WRDM38 - What is THEM?

Have you ever heard of THEM? I have. THEM is a proper cool dance thing run by a couple of dance lads who love dance music, dance clubs, dance DJs and dancing in dark dancey nightclubs with people who can't stop fucking dancing once they've got a pill or two down them. I love dance music, dance clubs and DJs so I thought I'd best track down Jack and Oli THEM before the fuckers at RA Exchange get hold of them.

I spent about forty minutes scouring the the internet for contact details (there are about seven million other music outfits in the world called Them) before remembering that my very dear friend only does the fucking public relations for them (THEM)! She handed over the information I needed before I could say the words, 'scratch my back'.

Jack agreed to spend £586.80 on a Polycom IP6000 SIP conference phone because I refused to travel east for almost an hour on the tube from Northolt. After getting the IT department at THEM to install and configure the phone, Jack and Oli spoke confidently into their microphones whilst I shot-gunned question after question after question after question after question after question after question at them over a crystal-clear line, a benefit of Polycom's patented Acoustic Clarity Technology.


Q. For anyone unfamiliar with THEM, could you let THEM know who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A. Jack - THEM started as a club night in London with a broad but dark music policy and affinity with horror movies which would feature on its flyers and in its visuals. Over the years we have moved through different phases musically and since 2012 we have leant more than ever towards a techno sound. Soon after the sound was getting honed, long held plans to evolve into a record label started to take shape, and we have just had our first release, by the very talented Japanese producer Hiroaki Iizuka.

Q. Who are your direct rivals and what weaponry will you employ to keep them at bay?
A. Oli - This sounds to me like you are trying to start beef. You having trouble generating traffic?

Q. What's the best party you've ever thrown and why?
A. Jack - Music wise, I have so many highlights, I couldn’t call one party. Actress, Perc, Rustie, Demdike Stare, Untold, Lone AMUS, Shifted, Redshape, Truss, Remarc these have been some of the highlights but by no means the only ones. We only put on people that we know are going to pull out something special. If I had to go by atmosphere I would say any of the last three birthdays.

Oli - Its a dead tie between the THEM 3rd and 5th Birthdays. The highlight at the third was Rustie, it was just after he had put out Glass Swords and had won the Guardian album of the year album award a couple of days beforehand, the place was buzzing and he delivered! The 5th was Perc’s album launch, and the line up across the board was amazing - the crowd was perfect, a great variety of people and the feedback about the crowd specifically was immense, I think because people were all really into it.

Q. Have you ever had Ricardo Villalobos play at THEM? If not, is he someone you'll be booking in the future?
A. Jack - He’s way too small for us TBH, I’d be concerned about his draw.

Oli - Me and Rick used to go to school together actually, I’m sure he’s game.

Q. The artwork you do for all them THEM flyers and records are proper fucking scary. Why are you trying to scare clubbers?
A. Jack - when I was a kid when I snuck down to watch The Shining in the dark when my parents were asleep and that experience was intense enough to etch itself on my brain. That started a long obsession with horror, and somehow feelings of dread and gore are bound up with me with really nasty club tunes. The artworks actually started pretty tame and jokey, but for a while I took over the design and tried to get them as freaky as possible, which has kind of stuck even as new artists take up our design. As our music policy veered towards darker sounds of recent, this felt right to continue with.

Oli - I also had quite a scarring experience with The Shining. It scared the shit out of me but I was drawn in, I think thats why Scary images work as flyers - Horror movie images in general are freaky but they are also intriguing - we are drawn in. I wouldn’t say the flyers are so scary, but catching an unsuspected glimpse of some of the visuals we’ve played at the nights with a head full of disco biscuits may be.

Q. At House of God in Birmingham, you can buy poppers behind the bar with your pint of lager. Is THEM pro or anti poppers on the dance floor?
A. Jack - I’m all for it. I don’t partake personally but THEM was pretty much the last club event in London that had a nitrous oxide bar to my knowledge. It was at a venue I won’t name but who had not received the memo about its criminalisation. I’m teetotal myself but have not always been so and so can't criticise drug use.

Oli - For. Anything that makes my arsehole loose enough for the long haul techno thrusts is a plus.

Q. What is THEM going to be doing between now and Christmas?
A. Jack - We have one more release before christmas, THEM002 and perhaps some teasers for THEM003 too. Stay tuned.

Oli - Also this year we’re hosting a room at Plex’s annual three room takeover alongside BleeD at Corsica Studios. The line up in our room is mainly made up of artists that have become involved in THEM as a label, which is really exciting and feels right for where we are at now. Plex and Bleed’s rooms are major too. Its on November 7th and is sure to be a great one.


