was younger, everyone used to go there and the sound system was unreal.
Mark Fanciulli: Yeah, I remember it very well. It was summer 2000 and my brother took me to Clapham Common to a party that Paul Oakenfold was headlining, with sup-port from Hernan Cattaneo and Jan Johnston. One track that stuck with me from that party was the Hybrid Remix of The Future Sound Of London’s ‘Papua New Guinea’.
EG: When did you guys first become aware and connect with each other?
Secondcity: Mark is just one of the nicest guys in the world and I know his brother really well. When I made ‘I Wanna Feel’, Nick got in contact with me saying how much he wanted me to do an EP on Saved. I was so excited I couldn’t believe it, he sent me his number and it went from there. This was back when Nick was running the label a bit more and he asked me if I fancied playing at the Social Festival which was crazy! Mark was playing after me and I got to see him play, he was so sick and the music he was playing was happy. We both said ‘Hi’ and got to know each other.
Six months later I was making another record, they were asking who I would like to remix it and I thought I’d really like Mark to do one. I didn’t know him too well but he agreed to do the remix. Later that year we both played at the Social Festival again and he said how grateful he was to do the remix and work with the record. I thought “this is crazy” as he and his brother are massive DJs, it was surreal. We got on and spent that day hanging out, having some drinks and just stayed in contact since that point. He had a studio in Maidstone so we got together to hang out, make music and develop a friendship over two and a half years.
Mark Fanciulli: It would’ve been around late 2014. I have heard some of the cool stuff Rowan had been working on and we first met properly at the Social Festival in Maidstone. Not too long after that I worked on a remix for his track ‘What Can I Do’ and then we progressed to working in the studio on collabs. The workflow between us has always been very fast and productive.
EG: You’ve just dropped your first collaborative release on Stereo Productions, can you tell us a bit about the ‘Circuit’ EP and how you put it together?
Secondcity: We wrote the EP a year ago and both had commitments to putting music out and kind of forgot about it. I worked with the track again and Mark wasn’t sure at the time if he wanted to put it out. A day later he called me and said: “actually, I played this record somewhere and we have to release this – it’s cool, let’s put it out”. We sent it directly to the guys at Stereo and within an hour they hit me up saying they wanted to sign it. It wasn’t something we wrote recently but it’s lead us to getting back into the studio.
Mark Fanciulli: I feel that the release is a true reflection of both of us. It sounds like the music we make individually and is fused together and has a very accessible appeal, which is why the feedback was so positive. We actually began the production back in early 2015 and then put it on the back burner as we had a lot going on, before making a few tweaks and then Stereo snapped them up straight away.
EG: You’ve both been involved in several collaborative releases now, but how do you find the creative process when there’s more than one person involved?
Secondcity: I love it. I take care in who I work with and who I want to make music with. I’d say 90% of time it’s done in separate studios sending a project back and forth. It’s a lot of fun and a good opportunity where you don’t have to think about it too much. I could write a drum beat and ask Mark to put a bassline down or whatever, I don’t have to over analyse it. It gives me freedom to have fun with it and it’s almost makes it easier than if I were to be in the studio alone.
I’ve worked with Manny Gonzalez, Dale Howard, Max Chapman and these guys are all good friends I’ve made a connection with. We all like the same music and that’s what it’s all about, making good music with people you want to work with. To me, it doesn’t matter if they’re an upcoming DJ or a world beater, if we get on and it works that’s what it’s about.
Mark Fanciulli: You have to be honest and straight up, otherwise you won’t get anything done. I always say to a production partner, “If you’re not feeling this sound, just tell me, I won’t cry about it”.
EG: You’ve played together a number of times, most recently at Rowan’s The End show at Egg Club, as well as back-to-back at the likes of Pacha in Barcelona, how have those experiences been? Are B2B’s as fun as solo sets in your view?
Secondcity: Yeah they are really cool, a lot of fun, great to play back-to-back with your friends, it’s a lot of fun. I find it takes the pressure off you and allows you to get into it more. I find playing B2B is so much more relaxing, having someone there to bounce off.
Mark Fanciulli: The experiences are really exciting and always very enjoyable. We know each other’s sound and are very vocal about what we want to do which is why it works so well. In general, back-to-back sets can be just as fun as solo, but they have to be done right. I think that when they work they are absolutely amazing but when they don’t, they can really suck. There’s no middle ground and it can also be dependent on other factors like location and crowd taste.
EG: With the music industry becoming increasingly EP-driven, what are your thoughts on the album market? Is the long-term goal to still release a full-length body of music or has that goal shifted over the years?
Secondcity: Yeah, of course. If I made an album it would be an album of what inspired me to start DJing and to start making music. It would not be a typical album where this is the first single from my album, this is the second – it would be a collective of music that has inspired me. That’s the direction I would want, to write an album and put it out on a label that I love, without the glitz and glamour around it.
Mark Fanciulli: The goal is definitely there and it’ll probably be something that I’ll visit in time, but for now I am happy putting out EP’s and doing remixes.
EG: Any future collaborations in the pipeline?
Secondcity: No, at the moment, I’m still working with the same people for the last however many years. Myself and Max have just finished some new stuff that’ll be coming, we’ve got an EP coming out in June. I’ve been working with Many Gonzalez for another record. I’m just trying to do my own thing at the moment and working with people who’ve been there from the beginning.
Mark Fanciulli: I’ve been working a lot in the studio with my friend Zoo Brazil and we have produced nearly an album worth of material, more info on those releases will come in the near future. Also, I’ve been working with my old friend Rob Cockerton producing tracks with a very old-school character with a lot of emphasis on the drums and groove and not many channels being used. That’s why one of the tracks is called ‘Quality Over Quantity’.
EG: And lastly, if you didn’t end up forging a music career full-time, what would you be likely doing instead?
Secondcity: Probably working for my uncle doing banking. I decided to quit something that would probably have made me a lot of money for something unpredictable – which makes it so exciting. Even if it all fails I’ll never regret any of it because I had the guts to do it.
Mark Fanciulli: I’d probably be working as an accountant or maybe even a pilot.
Secondcity and Mark Fanciulli’s ‘Circuit’ EP is out now on Stereo Productions, grab your copy here.
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