Monday, 10 August 2009

Buster Bennett and his fingers and his pies!

What’s your favourite colour?

What’s your favourite food?
Egg and Chips.

Red or brown?
The egg is sauce itself!

Where does the Bennett come from? And where does the Buster come from? How have they combined to form Buster Bennett?
Well I guess if we talk about the Bennett it’s more like where I’m from and where my family is from, which is to be honest all over the place. Most of my family are from Manchester but by the time I was born my family were already moving around. So I don’t see my extended family very often I see my cousin’s maybe once a year but it’s not really like a relationship. So that kind of affected me in that I quite like moving around, I like moving to cities rather than local places. I feel a bit kinda transient as I moved around schools, which is essentially moving through different social networks. Buster came about because basically my dad was gonna call me Buster when i was younger. Then my mum called me after my uncle John. So you know it was John or Jonny. But obviously I found that out when I was a bit younger and was a bit gutted because I could of had this really cool name and it’s got good alliteration between the Buster and the Bennett. So you know eventually I got a bit of money and did a bit of Google-ing and just changed it by De-poll.

So you’ve actually changed it by De-poll?Yeah so it’s on my passport and everything, I didn’t want to be flaky or anything.Now I’ve lived in Essex as well, and found it a creative black hole apart from the Arts Centre, how much has that home county shaped or driven you to your current circumstance?
Well like you said it was an inspirational vacuum there’s absolutely nothing going on there so that became an inspiration in a way. The inspiration to fuck off and leave and therefore do stuff on my own.

So it was the lack of inspiration that was your inspiration?
Yeah basically that’s right, It’s funny enough you mentioned the art centre I did go there a few times, I actually came out to my sister there when i was 15.

What happened then? Go on...
I think it was Terrorvison playing.

Oh I remember them (singing) “The aliens are coming wait for me I’m coming along.”
Sooo that’s the memory I’ve got of that place. I also went to the Colchester institute but that was shit so I skived off all the time. But I had a job in London so I had already half jumped ship.

So you’ve come to London now when was it? Where did you land?
7 years ago when I was 19, and I first moved to Bethnal Green where I still am. I was mainly looking for a job rather than socialising and as a young gay guy the other gay guys I knew where into shit stuff like Heaven and G.A.Y; I obviously hated the fuck out of it. Eventually I figured out there was an alternative gay scene and that kinda brought me into the whole Nag Nag Nag scene and then I started an electro pop group with my mate Scotty called Yr Mum Ya Dad.

So that was the start of you and the East London scene?
Yeah pretty much. When we started that I also started my first club night and that was called Club Synthia in a tiny venue called Push which was on Wardour St I think it’s called the Black Gardenia now. It had a capacity of about 70 which we never used to fill and it was a Lesbian club - so that was fantastic.

The events you do and the scene your part of can be seen to have a strong streak of Irony and counter culture, does that come from your experience in the gay scene?
Yeah probably, but if I was to define my scene I’d say it was a mixed one. I don’t really go to gay clubs. But definitely I can see it was an inspiration. I mean when I came to London, before the Nu-Rave scene and before Shoreditch really, really took off. There were only a couple of nights pushing it like Nag Nag Nag and then that tailed off a bit and became a bit of a Spanish tourist pop spot. There wasn’t many people doing the drag thing or dressing up. There was another club which I forgot to mention at the time called Cashpoint, which was kind of a major club at the time, it was quite infamous, reminiscent of Taboo or the Blitz.

I’ve only ever seen Ironic Rude Boy/girls at your rave...why don’t the real ones come?
There are some proper rude boys that do come occasionally. Like I’ve got a couple of mates that work in prison and they come down in there Reebok classics and they’re not doing it ironically. I mean I wear Reebok Classics and I’m not doing it ironically either, I actually fucking like them.

