slow magazine the revolution will be photocopied

slow #5/winter 2001

Paul Oakenfold said we should speak to the Dope Smugglaz. “Ask them weird and wonderful questions because they are wonderful guys”. We managed one of them — the most convenient place for the chat being a shower in Oakey’s dressing room. We kept our clothes on while speaking to quietly-spoken/breathless dancer Chico. Not that there would be anything suspicious about three gentlemen having a shower together. No, most certainly not. Especially when there are laydeez outside shouting “Chico! I want your pyjamas! Signed! Right now!” and “Do you need some girls in there with you?” Sadly there’s just not enough room.

We hear that one of you is not actually here tonight.
Yeah, Tim.
So how do you carry on without him?
Because there’s three of us it means we can actually be in two places at one time, when you think about it. Keith and I are probably going to work more together and Tim...
... is doing the smuggling (surely they could be in three places??)
Tim’s DJing, and then we’ll come together for producing. When we go on tour next year — we’ll be doing the States — then there’ll obviously be the three of us doing it all together. Because we’ve got a residency in Home, Leicester Square, which Tim does on a Friday night...
Vincey: You’re meant to say “We have a residency at home” (Home/home joke which we used to find this very funny)
Is it? I don’t care. Listen, I’ve just been busting my ass on stage for 45 minutes. We spent five hours getting here, I had a banana, then I was on stage.

We were told by your press officer that you would talk the hind legs off a donkey.
Tim would. I can probably do it as well. What do you want to know? I’ll just prattle on.
M: We could ask him about sampling...
V: He wouldn’t know, he’s just a dancer!
Hey hey hey hey hey!
V: Well, I heard you on the Evening Session, although I missed what you do because dancing doesn’t show up on the radio... hahahaha!
That’s true. Actually, you have to look at how it began... because it began with Keith and Tim up in Leeds. And I met them when I was studying dance in Leeds and I was doing a club called Vague which involved people like Dave Beer; Nick Rafell/Rafferty who works for London Records who now does stuff like Westlife, Another Level and all those sort of people; Suzy Mason from Leeds who did Vague and now runs another successful club called Speed Queen; and a girl called Jo Jo who now does the breakfast show for Galaxy 105 covering the whole of north Yorkshire. So I met them there. Dancing is my forte, but the more and more it goes on, I’ll be starting to DJ as well; and even though I may not be DJing at this moment in time, I’ve got a very musical ear, so the boys tend to play tracks to me, and I’ll go “That one’s fine; you need to bring in that bit so it’s much clearer in terms of rhythm and stuff like that”. So I have quite a lot to do with it but it’s more in the studio.

Presumably you’ve studied dance-theatre at some point in your life?
Well, I did four years of training at contemporary dance school. I trained in choreography and teaching. We’re planning on doing a project in the near future that is going to be a pure dance sort-of thing, which is going to involve, probably, Tim and Keith, me and two other dancers. We’re not just confined to DJing, we’re actually interested in doing fashion shows, visuals and producing other people’s records. Actually all three are ugly old codgers.
M: Well I wouldn’t say that.
V: Not in the shower room.
We’re all over 30 to begin with, so it needs to be different in terms of how we work. The people involved have all been through it and we’re much clearer in our ideas.
Are you tempted to put on any dancey things more complex, in discos, stadiums?
Yeah, I’d like to. The problem with clubs is that if you’re going to do something sort-of complicated on a dance level, then you really need a set space to work in, and most clubs don’t really care and don’t have a stage area or an area you can actually perform in. Otherwise you end up on the dancefloor and it becomes... well, if I’m dancing on this level and people are (standing around). It’s a much different vibe than on stage, because you can work out how you’re going to move and what angles. So clubs, not really; but definitely eventually — yeah. If we could get really big and do some really big clubs, or maybe something in Ibiza where we could have a space, and do a whole fucking DJ show with rotating stage, dancers and fireworks... that would be fucking great to do.

