Bugged Out promoter and former Jockey Slut editor John Burgess takes his turn in the Job Envy hot seat.
Director of Bugged Out
How long have you had the job?
Bugged Out started in November 1994
Describe a typical day
I look at my first emails on my iPhone in bed when I wake up. The small avalanche of emails begins there. I’m involved in Field Day and the Apple Cart festivals too so there’s a lot going on with them as well as Bugged Out at the moment.
A typical day can involve meetings with agents, site visits to club venues or car parks and warehouses where a lot of the London shows now seem to take place. But most often it’s the ongoing promotion of on-sale shows, ordering artwork, posting on Facebook and forever checking on ticket sales!
Highs of the job?
Seeing an event come to fruition and looking out at the crowd enjoying the night.
Do you get a chance to enjoy the events yourself?
Sure, once everyone’s in the venue and things have calmed down at the front of house then I enjoy having a dance and listening to the DJs (and drinking their riders).
Lows of the job?
Sluggish ticket sales.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career?
Club-wise rather than people, The Hacienda in Manchester – which I used to go to as a student in 1989 – probably had the biggest effect on me and propelled me down this route. It was like no other venue I had experienced before, a totally alien experience. Also Back to Basics in Leeds, which I used to go to in the early 90s (and is still going strong), as they always booked quality DJs but played up the fun, hedonistic side of clubbing, which is essential.
How did you get your job?
Bugged Out evolved out of club magazine Jockey Slut, which I was editing with Paul Benney in the mid ’90s. We started putting Jockey Slut nights on and then Sankeys in Manchester asked us if we’d host the weekly Fridays and Bugged Out was born.
We mainly put on DJs and acts we had interviewed for the magazine, like LFO and Richie Hawtin. Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers had their first ever interviews in Jockey Slut so they were regulars (the Chemicals played for Bugged Out last month, in fact!). Before that, though, I had always put nights on – as early as 13 I was running the discos in the local youth clubs around Birmingham.
When the night started to gain momentum did you imagine ending up being a full-time promoter?
No. Although I’d always promoted small parties, mainly for friends, I did consider myself a journalist first and foremost. Gradually as Bugged Out got bigger, the events side began to take over. When Jockey Slut eventually closed I focused more on the club nights – though I did carry on writing for Mixmag and the Guardian until only a couple of years ago. I still write press releases so the journalism’s come in handy!
What’s your top tip for budding club promoters?
Try and do something different. Be it choosing the name of the night, the artwork, the location, what you champion musically or how you programme a night. It’ll make you stand out from the rest of the pack.
Is it worth all the hard work?
It is when you’re on the other side of a sold out club night and the DJs and crowd have all enjoyed it.