With a sense of real optimism that the competition crushing & clubbing monopolisation that has dominated the capitals clubbing circuit in the last handful of years, we are thrilled to bring you access to the first part of an exclusive interview with the man behind this exciting “A New Beginning” movement, a D.J. tuned club promoter and a man extolling enthusiasm for an inclusive London scene.
It will come as no surprise from our recent reports, “Finding Our Favour Faltering” & “Winds Of Clubbing Change” that, after having witnessed probably THE most damaging period to plague the capitals clubbing circuit, when competition crushing & monopolisation drove many of the edge of eventing and some out of business, we decided the time was right to speak out against the protagonists of this destructive & damaging tactics. So with our disgust for the The Orange group cat out of the bag and with an exciting new movement to sweep aside their bullying & domination, rather to restore the circuit to the diverse yet inclusive scene it always used to be, this movement coming from within Vauxhall itself, we have naturally decided to centre ourselves within this marvellous movement, the first of two special features this exclusive interview with the club & the man behind it all.
So, with the gloves off, without the political corrective ties of certain magazines and with an interviewee keen to set the recent destructive record straight, here is the first part of our no holds barred Disco Matters special feature interview with Covert’s co-owner & promoter Alan Adams, aka D.J. Alan K.
So, we know you well as a prominent D.J. on the capitals clubbing scene, but what got you into the club owing & promoting business?
I’ve always been one of the owners of Covert along with my friend & D.J. Paulo Moreno, as well as my cousins Raymond & David. As a collective, we bought the old Factory club and paid for all the renovation work to turn it into Covert. Both Paulo & I also do property development, which meant we could use our teams of builders and others to do the whole renovation in 10 weeks. As for being promoters, we are not, so have, as part of the clubbing change we are passionate about, have teamed up with some figure heads of the scene to create amazing parties where everybody is welcome.
You had quite strong ties with The Orange Group through the number of D.J. residencies you held with clubs such as A:M., Later, Gravity and, most notably Beyond, so was this significant in you going into business with them?
Well yes to be honest, personally I didn’t want to go into the clubbing business as everyone knows I announced my retirement a long while ago to focus on our property business but the clubbing and D.J.’ing was something Paulo had a lot of passion for he is in love with music, so he decided that he wanted to give the clubbing game a go so I went along with it to manage the build and finances.
Tell us about the working relationship you had with the group and particularly Craig Elder and how did deteriorate to the stage that you decided to stop D.J.’ing for them?
Craig was my friend of many years and I stood by him through thick and thin, as he did for me. I feel I achieved great things as a D.J. for him, I was a major Beyond resident at the height of the clubs success, every week packing out the main floor as well as representing the brand internationally. Plus, I also played at his other parties such as A.M., Gravity and numerous others he has promoted over the years. However, I decided to finish playing for the Orange Group because of personal issues.
We understand that the original business arrangement with Covert was that you & your businesses partners who provided the investment for the development of the venue, would allow Orange Nation to run the show& manage the club. In hindsight was this wise and what, in your opinion, went sour with this arrangement?
Yes the original agreement was we would pay for it and build it then hand it to the Orange Group to run. In return they would get 40% of the shares once the initial loan amount was paid off, In answer to what went sour it’s not something I’m comfortable talking about sorry the bottom line is we got back what belongs to us.
So we are right in saying that you have now taken Covert back under your control and Orange Nation are no longer involved, so what is the current set up and who are the key players within your team?
Yes we have taken Covert back under our control and the Orange Group are no longer involved. We are working with the likes of Alex Erfan, Wayne Shires, Tony English, Steven Sharp & Steven Geller in the events side of things, but the business as a whole is run by myself, Paulo, Tom Fuller and my cousins Raymond and David, with who we continue to also carry out property development & investment.
We have obviously been privy to some of the aims & achievements that you & your associates have for restoring the diversity yet inclusivity of the London gay scene, but can you expand a little on this for us?
Yes we want to bring as many club promoters together as we can and create a unity on the scene where everybody is free to work and not worry about constant fighting amongst each other. We feel this is long overdue and will benefit the scene massively, bringing back brands like SuperMartXe, Lovechild & Bear Necessity, while also trying to re-introduce international clubs to London, such as La Demence and Rapido. We are also going to be working closely with Wayne Shires this year for Summer Rites and hopefully by next year, grow bigger and bigger as an organisation but with togetherness. There is enough out there for everybody, but trying to dominate, as we have seen recently, you just make the scene smaller. If everyone works together, London will be a very special scene, so this is our overriding aim.
So it is clear that Alan, along with the whole Covert team really want t ring the clubbing changes for the good of the capital’s circuit & wider scene, tomorrow night’s event “A New Beginning” the start of much more exciting things to come from these championing clubbing changer overt collectives, while we will be bringing you the second part of this in-depth & revealing interview with Alan in the next few days. (DISCO MATT)
Ahead of his appearance & performance at Puscha’s “Undercover” event this Saturday (2nd Feb), we are thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with spinning star Seamus Haji, he helping us look back over an illustrious career behind the D.J.’ing decks & in the recording studio, while revealing plans for both Saturday and the future.
