The FUSE chief has got the counterculture credentials so take heed of his vital tricks of the trade.
Something of an institution in the London nightlife scene, it might just be that Enzo Siragusa throws the best underground parties in the world, and he's keen to share his trade secrets with THUMP.
But first, it's our duty to qualify Enzo's underground résumé so we're clear from the get-go that the man knows what he's talking about.
1) He founded the underground FUSE event brand.
Initially taking place at East London's infamous 93 Feet East, FUSE was a weekly Sunday after-party that ran from 11 AM until midnight. While fully licenced and in no way illegal, the concept was very raw and it deliberately reproduced the unique atmosphere of UK raves in the early-90s. FUSE quickly built up an intensely loyal following, with heavyweights like Loco Dice and tINI soon making appearances. "There was such an energy at every single party and it was every single week. We had to make it a guest list-only event because the people who made the party were struggling to get in. The venue could only hold 600 to 700 and I remember one of our lists reached about 5,000. Which caused chaos on the streets!" With Enzo at the helm, the increasingly renowned FUSE brand expanded into new territories, pushing it around the world courtesy of label takeovers at some of Europe's leading clubs, plus a highly coveted residency at Sankeys Ibiza, which launched in the Summer of 2012.
2) The original FUSE parties spawned their own unique underground dub-house sound: 'Fusic.'
The funny thing about 'Fusic' is how organic the genesis of the sound was. "It's stripped-back, and that really evolved from the party - I'd always play the B-sides to records. The trippy dub sides with wobbly grooves." With FUSE being an after-party and Enzo basically playing every week, his sets would last up to six hours and so the music kept taking him further down the rabbit hole. Then the FUSE crew like Rich NxT and Seb Zito started to make beats which was simply more fuel for the festivities. And out of that, the sound was created and the 'Fusic' name just came from the crowd. "Someone once said to me they went to clubs all over the place and couldn't find any music like what they heard at FUSE, so it's not really music, it's 'Fusic,' isn't it?" And it stuck.
After Enzo first launched FUSE, he had a few tracks that he'd made. But no one would sign them. "I sent them to all the major labels in London, to people that were very instrumental in the house scene in the UK. And they said that my music was too deep and it would never sell." So Enzo was a bit stuck, because he was producing this sound and it was positively going off in his party. That's why he decided to start FUSE London in 2011. "Sure, a big part was showcasing our sound, but it was also because no one else would sign it! We didn't really have much choice!"
Infuse followed in 2013 because there were so many people that were inspired by what FUSE had done. They were sending Enzo music and he was playing it, so why not formally release it too. "In this day and age, you need to put music out there and it helps the brand to grow. We didn't promote our parties," he points out. "So it was the only way we had to reach people so they could buy or download it. And I suppose that's reached a wider audience than a couple of mess-heads in London throwing an after-party!"
4) FUSE London is an active pillar of underground dance music's vinyl culture.
Enzo remembers going to play a festival in Romania and getting into the driver's car. "The driver told me he liked my music. I thanked him, but he told me not to because he had downloaded it illegally." At least Enzo could appreciate his honesty. "But I'm a vinyl DJ and I've been buying vinyl since 1993, and it made me realize that I wanted to put something back into that side of things." So now FUSE London puts out one vinyl-only track on each release. Sure, the digital age has been amazing from the perspective of opening everything up to everyone and it was not necessarily for the money either. "I just felt I wanted to do something that paid a bit more homage to my roots and to the DJs that are still playing and collecting records."
5) He can read an underground crowd as well as any DJ in the industry.
Simply put, Enzo knows his audience. "You're bringing people that are either walking into an after-party and it's the first music that they've heard all evening, or they've been out all night and you've got to get them engaged." And that's the music Enzo and FUSE have adopted and styled themselves on, then developed and evolved. Music so deep it's like you're underwater and an undeniable current is pulling you in.
So rest assured, when we say Enzo Siragusa knows how to host one hell of an underground party, we aren't shitting you.
Enzo: The most important thing you have to create is a certain vibe for an underground party. I've always focused firstly on the sound and when I say 'sound,' I'm referring to technically how a system resonates and reverberates. You need it bass heavy, essentially. There's no point just throwing a party for the sake of throwing it. So the sound is really very important and I've always invested a great deal in that, which is why we never booked a lot of big DJs in the early days. It was just residents because we made most of our gamble into the acoustic treatment of the room and stuff like that. So it's about how it sounds in there and, of course, the actual programming of the music.
The next thing I look at is what I call the community side. It's the people that come to the party and you need to ensure there is a sense of congregation. It would be a waste of time to just put something out there, promote it hard and sell tickets. Now you can of course do this but it's not going to be an underground party. Because you have no control over what's going to happen in there or who is going to come. So it's about reaching out to the right people and getting the right crowd. And that builds a sort of sense of fraternity so that when you get there—and that sound is so amazing—you're like, "Woah, wow!" And the first people you notice would be people you've seen in these clubs before, then you turn around and recognise one of your friends on the other side of the room. Like a community.
The last step is always the venue itself. The location and its feel. I always model my parties based on our first venue, 93 Feet East. The place was just incredible. It's a very old brewery from the 1800s. It's got a history. And it had real character. So when you walked in, you had this really weird feeling of, "Where the hell am I going? This is a bit strange and a bit weird. But it's cool!" And that set the tone when you arrived. FUSE's next spot in Shoreditch at Village Underground was every bit as imposing.
I've always said that you need to have an equal balance of those three things to get the perfect underground vibe. If you don't have the sound system and you heavily lean toward the community side, then what you have is a nice party to have a chat and a talk, but nobody is really dancing. Or you have a venue which is amazing and it's incredible to look at, but really doesn't have a clear-cut dancefloor where you walk in for a rave. So those are the three things and I always used to write them down. I would put vibe in the middle of a piece of paper, then those three dialled around it. And I used to show it to the guys and be like, "This! This is it!"
AND THE BIGGEST NO-NO:
That's easy - shite music. I'm hearing a lot of it at the moment. Just a lot of dross out there. But the bigger all of this stuff gets, the more of a niche and underground thing it allows me to do. So I'm pretty easy, to be honest. But I just wouldn't want it in my party. That's my no-no.