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The Lowdown: DJ Gaz Fracus

The Lowdown: DJ Gaz Fracus

"Maybe after a few beers I'll get cocky and shout 'I've worked for Nintendo man, f**k you!'

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Last Edited by: Jack Stovin December 14th, 2011.

To describe DJ Gaz Fracus as one of hardcore's fastest rising stars is not strictly true, for he has been leading the underground scene for many years already. It has only been the last few years though, when we have seen Fracus' name amongst those belonging to the more popular hardcore DJs and only recently that he has been given the big live sets that he deserves.

Teaming up with DJ Darwin in 2009, Fracus helped create one of the most original and exciting hardcore duos since Dougal and Gammer and his work on the legendary Hardcore Underground series is testament to the huge success of the label. We caught up with him to talk about the new Hardcore Underground 5 album, MC's, live shows ad working for f**king Nintendo man!

Altsounds: Hi Gaz, you have just released Hardcore Underground 5. Tell us how that compares to the previous four HU releases…..

Fracus: Every album we do is different, but I think HU5 stands up strongly against previous volumes as a truly varied compilation, representing what’s happening across the Hardcore spectrum right now.

Altsounds: This time you and long term collaborator Darwin team up with the likes of Al Storm, Technikore and Slipmatt. How do you decide who to work with on the HU releases?

Fracus: It’s no more complex than us getting around the table and deciding what we think would be really cool. CDJay who co-owns the label is as much a powerhouse for ideas as anyone. People like Alf (Technikore) are extremely talented and relevant in Hardcore right now, Al Storm is someone we’ve worked with on almost every HU album to date, and Slipmatt is a DJ in the truest sense with no further introduction needed. We want cutting edge Hardcore shown off on our albums in all its glorious forms, and whoever has the passion and talent to do that properly is on our radar; household name or otherwise.

Altsounds: Yourself and Darwin have been working together for many years now. Why do you think you two work so well and what are the advantages of being part of a DJ duo rather than DJ-ing on your own?

Fracus: We only really and truly became a DJ duo at the back end of 2009, but given that our tastes are so similar, we both predominantly play each other’s (or our collective) tracks, and we both represent the same label, it works really well. As a duo there’s always a second opinion; an extra dimension of thought and someone else to bounce ideas off or feed energy too. We still do our own thing from time to time, and with others, especially in the studio. It’s a very open relationship

Altsounds: You and Darwin have spent many years working in the underground scene but have recently found yourselves on the bill of more major events. Is it fair to say you are both finally getting the recognition you deserve from the major hardcore event organisers?

Fracus: I think part of the reason our rise hasn’t been so meteoric is because our sound is so difficult to pin down. We’ve never really been ‘of the moment’. I roll the phrase out all the time, but the best way to avoid going out of fashion is to never be fashionable in the first place. We take influence from so many different places and our discographies, both individually and as a duo, are so eclectic that you couldn’t ever really say any one particular style defines us. We have seen an upturn in support from the main stages in the last couple of years which is great, but we’re not really out to achieve recognition for what we’ve already done, more a greater platform to execute all the things we’re capable of doing. We’re only just getting started really in the grand scheme of things.


Altsounds: The hardcore genre is changing all the time. DJs like Joey Riot have been experimenting with other genres recently, giving new sounds like gabber a go whilst yourself and Darwin have continued producing the same hardcore sound. Do you feel that too many DJs are straying away from hardcore nowadays?

Fracus: No, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. In fact as an artist it’s better to be writing a whole host of different things, it’ll keep you excited and interested in music. We both do a fair amount of work outside of Hardcore under various guises, but we don’t really feel the need to tie it all together. A few games companies have used our Hardcore names on projects which has let the cat out of the bag on a few occasions, but really we’d rather keep most of the other stuff separate from Hardcore entirely.

Altsounds: Do you dabble in any other musical genres?

Fracus: Yes. Hardcore’s the main focus in terms of time, and I don’t really DJ anything else, but in terms of production you’d be surprised some of the things we’ve done. Like I say, keeping things like that separate from Hardcore is something we’ve always tried to do. Maybe after a few beers I’ll get cocky and shout ‘I’ve worked for Nintendo man, f**k you!’ if you press the right buttons. Nick’s usually more reserved but he’s learning. But yeah we’ve done a fair bit of stuff within various genres and for various labels / companies over the last 5 years.

Altsounds: There is a track on the new Hardcore Underground CD featuring MC Sharkey. What did you think of his recent decision to retire from hardcore and how greatly will he be missed?

