Like many other clubbers, the changes to the club scene that happened in the late 80s and early 90s also changed my life. Around the time we were going to Spectrum, Land of Oz and Trip and we also started going to a small underground club called Troll..
Alan Thompson - Autobiography
I’ve always been into dance music and have been part of the club scene since the late 70s and early 80s when as part of the 'Strikeout Soul Patrol' we travelled all over the UK for the Soul Weekenders.
A coach trip to London for the opening night of Heaven In 1979 introduced me to the innovative DJing skills of Ian Levine and led to a move to London later that year. Ian had been inspired by the new American DJs and was doing things with records that no-one in the UK had ever tried before. I was fascinated with the journey that Ian was able to take the crowd on with just a box or records, two decks and a mixer.
Like many other clubbers, the changes to the club scene that happened in the late 80s and early 90s also changed my life. Around the time we were going to Spectrum, Land of Oz and Trip and we also started going to a small underground club called Troll where I first heard Daz Saund play. Every week Troll was a mind altering experience in every sense of the word. When Troll finished at 3.30am bed was the last place on our minds which lead to the opening of Trade.
From the beginning Trade had something very special, and for its first 3 years it was my life. Everything else seemed to be a backdrop to the weekend and Trade. The Trade DJs at the time, Smokin'Jo, Malcolm Duffy, Daz Saund and Trevor Rockcliffe were an inspiration and had a huge impact on my later DJing.
It was around this time I bought my first pair of decks so that I could make mix tapes for myself and my friends. Listening to those early tapes reminds me of how far I’ve come and keeps my feet on the ground. I’m mortified that some of them might still be out there. Even though they weren’t great technically, the music was always quality and I started to get some work from them in clubs. My big break was with Trade in 1992 when I was asked to play at a one-off bank holiday party. That turned into a residency which lasted for 9 years until I left in the summer of 2001. Since that first Trade gig, I’ve travelled the world DJing and have played in some of the top UK and international clubs.
I’ve always had very diverse musical tastes and what I play largely depends on the crowd I’m playing to or the club that I’m playing at. I play house and deep house at my London residencies DTPM and Atelier and Ministry of Sound, and hard house at clubs like Cheeky Little Monkey, Progress, Storm and Sundessential. I’ve also started to play more of the Dutch sound in my sets which gets a great response.
House and disco has a big influence on my Hard House sets and especially some of my recent productions. I tend to go for the more funky/bouncy end of Hard House which has been described as 'glitter-fuelled hard house'. This is what I play up and down the country. You can also hear those influences in the Dutch sound that I’ve been breaking in the UK. Although the music that I play is varied and ranges from deep house to hard house or tech house, it is always funky. I’ve been a clubber for many years and although it sounds rather obvious, I believe my role as a DJ is to play music that you can actually dance to.
Who produces the music you play?
I love the way Dutch producers like Tim J, Mac Zimms, Silvio Ecomo, Jas Van Houten arrange their tracks and the way they use different sounds. It is funky and clever without being too up itself. I also rate Richard F who produces fantastic tracks, sooo sexy and funky with that swing which is so difficult to re-create (believe me, I’ve tried). On the UK scene I’m into the bouncy cheekiness of Mr Bishi and BK, who’s coming up with some exciting fresh sounding tracks.
What about your own productions?
I’ve got quite a back catalogue of both disco house and hard house productions. My hard house pseudonym is Alter Ego and I’ve made tracks with Steve Thomas under the Fruitloop moniker. I also release under my own name. When I go into the studio I don’t like to be too prepared as that can take the excitement and spontaneity out of the track. I usually take just a four bar loop, get a groove going, build on that with a bass line and finish off with the arrangement. I enjoy producing and the day I stop getting excited is the day I stop doing it. Although I admit that I get more pleasure by playing the finished product to a room full of up for it cheering sweaty clubbers.
How do you see the future?
Music will always be a part of my life. House music will continue to evolve and change and people will always want to dance which means that there will always be a role for Dj’s and producers like myself. I have a weekly dance music show on Ministry of Sound Radio – Alan Thompson’s Global Dance Experience – and I can see myself getting more involved in that side of my career. Other than that, I still haven’t been to South America to DJ but would love to play there one day.