Enzo Siragusa attaches plenty of importance to the community around his FUSE party, which Mixmag recently named number 31 in their list of the 50 labels of the decade. It’s success, he suggests, is all down to that. “We all feed off each other, inspire each other, and cultivate a sound. It started as a platform and it’s evolving; I suppose it’s that constant evolution that keeps it fresh.”
By now one of London’s most popular dance music brands, FUSE has seen the likes of Seb Zito, Rich NxT, Archie Hamilton and Ben Rau mastermind a succession of quality releases, becoming an apparent source of pride for its founder. Chatting to us from the beach during a rare break away from the touring circuit, Enzo Siragusa discussed the ins and outs of FUSE, the trick to making music and the art of balancing family life with life in the club.
“I steer things but I’m not the sole source of what comes out of the label, it’s a collective effort”, Enzo insists. “Each of the guys has a distinct style and adds something to the label. Each and every one of the guys brings something fresh and when it comes together, that’s what makes our label. It’s not any one person that really makes it what it is.”
FUSE, it seems, was always more about a group of friends than any one individual, as Enzo is keen to emphasise. Fresh off the back of the impressive feat of being named in Mixmag’s top fifty labels of the decade, Enzo is humble about the accolade, though that is not to say that isn’t pleased.
“It’s not bad!”, he chuckles. “We’ve got a few years to go really, we’re not even a decade old. We’re only about five years old as a label.”
Fuse started back in 2008 as a Sunday party at East London hotspot 93 Feet East, quickly gaining a loyal following with their clean-cut dub-house and techno style. Marked out by a preference for soft, red lighting, the party quickly became an institution in the city, making the natural transition to a label in 2011 with Siragusa’s The Sagamore EP. Though it was he who made the move, though, he is adamant that FUSE releases are as much the work of his collective as they are his own.
“There’s a key step that happens, and that is that it needs to be played at FUSE”, he says of the selection process for their records. “It needs to be something that we reach for.
"I always say there’s one clear track that you reach for as a DJ, and each of us reaches for that track at a FUSE party. You know which one goes off because they tend to get played a lot, by either myself, Seb, Rich, Ross or Archie. It’s like a football team picking itself; you know when you’ve got one of those tracks, you can’t help but to play it.”
Choosing from a pool of demos made up by members of the party and any external submissions, it becomes an easy choice when one floats to the top.
“I’ve had tracks myself that haven’t quite made it. The ones that make the cut get played and get the reactions. At least one of those has to be on every EP.”
Beyond all else, Siragusa suggests, he views FUSE as a vessel for its artists to pour their creativity into.
“It’s a platform really. I’m a DJ that makes music and I’ve come from the dancefloor, as have all the artists. I think as we’re evolving as artists, it still carries on as a platform to express ourselves as a label and even as a party. It’s just going to carry on evolving; as we play more and we experience more our feeling for the music and for the rave changes. Musical styles will change, we will change as individuals and so what you’re going to hear on the label is a representation of that. It’s exciting, you know… it’s never ending.”
They seem to have fallen on a successful formula, with FUSE releases regularly becoming popular weapons in the techno and house world. With busy touring schedules to back that up, it can often be difficult to strike a healthy balance, particularly as a family man, Enzo suggests.
“It’s tough”, he admits, considering the difficulties of working in the music industry, “but the key word is schedule. It’s getting organised basically. Making time you’re putting the time aside to gather your thoughts, to spend time with loved ones, and then also finding the time to party, rave, make music and perform.
"I suppose once upon a time I was lost in the rave; I’d be partying all the time in summer. But as you get older you have to prioritise some of those things - although don’t get me wrong, I still love a party but I do need to schedule time with the family. And likewise, I’ve booked in a week to make tunes, and I’ve actually been making tunes here as well on my laptop, so it’s just organising your diary really.”
Compatibility issues with family life, though, are something that take work to overcome.
““It is (difficult), I’m not gonna lie. I think it takes a certain person to do it. The thing that I’ve realised is I can get by with little sleep. If you need to relax and have your time in front of the TV then don’t be a DJ and be a family man as well, because if anything needs to give it’ll be the things in your personal life. I don’t go down the pub with my mates that often anymore because I don’t have time; when my family go to bed I’m searching for new tunes on discogs or making a loop ready for the studio. Probably the only quiet time I get is on an aeroplane but even then I’m probably making a loop, to be honest. It’s hectic, you’ve really got to be passionate about what you’re doing, and interested in it, because it’s tough to balance everything out.”
