Warming up the crowds two or three nights a week for Bugged Out, Lemmy Ashton talks us through life as a resident DJ.
Place of work?
Resident DJ (plus producer and promoter).
How long have you had the job?
Just over two years. Before Bugged Out I was DJing around east London at XOYO and other parties, either warming up or playing later in the night at smaller venues. I ran a night at Catch called DKHDS from 2009 to 2010, and played at Snap, Crackle & Pop nights and places like the Old Blue Last.
What does a typical day involve?
Wake up, check emails (doesn’t everyone?), check ticket sales and make a to-do list for the day. I do some work in the office for Bugged Out, but in terms of the DJing it’s mainly about finding music. When searching for new music I always find better and more consistently amazing music in record shops rather than online. I feel like there’s more quality control when buying records rather than digital – someone has invested in producing, manufacturing and distributing something they believe in, so I’m more likely to take a chance on it, rather than constantly clicking through charts and ‘recently released’ playlists on Beatport.
I also spend a lot of time ripping said records and keeping on top of music organisation. It’s important to know where your music is and to compile it quickly when needed.
Highs of the job?
Playing music you believe in regularly two or three times a week. It’s a position of privilege to be able to rely on it as a job. Warming up spaces and clubs you know and love, it’s a much-repeated statement, but taking a room from empty to almost fit to burst is something really special.
A good resident needs to be calm, trust their own selection and have deep musical knowledge. I don’t know if I could name an all-time favourite, but of currently active residents, Gerd Janson at Robert-Johnson and Ian Bogg of Asbo and Stealth are my favourites.
As a general rule, if you can’t adapt your sound to the headliner, you shouldn’t be a resident. There’s a time and place to showcase your style and who you are, but when you’ve been given a job and people have paid money to see someone, you can’t ruin their experience. You’re supposed to complement the night, not be the night. No headline DJ is going to be pleased that you’ve ‘smashed it’ and they won’t be pleased if there isn’t a vibe, so you’ve got to find your middle ground and work it. That usually means sticking to below 115bpm and obviously never playing a headliner’s tracks. Just remember that you’re not the reason why people are there. You’re just there to make their night better.
Lows of the job?
The only real low is that being the resident means you’re at risk of being chopped and changed or moved around, so you have to be adaptable to what happens on the night.
Even though I love being a resident, I want to make the next step in the coming years. I’m working on an EP and everything that goes along with that.
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?
In terms of DJing, absolutely Erol Alkan. I was never old enough to go to Trash or DURRR at The End, but mixes from the nights and Erol’s forum at the time were integral to me finding my feet and figuring out what kind of music I wanted to create and play.
I should mention Alex Leone as well, for actually teaching me how to mix records. That’s probably quite integral too.
How did you get the job?
Through the forum, I started working for Erol and his label, Phantasy, as an assistant for a couple of years whilst I was at university. I handled merchandise, record ripping and general tasks.
Erol and Andrew Foggin (of Deadly People, who I’d met through Snap, Crackle & Pop) both vouched for me to the Bugged Out gang when they were looking for someone new. I went for an interview and became part of the team.
How can we get your job?
You have to be everywhere all the time, striking up friendships with promoters, venue owners and everyone in between. You have to be trusted to kick the night off, set the vibe before the main acts come on and be social with everyone involved. It relies heavily on getting a break, but you have to maximise on that break and work hard at it.
Lemmy plays at the Bugged Out Weekender, January 15th-17th at Butlins, Minehead. Find him on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.