In Conversation: Jane Fitz and Eric Cloutier

This Friday, Jane Fitz continues the multi-sensory feast that is her residency at The Pickle Factory. This time, Jane plays host to a visual installation from Potential Difference, projections from her partner Viola, an opening live set from Howes, and a six hour marathon b2b with The Bunker resident and fellow revered spinner of discs, Eric Cloutier.

Ahead of the party, we caught up with Jane and Eric to find out how they first met, why b2b sets can be the most and least enjoyable gigs, and what they have in store for us on Friday night.

Jane, why Eric for your next date? How did you guys meet originally?

JF: My history with Eric - he doesn't know this - goes back further than when we first met. For several years various friends in various countries would say to me, when we were talking about their favourite DJs, have you heard of Eric Cloutier?

So he kind of trickled into my consciousness via recommendations from Serbia and Austria, America and Germany… and then about three years ago we were both booked to play together in London and that was when we first met. All I remember really about that night was that the sound was pretty bad - and the records I really wanted to play, all the old ones at least, sounded terrible. So halfway through, I kind of played something that went slow, then just stopped, and then I started again with more modern, better produced, louder and clearer techno so that it would sound better. It wasn't planned… but I remember Eric saying something like, “I wasn't expecting that!"

We played together in Amsterdam a little while later, and he was hanging around for my set before he played. After that, several times I’ve posted mixes Eric is first in line to slap me on the back. And when I played the closing at Panoramabar in January, he and his Mrs were right there all night. Stuff like that doesn't go unnoticed with me - he's a supporter and it's appreciated, and so the first opportunity I get to return the love, I’m going to use it. And this is it.

Obviously, his Soundcloud is riddled with ridiculous mixes too…  

Had you heard much of Jane before that night in London Eric? We had some friends at that Pbar gig in January, who said it was magic... did Jane's set measure up to what we’ve heard?

EC: Ol' Fitzy with the mad compliment. Gawwww!!!!! :-D

Oh, I've heard plenty of Jane before than. I was a pretty ruthless Soundcloud and other podcast sites troll for years when I had a desk job and a daily commute that allowed me to listen to sets for hours on end, and Jane appeared one day randomly in a feed or a recommendation from a friend (not quite sure the finer details on that one), but it was two hours of a home mix that I listened to on repeat for far too long.

It kicked off me setting up a Google word alert for "Jane Fitz” so any time something new popped up I was on it instantaneously, so from there I just consumed as much as I could and vowed to see her play someday.

That day ended up being that London gig, which was fun as hell, for sure, AND it was my birthday, but yeah...rough sound on that gig. I do, however, remember getting Steve O’Sullivan a little too drunk...

[I had] a Google alert for 'Jane Fitz' so any time something new popped up I was on it instantaneously. From there I just consumed as much as I could and vowed to see her play someday. - Eric Cloutier

Since you mention Soundcloud mixes. You seem to both share a penchant for a 'themed mix'. Jane I've heard you play all sorts of different sets, all along particular themes. Eric, your Driftwood mix is a perennial office favourite. Is that how you both organise records for a gig - along a certain era, style or geography? Or, can that be restrictive in a live environment?

EC: I wouldn't say I do podcasts in themes, outside of the obvious one with the Driftwood mix (also, thank you!), but I usually have some sort of general idea of where I want to go in a night and just build around that. Some nights I want to bang it out, some I want to get groovy and deeper, some I just entirely wing it and throw random stuff in my case just to see what I can do with it. Jane and I definitely are going be communicating some ideas in the next week to make sure we're on the same page, but overall I think her and I know each others' strengths and tendencies (that psychedelic, slightly housey, funky, trippy, bordering on trance but not in the Tiesto sort of way vibe), so without much discussion I have a feeling we'll be on the same page from record one to record 100.

JF: You did trainspot a few but you were incredibly restrained :) I definitely feel it's my turn to do that and i'm looking forward to tapping Eric on the shoulder for a few 'wtfs' this weekend.

Back to the questions… yes you're right about the themes. The reason for this is that I like to work within limitations. If I don't have them, I get a bit overwhelmed and lose focus easily. This is one of the main reasons why I still play records (also because I never know what anything is called, always forget, although my visual/photographic memory works fine so seeing records/labels/track grooves is the only way I locate anything). Having to do the hard work, the choosing bit, and whittling it down to about 50-80 records before I leave the house frees me up when I’m at the gig, because then I don't have to concentrate so hard as to what to play next.

I have faith in what I pack, I guess. It lets me down sometimes, but I prefer to work this way rather than take too much music and put myself in a state of confusion!  So in the same vein, working with a theme in mind makes mixes or podcasts or even sets so much easier as I’m working with a much narrower choice of records. It keeps things a lot more interesting for me, it means I get to play records I might have overlooked because I’ve forced myself to use that bit of my collection, and it means if you come to hear me regularly, you'll always hear something new, or at least, played in a new context or way.

