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DJ Fabio


Michael Mück vom Cuemix Magazin traf Fabio vor einem Gig 2005 in Frankfurt und plauderte mit ihm über die Anfänge von D&B, Pirate Stations, die Partnerschaft mit Grooverider, Vinyl vs. CDs und seine Familie.

When you were a child, did you always dream to be a musician or a DJ when you are grown up?

No, not really. I don't know what I wanted to do when I was young. I've always been into music - maybe music production. I was more interested in, yes, maybe being a producer but I didn't really know anything about it - to go about it. I just didn't know who to go to and what to do. But I was more interested in the way music is put together than being a musician. Later, I wanted to be a musician. When I was in my twenties it was a great knock playing the bass and the drums. Played the drums at school, you know, but nothing major… (laughing)

So how did you become a DJ? Where and when did things get started?

Basically, a guy I knew was setting up a radio station - a pirate radio station - and he knew that I collected records. I always collected music and stuff. And I used to know a guy called Colin Dayle - a Techno DJ, a very big DJ, well I mean one of the biggest Techno DJs out there - and he is a good friend of mine. He said to me: "Why don't you do the pirate station stuff?" And I was like, "I am not so sure," because to DJ wasn't nothing I wanted to do really. To be honest I didn't want to be a DJ. Anyway I went down to the station with some records and it worked out. And believe or not I really enjoyed my first show and the guy from the station told me that he thought it was really good and that maybe we should do a show every day - the daytime show, from the morning until the afternoon. So I agreed but I wasn't still so serious about it. So I started to play Funk, Soul, Rare Grooves and early Hip Hop and early House as well. I used to play everything.

Which year did you start to DJ at this pirate station?

Yeah so that's who the DJ actually started, being on the radio and then I was happy being booked for clubs. The club thing started to happen for Grooverider and me when Grooverider was playing on the same pirate station. But he wasn't a friend of mine. I did not really know him. He did the night time show. I did the day time show.

The guy that owned the pirate station had a little club and he decided to do a House night. So he chose Groove and me to do this House night, because we were the only two DJs on station who had House music and that's how we came together. Because he said: "Yeah, you could play with Grooverider tonight at my club," and I said, "Hmm, ok let's do it!" And we just ended up having a fortune relationship through that. That's how we started really, Fabio and Grooverider, from this little club and the pirate station we just kinda started DJing together. Then the House thing started and Acid House happened. That's it man! It's just been a roller coaster I was in since I started to spin.


At that stage did you think you would get famous as a DJ team?

No, never. You know Fabio was just my DJ name for the radio and Grooverider was his DJ name and we never thought it would come to this stage. It was just like fun, playing music on a radio station and it was illegal as well. We felt it was cool because we didn't have any restrictions and stuff like that. We just kinda came together through luck and we kept a good relationship through all these years.

So today you and Grooverider are one of the top DJs on BBC radio. (BBC made music which was called "alternative" a few years ago accessible for everyone online and now when one misses a show one can listen to it on the Internet again.) So do you think these radio shows on big stations are the reason that the pirate stations died?

  "We felt it was cool because we didn't have any restrictions and stuff like that. We just kinda came together through luck and we kept a good relationship through all these years."
Yeah, I think maybe. Pirate stations aren't so big anymore because I think that the big radio stations are catering for what the people wanna hear. In the eighties they didn't. In the eighties you couldn't hear black music on mainstream radio stations. You couldn't hear anything that was kind of away from radio music. Anything underground you would not hear on the radio. So that's why pirate radio was so great because what you heard was underground. But now, as you said, because all the big stations are urban is the thing to be.

Even OneExtra, you know, OneExtra is run like a pirate station. That's the whole emphasis behind it - to get fresh DJs in and build the DJs up from the scratch like they also do on pirate stations. There is no big pirate station anymore, because the mainstream got hold of the underground and people can hear it world wide as well. Pirate stations can be heard in just one area. Now you can do the shows worldwide and that's what was really good for drum and bass.


How do you and Grooverider get your radio show on BBC?

Yeah, because we were on another station called KissFM and we did our shows there and then our producer from KissFM went to RadioOne (BBC) and produced a show called "One in the Jungle" which was really a Jungle show with MCs and stuff like that. But they didn't have a strict format. They had different DJs every week. And well, it just didn't work and RadioOne was gonna throw away the whole drum and bass thing and he said: "Listen if I can get Fabio and Grooverider would you keep a drum and bass show?" And they said: "Yeah, if you can get them..." And he got us and that's what happened. We went to RadioOne and been there a long time ....

Seven years I guess.

Yes, coming up seven years, this year in December. So we've been there a long time (laughing). It's been good to us. The radio is very healthy for us. Especially that all over the world a lot of people listen to our shows. That's great. We get a lot of love for it man. You know what I mean?

You told me that you started very early to collect records?

