In today’s competitive world of EDM, many DJs rely heavily on gimmicks, a professionally groomed branding strategy, and providing an entertainment experience instead of simply playing good music.
If it’s cake-throwing, costumes, and themes you seek, Prok & Fitch aren’t the guys for you. Ben Prok and James Fitch, the DJ duo from the southern seaside town of Brighton in the U.K., have emerged from local fame to performing for a global audience in the past few years.
Before godsends like Beatport, Soundcloud, and published track listings online, finding new music was a treasure hunt. The thrill of finding that perfect “no one is ever going to know what this is” track to play is what made Fitch a frequent visitor to his local record shop.
“When I used to buy vinyl, I used to have a little notepad that I would have on me all of the time, and if I was in a club and heard a record, the first thing I would do when I got home was write down in this notepad what the record was,” the DJ and producer recalls. “I had a list of things, because you never knew when stuff was going to come out. Sometimes it was months, sometimes it was weeks. You would always be on the hunt for that record.”
Fitch was brought up listening to more commercial “disco kind of stuff” and got his hands on a pair of decks as soon as he was “old enough.”
Prok was an employee at that record shop — and an underground party promoter turned DJ. He and Fitch got to chatting, Prok wanted to do some producing, and Fitch, having been a semi-successful local producer for sometime, decided to bring Prok into the studio.
While Fitch tends to veer toward the technical and is inclined to use pianos, vocals, and uplifting melodies, Prok’s M.O. is to create tracks with harder bass, faster beats, and synthesizers. In other words, the two found a perfect musical balance.
“Which is why our music gets played by a lot of different people,” Fitch says. “It’s not cheesy and it’s not commercial, but it has an edge to it. An underground DJ can play it, or a plain house DJ can play it, or in some cases, EDM DJs play it.”
About five years ago, the pair headed to the U.S. to start playing a “mixed bag of gigs.” And their biggest break came in 2016 when Curtis Jones, a.k.a. booth house and techno legend Green Velvet, requested that they write a collaboration track for his record label.
At that point, Prok & Fitch had been trying to get signed by Jones for nearly a year. By chance, they had the opportunity to play an event at which Jones was also on the bill. The in-person performance and hangout piqued Jones’ interest.
“When the opportunity arose, we were kind of pinching ourselves,” Fitch says. “He’s been a massive inspiration to us. If you would have asked us a year ago if we wanted to work with anyone who would it be, we would have said Green Velvet or Daft Punk.”
So the duo composed a track and sent it to Jones for vocals. Within 12 hours, their hit “Sheeple” was born.
“For us, it’s all about the groove,” Fitch says. “It sounds a bit cliche, but all the music that we make — it has to have a bassline or a groove that you have to really get your head into.”
They’re currently on a world tour, and plan to release a remix of Green Velvet’s “La La Land” soon. They’re also working on another Green Velvet collaboration due later this year.
“We never make the same record twice; every record is a fresh approach,” Fitch says. “I think in order to stand out, you have to have a lot of music that no one else has.”
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That work ethic has set them apart.
“After the EDM boom, people are looking for something else now,” Fitch says. “It’s a transition for people who want something a bit more serious and not so much of a jump up and down kind of thing.”
Prok & Fitch will play the Scarlet Room at Monarch Theatre on Saturday, July 1. Tickets are $15 and up through Monarch Theatre's website.