Photography Justin Carter
Creative Director Keith S. Washington
All eyewear by Max Pittion
Famed for his ongoing monthly mixes “Magic Tape” consisting of under the radar, unreleased dance tunes, not to mention his former unit Aeroplane, Stephen Fasano aka “The Magician” based in Brussels continues evolving his musical influence through his own music label “Potion,” started in 2014. The Magician just released a brand new single “Shy” featuring Brayton Bowman on May 2nd from Potion and we caught him backstage right before his gig for the Kitsuné Club Night Parisian Tour in Tokyo.
Musical background – Instruments or DJing?
DJing background. Long time ago. Late 80’s — at the beginning of House music I guess. My uncle was a DJ, nothing commercial but a collector of obscure disco records. He gave me his turntables and a mixer, and a collection of obscure disco records.
You got lucky.
Yeah in a way…, but I hated so many of those records! The late 70’s were, as they say, “the end of Disco” times and we were starving for Acid House coming from the US. Disco records don’t have BPM synchronized so that was the kind of time I practiced the beat match technique, mixing those with new House music. Then, after that, I slowly got into Techno, Drum ’n’ bass, Trip Hop — I have a big collection of DJ Krush from Mo Wax records, DJ Food, Ninja Tunes and those kinds of things. Those were the times I used to travel to the UK a lot and go record-digging.
Yes, I went to the UK once a month. Now it’s only 2 hours on a train but it was 4 hours on a boat to cross the canal and another 2 hours on the road back then, but that is nothing when you are a teenager — the absolute freedom!
And went into production in those ages?
Yes, as I slowly started getting myself a sampling machine like AKAI or Roland, or the drum machines like TB303, I got those for around 100 bucks or something. Now it costs 3,000 US dollars or more and you know how crazy it is.
Do you still use those set ups?
No, I rarely use them as those are equipped in the software nowadays. For working on demos, I just get into my computer and for the final production we bring vocals and instruments at the studio for live recording, which I really enjoy.
How did you get to know Kitsuné?
I was forming Aeroplane at that time around in 2008, we got approached by Kitsuné for a remix, and that was the first time I met Gildas (one of Kitsuneé’s founders). Then they booked us for tons of parties in London and Paris. After that, we signed for a single “I Don’t Know What You Do.”
How do you balance out Production and DJing?
I would say 50/50 and I like it that way. I am inspired by the music that I play, the music that is around me if you know what I mean. I am rather a DJ in origin than a producer. My music can evolve through playing and it’s a bit like a fashion. So for example when compared with 5 years ago I would say I was more Disco. Not in the melody line, but the base line or the compression of the sound, my sound is more Housey now. BPM between 120-122 is the best tempo ever, not too fast yet groovy.
Actually, Ageha in 2012, Japan was amazing. The speakers… the sound was totally amazing.
Large audience or handful of people?
I actually do both and I played for only 200 yesterday in Seoul, played in front of an only 150-person audience the other day in Hong Kong and, to be honest, I like it much better than big festivals. You see the faces and the groove is more intense.
You are a vinyl collector but which format do you use when DJing?
I don’t play vinyl except at home and took a while to get used to it, but I use USB memory sticks. I still have 10,000 or more records at home — maybe its time to pull them out again and get inspired.
So, how come “The Magician”?
Well, it was my wife who named it. When I split from Aeroplane in 2010, my wife (then girlfriend) said at the time, “Now we have to think of a new name…, lets say “The Magician.” And I didn’t like it at all! (laughs). She says I have the “Magical” powers, but it sounds a bit arrogant you know. But slowly, having her designing these jackets, I understood the meaning of it that aligns with my concept to entertain the audience. And of course the branding side of it too. And after all, I own 10 other jackets of this kind.
Why are you wearing that one today?
This is the one I am wearing this year and will be recognized with. The material is actually a cellophane. Last year it was more baggy style, but not like in the MC Hammer style though, Moroccan-Jewish style from the 1920s with the 3 buttons jackets and all. So for next year, it should be different. To me, DJing is entertainment and the core is to entertain the audience. And for that reason, I like to be dressed.
Any ritual before gigs?
Very simple. Text my wife that I am starting. And have one shot of vodka or two.
It seems like there is a very strong bond there. Any kids?
I have one little one, she is two and a half years old now. Now we are starting to have a lot of interactions and it is great fun.
Why are you based in Brussels?
Because I did not have the balls to move out (laughs). Well, it was just not the right time to move, my studio is in London and the business is there. And its only 2 hours on train.
If you were to pick one city to move to?
Business-wise it would be London, but if I pick the best, I would say LA. The weather, and the food!
I would say Italian and Japanese. And you can find both good ones in LA (laughs).
So, half and hour to go live, what are you playing today for a 2am slot?
I am selecting more straight House music, more energy than the last visit in 2012. A lot of people expect music that they know, but I will be playing things that are really new. Because I expect people to get surprised.
The Magician is the alias of talented DJ/Producer, Stephen Fasano.