With a real spring in our step which has released the resplendent return of our Q&A feature, “Disco Matters”, we cannot contain our excitement at having been afforded exclusive access to a true star of the music industry scene, Seamus Haji, who is set to play a prominent part of the Puscha “Undercover” event this Saturday (2nd Feb) at Electric Brixton. So ahead of his appearance, we jumped at this outstanding opportunity, with a huge helping Haji hand, to look back over this spinning stars illustrious career, both behind the decks and in the recording studio, Seamus responding to our questions with immensely interesting & articulate answers.
So, intermixed with the occasional video clips, here is this exclusive interview in all its glory.
Your career in the music industry spans an amazing & accomplished 15 or so years now, but what brought you into the business and what/who were your early influences?
I started DJ’ing at the age of 16 in the mid-eighties and went onto work in local record shop. I think when I started working in record shops in Soho I got more of an insight of the business. In the early 90’s I secured a residency at a night called The Satellite club run by Kiss FM in London and that’s where I made my name on the house scene. I started to do reviews & interviews for the popular dance mags and got into production too. One thing led to another and around 1998 I was offered the role of A&R label manger at Slip’N’Slide, then went onto work for Defected and then left to set up Big Love in 2002. My early influences were labels like Strictly Rhythm, Slip’N’Slide & AM:PM so it’s been an honour to work with all the people involved with these labels as well as amazing artists such as Masters At Work and Blaze at their peak. I come from a black music background so I was a US House head to start with so MAW, Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez, Keri Chandler etc were all massive influences. Over recent years travelling around the World my tastes have broadened so I guess I’m less of a purist in that sense. If I like it I’ll play it regardless of genre or sub-genre.
We see that Big Bang Theory was the name of your first single in 1996, this name also seeming to play a significant role in your early production years, eight tracks/EP’s released between then & 2003. Tell us a little about this?
After the success of the 10 year re-release of “God’s Child” I was inspired to produce the recent “Hold It Now”. It’s great to go back to some bogie & disco inspired stuff and go back to my roots. I’m currently putting together a Big Bang Theory compilation. A lot of the early material from the mid-late 90’s isn’t available to buy online so I’m having it all re-mastered with some Big Bang Theory remixes I did for other people, new re-edits and some exclusive unreleased tracks for my Big Love label. Should be out mid March.
(Seamus Haji – “Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life” – Original Mix)
2004 saw the release of the massive “Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life” followed by other big hits “Weekend” & “Take Me Away”, all which are true classic favourites of ours. Would you call this a purple patch period in your production and was the Hed Kandi exposure significant to your work, or did other labels such as Universal & Mercury play a more positive role?
They were good times! House was universally big and I think that because we were forward thinking in adding an electronic edge to our releases we captured a lot of people’s imagination when a lot of house was getting a bit dull and wasn’t changing with the times. Hed Kandi and the like were big supports of ours and it definitely helped profile for us & them. Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise of ‘EDM”. Things go in fazes as we know. Over the years I’ve seen the rise of UK & US House, the Italian & German house sound, the Dutch, the Swedes and now America is back again after a European version of dance or “EDM” has been sold back to them. I’m very lucky to of had a “Purple Patch” J
We remain huge fans of your tracks found on the various Hed Kandi albums in our collection, still looking back fondly to that period between 2004 & 2008 when your music ruled our airwaves. What would you say was your most enjoyable production moment during that time and how do you view this period in your track recording life?
I think remixing the likes of Mariah Carey, Rihanna and Roisin Murphy was inspiring. Working with great artists always helps. And working with the likes of Beverly Knight (who’s a one take vocalist..amazing), Robert Owens and Roachford are all names I’ve grown up with. As I said before this was before the EDM explosion so things were a lot more musical back then which worked well for our electronic edged sound with full vocals.
We also love many of your other tracks, but particularly with Paul Emanuel. Are you still working with him and can we expect any new projects from you as a studio recording partnership?
Paul never really embraced the DJ’ing side of things and these days if you’re making dance music you need to be performing to make a living out of it as sales have dropped due to people no longer buying or downloads. Illegal downloads have killed that side of the business so these days you have to earn from the performance. I’m still in touch Paul and he mostly works as a mix engineer or works on library music for TV & Radio. We may work together in future..it just needs to be the right project.
Back to “Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life” which was absolutely huge on dance floors right around the globe. Would you rank this as your greatest track achievement to date and are there plans for a re-mix of this classic, which seems to be a trend with producers right now?
It was a peak moment. I never intended it to be that way. Something that started out as a bootleg idea just blew up. I never expected it to be blaring away on Radio 1 all day and hit top 15 of the UK National Charts! I’ll give it a bit longer to consider a re-working but personally I think I got a lot out of this the first time. Maybe some new blood could help out on some mixes.
You have a really impressive list of remix productions and for some real stars of the music scene, Mariah Carey, Danni Minogue & Rihanna three, while we see you have also recently worked with Jamiroquai, Jessie J & The Scissor Sisters. Have you met up with many of these artists and who would you say was the most pleasurable to work with?
You hardly ever meet the artists. I’ll get reports that Mariah was running around New York playing our remix to people or an e-mail from Moby or the Ting Tings to say their loving the mix but that’s about it. I did meet Roisin Murphy after doing “Overpowered” and she was really cool. Beverly Knight was lovely of course (no ego) and then childhood hero Robert Owens is so humble it’s amazing.such a nice guy.