What a lovely couple of young men! I'll be sharing a bottle of Liquid Gold with Oli THEM on the 7th November down Corsica Studios and telling him how great his record label and club night is whilst massaging the back of his head in a friendly, slightly homoerotic fashion as he tells me how amazing the Weekly Review of Dance Music is whilst rolling his jaw around his face and offering me sips of water every two minutes.

Join us but buy tickets first: Plex / Bleed / Them - PBT at Corsica Studios

I'll also be purchasing The Run by Hiroaki Iizuka every day until the release of THEM002. You should too.

- Why, Tonka?
- Because it's a terrific song.

I'll be back next Tuesday with either another Peer to Peer, another MASSIVE QUESTIONS, a hard-hitting exposé on the disgraceful scenes behind the disgraceful scenes at Juno or yet another swampy WRDM post about hard house, ecstasy E tablets and Tony De Vit.

Check out the collection of Tonka's Week pieces on Ransom Note. There, you'll find a year's worth of beauty. Tens of thousands of words, lovingly crafted and considered, presented in the form of an article. Tonka's Week gets poured out of me every fucking week for the love of it, etc etc. I might not be around this Friday so just read every single article I've written since last September and recognise my brilliance.

Until next time, dance fans.

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R.I.P. Derren Smart.

Peer to Peer with JOE MUGGS

Peer to Peer is a brand new interview series on the Weekly Review of Dance Music where I chat with writers in the music industry who are all very much on my level. I'll be knocking about with the great and the good dance documenters in much the same way as Elvis Presley might have had a drink with Muhammad Ali, or The Beatles might have shared a recording studio with Pablo Picasso. Know what I mean?

On Saturday morning, I lounged around smugly in the foyer of The Connaught with one of the worlds best dance music writers and shared more than three bottles of Veuve Cliquot yellow label posh booze, several bags of prawn cocktail crisps and one really long conversation. If you've bought a copy of Mi**ag or the Guardian Guide in the last few years, or read any online dance music magazine you'll be aware of the name, Joe Muggs. If you still haven't got a fucking clue who he is, go straight to the first question and find out. He's up there with the likes of me, Philip Sherburne, Thomas Cox and Kristan J Caryl at the very top of a very small mound of very good international music writers.

What is this not? Peer to Peer is not a cynical plan for me to associate myself, and WRDM, with more established and critically acclaimed writers with a view to securing PAID work with larger organisations and selling myself down the canal; it is simply an educational tool and a reference for all of my younger readers who are looking to get into music journalism. Peer to Peer is a bit like the RA Exchanges, but without the brown-nosing. Read on and think on, kids.

Here is the transcript of our conversation, transcribed by Joe's personal assistant, Pauline.


Q. For anyone unfamiliar with the name Joe Muggs, could you tell them who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A. I'm Joe, I'm 40, I listen to brostep in the kitchen while eating crisps, because I haven't really grown up.

Q. Was establishing yourself as a music journalist really hard or easy peasy?
A. It was really, really hard. Even after I'd started getting regular jobs for national papers I still had a part-time day-job at a GP surgery for several years - so I'd be flown to New York to interview Sean Paul or Vienna to spend three days hanging out with Basement Jaxx, then the next day I'd be on the phone to a district nurse about an OAP's louse infestation. Gave me a sense of perspective I suppose.

Q. At the moment, I feel like the Mad Rapper in Life After Death compared to a few other certain dance writers. How long did you feel like the Mad Rapper before you stopped being bitter and started working harder to get recognised for your writing genius?
A. Actually, because I didn't start taking journalism seriously until I was about 30, I've always felt pretty fortunate to get ANY work when I was surrounded by people who'd been hustling away and honing their skills from the age of 16.

Q. You write for loads of different on and offline magazines and papers now. Who's cock/pussy are you sucking/licking for you to have so much work coming your way?
A. Standard Faustian pact. I'm going to be George Osborne's helmet polisher in hell for all eternity.

Q. Clap or snare?
A. v v v v v v v

Q. How did you come up with the moniker, Joe Muggs, as a writing name? Did you ever toy with prefixing your name with initials, like a proper writer, or suffixing it with something more exciting and futuristic like Da Word Masha (Joe Da Word Masha) or Da Sentence Freak (Joe Da Sentence Freak)?
A. Rather prosaically, I was performing at a spoken word event many years ago, and the promoter found "Mugford" too long for his poster, so shortened it, and it stuck. Only later did I discover that I was now a chain of coffee shops in book stores in America. I do have some other aliases though - you may have seen my work published here and there as 'Caitlin Moran' or 'Simon Reynolds'.