The edge of the Shoreditch scene seems to have been blunted by Byrlcreem and lolly leading many of London’s livest nights to move down the Kingsland Rd and beyond. Is this a factor of the movement that artists and inventive promoters come into run-down areas because it’s cheap, make it popular then move on? Are you guys the regeneration factor that countless governments have been searching for?
Yeah you know you’re exactly right and it’s sad that isn’t recognised. You know all the councils and the governments don’t really understand the cultural underground scene and they try to eradicate it by imposing licensing, which really does affect it - but in a way it does kind of send it out as well. We feel kinda homeless at the moment - we made Shoreditch/Hoxton our home and now they’ve moved in. All the bankers have moved in and venues have realised they can make more money from R&B nights. So we’re moving a bit out you know Hackney, Dalston. These areas are getting regenerated as well so you know it’s a good thing for them. But these creative people are always on the move so in a way that probably gives them a bit of inspiration. The problem is though; Hoxton/Shoreditch was ideal just because of the architecture it was old kinda light industrial with lots of big spaces in old Victorian warehouses. You go to Dalston and hackney and it’s a bit more residential and it’s harder to have big clubs or anything and sooner or later when that gets gentrified where you gonna go, you know?

Shall we send you North?
Yeah it would be good if there was a mass movement, a mass migration because you can’t just send a few it’s all or nothing. I think a few people have dabbled with going to other cities but it doesn’t have that gravitational pull that London has. I’ve been around the world (and I I I I can’t find my baby). I’m not saying I’ve been to every city but I haven’t experienced anywhere on the same level as London in terms of multi cultural attitudes.

You been to New York?
Yeah I’ve been. I found people more segregated in New York I think they probably got the same kinda mix in terms of multi culture I mean New York seems to be a bit more segregated in geographical areas. I know we have some areas here but it still seems a lot more mixed in London. Maybe cause it’s a little bit smaller than New York but yeah i mean i think it’s a brilliant place to be because of that reason and everyone can just get along with each other because their used to it.

Tell me about what I consider the best fucking night in London right now - Nuke Em All?

Well Nuke Em All actually came from this whole migration out of the Hoxton/Shoreditch area. Previously to Nuke I was running a night called Anti-Social which is kinda a big Nu-Ravey, multi-cultural, multi-sexuality, everything-night and that was at Bar Musical every Saturday night. After a while Bar Musical realised they’ll make more money by getting bankers in rather than kids that sneak loads of vodka in. We got ousted pretty much so we killed off the night we didn’t want to drag it through the bush backwards so to speak. After that I wanted to do something where I could go fuck you, you know Nuke the rules! That’s where the name came from; it was more about the rules and obviously a bit of tongue in cheek, apocalyptic era, beginning of the recession and all that stuff. So you know that’s why we did that and that’s why went into Images in Hackney Rd. It’s a strip club and we had a really late licence which is something that just isn’t happening in Hoxton/Shoreditch because they all shut at two. So Images in contrast has a late licence, a full nudity policy so anyone can break the rules. In Shoreditch a poster becomes a fire hazard or you put up some sort of installation and they have to take it down so can’t do simple stuff it’s like Nanny State so Nuke Em All really is the Anti Nanny State club.

Your other main night is Calling all Tribes. Are you keeping a foot-hold in Shoreditch?
Well I kinda don’t really consider The Macbeth to be in Shoreditch because it’s not in that Bankers Shoreditch it’s slightly off the beaten track. There’s not many walk by unless there actually going, so it’s kinda of fake (laughter), but we also arrange a temporary late licence because normally they only go to two but we push it to four so to make a good party out of it.

I found in Calling all Tribes and now creeping into Nuke Em All quite a young clientele so to speak. It’s a bit disconcerting and scary for me, what do you think about it?
Yeah i mean it is funny really, even before Niyi started his massive 16+ rave at the Fridge we’d noticed that the crowd was getting younger and younger. It was after the Nu-Rave thing. A kinda underage movement in a way, their all clued up these kids, like they know how to Photoshop I’D’s so I think that made it a bit easier for them to get in. I mean I don’t mind this happening my party’s are safe enough for them so I’d rather them actually be there than on the streets.

You sound like my mum...Are you the mother of this underage movement?
Yeah well that’s why when we were running Anti-Social we were called Yr Mum Ya Dad because it was kind of family theme.

Well I mean I think your nights and the scene your part of is something young people i know really identify with. I mean there putting on their own raves now like UTR Commando Rave and The U.K’s Result Festival 09’, which seem to take the soundtrack mostly from Nuke and other similar parties. So mummy, are you proud?
Yeah I think the underage movement is a positive thing, just for them to be involved and doing something creative as well as actually living there lives rather than sitting behind a Playstation, you know i think is far more interesting.

I think one of the most noticeable things about you are your make them yourself, why?
Well when i first moved to London actually I didn’t really know what to do job wise i was a bit lost originally i wanted to be an artist but I became disillusioned with it.