Of these many remixes of yours, we rate Booty Luv’s “Boogie 2nite”, Shakedown’s “At Night” & Chanel’s “My Life” extremely highly. Do you agree or are there others that hit your own high notes?
Well, I do agree especially as my mix for Bootyluv hit number 2 in the pop charts so I almost had a number 1! Roisin Murphy “Overpowered” is a personal favourite and I still get asked to play Late Night Alumni “Empty Streets” whenever I play in Russia…it’s massive over there.
(Roisin Murphy – “Overpowered” – Seamus Haji Remix)
So, we obviously know you best as a highly successful record producer, but how long have you been D.J.’ing & where?
I taught myself how to mix & scratch when I was around 15 and at school and not many people could do it or were interested back then. 6 months later I had the role as the mix DJ in a sound system. It was almost 30 years ago in the mid-80’s and was just before the house music explosion over here. I was playing soul, funk, hip hop and what would later be called early garage & house. This was with ex-reggae sound systems in London at house & warehouse parties. My first experience DJ’ing properly I was 16 and playing at an all dayer with all the top 10 sound systems from London to around 2000 and it’s first and only time I’ve seen my hands shake! Fortunately I did well and the rest is history J
We are truly excited that you will be playing at “Undercover” next Saturday, but how did you get involved with Pushca?
It was in the mid 90’s. I’d built up a good name in London and by the mid-90’s I was approached to play for Pushca at MOS. This was in the good old days when people would dress up to go clubbing, especially on a Pushca night. I remember there being a lot of energy and a glam element that I think has been missing in the UK for a while now so it’s great to see Pushca back after all these years!
So what can we expect from your set next Saturday?
I’ll see what the crowd responds to of course but you can be sure I’ll be dropping some of my remixes & productions, some exclusive edits & bootlegs and some party classics.
We’re just putting together dates for my diary for this year with a few things to be confirmed. Hopefully I’ll be playing at Mardi Gras again this year in Sydney so we’re putting together a mini Australia tour as well as Asia & Singapore. Closer to home there are some things coming up in the UK so people can check www.facebook.com/seamushajifanpage for details. Plus I’m working on some new tracks with D.Ramirez, ATFC and newcomer Nelski as well as a solo single that I’m currently trying to find a topline for and I’ve just submitted remixes for new artists Foxes, Katrina and Blondie is next!
So what more can we add to this enticing insight into his truly compelling & colossal career in music, than sending our huge thanks to Seamus Haji for sharing scores of magical moments and memories with us and now you. And come Saturday, there is surely only one place you will want to be, that is witnessing his prolific performance at Puscha, all the detail of this “Undercover – Le The Mystery Begin” event, out in our preview at http://discomatt.com/web/?p=6779, while we leave you with favourite production piece of Haji house music heaven. (DISCO MATT)
(Seamus Haji & Emmuanuel – “Take Me Away” – Vocal Mix)
Following the creation of a special report on clubbing brand Beyond, entitled “Bread & Butter Is Best”, in which we delved deep into a whole host of burning issues which were beefing us back in April when the report was created, we were close to going to press with the raw result. However, having held back on what would have proven a hugely controversial article and one that may have invoked unfavourable reactions from those we were aiming our report at, we reflected on what was written, took good advice from some close to us & close to Beyond and then decided to challenge our views on those issues, not least following the conversations we had with certain individuals that either put some of those issues to bed or contradicted the observations & reactions we had made at the time.
So, given this, yet still wanting to highlight these burning issues to the wider world, we decided to take the middle ground, the result was our Disco Matters style feature “Is The Best Back”, which you can check out via http://discomatt.com/web/2011/05/disco-matters-is-the-best-back-beyond-special-feature-monday-9th-may-2/.
In taking this stance, our drive was that we realised there were a couple of aims to achieve, so rather than being gun hoe with our attitude, we thought the winning friends & influencing people path was the better way to go and it seems that this stance has quickly paid dividends. So, having, literally hours ago, posted this Disco Matt special feature, it seems that one of our aims has been achieved, news coming through that one of the cogs we had referred to in that feature, namely Smalls, will be making a return to where she belongs, in charge of the lighting & effects in this, our favourite afterhours, nay club of all-time. For regulars of Beyond & for a whole host of the main room D.J.’s, this news will be met with extreme joy & happiness, as, in Smalls’ hands, the lighting, the lasers, the pyrotechnics, the ticker tape explosions & all other related effects, are never better.
Now, naturally we cannot wait to see Smalls back & taking pride of place in the Area main room D.J. booth, masterminding these magical effects in perfect motion with the music the D.J.’s deliver, but in recognition of this fantastic news, we will be commissioning a special post, looking at Smalls, the role she has played from the days of Crash through to Beyond, to celebrate as well as highlight just what an important cog she is. So, keep your eyes peeled for this upcoming special post entitled “Queen Of The Lighting Scene”, although in the meantime, one of questions hinted towards in our title “Is The Best Back?” has been answered, as Smalls is back!
