We speak to Scottish DJ Eclair Fifi as she launches a new reissue series dedicated to her favourite Chicago house, Latin freestyle and Italo records
Taken from the summer 2016 issue of Dazed:
“Since my early teens I’ve never thought it exceptional to be a female DJ,” says Scottish DJ and producer Eclair Fifi. “I felt it was absurd to focus on my gender.”
After discovering decks at the age of ten, Fifi became a full-time music obsessive when her family purchased a computer modem and she discovered the URL world. “I got obsessed with graffiti forums and looking for music online,” she says. “Then I stumbled across a London radio station called interFACE – one of the first pirate stations to move online to avoid being caught by ‘the radio police’.”
Bagging her first show on the station aged 16 (with her mum as co-host), Fifi credits radio for giving her the space to indulge in her own world. Using the platform to explore her knowledge of Italo, rap, R&B and Latin freestyle, she soon found herself signing to Hudson Mohawke’s LuckyMe label, winning club residencies around Europe and gearing up for her first solo release while completing an illustration degree.
Recently relocated to London, Fifi has already seen the city change around her – and cites gentrification as a huge contributor to the decline of club culture. “The government needs to acknowledge the value of the dark economy as creating a healthy creative culture in the city,” she says. “Protect the clubs and you guarantee a generation of exciting artists and new thought.”
Fifi’s first solo release is a reissue of Mickey Oliver and Shanna Jay’s “Never Let Go”, a Chicago house track from 1987. It’s the first in a series of reissues that sees the DJ present an obscure older dance track with a set of contemporary club remixes.
“This is a series of reissues of records that I’ve loved since my first days Djing in the early 2000s, long before LuckyMe,” she says, “I was always drawn to the skeletal yet vocal percapellas on the b-sides of Chicago house, Latin freestyle, and Italo records, and this time I’m giving those tracks the spotlight. My parents were into Chicago house when I was a kid so this music has been with me for a long time.”
The reissue process saw Fifi track down phone and fax numbers, forgotten record labels, and lost studios that have since been turned auto-trade garages in order to find the original rights holders, before personalising each record with her own illustration. “When I first approached Mickey Oliver it was through the comments section on his old website which kept crashing,” she says, “I had to find his email via the site’s code.”
“This is not a ‘project’ to me – this is absolutely my favourite music that I want to share with people. I look forward to shining more light on this particular time in dance music.”
The full release of the “Never Let Go” drumapella features remixes from Aden (a side project of US producer Machinedrum), Melbourne’s Air Max 97, and French producer Strip Steve. Listen to the original version below.
Hair Naoki Komiya at Julian Watson Agency using Aveda, make-up Lucy Burt at Bryant Artists using Chanel SS16 and N°5 Body Cream, set design Mariska Lowri. Photographic assistant Julie Greve, Alessandro Tranchini, fashion assistant Poppie Clinch, Fabio Merche, hair assistants Kumiko Tsumagari, Catherine Wyman, Jordan Leig
LuckyMe release Never Let Go in July 2016