Making Friends With is our series that sees us get to know DJs in some of their favourite hangouts
Mark Fanciulli is a producer, DJ and label owner from Maidstone in Kent. The younger brother of Nic Fanciulli, Mark has consistently forged his own path, both as a DJ and as a producer. He burst onto the scene with 2011's huge "The Tide" and since then he's wowed dancefloors across the world with the Carl Craig-approved "Chord Kaoss" and collabs with Guti, Huxley and Secondcity.
Mark has recently teamed up with Zoo Brazil for their East End EP, which is the second release from their Test Tone project and is out now on Mobilee.
Mark is a lover of record shops, having spent much of his youth browsing their shelves, so we met at Mark's favourite record store, Hackney Wick's Vinyl Pimp, and set about some serious digging.
So this your favourite record store?
Yeah, I think this is the best record shop in the UK, one of the best in the world. I primarily love trying to dig out old rave music, house, techno, hardcore - I find coming to a record shop inspirational. It reminds you of being a teenager. Like going out and spending all your pocket money on records. I grew up in my local record store and I get so excited about coming here.
How did you first hear about it?
I first found this store through Discogs. I saw they have an outlet and so I had to come here straight away. I love the fact they get a lot of established DJ’s selling their record collections here. I remember going through some of the boxes and it’d have a 'Ray Keith' label on the side. The jungle legend had sold his record collection to the store and here I was going through it! It wasn't just dance music either, alongside the house and techno there was old hip-hop LPs and loads of really interesting records. It's nice to be able to explore someone's collection like that.
What do you think of digging culture?
I think it's great when I'm travelling I like to go digging, another place that is one of my favourites has to be Stockholm, its a city I work in a lot. There’s one project I’ve been working on recently, called Test Tone. It’s me and my friend, Zoo Brazil. We’ve done a few gigs, had a release out on Mobilee and another coming soon. He's based over there, so I go over to Stockholm a lot. Stockholm and London are great for record shopping, in between studio sessions we’d go to a record shop "for an hour". Five hours later and we’ll still be there with our credit cards out buying more! It’s nice, I love it!
When you go record shopping with someone like Zoo Brazil, with you both being DJs, can it get competitive?
I love it, it's really fun - we’d go through and find one of our old releases or something. "oh yeah check out this one" or "I remember having this back in ’91". Because he's a long-established artist, he’ll show me things that he put out in the 90s and stuff. I find it really enjoyable when I get to go places, I try and check as many record shops as I can. I've visited record shops all over Europe, North and South America, everywhere really. I particularly like Panthera Records in Zurich, it's very small, but there's always something good going on there. It gives you a great feel for the area too. That stuff is really inspiring.
Your brother Nic is also a successful DJ, do you come from a musical household?
When I was growing up my Dad would play a lot of music in the house. He would be blasting out some of his rock or disco collection through his HiFi and it was a great source of influence.
Both my parents are so supportive and have always encouraged me with my passion for music. They come to my gigs and are very sociable people.
How long have you been doing music?
How old were you when Nic started DJing?
Nic would have been a teenager, so I was probably about 10. I got influenced through him and he was quite supportive, he allowed me to take his old turntables off him!
Was he the first person to take you to a rave?
Yeah, in 2000 we went to see Paul Oakenfold do a free party in Clapham Common. I was 14 and I think Channel 4 were showing the cricket during the day. It was a lovely British summer's day with a free party in the evening. It was amazing. It was around this time I got into DJing. I got a pair of cheap direct drive turntables. I'd spend all weekend at the record shop in Maidstone, it was a really good shop. Maidstone is a typical British town, but it's got a really good underground scene. It's always been very healthy, for at least the last 25 years. When I did work experience I did it at the record store. My friends were all in their suits working in banks and stuff and I’d just be dressed as I am now, having the time of my life. I remember the first records I ever bought was Fatboy Slim - "Star 69" and Orbital - "Funny Break". Then 17 years later I warmed up for Fatboy Slim 300 metres around the corner in my local bar.
Why do you think the underground scene works so well there? Were there venues that specifically supported it?
I'm not sure. Supportive venues, maybe. Perhaps it's the proximity to London, but it's always had its own thing going on. There are 18/19 years-olds now, really good kids and they’re all still into it. It’s amazing. I know these lads from Liverpool and they were telling me that they chipped in on a bus to come down all the way from Liverpool, just to go to Kent. Just ‘coz you know you’re going to have a good party.
It’s not what you’d presume to be the case...
No, definitely not, you’d presume I'm lying!
You’re working with Zoo Brazil on the Test Tone project and you've done quite a lot of other collaborations, how do you go about setting these up?
It's mainly from being mates with people. Like Huxley and Secondcity are mates, it's the same with Zoo Brazil. When we first met, I was managing the label and I was dealing with one of his releases and we got chatting. We had similar interests music wise, studio-wise. And he was like ‘come up to my studio in Stockholm and we’ll mess about’. And he’s got a load of hardware at his. It really changed my approach to it.
Did he teach you any specific tricks?
He knows his stuff, he’s been nominated for a Grammy, so he’s a very accomplished guy. I think we’ll do a lot more together. He seems to be much more relaxed than I am. I can be very regimental in the studio.