As for the other aim, well it looks like we may have some way to go in achieving that one, but persistence is the name of the game and slow & steady wins the race. (DISCO MATT)
Welcome back to our special two part Disco Matters report, focussing on new social networking site MyGayFace and interviewing its creator, Brent Nicholls. In his usual style Brent has been upfront and honest so far, in laying down the foundations of just what MyGayFace is about and what it sets out to achieve. So, having given you a flavour of what the new face of gay soical networking offers, we probe Brent a little deeper both on MyGayFace’s birth and then the mechanics of the site.
Brent left off in part one by explaining when MyGayface was launched and how the set up works via i-phone, then briefly mentioned a “messy birth”, so we naturally probed further….
Q5. A messy birth? Sounds a bit, well, messy. What happened and what came out the other side?
Well, we had a bit of a disaster. When I was cleaning up the database, I had to remove a user from one of the plug ins. It asked if I wanted to delete the user & all the information…so I selected YES. What resulted was a complete catastrophe, as not only did the user’s info get deleted, but the amendment took out the whole MGF database, wiping all profiles from the site. After what could only be described as a screaming “Hopkins” (an in-house term/joke!), I got myself together and re-instated & upgraded the site. However, with database issues causing conflict between old and new, I had to ask all previous members to sign up again, which, unfortunately, has slowed the take up rate compared to when the site was first launched, as I think setting up a profile for the second time on the same network proves a rather tedious chore. But, having purchased a “Live Sign In” option for the site, users are able to sign in and register using their exsiting Facebook, Twitter &/or other social network user names, cutting down the sign up process time and making it much easier to transfer like for like information & data into MGF. Still, the database crash taught me a lot about the running of the site, what to do, what not to do and the re-launch allowed for additional features to be built in which has resulted in a much better site
Q6. So, MGF is back up & running, now, tell us a bit about the mechanics, how do the profiles work? Can you be what you want to be? Say what you want to say? And do what you want to do?
MyGayFace.com does not allow ‘hate’ against any group. No ‘isms’, ‘phobics’ or ‘philia’. Any expression of hate, including cyber bullying and cyber-stalking will be reported to the appropriate authority. Keep it at home. We don’t mind you being sexy, but pornographic needs to be set to ‘private’. Your profile can be anything you want it to be…as long as it is you. Part of that is giving emails that work, which will be randomly tested, and if they are not legitimate the profile will be deleted. We follow the security of most social networks. You will not be spied on..but there is an option to report something that may be considered a violation of our terms or fits into any of the categories mentioned. You can be you, as long as it is YOU! Your profile will need certain details before it is activated, but then what content you place is up to you. You can make your profile your own website, or add it to your network. There is plenty of functionality and ways of putting yourself out there. We encourage people to explore and use what they like and leave out what they don’t.
Q7. So, this is definitely a fresh approach for sure, but are you looking at MyGayFace to replace or compliment Facebook, Myspace, etc? And if the latter, are there plans to link the sites in some way?
First & foremost, MGF is not meant to be a gay Facebook, or even replace it, rather a new network for gays aimed at an 18+ networker. We allow you to be sexy with various ways of marking your images so only the “right” people can see them, so unlike Facebook etc, such images won’t have your profile suspended or deleted. We see social networks like clubs…there are some you go to, others you don’t or maybe you go to all of them. Each one is different, except our’s 100% Gay. If anyone is on our network you can assume they are gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender. Even if they aren’t gay, they are so gay friendly that they are happy to be thought of as gay. We will never replace Facebook or want to, they are McDonalds of the internet. Look at us the funky gay cafe that is a cool and hip place to meet your friends and maybe even pick up!
Q8. We notice that there are a number of elements unique to the site, like “Featured Members”, “Polls”, “Shoutbox” ,“Spy” (sounds ominous) & “Tags”. Tell us how they work? Whether they are just part of the pilot? And are there any other unique features planned?
Many features were a standard part of the project. Tagging is a big thing, anything can be tagged…but it will not place junk on your wall…however you can search the tags, click on them and see the relevant content that have those tags attached. Shoutbox is a quick messenger which expires at the end of the day…it like shouting, once heard, it’s over. We also have classifieds so if you want to promote, sell or trade something you can take out a free advert. We do not process money on MGF, so the part is up to you…you place the ad and deal with the response. Members can also create poll on anything they like…it’s a bit of fun and in many ways like creating a live ‘top list’. Featured members is a back end part of our promotional aspect to feature people who we think reflect the what MGF is about, so potential new members can relate. Spy is a fun app we have added which basically lets you see who has been zoomin who…see what profiles have been checked out, who filled in a poll etc…it creates activity streams, and in some way, act like a suggestion list of things you may want to check out. You also can rate almost anything out of 5 stars which links to ‘popularity’ features which will be implemented in later stages. The most popular videos, pics, profiles and so on will be featured on the site, plus the search facility lets you find out what content has been rated the most. Kind of a ‘what’s hot’. There is instant messenger too for those on line to have chat. It really does take exploring; and we hope that people will use the features…we are open to comments, plus the Admin has set up a page to report bugs, fixes, solutions and to keep members up to date on what is new and what is on the way out.
Q9. How have you been promoting MyGayFace to the social networking community? We hear a rumour that you compiled a special podcast for instance, where can we find details of that?