Q. Talk me through your working process, from a practical level. How do you write your articles? Are you an all day note maker like me or do you dedicate blocks of time to whatever you're working on and plough through? Or are your methods secret?
A. I spend all day acting a berk on Facebook, and then write everything in double quick flurries of panic.

Q. What equipment do you use for your work? (E.g. I use an Apple iPad2 and my Nokia 100 mobile phone for notes before transferring to my black Samsung laptop for completion in Microsoft Word. All artwork is done using Google Images, YouTube, Snipping Tool and Microsoft Paint.)
A. I record interviews on my iPhone, then type everything on my Macbook Air which is covered in smudges and banana-scented scratch-and-sniff monkey stickers which the kids put on, and has the "r" and "fn" keys falling off. I never meant to be a Mac geek but the distribution company I do A&R for bought me a computer in lieu of a raise one year, and then I succumbed to getting an iPhone because "they work well together". And I use GIMP to draw think-bubbles onto photos of Kanye West.

Q. I was on a panel of speakers at this year’s LEME discussing the future of music journalism. I embarrassed myself by being drunk, zoning out half way through, not being funny and not being able to articulate myself in any way compared to the other people on the panel. What is the future of music journalism?
A. I have done much the same. I would like to think it's theartsdesk.com - a co-operative of specialist journalists, trusting one another to represent their particular specialism to its best advantage. I strongly suspect that if paid journalism in any specialist fields is going to survive at all, it'll be through some kind of enlightened corporate patronage - Red Bull and Bandcamp being good examples of people who are sponsoring good and more-or-less independent music writing - but honestly: fuck knows.

Q. Nine times out of ten, the DJ will look incredibly serious in press photographs whilst their personality off camera is usually properly fucking ecstatic about life. Are the media demands for moody looking DJs appropriate given that the DJs and the people who actually go to clubs get high, play/listen to their favourite music and have some of the happiest times of their lives? Know what I mean? We're not talking grunge or emo. It's fucking dance music.
A. So you'd prefer magazines full of Fatboy Slim then?

Fatboy Slim, enjoying his job.

Q. Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A. Well, my wife and I did once invent a cocktail called The Peckham Nosedive: 50ml cornershop vodka and 50ml Benylin, stirred well, over ice.

Q. As a professional writer, do you see yourself sticking around music or do you have ambitions to progress in other fields? If so, what fields are open to you?
A. Oh I'm in it for the long haul, but as I get the leeway to be more indulgent, I'll inevitably cross over more into other arts, I'm very interested in culture/tech/science crossover, and I'm definitely up for doing more on broader social context for music & subculture as in this podcast I did with a friend: unevenlydistributed.net/joe-muggs 

Q. Me aside, what other writers are you into at the moment?
A. Always love reading David Toop and Philip Sherburne, been greatly enjoying Lauren Laverne's insight and turn of phrase recently, and I do like Alex Macpherson: I disagree with him as often as I agree but I love his singular voice and sometimes bloody-minded sticking to his guns.

Q. What advice would you give to any young readers of WRDM who are looking to get into music journalism?
A. Well other than the obvious "have a day job" - pay very, very close attention to how your work is corrected by editors. That's the only way you really learn. If you're lucky you'll find an editor who will dissect your work giving you very detailed notes on what works and what doesn't, which bits are not suited to the publication's house style etc. I had this with Andrew Harrison at Word and Mixmag, and it was probably the most valuable single contribution anyone's ever made to my ability to earn in the long term.

Matthew Wilcock, crossing the Mersey.

Q. Is there anything you'd like to plug on here?
A. I'm managing a couple of guys:

Jabru, who did this beautiful song soundcloud/k7-records/church has a track on JD Twitch's Bucky Skank label boomkat.com/jd-twitch-d-jah-clark-jabru and did this outrageously great DJ mix soundcloud.com/ninja-tune/solid-steel-radio-show

Matthew Wilcock who's an outrageously talented sound designer, now making glitchy beats and deep ambient stuff:

And here's some of my DJ mixes:


What a lovely young man! Please join me in wishing Joe Muggs all the very best for all of his future endeavours and, if you have a heart, get behind the two lads he's managing these days.

FYI: Joe will be playing a DJ set of ambient filth, fambient dub, dreampop, droning chill, sub-industrial hip-hop-electro and the deepest ever house at the Ace Hotel on Tuesday 21 October. Lads, it's supposed to be brimming with European model type birds down there so DIARISE it, stock up on Lynx Africa and go along: acehotel.com/lobby-tuesday-joe-muggs 

NEWS JUST IN: Joe Muggs is also playing some tunes at The Ace Hotel next Tuesday (23 September and all). He must have a monthly residency or something.

