Mentor and protégé, DJ's, Daniel Avery and Erol Alkan chat head to head, remembering the Bugged Out moments that have defined their careers, helping shape the music they produce today.
Discovering Bugged Out in 1998, enamoured by the unbridled energies felt pulsating through the parties, Phantasy Record label founder Erol Alkan stood before Daft Punk in Fabric and felt his world alter inextricably. Aged 24, he went looking for a night of good music and discovered an underground dance movement. Fast forward ten years and Alkan’s protégé – the Phantasy-signed Daniel Avery - would experience an equally life-enlightening moment via another Bugged Out booth. Today the two friends book back-to-back parties, informing each other on music past and present. Daniel and Erol’s chemistry on deck is electric. Both experts in the field of house and techno, the two DJs headline major events, continuing to discover integral new talent from each Bugged Out show line-up, watching closely for the next success story to be born of the BO movement. Loyal to Johno and Paul, who booked them from day one and helped support their inevitable success, Daniel remembers Erol’s official Bugged Out mix as revelatory, and both still site Jockey Slut as the bible rag of good taste.
Erol: The first ever Bugged Out event I ever went to was the Big Beat Boutique at Fabric, Daft Punk were DJing. The whole thing excited me because l was into a lot of alternative music back then and having an interest in dance music, at that point when it was thriving, about 1998, Bugged Out really tapped into something special.
Daniel: I was about 24, then so it would have been the likes of Daft Punk and Cassius, there was all these dance acts, which had the soul of that music and the sensibility that worked with alternative music.
Erol: Other dance events that I’ve been to before were always a little bit harder for me to get into because the music was a bit too functional but with Bugged Out there was this alternative and indie sensibility that fitted. Bugged Out was affiliated with a magazine called Jockey Slut, which I read religiously, every month. The magazine was a window into Johno and Paul’s tastes. You gave whatever was playing a chance, even if you weren’t into that particular DJ. You knew the new music was coming from a reliable source. With Bugged Out I definitely felt that I was in the right place. Alot of that came from the flyers in Jockey Slut. Not growing up in London, Jockey Slut really felt like a window into another world.
Daniel: l think l was going to see Erol before l knew him. l think it was in 2005/2006. I was about 20 and l came up to London for it.
Erol: Did you know Matt Walsh came up the same period as you, did you know him then?
Daniel: No l didn’t, since then l’ve realized that 100 of my friends were probably all in the same room at that time. That says a lot, a good gathering of people, it’s one of the cool things about Bugged Out, it’s serious music. I remember watching Roy Orbison play, hes a good friend of ours, a legendary resident at Bugged Out. He’s always said that’s the best thing about Bugged Out is how it is all about serious music for good people. It still supports underground music on a really big scale which is still really important. Bugged Out hasn’t sold out, in 20 years Paul and Johnno could have done that, easily. I was lucky to get a chance booking with the Bugged Out crew. I was just one of those annoying kids that was always at parties, DJing, trying to blag my way into parties and then one day Johnno and Paul sent me a message saying they needed someone to warm up the second room at The End. That wasn’t until 2008. I’d been living in London for about a year so l said yes straight away, in about 10 seconds!
Erol: Man, I had a really bizarre first Bugged Out gig. I used to spend these weird nights at Johno's flat, which used to be a bit of party house, he had decks, and l used to pull out records and play some stuff and he said ‘you can really mix can’t you!’ I was like ‘yeah, you know!’ Then one day David Holmes wasn’t able to fly back from Amsterdam to London and play room 3 at Fabric so he turned round and said ‘do you fancy filling for Holmes?’ l had to think about it because it was a bit intimidating. I was going to go to that specific Bugged Out party anyway and l just thought that playing the show would be great. The first thing that came to my mind was - if l play, I can get friends in on the guest list! An hour into the set, Johno just walked up to me and was like 'do you want to be resident?' The Bugged Out crew are all great, they are all so different. Johno, Charlotte, Andrew and all the other people associated. They’re people that certainly spend time with people outside of gigs, regular guests you know. Johno, Paul and Charlotte still go out and they’re still in love with what clubs offer and the good times it offers.
Daniel: I think what’s cool about Johno, Paul and Charlotte is that they’re still clearly such music geeks - and l mean that as the biggest compliment. Erol and l get so excited about discovering a record. We have to call each other up and say, have you heard this, have you heard that? I get the same energy from them and every time I see Johno that’s what we talk about, that new DJ or whatever. It’s important, they’ve probably seen two or three dance music cycles happen and they could have filled a room 5 times bigger than they have but they don’t want to go mainstream because they want to maintain that energy and they are still interested in good records. I love the way Johno will get excited and say ‘did you hear that DJ out that intro into the record, that shouldn’t have worked but it did!” It’s those moments that are actually very important to them, those Bugged Out moments. They are very proud of them and I think that’s what makes Bugged Out still have a legacy.
Erol: Johno certainly has a very un-cynical approach to things, which has allowed Bugged Out to exist this long, he really does see the good in everything. Johno has been one of the most inspiring people to be amongst, in whatever l’ve been doing. His approach to music makes you realise that there are people out there who are genuine fans, being inspiring and smart and, you know, not being a dickhead.
Daniel: What Bugged Out record best symbolises your time?
Erol: La Rock by Vitalic, how about yourself?
Daniel: There are many but a recent memory is playing Invocation of Lust by Silent Servant. The room was full and I remember thinking there was a chance it could clear the floor - it's a pretty out-there record. But I played it and it was one of the biggest tracks of the night. That's a big thing about Bugged Out, you get the chance to take risks and to see them work.