A Deejay A Day: Dj Cruel Britannia (Republished)
(This interview was originally published in June 2018.)
Meet the co-founder of World Goth Day
Is there a meaning behind your DJ name? At a time while Labour were in government in the UK, the phrase ‘Cool Britannia’ was being thrown about a lot. ‘Cruel Britannia’ was just a play on words, and I was writing music under that name for a while.
How long have you been spinning? Since 2003, when I was asked and promptly became one of the resident DJs at a now very popular rock bar in the nearby city of Wolverhampton. Having hung up the musician tag after over a decade in a band, I had no previous experience as a DJ and was auditioned at a fetish night in a strip bar…talk about being thrown in at the deep end!
Do you like mermaids or dragons?
Either is good as long as it’s cooked right, though you can get a few more meals out of the latter. Do you have a go-to set list? What's the first three on it? No, I often go in blind and see where the adventure takes me. If I haven’t done a gig in a while, I might prep the first few songs according to what kind of night it would be though. Notable songs I’ve kicked off with are ‘Flowers In Our Hair’ by All About Eve, ‘Vagabonds’ by New Model Army and once saw the new year in with ‘Trouble’ by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (a cover of a song by Shampoo)…I don’t like to pigeonhole myself too much.
Has anyone ever requested a song and thrown up on you?
And lived to tell the tale? Nope. Seriously though, no. I try not to let anyone get too close while I’m spinning, especially if they’re that particular level of drunk which makes them spit while they talk. Nobody needs that.
What is your favorite cartoon from childhood?
I have a fondness for the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, stuff like Captain Caveman, Wacky Races, Scooby Doo, etc. I don’t have a single clue about what passes for cartoons nowadays. Because, old guy.
Do you have any advice for upcoming deejays? 1. Take requests but be firm. There is only so much you can do with a request to make it work into and back out of your set. 2. Always think two songs ahead of yourself. Always. 3. Oh, label your gear. I have lost so many cables to DJs, venues and sound guys over the years!
You work with a lot of musicians and talented people, can you tell us about that?
I’ve done a lot of remix work for bands over the years and at the beginning of 2017, eventually I joined a band myself, as bassist & programmer for The Glass House Museum.
As a gigging DJ in previous years, I got to know a lot of bands, as one does, in the pub. It’s the best way to get to know people on a more down to earth level.
You contribute a lot to the goth scene, can you tell us about that? I don’t think I do anything particularly special if I’m honest! Okay, there’s that World Goth Day thing; granted, that was a biggy But to be fair that only keeps going through the massive efforts of others, which was exactly what I hoped would happen from the outset. Outside of that, yes, I do tend to curate and play a lot of new music on my shows/podcasts that I believe is worth hearing. It’s a passion.
You co-founded "World Goth Day' how did this come about? It’s a story that’s been heavily documented all over the media, but I’ll round it up for you quickly. An English radio station broadcasted a subculture weekend in 2009, consisting of a full schedule of music, interviews & documentaries per day of punk, goth and britpop. As it happened, the ‘goth day’ was on May 22nd. I’d decided that ‘goth day’ should be something we all do across the UK as an actual thing, with people wearing their goth finery to work for a day, or digging out long lost vinyl from their youth for a good airing, or bugging local radio stations to put on a few choice requests for the day, all sorts of things…whatever it takes to ‘get your goth on for a day’. I’d written a blog on Myspace and the idea took off BIG. Soon after, DJ martin oldgoth (name intentionally lower case) and I discussed the idea of taking it globally, so we pushed ‘World Goth Day’ pretty hard until year after year, people embraced it and made it happen in whatever country they lived. What kind of music do you spin?
Primarily gothic rock, post punk and darkwave spanning the decades. I tend not to spin electronic music because in England for the most part, ‘goth means goth’ and the age demographic is much older than those found in industrial clubs.
People want to know; what do you love about DJing? Is it being able to get people to dance? Or watching your superhuman DJ skills? Or did you make a deal with a wizard? As mentioned above, I auditioned in a strip bar. That alone made my day for about 15 years. I do love a good full dance floor, that’s a good buzz right there. As I only ever DJ at gigs nowadays due to a full schedule which limits my ability to commit to a regular club night (I already present weekly and monthly radio show), it’s good to watch my efforts come to fruition when playing to the sweaty masses*. *Seriously, at our age we’re all sweatin’…
Do you collect anything? I started collecting skulls when I moved into my current apartment, to adorn the various corners of my lounge. (Ornamental ones, not the skulls of my enemies-the authorities frown upon such activities in England.)
Do you have any pets? I have a cat. His name is Moo, because he’s large and black & white, much like a cow. I adopted him on my birthday last year. He’s a needy noisy asshole, but he’s my asshole.
Last question; well sort of. Leave us with a quote. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m practically a walking meme. There are literally too many to choose from to decide on just one.