Who would win in a fight between the Dope Smugglaz and the All-Seeing I?
The Dope Smugglaz. Obviously.
Is there any competition between you two to be the biggest dance band in the North?
I don’t think so. We don’t really look at the papers and go “I’m really jealous of them”. We just do our own thing. We just discuss ideas and go up — let’s try this, let’s try that. We don’t compare ourselves to anyone else.
<interruption by some bloke — "is there anyone in there having a shower?”
M: Yeah, but we’re keeping it clean.
There’s really no point in comparing yourselves with other bands at the end of the day because they probably function in a completely different way. The three of us definitely function in a different way. Because I lived in London to begin with — Tim and Keith lived up in Leeds — so I was always travelling up, and I work during that day as well. I’ve worked on the Underground for the past year-and-a-half; I teach; I did photography... I have a really busy life and I’ve had to fit everything else in. We bounce ideas off each other and won’t actually look at what anyone else is doing, so almost all our inspiration from people such as (names indistinct) — dons! We’d really like to do a version of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side or New York Conversation. (Chico sings a bit of New York Conversation)
We’ve got an album coming out in January. It’s got just one track which lasts over an hour.
It’s got lots of tracks, but it’s mixed like just one.
It’s sort of in terms of a radio station which tunes into various things. The whole thing about what we do is if people want to listen to it and they’re up for it, then they’ll usually stick with it; we tend to weed people out quite quickly. It’s a bit like what Tim does down at Home. When we play we’ll get people who’ll stay with us for the whole set, and some will go “I can’t deal with it”. The whole point of the album is to take people on this journey and hopefully they won’t get off the ride.
(we make comparisons with KLF’s Chill Out)
At the end of the day whatever you produce, you’ll always find comparisons to anything that has come before in the past 20-30 years.

M: What percentage of the royalties did Malcolm McLaren get from Double Double Dutch?
Er... that would be saying.
M: We’ll that’s the idea.
V: When the Space Raider’s sampled Kenny’s The Bump, Kenny took 90pc. Would it be higher or lower or about the same?
Can’t say.
M: Would it be radically higher or lower?
Can’t say.
M: Have you got any writing credit whatsoever?
Can’t say.
V: Did you make any money?
Can’t say.
Hahaha. They actually got no writing credit.

If people hear you and they like you, the first thing people tend to ask if they like you is “Have you got an album out?” and the way markets function, you have to have an album. You either to have one out, have one coming out, or are working on the next one — else people think “one single here, one single there”. We did Pete Tong’s show last year (Essential Mix) and we did a two-hour show and I think we’re going to use some of that as well. We don’t want to give the impression we’re just about five or six tracks. The vast majority of people have only heard The Word which is lifted from Grease and Malcolm McLaren’s Double Double Dutch and they haven’t heard anything else, so we don’t want to give the impression that we’re a covers band — although there are some great fucking singles from the 70s and 80s which no-one ever uses. But everyone uses Chaka Khan...
V: Yes Sir, I Can Boogie...
V: Can you boogie?
Yes, I think so — or is there a double meaning to that?
M: No, but there is a correct answer.

M: I must admit that when I first started hearing The Word, it got right on my tits. How much of your stuff do you reject for being too cheesy?
Quite a lot. We set it up as a joke, really, just to see how it will go. People are producing their own stuff and people aren’t really listening to it; and there’s people pick up a cheesy track and bang! — people are interested in it. The culture of people who are actually buying records — they feel it better to be safe and go for stuff you’ve already heard before, than to actually go and listen to something you haven’t listened to before. And also it’s another way of just getting your name out there to begin with. So we want people say “Dope Smugglaz, they’ve done this and they’ve done this, but also they’ve done this as well”.

Speaking of the name, do you have much trouble with Customs when you’re doing gigs abroad?
No... although actually I’ll tell you about a friend of mine was going into the States and he’d just written me a letter on the plane —it was when we went in at No 15 and went on Top of the Pops — and he was going “Oh, I saw you in Dope Smugglaz, I thought you were great on there”, then he keeps going on about Dope Smugglaz and dropping the name all through the letter. So he’s going through Customs in America — they’re really tight, and there’s the form you’ve got to fill in.
He looks really dodgy anyway, because he’s got a spike coming through (points to some bit of his head if we remember correctly) and he’s got a gold tooth. So they pulled him over and went through all his stuff, and they pulled this letter out and they started reading the letter. And the Americans tend not to get irony, so he ended up being held by Customs for like ten hours — and that was just based on the letter. But we haven’t been to the States yet. When we say to people we’re the Dope Smugglaz, at first people thought was like “What? Heroin pushers?” — they just didn’t get it. But it’s a catchy name and we really like it.
So is that ‘dope drugs’, or ‘dope beats’ or ‘dope idiots’?
Dope everything.