I started to collect records when I was seven.

Do you still remember your first record you ever bought?

No I am not sure man. I am not sure which one (laughing). I don't know…

Do you count them?

No no. It's too much. It's ridiculous man and plus all the CDs and everything. It's no way to count them man. It's just crazy.

I think you get a lot of promos and stuff every week?

I get a lot of CD's. What we do when we are on AIM as well is instant messenger on the computer, so I can burn CDs down. I mean I was burning CDs now upstairs in my hotel room man. I was getting some CDs from some guys from London. It's crazy, really crazy what's going on in new technologies man.

But I guess you spend a lot of time to listen to new tracks and stuff like that.

Yes I do, but you have to. It's part of the job. You got to keep your ears to the ground and listen to new things. You know you can miss things. But you can't listen to everything. But you listen to as much as you can in the time you got. But it’s very important that you do that, because it's a big part of your job.

Ever had the feeling that you get tired to listen to music?

No, no, no, no, I don't never get tired to listen to music ever. Because there’s so much fresh music and much drum and bass as well. You can listen to like two hundred tunes a week. On AIM I can get something like ninety tunes in a week, CDs and files and stuff. So you can't get bored man, I mean there's so much variation as well and it always moves on. So you always kinda looking for the next new thing, you know. You never get bored of it. I never got bored of it. I never met a DJ who got bored of DJing. Maybe they get bored of a certain sound but they don't get bored of DJing. DJing is just a buzz so you don't get bored of it. That's why DJs dj. That's why John Peel DJayed until he died. If you love music, you love DJing. If you love DJing, you'll never stop doing it. I'll never stop doing it. I will have to eventually (laughing), but right now everything is good. You know I am in a healthy position so I am not giving up anytime soon.

When I watched you and Grooverider on stage I noticed/remarked that you don't communicate or give secret signs to each other, this is very interesting even if you face the fact that Groove plays the harder tunes and you play the soulful tunes. It seems that you are both connected in a telepathic way?

  "No, I still use vinyl, not 100 % but 98 %. Tonight I probably played two or three CDs which I got fresh."
Yeah, (laughing) he is a very different person from me as well. He is totally different. He has a different style but we have always done that and it always worked. I don't know why. It is one of the things which are not really meant to work. If you really look at it I can't work. But I think we've got the same views on DJing and that's different from a lot of other DJs. We both come from another time when it was more about selecting tunes. Now it is more about mixing and playing. To put them on a show it's more about that now.

For us it was always important to play good, new music. That was always the bottom line to keep on forward moving and playing as new music as we possibly can. So we think the same when we DJ as well. So I think in that kind of way that's how we connect. I think it is more of the way we think and the way we feel about DJing is very, very similar. But we are coming from the same place as well. Groove plays a more raw version than I play. He is much more sonic and more electronic than what I do. My sound is more polished, but it comes together really nicely. So we don't have any signals. When he wants to come in he comes in and when I want to comer over I come over… I mean, it's DJing man (he starts laughing). We never ever planned our sets like "when you play this record I play this record" - we never done this. We do what we want to do, it just functions . . .


You told me that you receive a lot of the CDs and that you burn a lot of files. So do you use CDs when you DJ?

No, I still use vinyl, not 100 % but 98 %. Tonight I probably played two or three CDs which I got fresh. But I am not a great fan of it. I don't think a DJ should be taking the easy route man. I think CDs are very easy - don't think it look right either. You know you walk into a club with a little CD pack. You are getting paid a lot of money for what you do. People want to see what you do. They want to see the record. They want to look at what you are doing. CDs are great for younger people who can't afford to buy dubplates. Dubplates cost like nineteen Euros. It's a lot of money. So the young guys can't do it. So I do understand that they use CDs.

Carry records around about twenty kilos is part of your job and I don't want to make it too easy because when you DJ for two hours is not long. You do certainly laugh, but you know it is a very easy job. If you know what you are doing, it is really, really a very easy job. So you can get complacent. CDs can make you switch off a little bit and I don't want get to that stage. If I start to play CDs I get bored. I would get bored of everything. It's to mechanical to me.


Do you need any special equipment when you DJ?

No, nothing special, when you are going into a club you'll see what happens. We played on the worst sound systems in the world if you know what I mean. it's no big thing to me. Off course we trying to get as clean sound as possible. But you have got to go to places where it is not perfect, so you got to be prepared all the time. It does spoil a party if the sound system’s not right. You just see that the crowd don't react in the same way than they do if the sound system is great. If you ever saw a crowd going crazy, I'll guarantee you the sound system is good. But I don't need any special mixers or stuff like that (laughing).

Okay, how goes your label?

