Some people get into djing because they feel awkward standing around at parties. Others want to be the first to break new records, and then get lured on by the adulation and the fame. And then there's Erol Alkan, who does it because music grabbed him by the balls at such an early age that he couldn't ever imagine doing anything else. Raised in north London by strict Turkish parents, his obsession with music turned professional in his teens, when he'd sneak out of the house to dj at a club in Leicester Square for a tenner and sneak back home before his mum caught him.
Fifteen years on, with Erol's epic sets are attracting bookings from New York, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro up to a year in advance, his mum's admitted that her son made the right decision. Erol's still getting a bigger rush from the dancefloor than anything else - "The time I feel most alive,and the only time I truly feel like myself, is when I'm playing records and giving people a party," he explains with an enormous grin. "And right now, I'm more excited by djing than I've ever been."
In the past few years, since his own club Trash began to attract attention everywhere from Italian Vogue to The Face and from Rolling Stone to Kerrang, Erol's party-starting genius has surged in demand. One night he'll be djing at an Alexander McQueen catwalk show afterparty in London, with Kate Moss and Sadie Frost shaking their arses down the front, and the next night he'll be playing to a notoriously tough, no-nonsense Belfast crowd, who'll welcome him like a lost son.
It's a hard balance to pull off, and one that only Erol can do with such joyful panache, because he's always looked for the similarities in things rather than the differences between them. This democracy of vision led to him winning the Muzik Magazine award for Best Breakthrough DJ in 2002, and being hailed as king of the bootleg scene following the release of the infamous 'George Gets His Freak On' - a position he swiftly abdicated the day after a knock-off version of his Kylie / New Order cut was aired at the Brits 2002, and the world and his wife jumped on the bootleg bandwagon
Such interweaving was second nature to Erol, simply because he'd always seen good music as good music, right from the early days of 1990 when he used to mix alternative and indie anthems into searing acid house beats (he still has the tapes to prove it!) But times change, people get restless, and now that crossover djing is so widespread, Erol's been looking a for a bigger game. Without denying his indie roots he's enormously successful in the electro scene - playing at top level internationally - as well as popping up in various London bars virtually unannounced to conduct marathon psychedelic excursions with the aid of fellow slippery fish Richard Norris, under the name "Beyond The Wizards Sleeve"
"I'm still an absolute believer in the indie aesthetic," he explains, "and when I'm hunting down electronic music, it's still that independence in spirt that I'm looking for. I have to feel that the person behind that record truly had to make that record," Erol explains. And if they had to make it, he has to play it. And if he has to play it, he can't hide his excitement, and when Erol gets excited, everyone gets excited, until the whole club is rocketed into Alkan anarchy. And you just know there'll be a lot of sore heads in the morning - clubbers across the world have been going doolally to his re-edit of Mylo's massive 2004 hit 'Drop The Pressure' (played by everyone from Mousse T to Tiga), and had their ears pummeled by his mix of the Alter Ego smash 'Rocker' (apparently a favourite on the Techno underground, as well as being firmly lodged in the boxes of Andrew Weatherall, Mr C, Ivan Smagghe, 2manydjs and Twitch).
But it's not just the dance cognoscenti who turn to Erol for extra fun / pain injections for their tunes either - he's also responsible for the remix of Canadian rock duo Death From Above 1979's single 'Romantic Rights' thats been putting indie kids in casualty up and down the country, all suffering whiplash after over-enthusiastically head-banging for it's duration, as well as Bloc Party's 'She's Hearing Voices', which takes the frenetic new wave art punk of the origional and turns it into a throbbing funk of left field clubbery. So with all the attention and praise garnered from nigh on a decade of nocturnal innovation now pushing him into the limelight and with the readers of Mixmag voting him the 6th best DJ in the world (an unexpected suprise to say the least - the highest ranking for a British DJ in the 2004 poll), some may expect Erol to be on the brink of the cold water shock that comes with jumping into the Arctic deepend of notoreiety's swimming pool - except he's already had to get used to the star treatment: He's the only Bugged Out regular to get hassled for autographs after his set, and has been known to receive standing ovations.
Erol shrugs off the accolades though, and still fails to see himself as distinct from any other clubber - his rider request is simply a bottle of vodka, which he'll gladly pass into the crowd and share with anyone. He's happy to give you the name of a record he's just played or chat to anyone who wants a word. He will continue to play dance music that rocks, and rock music you can dance to. And, if you're lucky, you just might, maybe, possibly - catch him djing with his feet........
A bugged out mix (2005)