MGF is still a new(ish) & very different concept for many, so advertising it through social network sites like Facebook always has limited success, after all people logging in there have specific needs when doing so. However, awareness is our biggest tool, so you will see MGF on clubbing website SeenQueen and the support we get from people like yourself also helps. In promoting MGF we point out that being sexy or using sexy images will not get you deleted like can sometimes happen on Facebook, so the key aim of any marketing is to enforce that message. As it is set up as an adult site, there are no age restrictions placed on MGF, meaning that YOU can be YOU! and that is the best marketing message possible. Turning to the podcast, as a D.J., I decided to promote the site with a compilation called “Get On MyGayFace”, which was initially meant for MGF members, although as the demand was so high, I decided to release it for general download, which you can still get a copy via http://djbrentnicholls.com/web/2010/09/14/get-on-mygaface-com/, while we see it became your (that’s us) top compilation of 2010.
Q10. So we guess, the only question remains (well two actually), how can people join MyGayFace and why should they?
To join, go to www.mygayface.com and either use the “Live Sign In” option, or fill in a profile which will require a username, your real name, a description, and age confirmation (we do not ask private information like birth date or age, but you must confirm you are over 18). Once you have completed these basics, how much you use the site is up to you, but the more you do the more you will understand, for example, removing the tagging post to wall aspect will stop viral marketers and spamming so you can really use this as a place to cruise, socialise and network. In addition, those who want to promote themselves through the site can set up a commercial profile and add ‘friends’ to whom they can market to. Plus, with Facebook, where mass deleting of invitations/events is commonplace, at least here people will sign up to what they are interested in and as such it should prove far more effective. Well known websites, clubs, scene workers & D.J.’s have profiles, as well as plenty of people with more personal profiles. We are just growing, so we encourage people to join to help us develop the best gay social network there is…like our tag line says, it is where YOU can be YOU. MGF is about the people that are on it and we want funky, social, hip, happening, open minded, creative, scene based, hot and sexy people to be part of the MGF revolution, so if that sounds like you, then you have found a new place to hang out!
Q11. Before we finish, we can’t resist asking, what’s happening in the world of Brent Nicholls at the mo, both in terms of D.J.’ing & web designing?
Looking at web designing first, having discovered the wonders of WordPress as a CMS, as well as gaining knowledge of Dolphin, Buddy Press and Dreamweaver, much more exciting projects & designs are now possible, so I have lots going on. Naturally I am still developing MGF and letting it grow organically, while I continue to be busy with SeenQueen (http://seenqueen.com) updating it virtually daily and is a site that I am extremely proud of, as, for a non advertised & exclusive site, it is now within the top 700,000 or so websites in the world, having jumped up some 300,000 places since its re-design. Other projects have included creating a fetish equivalent to SeenQueen, but with a ‘fetish community’ attached, a kind of Facebook but for pervs and the now established Fetishpig website (http://fetishpig.co.uk) is doing well, although as fetish is not everyone’s cup of tea, I am expecting it, like MGF, to grow more organically. I am also designing distinctvieevents.biz, just ended up doing the ‘one size fits all porno/video site’ Sexxximps.com, have designed a host of other new sites, including yours (http://discomatt.com) & have re-designed by own D.J. website & my web designing site (http://uniquecliques.com) is being refreshed. Plus I am working on another “community” project/network which is currently secret but will be revealed soon. Social networking on a broad scale is reaching its limits, so it seems that more specialised networks are the way to go, this new project aimed a particular group of people and will make an impact for sure, mainly because it will be controversial. Another part of my life is Reiki and I have also set up an online community for that to compliment the Facebook Reiki London group. In essence, with large social networking sites’ conditions of use/security becoming more & more complicated, judgmental and compromising, I am setting up ways to engage with others on a more personal basis leaving the masses for the masses, so you can say it is a dynamic time and I am learning heaps in the process.
As for D.J.’ing, I have a handful of regular gigs for clubs & bars in London, including brands managed by Alex Erfan, so Lovechild figures, as does Back-to-Beyond & other ones in his stable. I also continue to D.J. at Hard On! monthly and play regularly for Lo-Profile and Barcode, not least for Industri which is now in Soho rather than Vauxhall, while other projects & various club launches or occasional appearances draw on my services, plus a couple of those “projects” are very much in the pipeline.
Q12. So, plenty happening, which neatly finishes with, where can we see you playing in the coming weeks?
Well, February at the moment is looking on the quiet side, but probably the biggest event for me is Lovechild’s 2nd Birthday, while I will have my usual Lo-Profile, Industri at BCS & Hard On! gigs. However, with the landscape ever changing, my website www.djbrentnicholls has a roster with details, or you can join the mailing list and be kept up to date, as well as get plenty of FREE downloads of my music mixes!
Right, that’s it, the second & in-depth part of our look at new social networking site MyGayFace, a new kid on the block that has lots more to it than meets the eye and certainly gets our unequivocal support. Having interviewed Brent and received his uncompromised, unashamed & unabated responses, it is clear that he is extremely passionate at providing the right channels for people to interface, network, promote and, most importantly, be themselves, very much reflected in how Brent is as an individual. So hail him, hail his new projects & hail MyGayFace as the new face of social networking. (DISCO MATT)
Following the launch of Disco Matters back in August last year, one of the first subject matters we wanted to cover was the launch of new social networking site MyGayFace, which promised a departure from the somewhat censored environment. However, as events overtook us in October, our feature was put on hold, as the site also suffered a temporary set-back, but the good news is that both Disco Matters & MyGayFace are back and we are pleased as punch to issue, in full un-edited detail, our interview with the sites creator Brent Nicholls. Be prepared for plain talking and uncensored commentary from Brent, following our introduction to MyGayFace, although due to the high content of his responses, we have split the report into two parts.
