Last year, Stephen Fasano shocked the world of electronic music with the announcement that he was leaving his Belgian DJ duo Aeroplane to start a solo project. This was particularly surprising because Aeroplane had just completed a successful U.S. tour in support of their latest album “We Can’t Fly”. One of the stops on Aeroplane’s 2010 tour was to serve as the opening night performance at DC’s new underground dance mecca, U Street Music Hall. Now ten months after U Street Music Hall opened and six months after leaving Aeroplane, Stephen Fasano is returning to the club to introduce his solo music persona, The Magician! Stephen took some time to answer some of my questions about his career, his decision to leave Aeroplane, and his taste in music.
Michael Darpino: Just to address the “elephant in the room” and get it out of the way at the top of the interview. Why did you decide to part ways with Aeroplane?
Stephen Fasano: We met 7 years ago to make music. 7 years of good and bad things with different projects and 7 years of concessions to each other. The last year a lot of things changed with touring, the pressure of the album, etc. Also I was feeling that I was working for Vito and not for Aeroplane anymore. So we had to find a solution! In June 2010, after a long conversation, we decided to split up. We both agreed that it was better that he continue the Aeroplane story on his own; with the album and the live show since he wrote all the songs of the album. Nowadays, I’m really happy to have made this decision.
MD: How did the concept of “The Magician” come about? What is the origin or the idea behind it?
SF: I was looking for a new name/concept and my girlfriend Julie came with that name. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure because it could sound a bit pretentious to be called “The Magician” right after the Aeroplane break up. But after reflecting on it, my sense of humor approved of the concept. Then we made the character live!
MD: How would you describe the style/sound of “The Magician”?
SF: The Magician is a character who appears only during the night. He is practicing magic when he plays music. Musically it’s a mix of Electronic disco, Pop, 80’s sounds, with a touch of the Belgian humor. He likes to see people happy and dancing sexy.
MD: Is the sound very different from what you did as Aeroplane? Or would you say it is an extension of that Aeroplane sound?
SF: Musically, I would say, it’s like what I made with Aeroplane. So you can call it “extension”. But now, each of us are doing music without any concessions, so it’s a bit different too. Also I don’t use the same studio, synthesizers, or drum machines that we used with Aeroplane.
MD: Your promo video for your winter tour is both hilarious and amazing. Did you make the video yourself? How long did it take to make? Where the heck did you find all of that incredible 80’s video footage?
SF: I wanted to do something very 80’s, to stick with the theme of my first remix for the Aikiu. I knew guys from Brussels who were working well with a good sense of humor! So we started by finding 80’s video footage on Youtube, city by city. Then we shot video footage in a proper studio with me as the actor. Then they finished it with a graphic designer for the effects. The result is very cool! I’m gonna work with those guys in the future, so it will not be the last video you see from The Magician!
MD: Are you working on an album as “The Magician” or just working on remixes right now?
SF: Three remixes are done now and will get released in the next several weeks on different labels. Lykke Li “I Follow Rivers” on Atlantic, The Aikiu “The Red Kiss” on Abracada, and Beni “Bubbles” on Modular. In the meantime, I’m putting the last touches to my EP, it will be release sometime this year. Didn’t sign with a label yet, I am takiing the time to choose the right fit. Also, I have a side project called “Peter Y and The Magician”. It’s a collaboration between Yuksek and me. We made 3 tracks and just signed them with Kitsuné. It’s going to be a spring/summer release!
MD: How do you determine what to remix? Are you approached by bands to do work for them? Or do you find tracks you enjoy and create remixes on your own?
SF: It depends.. For The Aikiu, I loved the vocals! It was quite easy to get the stems because their manager is a friend of mine. For the others, the artists or labels approach me. If I like the track, I have the time, and the band/artist get excited then I do it.
Also, I’m doing some edits of old tracks I’m finding, but I am keeping them just for me to play.
MD: I am always interested in what people listen to in their down time. What is a current artist or band that is in heavy rotation on your personal play-lists? What is an older artist or band that is in heavy rotation on your personal play-lists?
SF: Hard question! This year (2010) I discovered Twin Shadow “Forget”. I’m total addict! The last 5 years, I would say MGMT or Sebastien Tellier. And more than 20 years would be Serge Gainsbourg, Bryan Ferry, Supertramp, or Giorgio Moroder.
MD: Who is a musical artist and an album that you could not live without?
SF: The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”
MD: What inspired you to get into DJing and producing dance music? How did you develop your skills early on? How did you break into the international scene?
SF: It was my uncle and his radio shows that had the biggest influence for me to get into DJing. He was DJ and gave me his record collection (full of disco, funk + UK and Italian pop) when he stopped. It was in 1988 and I was 12 years old. At that time I was recording radio shows and starting to buy some house and techno vinyls. So I started to make a K7 for friends. A bit later, I used to play in a small bar next to my home. There I learned how to make people dance with 2 records. Time went on. I broke on the international in 2007 with Aeroplane.
MD: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?
– making a 90min K7
– making people dance
– playing in a famous club
– releasing an album
– touring the world
– releasing an album
– next challenge? making my own album.
MD: What has been the high point of your musical career so far?
SF: Until today, touring the world with Aeroplane and meeting great people.
MD: What is a piece of advice that you could give to aspiring DJs/producers?
SF: Always think positive! Work hard, have a good contact list, meet people. And the last but not least stay humble.
w/ Brian Billion & Deep Sang
@ U Street Music Hall