In a fortnight, Peer to Peer with Julie Birchill will see her answering the questions: 'why haven't there ever been any good lady guitarists' and 'if someone had a gun to your head and you HAD to suck off one of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony whilst the other four members take turns to smash your back doors in, which one would it be and why?'

Stay tuned...

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Some More Brilliant Hilarious Lookalikes

Fuck me, here's some more Hilarious Lookalikes! LOLoutLOUD. If there's one thing that makes me laugh more than anything else in the world, it's looking at people who look like other people. LOL. Honestly, I'm fucking cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West as I write this because I'm thinking about the second lookalike in the list that I'm about to present to you. PISSMSL!

Here's one that will make you laugh though:

Can you imagine if that bloke out of The White Stripes soundalikes, The Black Keys, went on Pointless? I'd tune in and watch it if only to see what it would look like to see the bloke out of Pointless stood next to the one off of The Black Keys who looks just like him! Hahahahaha.

This is the best one. Check this out here:

Michael McDonald was a singer in the eighties who specialised in singing songs that were used in colourful,eighties beach films in America. Whenever people talk about DJ Falcon they always mention Daft Punk in the same sentence. See, even I just did so then. I'll tell you what though, you're more likely to see Daft Punk supporting Dave Clarke down Atomic Jam in Birmingham on Friday 14 November than you are seeing DJ Falcon doing a vocal French Touch electro duet with Michael McDonald in a 1980s Brat Pack film about misunderstood students in Miami. They don't half look a like though! ASL!!!

A joke a day keeps the gloom at bay, that's what I always say. So, you'll forgive me for laughing my eyes out at this next lookalike. LOL.

Get yourself down Thunder on Friday night for their 3rd birthday. Guess who's playing? Only Paul Trueman out of Eastenders!!! ROFLOFL. Only joking, it's 'dope Marcellus Pittman, a member of the 3 Chairs supergroup' (not my words, the words of The Guardian Guide who have chosen Thunder's 3rd birthday as the Pick of the Week. I'm very dear friends of the bloke who runs Thunder so this lookalike also acts as a plug for his night - BUY tickets for this event here: rsn-tickets.com/thunder unless it's sold out. In that case, get down the Dance Tunnel early doors).

I think Marcellus Pittman looks a bit like Paul Trueman. Get well soon, Patrick (Paul's dad). FOFL!

Getting topical on this next one! Look:

Guess who's got a new album coming out soon that everyone won't stop BANGING on about? Rob Da Bank? No, mate. He's too busy with his Bestival Festival to worry about knocking out glitch trax and sub-reversal ambient hoover breaks for people who are now pretending to have been into Aphex Twin since day one. It's Aphex Twin who's got a new album out but I'm sure Rob Da Bank won't mind if everyone in music journalism gets their tongues stuck up his arsehole by mistake. He don't half look like Aphex Twin so I bet he's rubbing his hands together right now! Can you imagine having EVERYONE wanting to rim you for releasing some tunes you've sat on for ages that might have been relevant about ten or fifteen years ago? Must be fucking brilliant. Fill your boots, Rob ;-) ;-) ;-)

Actually, Kristan J Caryl off of Teshno and Resident Advisor looks a bit like Aphex Twin and all so, Kristan, get yourself out on the town - any over 30s night will do - and tell the birds that you're Aphex Twin. You'll be guaranteed at least a rim. Winking smiley face.

Look at this one now:

If you squint really hard and quickly shake your head from side to side, minimal house and minimal techno DJ babe Magda looks a bit like Billy Casper off of Kes! Doesn't she? It's funny because I actually think that Magda is properly fucking fit...but in Hilarious Lookalikes nobody is off the hook! LOLoutLOUD. Look at her! LOL. She looks a bit like Billy Casper!!!! Just keep squinting and tha'll see it too, thee will tha know.

That was all dead funny, wasn't it? But, I'm afraid that's all I've got time for on the Weekly Review of Dance Music tonight. Next week, Anne Savage will be answering my MASSIVE QUESTIONS so until then, keep refreshing this page until the post appears. Keep refreshing the page and continue to share WRDM around the internet like sweets in a shop full of hungry children. My moral levels are low, WRDM ratings are even lower and I need YOU to help me spread the Truth.

TOP TIP: last week's Tonka's Week on Ransom Note was a cracker, so have a look at that and all. Proper filthy: theransomnote/tonkas-week

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