Our report began………In a world where social networking seems to dominate our lives, you would be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to available sites, the choice has been narrowed down to just one, yes? Well, yes, as without question Facebook has, for a good three to four years now, very much ruled the social network website waves, this popular & powerful site even having consigned Myspace to the also rans category. However, as good that Facebook is, there are limits to what it will allow, both in terms of what you can say and what you can do, and whilst accessibility is on the site pretty open, people can end up being very protective of what actions that this openness can invoke in others. Moreover, the site administrators themselves act a bit like big brother in terms of what they perceive as permissible or not and whilst there is no question that Facebook is a great way to network & connect with friends in a way that very few other sites offer, the big question remains, does Facebook really allow you to be you?
Well, one person definitely thinks it doesn’t, so is seeking to breathe new life into social networking with a site that is devoted allowing people to be themselves & express themselves for who they are, and most importantly, without the risk of either being judged or having their profile administered & possibly removed without warning or reason. So, who is this man brave enough to take on the might of Facebook and offer an exciting alternative? Well, it is the man behind probably the capital’s most successful gay clubbing website by far, SeenQueen, and someone who knows a thing or two about the constrictions that Facebook can put on peoples personal lives. He also has plenty of web design to skills in his armoury to boot; making him the ideal candidate for this perceived tricky job & monumental task, so, in a full, frank & exclusive interview we probe into this new site and the man behind this networking revolution, one Brent Nicholls.
Q1. Firstly, we want to say what a fabulous site SeenQueen (SQ) is, especially with the new look that is was launched a few months ago. How important is SQ in your life? And does it have any bearing on what you are doing with your new creation?
SeenQueen is a passion that grew from a hobby about 10 years ago. I work on it practically every day updating it and keeping it relevant and constant. Due to the fact it is a recommendation site as opposed to a listing site I need to keep a close eye on the scene and what is going on. MyGayFace.com is not part of SeenQueen but certainly is an off shoot. MyGayFace is a Gay social Network and the gay scene plays a large part in any gay social life. How will these sites relate to eachother? Well as MyGayFace grows I hope it attracts club promoters and clubbers to the site…while on FaceBook one is bombarded with so much junk; at least on MyGayFace a lot of the content will be relevant to you basically because the site is a gay site for gays’.
Q2. But SQ is not what we are here to talk about, give us an introduction to this new social networking site you have created and what made you decide it was time for something new?
I am going to answer this in point form as this will highlight why I have created a new social network aimed at gay people and their ‘gay families’.
LONG LOST FRIENDS: When I first joined FaceBook it was a great way to communicate with long lost friends. This novelty soon wore off…after all they were long lost friends for a reason and the things we had in common in the past are no longer shared. Instead I wanted a place where I could communicate and share with people in my life now, and being gay most of my friends are too…so why not A GAY SPACE?
JUNK JUNK JUNK. Games, pokes, farm-bloody-ville, irrelevant wall posts, tagging me in stuff I am not even in which then auto appear on my wall, vampire bites, applications, applications, applications, invites to parties I wouldn’t send a dead dog too…FaceBook has become a magnet for junk…how many times do you mass delete invites, group shares and so on…and the more people that join the more mundane the junk becomes. I wanted a social network where at least I could relate to some of that ‘junk’, have invites to clubs I want to attend…and not have my wall be filled with ‘farmvilles updates’ and a million pokes and bombarded with application requests. MyGayFace is about you…no pokes, no games, no applications and no auto posting to walls by tags. Your polls, your blogs, your pics etc.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. As FaceBook grew it started to develop a ‘big brother’ approach. With the minimum age being 13 the content needs to reflect what would be suitable for a 13 year old. They have removed pictures and profiles of people I know because they thought it wasn’t appropriate…how can a hot man with a big bulge in his speedos be inappropriate? It’s hot! To FaceBook apparently it was indecent. Indecent for who? A thirteen year old girl that shouldn’t be looking at older mens profiles? MyGayFace is hosted on adult servers…although we ask you set sexual and nude images to private so only those you add as friends can see it…your pics can be as sexy as you like, after all…if that’s part of who you are why should you be censored? The minimum age of MyGayFace is 18 years old…yes, we are all adults here and do not need big brother watching us, unless of course his a hunk!
POPULAIRTY. FaceBook popularity also saw my relatives and parents join up, and even though they accept that I am gay…there are some things I just don’t want to expose them too which means hiding half of my content in the privacy settings, in essence I just can’t be myself. I love my family and they form a large part of my life, but so does my ‘gay family’…those people I chose to be part of my life, who know me for who I am and accept me, that is why they are my friends. MyGayFace is for you and those people. MyGayFace allows you to be you!
