Speaking to Nic Fanciulli is like chatting with an old mate.
Even if you've never met him in the flesh, a conversation with Fanciulli becomes a portal into the past. This veteran British DJ, Grammy-nominated producer, and owner of Saved Records has been around long enough — about two decades — to have seen the birth of modern dance music in the UK and its quick expansion to the United States and beyond.
This Friday, he'll return to one of his favorite cities in the world, Miami, for what must be the umpteenth time, to perform at Heart Nightclub. It will be, surprisingly, his debut appearance at Art Basel, which he's very excited to experience.
"From what I'm hearing, it's really nice," he says. "It's a really nice, educated crowd. I've always been used to coming to [Winter Music] Conference since 2000, and it's great, but I think it lost something about it. It became less about breaking in new records and music — how it was originally formed. Playing at Art Basel is a really nice mixture of people who are there to be inspired by art and coming together. A lot of people tell me that it reminds them of when they first started going to Conference."
For Fanciulli — a humble, down-to-earth guy who, despite his bank account and status, still lives in his hometown of Maidstone — there was a purity inherent in the activities and in the people who attended WMC. It should be interesting to see if his Art Basel experience lives up to his expectations, but at the moment, he's very clear on what he's searching for.
"The reason I went to Music Conference was because we didn't rely on the internet. We didn't have MP3s, really. We didn't have all this technology that we have now. We would go to rooms and get the information we needed or just track down and meet up with colleagues. Now it's become, you go there, play the big parties. It's a shame."
His last visit to the Magic City was in March for Ultra Music Festival, where he played on the über-cool Resistance Stage, a colossal metal rave spider whose abdomen held the DJ booth. Since that set, he embarked on Ultra's ensuing Resistance tour, the festival's first venture outside of its flagship Ultra brand.
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Fanciulli knows plenty about the successes and struggles of running a major festival. He actually curates his own, an event called the Social, and reunited Sasha and John Digweed this past September. The Social has made such a splash in his native UK that he was approached about taking the event to the Americas. So 2017 will see the Social groove in Colombia and Mexico.
"The thing is, there's no guidebook to running a festival. There's no blueprint. I started off in my hometown, Maidstone. We started off with small parties. Two hundred people, and then it went to 1,500 people, and then it went to 3,000, and then it was at 28,000 people. And I still don't know what I'm doing," he laughs.
Most sane folks would beg to differ. Although Nic Fanciulli says he "isn't a confident person," at this point in his career, he has the experience, the knowledge, and the people around him to do just about anything — including throw one hell of a proper dance party, which Miami, past and present, always appreciates.
Nic Fanciulli Presents We Are the Night. 10 p.m. Friday, December 2, at Heart Nightclub, 50 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets cost $13 to $35 via wantickets.com.