With a series of best-selling ‘Prototype’ mix CDs under his belt, four years on Radio 1’s legendary Saturday night slot, the first to be resident at both Cream and Ministry of Sound, and had an ongoing monthly New York gig as well as currently running one of London’s best club nights, Seb Fontaine clearly belongs among the elite of international DJ’s. But elitism is not in Seb Fontaine’s vocabulary. In fact, you could argue that the reason the 34 year old Londoner has come so far (apart from excellent taste in music and deft spinning skills, of course) is by nature of his affability, modesty and sense of perspective. “Watching plastic go round,” is how he describes the DJ’s job, but Seb feels strongly that if the DJ’s separate themselves from clubbers – how can they understand what they want – it becomes difficult to be a part of what they experience.
Seb has been a ‘part of it’ for 16 years now. His career choice may not seem surprising when you allow that he was conceived on the island of Ibiza, to a French restaurateur and a sojourning English woman. But the boy they christened Jean Sebastian Fontaine claims that he never decided to be a DJ. Born and raised in west London, his heroes were Chelsea Football Club (his son’s middle name is Stamford) and the bands of the 2-Tone label. To this day, he claims that if he could swap being a DJ now to be in Madness, he would.
That opportunity never arose. Instead, a teenage Seb talked his way into a gig at Hammersmith Town Hall on the lie that he’d already DJ’d “loads of times,” after which he landed a regular slot at Crazy Larry’s on the Kings Road where, like many of his peers, he played old soul and funk alongside new American hip-hop. From there it was onto The Fridge in Brixton, and The Wag in Soho, along with the occasional warehouse party. As the British rave scene exploded toward the end of the 80s, Seb was at all the clubs, but tucked away in the back rooms, still playing rap. His epiphany? One day walking into the ‘main room’ and hearing A Guy Called Gerald’s ‘Voodoo Ray’ and thinking, “What the hell is this record? It’s unbelievable.”
He also noted the difference in audience, UK hip-hop hit a moody stage, with crews of guys hugging the walls instead of dancing. Seb found he spent more time in the ‘house room’ where there’d be girls dancing on the speakers and semi-naked people swinging from the chandeliers. And he thought, “This is where I want to be, I want to be here.'”