PEDESTRIAN. With over 400 million users how can FaceBook be anything but pedestrian. It has to appeal to the most common element. If you are that type of gay man, then please stay on FaceBook…but if you are not then MyGayFace encourages you to be you. Acceptance does not mean we should lose our creativity, flamboyance and sexual nature.
GAY SHAME. One day I tagged a ‘FB’ friend in a photo that was taken of him in a jockstrap for a nation wide magazine by one of the scenes most popular photographers. He responded with a vile and aggressive amount of abuse for violating his privacy by tagging him in an inappropriate photo on an inappropriate site. For me it was just a tag of a person that I knew who allowed a photo of this type to be taken and then published in a magazine for thousands of other people to see. The only time I saw this person was in fetish gear and a few times being fucked on a dancefloor. For me this is who he was. As soon as the pic appeared on his wall he started to receive emails from ‘shocked friends and colleagues’. He decided to verbally attack me…someone who accepted him…to defend what I can only assume were homophobic and degrading remarks about something which is a large part of his life. Yes, he felt a shame of himself…a shame of being who he was because he allowed narrow minded pedestrians to judge him. It’s his choice to allow those people into his life, but he doesn’t need to allow them into his social networks and MyGayFace is there for him.
It is a paradox…although Gay people are being more accepted in society, this does not mean we should stop being gay. A pic like that on MyGayFace may get him a few dates. You should not feel shame over who you are…and MyGayFace allows you to be you because we do not allow those who don’t on the site. Why should you be ashamed of your life from ignorant comments made by work colleagues? Until the day arrives you can passionately kiss your boy-f in a straight club like straight people do in gay clubs, there will be a need for a website like MyGayFace.com. Why can’t there be a website where YOU can be YOU…and now there is!
Q3. So, it’s called MyGayFace, which is a combination of two well known social networking sites names combined with the word gay. Does that mean it is a site for just gay people? And does it seek to offer the same as Facebook & Myspace?
Funnily enough the name did not come from combining those names from other well known social websites. It came from a nick name someone called a well known DJ on the gay scene who is very handsome and pretty; and if you had to define an ideal look for a gay man, he would be that…his friends called him ‘GayFace’. I thought that was so funny I joked ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a social network website called ‘GayFace’…and hence forth ‘MyGayFace’ was born.
MyGayFace.com does follow the social network formula but with some important differences. There are no games, pokes, annoying applications and no auto wall posting via tagging (which will discourage marketers from hijacking the site). You can upload videos, music, photos, set up blogs, groups, forums and all images and posts can be rated out of 5 star that creates popularity lists. You can add friends, have favourite lists and send user ‘I Like’ messages. We have integrated Facebook into the site so you can monitor FB activity and post updates status without leaving MyGayFace.com. We intend to keep it simple…there are plenty of features you will recognise, some you will be glad that are different and others which will be new.
Most importantly…the site is hosted on adult servers and you can not join unless you are 18 years or over, so adult content is not a problem. We want the site to reflect society where you cruise, socialise and network… walking down the street just isn’t a means to go from A to B…you never know who you might meet; and MyGayFace.com removes the doubt that the person is gay, and with the scene element, not your average type of homo either! This means your profile can be as ‘hot’ as you like. No one is going to judge you on here, and if they do contact the ADMIN with a copy of the transcript!
Q4. We have obviously seen the site for ourselves, indeed we are a member. When was it set up? And what is the planned period of testing?
It was initially set up back in August, although after a messy birth, it was re-launched a couple of months ago. Testing will continue for some time yet as it is only through use we can get a good idea what works and what doesn’t. We think the site has huge potential, but before we invest more money into to creating the best gay social network on the net we want to make sure it works as it is suppose to. It is totally FREE to join so we would love to see all your site visitors on there. There is also a generic iPhone app where you can access your profile. The app is called Boonex, the creator of the software we used to create MyGayFace.com and it is free. It is similar to any Social Network app giving you limited access to certain features on the website. To set it up to use with your profile you only need to add mygayface.com when prompted plus your username and password (you need to sign up online first). Once we are happy with the site, we will launch a MyGayFace.com app which will replace the Boonex one.
So, that’s part one of our pretty extensive interview up, but with much more coming up in part two, including what happened with that “messy birth” and the all important detail on how the site works & what it takes to join MyGayFace. In the meantime, why not go take a peek now, simply by going to http://mygayface.com, but watch out for part two of our report to get an insight to the features of this new social networking kid on the block and much more. (DISCO MATT)
Back in July last year, following some disturbing developments with a favourite clubbing brand of ours, we decided to add to our already extensive family of reports, Disco Matters, a vehicle aimed at tackling the big issues of the day, delving into the new & exciting developments to hit the scene and also dealing with the tricky issues that the more mainstream press outlets tend to avoid. Disco Matters aimed to allow club & bar owners, promoters, event organisers, D.J.’s & scene figureheads the opportunity to respond to those issues, those developments & those exciting changes, having put them on the spot in full & frank discussions & interviews and we wanted to very much push the boundaries, yet deliver transparency & unbiased reporting with the ultimate aim, like all of our posts, to make the scene a stronger & richer place.
