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On The Move: Dean Fuel

On The Move: Dean Fuel

Posted August 19, 2016

Truth chats to industry mainstay, Dean Fuel who takes on main set duties on the terrace this Saturday. The Capetonian is known for releases on international labels, and world-class DJ mixes not to mention collecting and playing everything from underground techno, and the deeper sounds of house & tech, through to peak time electro, progressive and trance. Despite being in the air travelling to gigs every week, Dean remains down to earth and tells us about his creative process, what's cooking in his studio and what the scene looks like through in his eyes in 2016...

DEAN_FUEL_-_2015_-_BW_-_Black_Shirt.jpgRight! Dean Fuel in 2016! What’s happening in your world? Where’s your head at?

Been in the game for a while now, but no signs of slowing down! In fact my world seems to move faster these days! Personally, I’ve been taking piano lessons, improving my music knowledge and studio skills for composing. I’ve also been busy working on putting together the electronic dome stage for Rocking The Daisies again this year! … Other than that – touring, DJing, airports, late nights, lots of tequila, the usual! ;)

You’ve taken on different roles over the years: producer, DJ, management company... Tell us about some of things you’ve learned along the way.

The key lesson I’ve learned is that to do this job, and be in this industry – it has to be led by passion and love for what you do. It should be the only reason! Another defining lesson is to be honest and true to yourself, no matter what! Overall, be humble, work hard – and always keep in mind what drew you to do this in the first place – the music! 

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You can traverse lots of different styles – it’s safe to say that genres have never stood in your way. What’s your perspective on this? Is there a downside?

Good music is good music, regardless of genres! My entire DJ career, people have tried to put me in a box, for me to only be about 1 particular sound, whether it’s House, or Techno, or Progressive … and that just never worked for me! I don’t follow fads! I simply follow my ear, and trust my instincts as to what music I love, and feel comfortable to play!

I could spend hours listening to records shopping at vinyl stores, and would never be satisfied sticking to one genre – I’d always leave with a completely mixed bag of records covering many styles. This then went into forming my ‘sound’– and has been what has become the defining aspect of me as a DJ – my versatility. I also thinks its crucial to keep an open mind to music! I hold this to be a real and necessary skill for any good DJ. The downside (if any) is ignorance; in that some people might only see me in one light, and not realize the scope of what I can do … it only takes one set to change their minds!

As a producer, tell me about your creative process… 

The 1st step for me is listening … finding new music and hearing creative ideas for production. If I’m honest with myself, I often think this is something that can sometimes hold me back – the fear that my music won’t be as good as the stuff I’m listening to! From the listening stage, I then go on to the beats as a starting point, building a groove around that. Then I generally look to add in a bass line, and build a loop. From there, open up the track, and try figure out what it wants / needs to be! Sometimes the music needs to find its own path. I look up to many of my producer friends that I have worked with (from Ryan Murgatroyd, through to Protoculture; from Headroom, through to James Copeland and Danalog)  - and I respect their skills in the studio. I started as a DJ, and then moved into production… I hope to one day be as proficient in the studio as I am on the decks ;)

Pick one of your productions and tell us a bit about it..

My track MOVE: started out as a deeper grooving House track, and had taken it as far as I could. Then I worked with Daniel Lobel (Danalog) to tweak it, where we came up with some simple ideas that just made it fit better, giving it a techier edge. This really comes through in the break and drop – and creates a lot of energy on a dancefloor - I was really happy with it! But to be honest, I think my newer stuff (as yet unfinished) will be even better!

Anything in the pipeline?

New music being worked on as we speak, and my roster for summer is already filling up fast with gigs all across SA and beyond! (I sometimes wish I could just clone myself! Haha!

I also have a second alias, Feedback – that I produce and DJ under for all things Psytrance, and am currently working on completing a new single for the upcoming summer season, as well as have a number of bookings for key outdoor events! Exciting season ahead!

You’ve lived in different cities – has this influenced your sound? 

Absolutely! Different cities have different energies! The people are different, have varying tastes, and triggers. What works in Cape Town can be very different to what works in Durban or Jozi! I believe that a key influence in any person (whether its fashion, or music, or food) has to be travel! The more you travel, the more cultures and ideas you experience, opening you up to incorporating them into who you are.

Electronic music industry in 2016, what does it look like through your eyes?

Hopeful! There is always new talent on the rise, new music, and new opportunities. SA has some of the best talent I’ve come across, and its just about channeling it the right way, and letting it grow into a world recognized force. Our few ambassadors (Black Coffee, Goldfish, etc.) that are already breaking borders are killing it – and doing it their own way! Globally and locally I‘ve seen electronic music go through various phases and fads, but one thing has always remained – people will want to connect, people will want to release, people will want to party and dance. Electronic music will continue to evolve and be central to this!

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What is working in the local industry and what needs to change?

What’s working is the drive of the artists and producers and DJ’s! Sometimes bad attitudes and some sentiments of entitlement can creep in, and be a negative influence on the scene – but I’m sure these would exist anywhere. The more we work together and realize that a scene is made up of many people and elements, and that we can all help each other to be ‘more’ by collaborating and sharing knowledge and ideas - the better!

You’re playing main set on Truth’s terrace this Saturday, how do you prepare? Any tricks up your sleeves?

I never pre-plan a set – that would be so boring for me! I do prep by listening to a lot of new music, and buying (generally a lot) of new music! I put this together with my collection, and break it down into some playlist ideas … these give me quick reference points when mixing. Other than that – it’s all about reading the dancefloor! In terms of tricks up my sleeve, well I did pull out my RMX1000 for a set at Vice City the other day, and had so much fun with it – so I may be tempted to bring it along to Truth – let’s see!

Catch Dean Fuel on the TERRACE this Saturday from 1-3AM.

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