I remember buying the No Place Like Home, Zoo Brazil album in 2006, with the woman crushed by a disco ball on the cover.
He just put out a new one recently, and he's written a record for Kylie Minogue.
Didn't she play Berghain recently?
Yeah, I saw that! I remember the first time I went on a night out in Berlin, you’d go downstairs and the door staff would've changed because you’d been there so long!
That’s the Berlin way, isn’t it? They got out for so much longer. What are some of your favourite clubs to play in?
Ministry is one of my favourite clubs to play in London, I’ve been playing there since I was a teenager and I really like it. I think it's quite an across-the-board club, it's got a lot going on. The options there are great. London wise, I like going to Egg with all the different rooms, Some of my favourite clubs in Europe are Culture Box, Copenhagen, more recently I did Hive in Zurich, that's one of my favourite clubs right now.
What have you got coming out, release wise?
I’ve got quite a lot of coming out, the Test Tone EP with Zoo Brazil has just dropped on Mobilee. I've also got an EP on Solardo's label, Sola, and a couple of remixes coming up after that.
I read that you had a hit list of all the labels you want to work with, have you completed it yet, or is there anyone left?
I think if anything, I’ve added to that list! But I have managed to hit quite a few. One thing I'm really proud of is, in particular, is Planet E, because obviously you've got Carl Craig, but also it's a very influential, established label.
You’ve got your own label too, right?
Yeah, Between Two Points. I started it in 2016. I use it as a label for my own output, I did a few releases and have more to come. Also, I do a podcast every month under that name, and our own event series as well.
Are you interested in releasing other artists on Between Two Points?
Not at the moment, I think I will but for now, I just want to put my own stuff on there.
You've had experience as an A&R with Saved, is it not something your into as much any more?
I’ve done it before, which I enjoyed doing but I want to keep Between Two Points as it is really. I don’t want to do too much on that front yet because I’d need to dedicate more time to it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I want to get it 100% right, I know you can only do so much. I could go out and put a load of releases out on it, but I’d rather spend my time doing other stuff. I wouldn’t rule it out though.
Outside of music what other interests do you have?
When I'm at home, I like watching a lot of TV, loads of films, on demand stuff, Netflix. I'm a real junky for that, binge-watching TV. I’m a really homey kind of person, when I'm home I just love sitting around with family and friends.
Would you ever consider opening your own record store?
I'd love that, but I probably wouldn’t sell any records! Me and my friend were joking about if we owned one, a customer would walk around the store pick something up and take it to the counter. We'd have a look at it and say "Nah we’ll keep this". Everything would look like it was for sale, but we'd never part with any of it. It’d be like the Haçienda - a wonderful place, but a huge money pit for the owners...
Do you have a list of records you're actively pursuing, rarities etc?
Yeah on Discogs I have a list of stuff I want, for when it comes back in. One thing I realised is, I'm a real fan of rave music and I like finding the compilations. 20 odd records on a double LP. There are some really good ones you can get, especially the ones from Europe. You usually get a really wide assortment of tracks on there - like an anthology of techno, from very obscure records to guilty pleasure kind of stuff.
I guess the compilations are quite rare?
Yeah some of them are, another place that can throw up some great results is charity shops, I went to a charity shop on my high street to get rid of some old clothes and I went in there and I found a record called "Cuba" by The Gibson Brothers, it was £1. I picked it up and had a read about it. It turned out one of the guys behind the record was one of Daft Punk's father. He was really involved in the disco scene, and he had something to do with this £1 record. Sometimes you can really find some interesting bits.
Do you have any kind of technique when you come in?
I tend to be quite quick. I try to keep my eyes open to specific labels, see if I can spot certain things. I go through and grab quite a lot, then just get to the listening station, put the needle to the groove and just pick out my favourites.
Shall we pick some?
What have we got?
There’s quite a mix here. This’ll be good, this compilation of techno, it’s going to be interesting, so you're going to have to listen to it!
Do you ever play anything from a compilation when your DJing
No, but I wouldn’t rule it out, you know.
I imagine it’d be quite stressful to find the specific track on the vinyl in a live setting.
Haha yeah exactly! You’ve got 11 tracks pressed on to it. When you got like a single side, two on one side - you look at like, yeah I can sort of make that out. One track aside is good for me.
When I listen to music, I know it must sound old and boring, but I was having this conversation with another DJ friend of mine, about how I listen to a lot of old mixes. I was on the tube the other day and was listening to Jeff Mills live from Cocoon in 2001. It's inspiring me now. If the records work, they work man. They’re very simple, not to belittle them, but they are very simple, but very smart records.
When you first started buying records what were you looking for?
When I started out, I started buying records when I was about 14, I used to avoid house and techno. I was literally glued to breakbeat and I used to play until I was about 18 years old, then I got off the vinyl and moved over to downloads. This is around 2000-2004 and then I just got a bit tired of breakbeat. I loved the records, but they didn't have any new ones coming out, I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. Then I moved on to house and techno - all across the board from very deep to very banging stuff. It’s nice getting stuff from your parents as well - my dad gave some of his records about a year ago. It's nice to listen to what they used to listen to.
How have we done today, did we get any gems?
This Joey Beltram record is great. It's really cool, the drums are so distorted - he just does what he wants to do, it's like he isn't following any rules. It's amazing, this is definitely coming with me!