The Lab is our weekly office rave-up where we live stream some of the biggest and best names in dance music powered by our Void soundsystem. We're pleased to announce a special mid-week session with none other than Mike Skinner.
The man behind The Streets will soon be starting a brand new label and clubnight. Check the interview below for more details and check out his DJ skills in The Lab tomorrow from 17:00 BST below or on MixmagTV.
Going back to DJing, was it difficult for you to decide on a style to play?
It didn't feel like that much of a stretch to me. I started out learning to DJ on vinyl when I was 15. Obviously I then focused on The Streets and have come back to it ten years later. Musically I find it quite straight forward – people know me for rap and having a party, as well as the other influences in The Streets. 'Blinded By The Lights was an attempt to combine rap and dance music which is now kind of happening with the whole trap thing. So it sort of feels quite obvious that I'd be playing a bit of dubstep, trap, the odd bit of rap, house and garage.
What did you think of the recent garage revival?
I was around for garage first time round. Back then in Europe hardly anyone had heard of it – it was strictly a UK thing. Now if you look at someone like DJ EZ, he's playing in Spain, Germany and beyond. But the first time around he was playing in Watford, London, Birmingham and Manchester and that was about it. So it's great it's gone worldwide but I don't play all that much garage in my sets because there's a lot of people playing a lot old garage tunes nowadays.
Do you prefer playing festivals or clubs?
The Streets was great fun at festivals, it's probably the most fun we could have. But for DJing I prefer clubs. I find that at festivals DJs have to think about pulling people into the tent and and so you get festival tunes – basically poppier versions of what you would normally play. That's why I prefer to see DJs in clubs. And as a DJ I prefer playing clubs as well, because the crowd are sort of trapped in there. You can lay out your set and say "this is what I'm about". At festivals there's a real temptation to drop tunes like 'Strings Of Life'. And if I go see a DJ I don't want him to play 'Strings Of Life' when he probably wouldn't play it in a club. That said, I'm also not overly into chin stroking nights with nothing but with pops, whizzes and bleeps. I like something more fun, more of a party.
Do you miss The Streets though?
When you're always on tour and making an album every few years you're in a vacuum and you end up feeling removed and a little out of the loop. With DJing you have to search for and have an opinion on new music and that's half of the battle won. Actually, it has given me a renewed energy and passion for music.
There's talk of you starting a club night?
Me and Murkage are going to do a party in London and it's going to be called Tonga. It's going to be really small, to begin with probably just mates, but I'm really excited. For all the things I haven't got going for me, one thing in my favour is I've met a lot of people over the years – so I'm hoping I can get a lot of people coming down and it should be quite mad. It's going to be a very entertaining party bass night rather than a mass skunk smelling chin stroke.
Are you going to keep doing your D.O.T. project with Rob from The Music?
We're not going to be touring this year as Rob is doing a lot of song writing but we are putting out a song every two months and a video. The most recent being 'Less Than Tomorrow' with Oscar #Worldpeace
Is that a silent hashtag?
Ha! Yeah I think so...
The music videos and D.O.T. diaries are amazing....
Yeah they literally took us weeks, each one, and they're only a few minutes long.
I take it you have a production company to help you out?
Nope, I'm also a director. I just did an advert for Dr. Martins and have been directing music videos for a long time.
We've heard you're starting a new label?
Yes, the label is going to be called Mike Skinner. That's incredible imaginative isn't it? Basically, I didn't have a name and then I started filling out all these forms, having to write my name down over and over and then my wife said you should just call it Mike Skinner. So I did.
Any more plans for solo MC stuff?
I mainly wanted to be a producer when I was a kid. With The Streets I had an amazing opportunity to verbally express something that I didn't really know was in me, it sort of all just came out. But I think it's good to move on to other things: I think your unique world view can be really fresh in some other realm. For instance directing a film, or helping someone else develop their talent, which I hope to do with Oscar #Worldpeace
Now you're not on the road has your rock 'n' roll lifestyle quietened down a bit?
Rock and Roll is alive and well, trust me, the spirit of it I mean...it's just the DJs now.There are some rock bands trying to hold it down but these DJs man... they're pretty mental. I'm not going to name names....
No need.. I think we know them all *cough* Skream, Waze & Odyssey...the list goes on!