Three years ago, Alan Dixon started taking the art of music production seriously, and since then has experienced a searing ascent in the industry. In that short time, he’s released on Defected’s beloved Glitterbox label, Permanent Vacation and True Romance – no small feat – and now, Alan has found a loving home at Gerd Janson’s Running Back imprint. On the day of his long awaited single “Acid Drop”, we caught up with the artist and try to work out how this all happened so fast.
Despite Alan’s quick ascent, he has been refining his craft on and off for the best part of 10 years, falling into the trap many emerging artists do – never believing it would lead to anything. However, once his full energy was put into it, nothing could stop him. A sea of releases on Midnight Riot and Glitterbox followed, cementing his reputation as an accomplished House and Nu-Disco producer. However, it was signing to Running Back that didn’t just accomplish a dream, but also propelled the artist to new heights. “When I started taking this seriously, I always wanted to be signed to Running Back. I’m a big fan of Gerd’s and the music the label releases is great, it’s been an upwards trajectory for me since. I got lucky though, my friend Tony owns a logistics company and had been driving Gerd for years. He played one of my songs to him in the car and he said go for it and that’s how I got signed. We haven’t looked back since.”
Last year saw the artist release his debut EP on the label – La Danza – a record that contained irresistible highs contrasted with scintillating ambient undertones. It was a release that took his name worldwide, with the lead single gaining love from some of the world’s biggest DJs. “It was weird, I had mainly done edits before that were played by bar DJs, I had never had a record that was played by the big DJs.” Alan proclaimed, “All of a sudden, I was tagged on Instagram with so many people playing it, such as Dixon, Âme, Job Jobse and DJ Tennis. It opened so many doors, I went from having a very small foot in the industry to being able to do all sorts – everyone was suddenly chasing me for remixes etc.” It was one hell of an opening statement to make on the label. Afterwards, it was clear his range of productions knew no bounds, and in some ways the vivid contrasts showcased a determination not to be pigeonholed.
Fast forward 14 months and we are at the release day of his second EP on Running Back – Piano Drop. A record that, had it not been for the worldwide lockdown, would have come out months ago. In some ways a sense of déjà vu lingers in the same way the buzz around La Danza happened post-release, only this time it’s the opposite with the pre-hype being almost overwhelming since Gerd played “Acid Drop” on his Boiler Room set 8 months ago. Ever since, the track has been nicknamed the DJ’s ‘secret weapon’. Although, the main single is indisputably a huge club hit, the rest of the EP takes on a more downbeat, ambient tone that really takes you on a journey, with the closing song “Rudy’s Spector” taking the listener on more of an emotional ride. “I like to make something balanced. I was quite conscious that after La Danza everyone contacting me wanted to have something with a huge breakdown and it be a banging hit, I didn’t want to just be known for that. In the right place and time Ambient can work just as well. The record was made for Running Back, there was nowhere else it could end up.”
Alan has been bubbling away for a little while now, you can’t help but feel he’s merely fingertips away from the international stage; Piano Drop might well be the catalyst for exactly that. “It was really kicking off earlier this year, I was getting one international booking a month and then coronavirus happened. This year would have been my best year so I’m hoping it picks back up again. It feels like something could potentially happen now, even last night I got send a message from Danny Howard saying he’d be playing “Acid Drop” on Radio 1 on Friday. That never used to happen.”
This progression will only be helped by the recent announcement of his own label – Love Attack. With the debut release coming from Man Power in November, it’s an exciting time for the artist. “The first EP will be coming out in November. The second release will be my own and then the plan will be to alternate my releases between my own label and Running Back. I’d like to release one EP a year on Running Back, as I don’t think I’m going to get much more high profile than that label. Then on Love Attack it really depends how lucky I get with the music I get sent.”
At the end of last year, Alan became a father. The night scene of dance music can pose many challenges, especially juggling a baby, but perhaps it’s no coincidence he’s produced some of his best work since. “It’s tricky, the extra time spent at home during lockdown has been a lifesaver. Working the day job and making music it wasn’t until we went into lockdown that I realised how much I’d been working, and how difficult it was. It comes as an eye opener on how to juggle things moving forward. If I can get to the stage where I’m making enough money from music and gigs, life will come a lot easier.”
Now, with endless remix requests and a release on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondent label scheduled for “November-ish”, Alan is incredibly in demand. “Again, my mate Tony hooked me up. He played it to Jennifer and then through that, a 4 track EP is coming with 2 originals with remixes from Prins Thomas and Jennifer. I’ve had requests from DJ Tennis at Life & Death, and I have 9 remix projects lined-up.”
The past few years have been a crazy ride for Alan, and it’s going to be exciting to see how this upward trajectory continues to unravel.