How come?
I just found it obsolete I don’t think it made any kinda difference in society.

Was it because you couldn’t make any lolly from it?
No because I think you could if you play the game right. I just felt it was a bit hollow i didn’t feel it was much of an achievement. So I thought about other things I could do and one thing I dabbled in was t-shirts and graphic design. I had a company called Killpop where I used to make my own t-shirts using a little stall in Camden Market to peddle them it became my first little business. It was like a shed practically but I had my own range and it was cool for a while. Only I wasn’t making any money in fact I was losing money so in the end I had to close. I had made some quite fundamental mistakes the main one being too small a range. But like i had fuck all money and I’m quite surprised looking back that i actually pulled it off for as long as I did. I’m quite proud I did that it gave me confidence to go and do other things. So I’ve always been interested in fashion and clothes and stuff and a lot of the people that come to my clubs are fashion designers so it’s a massive part of what I do. So yeah I like to have a nice little outfit I don’t really like shopping in topman or anything like that unless I’m buying something basic.

Like the Black polo shirt you’re wearing perhaps?
Yeah yeah (laughter)

So where do you shop Buster Bennett?
Well all the sceney kids in London shop in KTT on Greek St, but there’s a new one called Digitaria which is a bit pricey but it’s a good one on Berwick St.

Yeah occasionally I’ve got a pearly king jacket which i made and i got the jacket in a retro shop.

Have you ever seen a Pearly King or Queen?
Yeah I met them, I emailed them and everything because I thought about becoming one seriously but it’s a bit of a commitment at the moment.

Would you be a pearly Queen or Pearly King?
Pearly King or hmmm..Actually a Pearly Burka! I think the clothing is all about creating things rather than been handed them on a plate. I mean everyone knows that all these High St shops pick a designer then rinse their ideas, then water it down. I don’t want to be seen in watered down ideas I want the fresh stuff

You have also started a D.J school called 808 D.J Academy, now for some reason it reminds me of a Channel four show faking it. What is it and can you really teach anyone to mix and not clang In just a six hour course?
Yeah I totally can, I’ve got amazing students that have already graduated and we’ve only been running it for six months.

Have you given your students slots in your Events?
Yeah I have in fact I put on a regular event called Carni-Mash Up and they have sets there. I mean there just as good as the other D.J’s I mean most D.J’s are a bit arrogant and they don’t like being thought anything so they just teach themselves. So a lot of them are actually quite bad. If you’re just thought the basic principles behind it you can actually learn to D.J quite quickly but you have to have a good tutor like me someone with a bit of patience. And with all those components you can do it really quick; basically you’ll go from beginner to expert in 8 hours.

Is that cheapening the skill of D.J’in?
No its not, why would it be cheapening the skill?

Well I mean a lot of people spend a couple of years learning how to mix in their bedroom.
Yeah well there stupid aren’t they, take some lessons and it will be a lot quicker!

Hahaha...So what lies ahead for Buster Bennett?
Well there’s loads of stuff, I’ve always wanted to make more music, I’ve always made music with other people producing it on my behalf. Your Mum Your Dad for instance did an E.P with Jim Warboy we also did tracks with people like Niyi. I’ve done tracks with Crazy Girl and I also did an E.P with Frank Music. But yeah I’d like to produce my own stuff so eventually I’d like to move on to that and eventually I’d like to start my own record label and as someone who runs events I really need to have my own venue so I can make the rules.

No it’s not domination because I don’t want to push everyone out of the equation.

So you’re bringing people with you?
Yeah that’s true actually if you look at the club nights. For example Alex Sedano is a massively talented graphic designer who we’ve put on a pedestal at Nuke and his now getting international gigs at huge festivals.

Well finally my last question is what’s the next big event that’s gonna Nuke us all away?
We are planning a warehouse party pretty soon.

Plug it for me then?
No i can’t yet don’t have the venue confirmed.

Oh alright well when is aimed for?
We’re aiming for Halloween because it will be our second birthday.

And what’s your theme?
Well it’s Nuke Em All so it will be apocalyptic.

So we’re talking an Apocalyptic Halloween...Like Nuke victims...Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Yeah I think so probably.

Hahaha..Great, well just to say thank you so much for the Interview Buster.
That’s alright Darragh.

Photography by Neemo Bawany
Words by Darragh O'Meachair

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