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Meet the Man Behind the Essential 'Future Disco' Compilations

If you thought disco was dead, think again.

by David Garber
Feb 25 2014, 9:36pm

Future Disco founder Sean Brosnan

What happens when you take the shimmering sound of disco, throw in a dash of modern house groove, and flick your lighter? The answer is Future Disco. This London-based outfit was founded by local resident DJ and producer Sean Brosnan, who released the imprint's first compilation, A Guide to 21st Century Disco, back in 2009. Since those days they have gone on to release seven compilations, their most recent being Future Disco Vol. 7: Till The Lights Come Up. Over five years the series has held it down for retro-fitted house music with an uplifting disco edge.

Many of today's house music masters like Maceo Plex, Aeroplane, and Tensnake have made early appearances on these compilations and every track that appears on these disks is carefully re-edited and retouched to give the listener a new, and satisfying experience.

By night, Future Disco has expanded into a successful club night, making stops at Space Ibiza (co-hosted by Carl Cox's Revolution night), countless festivals stages, and even a radio show that takes place in association with AIAIAI. Recently I got the chance to chat with Future Disco's Sean Brosnan to get the inside scoop on this funky, party-starting imprint.

THUMP: Can you tell me how the idea for the Future Disco series came about?
Sean Brosnan: It was pretty simple. A new sound was emerging a few years back that was carrying a heavy disco influence, I was DJing a lot in London at the time and someone mentioned to me that I should do a compilation of this type of music—so I got to work. There was no master plan really, I just the idea to put this type of music on a CD as up to that point no one had done it.

What was your early relationship with disco music?
I'm too young to have been around for the main disco heyday in the 70s and 80s, so for me disco has always been about discovery. I found the genre through heavily disco-sampled house and then just started digging out old vinyl at markets, charity shops and represses.

Tell me about your background as a DJ and radio host.
I've been DJing for 15 years. I was lucky in that I got a residency at a major club on the South Coast and I don't think I was even 18 and legally allowed to be in there! I've been DJing ever since as a resident. It's a position I feel comfortable with—I like the idea of playing the same room or party again and again. I've been a resident at Space Ibiza on Tuesdays for the past three years. As far as radio, I just present the Future Disco show when needed. I think I'm a bit less natural in that environment but I enjoy music in all it's forms, whether it's radio, with the label, or as a DJ—it all works together for me.

What were some of the earliest tracks and artists you featured on the compilation? What were some surprise success stories of artists you have featured early on?
On the very first album I think I had Tensnake, Crazy P, Aeroplane, The Revenge, Greg Wilson, Mario Basanov, Hercules & Love Affair, Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, DJ Koze and lots more. All were relatively unknown at the time. It sounds odd to say but I expected all of them to go on to be successful. I take real care in picking the tracks that go on the compilations and I'm always looking for depth in the various productions; if I pick a track it's because I think that the producer has a real edge. With artists like Mano Le Tough, Storm Queen, Maceo Plex, its been great to see them get as big as they have gotten because when I chose to include their tracks, I was doing so purely on their musical merit, it had nothing to do with who they were at the time.

How would you describe the sound of Future Disco? What do you love most about it?
I don't really have a real description for it except that it's house music with a disco influence, and for me that's often wide-ranging. Disco has had a big influence on all types of music—it pretty much created house music, so while drum & bass wouldn't be right on the compilations, many different type of genres are often fitting.

What has been your favorite compilation you have put out thus far?
I like all of them for different reasons—they are all a little snapshot in time for me. So I have to say it's always the most recent one, you are only as good as your last one as they say.

Can you tell me a bit about the club nights you guys have hosted? What's on tap for this summer, will you be back at Space Ibiza?
We've done lots of shows all over the world. There was a point when myself and Dom Chung, who I do the nights with, were on a mission to clock up as many air miles as possible. Now we tend to focus on London, Amsterdam, Croatia and Ibiza.

This summer we will host a boat party at Unknown Festival in Croatia, a stage at Gotwood festival, more parties in London, and as far as Ibiza, expect to hear some news coming soon on the White Isle!

What's the process like for putting one of the compilations together? Are you the only one who selects what tracks will make it on the comp?
Other people in the office may suggest a track but mainly it's me going over lots of promos and releases. I just hear a track I like and then add it to the list, and slowly whittle the tracks down. It's quite a long process for me, I should probably speed it up a bit but I care so much about the end result and the overall flow of the compilation. I just want each one to be as good as the last.

Can you explain what goes on with the "Future Disco edit"? How are these tracks different when featured on the compilation versus when they would be heard elsewhere?
I actually edit most the tracks on there in some way, so you may have drums from a record sitting under another or I'll take part of a track out if it's a bit too long. If you check the unmixed disc and then listen to the original, it can often sound quite different. I started doing the full Future Disco edits a couple of years ago. I was getting tracks and loving them but wanted to rearrange them a bit, so I asked permission if I could do this and people are very gracious in letting me do my thing. I go in the studio and just do what I think would help the track work on the compilation.

Tell me about the latest installment in the series. What was the overall vision on this one?
One night this summer I was in Ibiza at Pacha and I stayed all the way until the club's close. It was around 7AM and the lights keep flashing and then finally they just stayed on. The club had thinned out by then so you have your few hundred hardcore fans there and the music just has an epic feel. This is the point where everyone has that feeling but also is pretty out of it because it is 7AM after all!

There's something about this time of night (or morning), thats feel like having to face reality. The DJ knows this is the end of the set and the security is itching to get everyone out. I wanted to try and create that feeling tracing the journey from the peak of the night when the dance floor is full to the eventual slow slide into the end of the night.

Finally, what is the last song you want to hear before the lights come up?
I always used to play Closer Musik from Kompakt—or sometimes a love song is the best way to send everyone home at the end of the night. I went through a period during a residency where I would use Rose Royce's "I Wanna Get Next To You" to close it out.

London people, be sure to check the Future Disco album launch party on March 8 @ The Basement, and pick up your copy of Future Disco Vol. 7 'Till The Lights Come Up Now!

- @DLGarber

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