9. GeorgeFitzGerald

George FitzGerald rubs his head vigorously. This is a vain attempt to rustle up some coherency as FitzGerald is still foggy after his Saturday DJ set at Brooklyn’s dance hotspot, Verboten, two nights ago—a party that carried on until 1am on Sunday for FitzGerald and friends. This is the last hurrah of his two-week North American tour, which after a six-day break picks up again for a month around Europe. He may be bleary-eyed, but FitzGerald is in good spirits, with grins escaping his countenance at regular intervals.

FitzGerald should be grinning. Things are going extremely well for the British-born, German-based DJ/producer who has made his way up the ranks of the international dance music cognoscenti within a handful of years. Starting in the dubstep and UK garage world with releases on Scuba’s tastemaker hub, Hotflush Recordings, at the turn of the decade, FitzGerald switched styles, leaning towards the 4/4 beat for his releases on Will Saul and Fink’s experimental imprint, Aus Music. Throwing a monthly Man Make Music party from 2003 to 2008 in trendy East London, FitzGerald’s label of the same name grew out of the event, and eventually became the only remnant of the legendary night. It was his sparkling Child EP on Aus and its moody shuffler of a title track that transitioned FitzGerald into the upper echelons of dance producers.

Right around this time he made his move to Berlin. FitzGerald had lived there previously, working as a translator. (He studied German at university.) Like so many before him and many since, that city’s famed den of dance music iniquity, Berghain, had an impact on FitzGerald. His next release, Needs You EP on Hypercolour, shows marked signs of dark sensuality.

“Berlin is where I got into house and techno,” says FitzGerald. “But the city is so different from the place I moved to 10 years ago. It was completely open. You could do whatever you wanted. It’s still quite relaxed, much more chilled out than London, with more space, and a lot cheaper.”

FitzGerald is changing right along with his surroundings. His debut album, Fading Love—almost two years in the making—is released on powerhouse independent Domino Records’ Double Six imprint. Wholly written in Berlin, Fading Love is a beautiful, considered piece of emotionally-driven electronic songs with features from Boxed In and Lawrence Hart. Not one song track from Fading Love would fit into FitzGerald’s driving DJ sets at a club—although they would sit nicely in the unmixed portion of his two-hour monthly slot on the BBC’s Radio 1 Residency.

“It was quite a liberating thing to not make something strictly for DJing,” says FitzGerald of Fading Love. “I had done all I could do with straight up and down house and techno. It wasn’t interesting for me anymore to go down that orthodox route. I was starting to get a bit frustrated with how limited that felt. Especially with an album, I wanted to do something less clubby and superficial and with more depth.”

No fans have been sacrificed with the release of Fading Love. In fact, FitzGerald’s crowd is happy to hear songs from the album embedded into his club sets. FitzGerald, however, only feels comfortable starting or ending a set with the original version of the material on Fading Love. In fact, he purposely stays away from samples and chooses vocalists that aren’t in the traditional soul or R&B vein towards which dance music tends to gravitate. FitzGerald doesn’t sing on the album himself either, although he did on “Magnetic”, his last release prior to that of Fading Love. The aforementioned Hart—although inherently soulful, has a wonderfully mournful quality to his voice that rhythmically matches FitzGerald’s production perfectly. Boxed In’s Oli Bayston, who coos over the unrestrained album opener, “About Time”, and the irresistible first single, “Full Circle”, comes from an indie background and is a great foil for FitzGerald’s move into the songwriting realm.

“[Bayston] has exactly the right sound,” says FitzGerald. “We are on a similar wavelength. He’s got an electronic side to his music, not all of which you can hear on his album, and he was coming towards where I was. I was moving in his direction. We met in the middle and it worked really well.”

FitzGerald is also moving in another direction: away from DJing and towards production. While this is a very slow progression, last year FitzGerald sidestepped into the producer-only role with his razor-sharp work on Katy B’s bouncy “I Like You”. The saucy singer’s girl-next-door vibe appeals to FitzGerald, but he projects his future as a producer more in the band realm than in that of pop music.

“I started out as a DJ as a teenager,” says FitzGerald. “I want to end as a producer, not DJing, and only being in the studio.”

Text by Lily Moayeri