Working Weekends: Ryan Elliott - Artists - Mixmag

Working Weekends: Ryan Elliott

He's a must-see DJ, but Ryan Elliott’s former life as an office drone might just be the key to his success

  • Words: Nicolas Stecher | Images: Juliana Bernstein
  • 28 January 2016
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The promoters of Fine Time have chosen a unique location for the latest edition of their roving club night. Located just a block south of Hollywood Boulevard and around the corner from the Henry Fonda Theater, Sisterhood is a women's clinic that, this evening, has been converted into a laboratory for interdimensional beats. Its high ceiling and stiff, cheap whisky drinks make for a perfect after-hours venue, even if the clinical white walls and single bathroom really don't.

Under the exposed pipework, Elliot performs the sort of high-precision mixing that's almost clockwork, a careful calibration of rhythm and digital tone. From the haunting chants of 'This Is How' by Yotam Avni and the vocal tech-house of Onionz' remix of Taka Boom's 'Groove Like That' to Mood II Swing's 'The Slippery Track', the relentless thrust of Kid Sublime's 'The Loop' and King Cheetah's 'Water Maze', there's one constant throughout his set: a driving four-to-the-floor heartbeat that's so hot it helps the converted clinic melt the window frost forming outside. When Elliott finally slips on Underworld's 'Dark And Long' and sends the whole crowd into a sustained eight-minute climax, everyone in the room knows they've just experienced something special.

With Detroit his city of birth and Berlin listed as his current residence, Elliott's techno credentials are stamped in cement and impenetrable to critique. But more than anything else, it's his monthly residence at legendary German nightclub Berghain that's augmented his reputation. Recent sets at Holland's Awakenings festival and countless DC10 shows in Ibiza this summer alongside DJs like Claude VonStroke, meanwhile, have only helped to boost Elliott's global reach.

"Each month of my residency, at Panoramabar or Berghain, more people are coming out saying they came to see me. I play every weekend now, and the quality of shows has gone up. That's the kind of thing that shows me that people want to hear me as a DJ," Elliott explains after stamping out a cigarette, about to bid farewell. "Look, it's not brain surgery. I don't want to discount what we do, but it's very instinctive. You do the hard part during the week – this should be the fun part."

Ryan plays in London on January 30 and Australia on February 28–March 1

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