As for what we'll play on the night, we've already had a bit of a chat about it and Eric has nailed it with the description. I imagine we'll start pretty slow and weird and just go from there. It could go from proper deep house, to tribal, to techno, to progressive, to… well anything that fits in there. What is exciting is that we have NEVER done this before, and it's a long one, so as the night unfolds we'll get used to each other, get our musical dialogue flowing, and hopefully it will work! 

Let's talk about b2bs. In our experience, they can either be the most rewarding or most frustrating way to play records. Who are your favourite b2b partners, and without naming names, do you have a horror story you can share of the worst?

JF: I have four irregular b2bs I do… I’ve had a long-running relationship running with Miro which is pretty laid-back; me and Jade Seatle are playing more sets now as Night Moves together and that's a real specific deep sound now; I play quite weird and ravey with Carl H; and me, Carl H and John Hanley have our Normal Behaviour project that has gone from goth to disco to techno to house and in any direction really. All night longs and b2bs are the sets that really keep me interested and enthusiastic. DJing for a long time on your own can get a bit lonely, so it's nice to have a little chat between records!

I've only ever done b2bs with people I've asked. A lot of DJs are competitive, and I find it really vulgar. I mean, not letting someone's record play out for instance is the worst (unless you’re going to do some amazing five minute mix). The thing is, I'm not, nor have I ever been, desperate to play. I've been at parties before where I see DJs just jostling others out the way, record in hand, desperate to have their go. It's so horrible, and usually always boys. A back to back should be a beautiful challenge, an opportunity to approach your records differently, get caught off guard, maybe even have a chat or a laugh with someone while you're playing. If you can't enjoy the idea of building something together you shouldn't agree to it. I just like them as it's a break from being on my own!

EC: Historically? I absolutely abhore b2b sets. Most of the time it’s two people trying to one-up each other with zero coherence and just a giant dick sizing contest, and I’m a creature of creating tension and moods and wanting the flow to be intriguing, not just some slap-dash Wrestlemania faff-about. Ergo I almost always turn down the offer. That being said, if I ever do do them, it’s always with someone I know well and trust their tastes, ie. a certain Ms. Fitz. 

Worst would be anyone that's ever done the above to me. I had that happen once with a friend, and after about three hours of trying to reel it in I just said "fuck it" and would wander off for 30 mins. And let them play, then come back, throw a super bad ass track on, then be like "go for it" and wander off. He got the hint eventually, and I told him my reasoning afterwards, and that was the impetus to be wary of doing b2bs ever again.

However, i did do a God knows how long b2b with my friend Derek Plaslaiko at a friends' house for an afterhours that was ridiculously fun, but that was like...15 years ago at this point. hahaha!

I've been at parties before where I see DJs just jostling others out the way, record in hand, desperate to have their go. It's so horrible, and usually always boys. A back to back should be a beautiful challenge, an opportunity to approach your records differently, get caught off guard, maybe even have a chat or a laugh with someone. - Jane Fitz

Eric, we think you're going to enjoy The Pickle Factory. It's the optimal size for a party - an intimate 200cap. Is there a small-but-perfectly-formed Pickle equivalent in Berlin? And where have you both particularly enjoyed playing this year?

EC: I’ve been to the Pickle before, actually... I played with Markus Suckut a year or so ago, so I know the spot well. In fact, I almost fell off the stage, but fortunately my agent was there to keep me from making a fool of myself!

As for Berlin locals, I’m a massive fan of the Tresor side-club, Ohm. I find it to be kind of perfect in basically every way. The sound is good, the layout is great, the bar is killer, the booth is highly functional and comfortable, and it’s just the right size. But when it comes to the best little venue in town, you absolutely cannot beat how flawless Heidegluhen is. I’ve only played there once, been there a couple of times, but it’s perfect. All wood, with a little balcony around the dancefloor, a great system, and it’s run by one of the truest legends of the scene, Woody. I’m primarily known as a techno DJ, but I’d love to get a full on house set in there again - it was such a treat of a club. It’s downfall is the distance to get there as it’s near Tegel airport, but I think that in and of itself allows for people to go and know that they've made it that far, so they better make the most of their day there.

JF: Closing Panoramabar in January on a Sunday night was really memorable, as was Concrete Sunday morning after the Hessle boys - I love Sundays! In the UK the Cosmic Ballroom in Newcastle for Backdrop was completely bonkers - a really energetic rave! Second Nature in Seattle was a real surprise, such a lovely party in a perfect space - they know what they're doing there. And of course, my first night at Pickle in April blew my mind from the moment the doors opened! But I think my absolute favourite for 2017 was the new room at Bassiani, Horoom, a real dream to play in - the perfect size (essentially a small club like Pickle inside a big club), nice sound, perfect hosts and a wild crowd who didn't want to go home. Looking forward to going back next month!

Finally, can you provide us with a record each that will be getting played on Friday night? 

JF: Eric knows more than me as he's actually pulled some out! Er, how about this?

EC: This was rediscovered on my shelf when I closed Berghain last month and hasn't left my case since.

And I just found this... Fuck!