The secret, then? “Enjoy it for what it is.”
Heading up North once back on UK shores, Siragusa will be playing in Leeds at MiNT Festival, on a lineup that boasts Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxler, Raresh, Craig Richards and The Martinez Brothers amongst others. Having long-held a strong relationship with the MiNT crew, Enzo seems excited.
“I remember the first time I went to play at MiNT Club and I just had the time of my life. I’m a pretty specific kind of guy when it comes to clubs and sound systems and stuff like that, and I met a crew there where everything they do is just spot on, and that’s rare to find in the scene these days.
“I really connected with all the guys at mint and also the crowds in Leeds - I love playing up there; I always have the best time of the year when I come up to Leeds”, he explains. Leeds crowds do, after all, love a party. “Yeah, yeah they do.” he laughs, “and so do I”, he is quick to remind.
Looking over the lineup, Enzo knows where his loyalties lie. “My pick’d probably be Archie Hamilton”, he says, choosing his FUSE colleague and back to back partner on the day. “Nah, I can’t say that, can I?”, he jokes. “There’s so much talent on that stage, it’s impossible to pick. You can’t pick.”
With virtuoso Ricardo Villalobos on the bill alongside his good friends Craig Richards and Raresh, Enzo has a point. “You’ve got to love a bit of Ricardo when he’s on song, and Dice; I love Dice’s energy on the dancefloor, it always works. And Craig Richards is one of the best resident DJs around. And the Raresh - I love that Romanian sound. So yeah, it’s impossible to pick one”, he reiterates.
“I’m a music lover; I’d love to stand there and get in the middle of the dancefloor and take in every one of them, it’s a sick lineup.”
Returning to his teammate behind the decks at the festival, Enzo is quick to state that there’s little he enjoys more than playing with Hamilton and the other FUSE residents.
“It’s easy, man. I can play with each and every one of those boys and it’s like we’re kids playing in our bedrooms, we get together and it just happens. There’s no preparation needed, we play these back to backs and we just end up checking each other’s tracks out. It’s brilliant, it’s easy.”
With such familiarity, though, sometimes it can be easy to rest on your laurels, can’t it? Perhaps, I suggest, we might expect the strength of FUSE’s musical identity to be a restriction on creativity.
“I’m very much a feeling guy; I’ve experienced a lot over the last 25 years of buying records”, he states, brushing off the idea. “We all evolve and move on with age. It’s no secret that I’ve got a very eclectic set of music: there’s my jungle parts, my soulful US house parts, my garage. And at the moment it’s just become a melting pot of all of that really. I’m starting to make music where some tracks have a really classic house sounds, whereas other tracks I’ve made recently are pretty much borderline breakbeat, garage stuff. And then other sort of stuff is what people associate with fuse which is on a techier tip, dancefloor tools. It’s an interesting time because that record collection which has gone on for years and years and years is now manifesting itself in music production, and there’s such a wide range of things that you can do, and that takes time.
“If you listen to Seb’s stuff you’ll hear a lot more, and you’ll hear that. People often only listen to the big tracks but if you listen to the B-sides you’ll hear a more experimental or the roots of that person’s sound. There’s a lot of stuff coming where you’ll hear those influences creep in a lot more.”
That, he suggests, is the key to being a good DJ: having a change of pace and style for when your audience wants something different.
“It’s part and parcel of being a good DJ, man. It’s having the right record bag.”
Knowing who you’re playing to, he implies, is half the battle.
“I always have a big range of styles and energies that work for any dancefloor really, and then it’s down to you to go and interpret that crowd and that dancefloor. I like to go and stand in the middle of the dancefloor - some people think it’s a bit weird but I go straight there to soak it all up; to see what the sound system is saying; to see what the people are saying before I play.”
In fact, he says, sometimes it’s having an audience that you know that allows you to play the tunes that don’t normally get an outing.
“I think when people know the brand and stuff it actually makes me feel a lot more free, and I do play stuff that is a bit more varied”, he muses. “At the end of the day I’m not a DJ who plays really weird and obscure music, I’m a raver who plays and makes music, and I’m always coming from the dancefloor.”
Enzo Siragusa plays at MiNT Festival at Stockeld Estate in Wetherby on Saturday 23rd September.
Photo courtesy of Enzo Siragusa
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