Fracus: I understand why he’s done it, and I think he’s done it the right way. But yes I do think he will be sorely missed. Jon’s a really unsung hero, and I can say that hand on heart. He’s done a hell of a lot for Hardcore, often at great personal cost. What else could he have achieved it he’d poured all his energy into himself instead of bringing through people like K Komplex, AMS and Arkitech? Times change and people move on, that’s the nature of everything, but I think he got a bit of a raw deal from Hardcore towards the end. I think in hindsight people we see his contribution to the music both as an artist and a mentor in a much more appreciative way.

Altsounds: Since Sharkey was the dominant MC in hardcore, there has been an influx of new MCs lately, the likes of MC Offside and MC Static making names for themselves. Do you think we have come to a point where there are too many MCs or is it complimentary of the DJs in the scene?

Fracus: If you’re doing it right and people want to see you, then you’ll be fine. That rings true for the established MCs as much as the newer ones. Look at Storm and Whizzkid; nobody’s managed to knock them off the top spot for years, and that’s because they’re bang on their game week in, week out. I think competition will keep it healthy like it does for the DJs. It’s great that newer artists like Static have come along and hit the main stages too though, it adds something new.

Altsounds: As a DJ, would you prefer to play with an MC or without and why?

Fracus: A good MC compliments a DJ set and takes it to the next level no doubt, but a bad MC can ruin the best music. I’d rather have someone who knows what they’re doing working with the music and adding to the atmosphere, but if they’re going to babble incoherently over vocals and breakdowns for an hour, I’d rather unplug them.

Altsounds: There have been a number of big hardcore compilation releases this year including HTID and Hardcore Heaven Summer Madness. How do you think Hardcore Underground 5 compares?

Fracus: There have actually been very few albums released this year in comparison to any previous year that I can remember. I think HU5 stands up to anything else out there in terms of quality, but stylistically its quite different to anything else that’s gone out this year so it’s not really possible to compare it like for like to anything else. Ultimately, the more albums there are across the board, the better.


Altsounds: It has been a while since you and Darwin released your album Balancing Act – is there another in the pipeline and if so, what can you tell us about it?

Fracus: The second Fracus & Darwin artist album is called Point Of No Return. It was going to hit before Christmas, but we ended up writing so much more material and using a lot of the original track list on HU5 that it will be around March 2012 now. We need a bit more time to pull together all the things we’ve planned to take it to the next level. As with Balancing Act though, there’s already a stack of things we’re holding back from playing out. It’s really frustrating!

Altsounds: Much about hardcore is remixing existing releases. Do you prefer to write remixes or new material?

Original new material is the best thing to be writing, every time. Sometimes it’s too tempting not to update something you love so you can start playing it again, but everyone’s got to do even less of that in 2012 than we have this year if the music is to move forward.

Altsounds: Hardcore DJs seem to tour constantly, hitting the road for events like HTID, Uproar, Raveology – can too much touring get to you after a while?

Excessively busy months can take it out of you yeah, especially playing multiple dates abroad because of the flights etc. Last December was the worst though, we did 12 UK dates in a month (busiest ever) and off the back of only just managing to put out our HU Presents: 2010 album and Balancing Act shortly before. The driving, the relentless late nights at the weekend really knocked me for six, and I was a burned out husk by Christmas 2010 I don’t mind admitting. We’re amazingly lucky to be able to do this job though, so I’ll never ever complain about it, but yeah it does have an effect when everything comes to a head and you can’t switch off for days and days on end.

Altsounds: What was the best event you performed at this year and why?

Fracus: I actually couldn’t pin it down. The last Freeformation was unreal, but then so was the Uproar Boat Party in Spain (HTID In the Sun) and so was Westfest. It’s just all about the atmosphere really, but there have been some insanely good parties this year we’ve been lucky enough to spin at.


Altsounds: What exciting things do you have planned for next year?

Fracus: Actually more than we ever have had before, 2012 is going to be our most active yet both as a label and as Fracus & Darwin. From a label point of view we have at least three compilations scheduled, and more artist albums too of which the new Fracus & Darwin album is only one. We’ll be putting out some truly ground-breaking music next year, and some of the albums are already shaping up to be landmark releases for the genre. As a label and as F&D we have also really gotten our s**t together as a live act too, and you’ll see us doing a lot more of that next year as well as the DJ’ing and production. Our single releases will continue through the wide network of stores with whom we already deal, but you’ll see that area of HU taken to the next level as well. 2012 is basically the year we really put everything we’ve learned into practice and go after it all guns blazing.

Altsounds: Will we be seeing you and Darwin paying at more major hardcore events?

Fracus: I hope so! There’s already some awesome stuff in the diary, and we hope we’ll continue to be seen more and more as a worthwhile piece of any major lineup.

Altsounds: Finally, can you sum up your year in hardcore in just three words?

Fracus: Energetic, Innovative, Beautiful

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