They might well be DJs – as well as promoters, producers and graphic designers – but the one thing you can’t say about Blah Blah Blah is that they ain’t rock’n’roll. Their four-year rise to the top of Brighton clubland – from indie electro, through fidget house to a more eclectic, melodic party sound – is littered with craziness.
“Major Lazer was the one,” admits Kris. “I got completely hammered and tried to go crowd surfing.”
The month before it had gone much more smoothly. Fake Blood was rattling through not one but six encores as the man behind the distinctive Blah Blah Blah graphics floated above the crowd, dropping off the stage and carrying on along the next section of the dancefloor. This time though, Kris had less success and accidentally kneed a girl on the devoted BBB dancefloor in the head. He was rewarded with a punch in his own head from her male companion.
“I thought, fair enough, I probably deserved that,” he admits. “And then I managed to loose Mumdance’s phone and ear plugs that he gave to me when he went crowd surfing.”
Meanwhile Diplo – one half of Major Lazer – was asking Pete V how many encores his mate Fake Blood had racked up and promising to beat the record. Digital owner Dave Stone was shaking his head, unplugging the decks but every time he did, Diplo used his laptop to flick to another channel and keep the music alive. Eventually Dave won.
“Diplo played ‘Red Red Wine’ by UB40 and it got cut off halfway through, so we took up the mantle of playing that at the end of every set,” smiles Jonny. “Although we’ve been banned from playing it in Audio now.”
As music fanatics, they run their nights from the dancefloor rather than high up in the booth.
“We don’t stand around stroking our chins,” says Pete L. “We put the night on so we’d have somewhere to play but also to have somewhere to dance.”
But the quartet behind perhaps Brighton’s favourite 4/4 club night do take things very seriously. How else could they have supported Soulwax, played Ibiza and the main room at Fabric, become residents at both Audio and Digital and put on artists like Caribou, Joy Orbison, Sinden and Julio Bashmore?
“The amount of exit flyering we’ve done!” says Pete V. “Being at home and having to go out to flyer at 2am on a Wednesday night because your night is the following Saturday is no fun.”
“We worked our asses off basically,” adds Jonny, who is now the promotions manager of Digital. “We were lucky, but we worked hard.”
But trouble does follow them around – from getting too drunk on their first birthday and forgetting to give Bobmo his ticket back to France, to the overzealous dancer at Beachdown who knocked over the decks and blew the system.
“It’s always been about the music and having a good party,” explains Jonny. “If it was about the money we would have stopped years ago. We all work full-time as well as doing this.”
It’s surprising they have enough time to do a 9-5 with all the hours that go into Blah Blah Blah. As well as DJing, promoting and running their excellent blog, they’ve also started making music. Their debut, ‘Left’, is an emotional piece of Carl Craig-like prog-tech house that’s one of our favourite pieces of music to come out of Brighton this year. It’s a masterclass in restraint that delivers a euphoric payoff after four and a half minutes, before shifting up another notch to finish.
“We literally sat there with Ableton and YouTube and learned as we made it,” says Jonny. “There were three trial tracks before that one. The thing with that one is that we all really liked it – and the support SOURCE gave us was amazing – but even afterwards we feel like there’s some way to go. It’s a starting point.”
“It’s finding the time to do it, ” says Pete L, “if only to be able to express ourselves.”
And now they’ve started a record label they’ve got a perfect place to get their tracks out. Or, it seems, not.
“If we do something that we think is good enough we’ll definitely be sending it around to gauge a natural reaction. If the natural reaction is a bit ‘nuuh’ then it won’t even be considered for the label. The first release already is really strong and the artist’s second release is even stronger. There’s no way that we’d put any of our own stuff on there if it wasn’t as good as that.”
The idea of having a record label goes all the way back to their second event, in the days when they used to always have a live act on the bill. Thanks to Kris’ prolific use of MySpace, Blah Blah Blah had a real web presence before they even had a regular night and a little band called Fenech-Soler asked if they could come to BBB for the band’s second ever gig. Jonny and Kris said on the night that if they knew how to run a label they’d sign them there and then.
“At the time we had no idea what we were doing so we didn’t,” sighs Jonny. “Damn it!”
Over the years the BBB blog grew and the quartet started to get sent more and more music they loved.
“We got sent the music by REID and it prompted us to see if we could run a label,” Jonny says of the beautiful, Four Tet-tinged electronic sunrise of ‘Genesis’, a track for your headphones not DJ sets.
“It was one of those times when you’re surprised that an artist hadn’t been signed,” says Pete V. “He was sending it to us so that we could give it away for free but it was too good for that.”
“The big difference now is that you don’t have to have vinyl,” continues Jonny. “So in terms of set-up costs, there aren’t any. But you need to have a good enough, marketable brand so that distributors will take you seriously.”
While all that takes off they’ve still got their residency at Audio’s Warehouse to look after, as well as the huge New Year’s Eve after party at Digital, an event that suits them down to the ground.
“If you go to any Blah Blah Blah night, hopefully it’s a party,” says Jonny. “We’ve never stood with our heads down, playing a progressive house set for five hours. Even if it’s techno, it’s always played in a party style.”
NEXT EVENTS: Warehouse at Audio, Sat 5th;
Blah Blah Blah NYE After Party, Digital, Sat 31st Dec
LABEL: REID ‘Genesis’ via iTunes and Beatport
WORDS BY JAMES KENDALL
PHOTO BY KENNY MC KRACKEN AT CREATE
ASSISTED BY BETH STEDDON
MAKE UP BY ANGE WATSON
THANKS TO GAVIN PEACOCK