The DIY nature of electronic music can often lend itself to artists becoming accidental ‘entrepreneurs’. From starting out playing records as a hobby, those with enough fire in their belly can soon organically forge a multi-skilled career by managing bookings, learning the ropes of social media, owning labels, promoting gigs, writing articles and more.
A perfect example of this is with Bobby. who has been gently bubbling in the underground scene for many years, earning his stripes through a long stint of working on Ralph Lawson’s label, 20/20 Vision Recordings. Now, when he’s not involved in projects such as Houghton, his days are split between running two labels, including a not-for-profit collective, holding down his own Pleasure Club night at the Lion and Lamb, and this year he was named one of the newest Fabric residents too..
This November, part of Bobby.’s busy calendar includes a trip to Nottingham as local night The Waves have invited him to spin some tunes at Rough Trade, which promises to be transformed into a sensory raver’s delight full of visual surprises to go alongside the musical treats. We got the lowdown with the headliner ahead of the intimate show.
You have your fingers in quite a few pies so let’s start with your DJing - you’re known for your Lion and Lamb Pleasure Club parties in London and you’re now also a Fabric resident. Do you prefer small rooms / venues or slightly larger spaces, or do you think they both have different places in the world of dance music?
I enjoy all experiences but it is easier to connect with the crowd in smaller venues. As the capacity increases it becomes difficult to know how everyone is feeling. There is something magical about a small room and a good sound system.
Do you play differently at Pleasure Club nights compared to Fabric residencies, then your other bookings elsewhere?
At the moment I’m finding myself in lots of very different situations as a DJ. It’s challenging but it’s a good learning curve. Warming up in Room 1 of fabric and closing a Pleasure Club party at the Lion & Lamb are different beasts. Not only musically but also sonically. This inevitably changes the way I play but it’s all coming from the same bag of records.
Moral of the story: chuck yourself in at the deep end and learn to swim...
You are also heavily involved in the production of Houghton - how did that relationship begin?
Like everyone I was totally blown away by the festival at the first year. It had a massive impact on me. After that experience I wanted to get involved and help the cause in any way I could. The team behind it are close friends of mine, it’s like a family really. This year was an unexpected twist in the story of Houghton festival, but we are looking forward to coming back stronger than ever next year.
What type of things had you been up to before the labels, residencies and parties kicked off - where did your musical education begin and what made you decide to dive headfirst into it?
Music was always a big part of my life. I was always in bands through school and generally always making noise. I was then lucky enough to land a job as label manager of 20/20 Vision Recordings. This was an amazing experience and one I’ll be forever grateful for. Learning to run a label with that kind of history with no experience was tough but so rewarding. That gave me the confidence and knowledge to run my own labels. Moral of the story: chuck yourself in at the deep end and learn to swim...
This November isn’t your first time in Nottingham is it? What were your thoughts of our city when you came down for Wigflex festival? Lots of local gangs (including Waves) had a set which was ace.
This will be my first time playing (in Nottingham) aside from at Wigfest yes. I absolutely loved the festival. I have a lot of really good friends from Nottingham and that was my first time visiting their fine city. They gave me the full tour and I felt very at home the whole time I was there. I believe from that weekend they now refer to me as “Honourary Notts”. I’m pretty sure I was from Nottingham in a past life...
What was it like to be involved in the festival in its first year - reckon you’ll be back for 2020?
It felt like a very special event. Not only for Wigflex but for the city. There was a real sense of community spirit in the air, and also a sense that this was an important thing for Nottingham. The city needed it. On that note - shout out to the Wigflex crew, they totally smashed it.
I’m always trying to find weird and wonderful sounds which can work in the club and spin people’s heads out just the right amount. “Weird with a smile” is the middle ground I’m always trying to nail.
You launched a not-for-profit label, Needs, in ‘17, raising money for Mind, hosting coinciding events and “encouraging positive discussions in dance music” which has covered everything from mental health to equality for women in the industry. Do you think dance music culture is well-geared towards having conversations like that?
I think dance music culture is an extremely fertile ground for liberal conversations. It (the culture) essentially comes from social minorities dancing in dark rooms to forget about the world and their persecution. There’s a natural sense of community which runs through the history of our scene, and so positive conversations about equality will always thrive in this environment.
You also have EPs out on Trouble Maker label, ran by Notts local Adam Curtain, with one of them having a Craig Richards remix too. What sounds do you go for when producing and does it differ to your DJ sets?
I love making music. It’s always been my happy place. I’m always trying to find weird and wonderful sounds which can work in the club and spin people’s heads out just the right amount. “Weird with a smile” is the middle ground I’m always trying to nail. And I guess this is the same as my Dj sets.
In your opinion, what makes a party ‘proper’?
Can you send us over three tracks to show us why we’d be mad to miss your gig, for those who aren’t sure...
N-Gynn - Low Frequency Overload (Pleasure Club)
Al Wootton - Body Healthy (TRULE)
Kosh - Endless Quest (Eudemonia)
The Waves, with Bobby. with support from Louis Knight, Blason, Amun&Ali takes place on Saturday 9th November at Rough Trade Nottingham.