Belgium's finest play house.
FCL are Red D and San Soda, two Belgian DJs and producers dedicated to house music in its purest form. Their conduit for this commitment is We Play House, the label Red D started in 2008 as a platform for San Soda, at the time a rookie producer with a knack for classicist house. Between Red D's combative declarations on the label's artwork—"Some of us claim to respect the music. But we are still paying for what we are playing"—and San Soda and other's high quality 12-inches, We Play House gained an enviable following. The pair also started to make music together. FCL became their production alias, and it spawned "Let's Go," a classy organ-led house jam that was one of 2010's biggest tracks. They repeated the trick in 2012—and caused quite a commotion in the process. San Soda's remix of ESP's "It's You" was released as a limited (150 copies) white label pressing and became the most sought-after new house track in recent memory, with list prices on Discogs hitting several hundred euros. Such was the demand for what was essentially a brilliantly executed DJ tool, Red D decided to license the track to Defected for a full release, and took the unusual (although maybe not for him) decision to go public with his reasons for doing so.
FCL returned with Holding Our Nick on 2020 Vision last month, and they here follow it up with 70 minutes of finely wrought house and disco, mixed, as Red D explains below, in one take from vinyl.
What have you been up to recently?
Playing and travelling all over the place this summer, both as FCL and under our solo guises, San Soda and Red D. But we've also found the time to prepare some new stuff, like the 2020 Vision release featured in this mix and a remix of Rachel Row's "Follow The Step" that was released by Defected about a month ago. Next to that, I have been preparing loads of stuff for my label, We Play House Recordings, including the Our Beat Is Still New compilation that pays tribute to the sound of Belgian new beat. This project is very dear to my heart, and I'm very, very happy with the outcome. The tracks that have been done by a whole bunch of my favourite current producers, like Jacob Korn, Aril Brikha, Jacques Renault and many, many more, including a still-to-be-released "sequel" 12-inch by Locked Groove, Lauer, Innershades and, of course, ourselves. We wouldn't be Belgians if we did not like new beat.
How and where was the mix recorded?
In between travel and gigs we discussed the track listing and then got that down to some 20 tracks. We then just recorded the mix on the fly in one take, very much a reflection of how we like to DJ, and also a pretty close idea of what our DJ sets have been sounding like lately.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
Well, like I said, it's a close reflection of what an FCL set could sound like currently. We're both avid diggers and have a pretty solid collection. And next to checking out all the new stuff being released we are constantly discovering old releases, both in our own collections and in second hand outlets. An old record that you just discovered or that you rediscover in your collection can sound just as new as the umpteenth promo release one gets sent, and I think there's the basis of what we do summed up. We just can't help it. But the real old stuff is a lot more fresh than the new stuff wanting to sound like the old stuff.
How does your DJing together differ from your solo sets?
When playing solo I tend to play more new stuff than San Soda would. I do enjoy going off onto more Dixon-styled tangents, whereas San Soda will always play more disco when playing solo. And I always play our own stuff and all We Play House Recordings releases, while San Soda has a hard time playing his own productions, very much like a lot of good producers if I may say so! But in the end we are fishing from the same big pond of music, the one where melody and surprise should always have the upper hand.
Would you say that licensing "It's You" to Defected had the outcome you were hoping for?
To be honest we didn't really have an outcome in mind when signing "It's You" to Defected. We just wanted to see how far the track could go, and we thought Defected was best placed to help us see where it could go. I can honestly say that working with Defected has been an absolute pleasure, only topped by meeting all the people who work for Defected. Some people in the underground police (who are they anyway?) will probably think we are just sucking up, but for me the Defected crew are a complete bunch of genuine music lovers that have their house music heart in the right place.
What are you up to next?
There are of course more gigs coming our way, of which the Warehouse Project in Manchester at end of October could very well be a highlight judging from all I've heard about it. On the release front, we have the Holding Our Nick EP on 2020 Vision, with remixes by our friends Locked Groove and Felix Wentink. And we're also finishing the follow-up to "It's You" (and yes, it's gonna be another cover of a very rare and hard-to-find Chicago gem). We're also doing our new beat track and a remix of an old Belgian trance act that I will be re-releasing on We Play House Recordings. As Belgians trance is not a dirty word—it's the basis of everything, because it has melody.
Photo credit: Antony Price