(we get on to the Perfecto tour and Oakey)
We just take the piss out of Oakey. I fucking love Oakey.  He’s got a great ass!
He’s a fun guy.
He’s brilliant. He’s so forward thinking in his ideas. Out of everyone that approached us, Oakey was the one.
Did you approach him to get signed?
Tim and Keith had played Creamfields or Homelands, and they were doing the VIP party at the end of it, and, as you know, if you’re doing a VIP party it’s a different kettle of fish — you’ve got all the industry people there, so people are making note of your music and what you do with it. We had the floor rocking, so that’s when Oakey booked us for a spot. It took him a while to actually sign us because we wanted to be sure we would carry on getting on with things how we wanted, as it’s all about the music at the end of the day. So with Mixmag this month it’s the first press shot you can see all three of us. Tim had a picture at Homelands wearing his carpet slippers. Before that was just a picture of three dummies upon the decks. For Double Double Dutch, we got some beer, it’s called Double Dutch Beer. It has been very interesting as to what’s happened because people have actually listened to our music or come to our gigs. It’s much more about getting people to listen to our music because the band is solid, rather than because “they look really good” or “they’re really cool to get into”.

Know any jokes?
Vincey tells a joke: a man is up in court for stealing hip hop records — the judge says it was an unsuccessful breakin’ attempt
Chico tells a joke: two shits and a wig walk into a they’re all refused service... the barman says to the wig: “I’m not serving your friends because they’re shitfaced and you’re off your head”
Matt tells a joke: what’s ET short for?
Chico: Extra testic... terrestrial.
M: No, because he’s got tiny little legs!

Anything else, boys?
Can we do a remix? We’re second-rate DJs. As you can see in the little newsletter in there (Slow #3) with an interview with us! We used to be the smallest club in Norwich. We had the people on barges dancing outside.
You’ve got to start somewhere.
They kicked us out.
The thing is there’s lots of young DJs we’ve met when travelling around. There are a lot of good DJs out there in bedrooms and clubs who aren’t even recognised. Hopefully they’ll be coming through in the future — they’re just kids. I think if you have your own style you have to forward it and stay true to yourself, and eventually people will start to get into it, because if you see the passion, it becomes electric. If Keith was just on stage tonight it would have been a good set. If I go on stage with Keith, it gets people... there’s a visual side but even if you’re not really working and just jump around, but the actual effect...
It projects...
Predominately people are out to have a good time — and if you’re having a good time too... so if you always remember that if you’re having a good time doing it, then it becomes infectious — it’s like laughter.
We’d always spend our DJ fee on champagne.
Fantastic. Fantastic.
We told our friends and we hoped it would draw them in.
When I did this club with a friend of mine — we did it on our giros at the time in London — and when we did actually make any money out of it, we just ploughed it back it. We filled up the club one night with flowers. We went to the market one night and bought tons of flowers. We bought drinks for everyone. We didn’t make a penny out of it, but it was a right laugh. And sometimes you’ve just got to do that. If you make an impression on someone who has been out for a night, even if it’s just a little impression, then they’ll always carry it around with them — “remember the time with we at this place, and this and this happened”. So, what we’re about is inspiring people to have a good time and hopefully take them on a journey — maybe make them think a bit or maybe give them a realisation about something they only know a little about.
M: So what are the chances of booking you for one of our nights?
V: We’ll pay you £30 and give you two places on the guest list. We spend a tenner on taxis and the rest on champagne.
M: But you’ll have to bring your own champagne...

Needless to say, we never called them and they never called us — maybe they're holding out for a couple of minicrunks. The offer remains though, and they're always welcome at our nightclub — as soon as we get it.


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