A new Total Science comes out... we have a few things in the pipeline. Various Artists EPs and a Logistics EP - you know some of the new school guys coming through. But we’ve been slow over the last couple of years. Things have changed – downloads and stuff like that. It is a very uncertain market. So you know you got to take a step back to see what is going on. Vinyl sales are still pretty healthy so you know we are gonna carry on and trying to get some big releases out this year.

Fabio and Grooverider are kind of myths. Do you feel like kind of a teacher for the scene when you play new records to the audience? Or, do you feel a kind of responsibility for the crowd? Or do you just play the sound you like - do the things you like to do?

Yes, I always just did what I like to do because you can't think about things like that. It is a very generic thing. I just do it and we’ve been doing it a long time now. We’ve been on the radio for twenty years. So it's just a thing you can do. It's very natural to us as well not to think about responsibilities. I think back in your mind you know that you have it, but it doesn't affect your work. You know it's great, the grandson of Art Blakey sent me an email to RadioOne and he wrote me that he was by total accident on the net and listened to Grooverider and me in Glastonbury and it totally changed his life. He is going to a mixing school now to learn how to dj. And this is Art Blakey’s grandson man! It flipped me out.

It's crazy because you see, you do change people’s life and you don't even realize you are doing it. I am just playing music. But it means more to some people. That's one of the great things about DJing - Change people's life with music. And I think that's the reason why you are still in the game because you still got a passion for it. Special things change some people’s life through music that's good. (laughing) Art Blakey’s grandson! Unbelievable. DJing is the best job in the world. It's good man. (laughing)


Besides being a DJ, do have a normal life? Are you married or something like that?

I am not married but I have a daughter and I've got a family. My daughter is three and she loves the fact that I am a DJ. She loves it man. She misses me a lot when I am not home. But she loves it and she is really into music. Her mother is my agent, so you know it's all good!

Family business!

Yeah man keep it in the family, in a musical family you got to try for that one.

What does the word "success" mean to you - being a famous DJ or being the father of a daughter? What's your definition of success?

I could be successful in my own world, but then there's a whole world of people.... [Fabio points at the waitress.] She doesn't have a clue who I am. They haven't a clue [Points at a couple of business men at the hotel reception.] So I am not successful really. I mean the most important thing for me is being happy doing the things I am doing, I've got to be happy doing this and that's the most important thing in my life and that my daughter is being brought up well is very important for me. She is a little girl and you know the world is changing so you want the best for her, you know what I am saying? So that's why I am doing all this now really for her. I mean it's not for me no more really. Being comfortable, I don't want to be rich. I just want to be happy doing what I am doing and travelling - yeah travelling is great. Next we are going to Japan; then to Brazil. Groove is going to Argentina. It's great because we never saw these things. If we weren't DJing, we would never be in Frankfurt or Munich, or Tokyo. We wouldn't have seen these things. It’s great man and you get your hotels paid for (laughing) and nice flights.

I witnessed the same old discussion a few days ago when people talked about the death of electronic music. . .

Oh, yeah, journalists got a thing about anything that lasts for a little bit of time. They start saying that it is dead. They said drum and bass is dead from 1989, because they got bored writing about it. But you know there's always good music and good music can't die and there's great electronic music out there - great Hip Hop being made, great House being made you just got find it. Maybe the mainstream, as a mainstream thing electronic music got a little bit boring, but underneath there is wonderful electronic music out there and there always will be. What you gonna do? Go back and play guitars?

This is electronic music and it's here to stay and that's the bottom line man. I mean a thing goes through phases. I think it went through a phase a couple of years ago where people probably were a bit uninspired and every style like hip hop or drum and bass went through this phase. I think House is going through that phase.

  "But you can't listen to everything. But you listen to as much as you can in the time you got. But it’s very important that you do that, because it's a big part of your job."
I think maybe house is not in the way it should or used to be, because they have not changed the format in twenty years and I think now they have to do something about House because it's too rigid man. But I still have a great passion for House and there’s still great House music being made. But you got to dig deep. But I also love the Neptunes because the rhythm is incredible and I think he’s so talented as well and doing all things with a smile in his face. He's having fun and you can hear that in his music, I love it. I love the Roots and a guy called MadLib - really crazy. Anything that's kind of soulful and inspired.

And then I go back to Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley and I also listen a little bit to D'Angelo. You know I got a lot of heroes man. Lennon, he is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Or Beach boys - these guys were crazy - totally sick! It's really important that you don't forget the greats of the past.

All these Lennons which made us all able to express ourselves. Hendrix as well - listen to this guy; his guitar could talk; it could scream; it could whisper; anything. Nobody played like Hendrix before and after him or even came close. You hear personality in their music. Anyway listen man got to get a little bit sleep before the set!


Ok then go I won't stop you! (We both started to laugh)

Text: Michael Mück (April 2005)
Das Interview erschien im Cuemix Magazin [1] Nr. 4und wurde future-music.net freundlicher Weise zur Verfügung gestellt.


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