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
So how do you carry on without
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
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
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
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
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
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?
M: Would it be radically higher
M: Have you got any writing credit
V: Did you make any money?
Hahaha. They actually got no writing
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
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
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
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
So is that ‘dope drugs’, or ‘dope
beats’ or ‘dope idiots’?
(we get on to the Perfecto tour and
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 bar...one-by-one 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
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...
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
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
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.