The aim was to make this a monthly feature and we started well, with a deep & probing look at Beyond in August, which at the time was facing a little controversy. However, in one of those full and frank interviews we promised, Steven React Sharp, Beyond’s then promoter, gave one of the best interviews we have seen in a long time (check the link to http://discomattpreview.blogspot.com/2010/08/disco-matters-beefing-up-beyond) and laid to rest many of the fears we had of this, our favourite clubbing brand. This was followed in September by an equalling interesting & probing interview with ex Matinee promoter Oliver M, who had recently been appointed as the new promoter of Orange Group afterhours club A:M, amidst much controversy of how a previously feuding relationship had turned working partnership. Oliver’s candid responses went down well, as did our Disco matters report encapsulating this exclusive interview which we published via both our former BlogSpot pages and here via http://discomatt.com/web/2010/10/disco-matt-ers-oliver-orange/.
Then, October was to herald a special focus on a social networking revolution, although as events of the month pretty much took over our Disco Matters plans, our planned report was shelved for close on three months as we not only focussed on our very own issues of the day which derailed our activity for a much of November, interestingly routed from a Disco matters subject matter. But we then got our teeth back into our passion for reviewing, reporting & promoting one of the world’s most prolific clubbing scene as well as expanding beyond the capital, visiting European events in both Berlin & Antwerp, as well as re-cementing our reputation as London’s original party boy, yet it was the launch of our new website that put Disco Matters back into focus, kind of bringing us full circle.
So, Disco Matters is very much back in its driving seat and ready for a full on re-launch, the focus now pointing towards that social networking revolution report that we conducted back at the end of September. But it doesn’t stop there, as we have plenty more to get our teeth into, so thought we would, on this “a re-cap, a re-launch” post, share with you our Disco Matters plans over the next three/four months
- January will be devoted to new social networking site MyGayFace with a two part special where we interview its creator, D.J. & SeenQueen top cheese Brent Nicholls.
- February will signal a look at another scene but not directly clubbing related topic, this time the ancient sets of teachings known as Tantra.
- March will be a double whammy as we have lined up exclusive interviews with Orange Group chief Craig Elder plus prolific club promoter Alex Erfan, dovetailing both reports with the inextricable links that have developed between them both.
Beyond that, well the world is proverbially our oyster and there will be lots more exciting subjects, individuals & issues to come, all in conjunction with our “Reports” section right here on Discomatt.com. So, if you have something you want is to report on, issues that you feel need our Disco Matters attention, then contact us using the form at the foot of our web page or drop us a line at email@example.com and remember what we say, “if it matters to you, then it matters to Disco Matters”. (DISCO MATT)
This Saturday sees the massive re-launch of amazing afterhours club A.M., the Orange Group brand that has been reigning supreme for close on 10 years in the capital and amidst a whole host of “…careful tweaks…” is the introduction of a new promoter, taking the helm of this Vauxhall institution.
Without question, 2010 has been one amazing rollercoaster of a year for Oliver M, this enigmatic German probably best known for his D.J.’ing across Europe & the wider globe, but here in the capital, more for his club promoting, most notably his links with Spanish giant clubbing brand Matinee. It would be fair to say that some of its most successful parties in its four year history in London being while under Oliver’s steership, but as the New Year dawned, the change of Matinee London’s hands was undoubtedly top of gAylist headlines in the capital. However, despite this set back, Oliver not only threw himself into his D.J.’ing, but took stock on his promotional duties and amidst a fair amount of activity that included new ventures Matador & Impact, news came through that, not only would he be working closely with The Orange Group but would become the new promoter for afterhours club A.M.
So, given this momentous year for Oliver, as well as the exciting news that he would once again be in the thick of club promoting, we took the opportunity to devote our second “Disco Matt-ers” report to delving a little deeper into the twists & turns that have seen Oliver emerge as a key player in the Orange Group, also probing into plans for A.M. and what the future looks like in Oliver M land. In his inimitable fashion, he has responded with candidness & authority to our probing, his responses very much speaking for themselves.
Firstly, many congratulations on the appointment as promoter of A.M., tell us a little of exactly how this came about?
Hey Matt, thank you very much, I’m very excited to take over such an institution like A.M. and to be given the chance to be able to put my own stamp onto it. Well as everyone by now knows, I had a meeting with Craig & the rest of the Orange Group and we decided to work together on great new projects for the London scene. Craig told me that even though we were in competition for around 3 years, he did like what I did with Matinee and he asked me to take over A.M. to realise both his and my vision & ideas for this long running afterhours.
So, you will be working closely with Craig Elder & The Orange Group, how is this panning out and how do you see this new found working relationship developing?
I think we both went with caution into this new found business relationship but I have to say that I’m over the moon working with Craig and his family/team and I can for sure say that this is the current mood from both sides. We enjoy working and spending time together, that in my eyes is the most important aspect when working in a successful team.
We know you were involved with both club ventures Matador & Impact. Do you still have ties with the brands & if so, will we be seeing these emerge as new events within The Orange Group calendar?
Matador was invented by me and was promoted in co-promotion with a guy called Manuel Garcia and Barcode. However, there were some not so nice tactics being played out in front of me which made me leave the brand behind and to concentrate on the much bigger plans I have with A.M. I’m sure my crowd I brought into Matador will appreciate the much bigger scope I have at Fire and Area to offer them a top class D.J. line up & entertainment which I was not able to at Matador due to the budget given to me.
Impact was a club night promoted by me and my friend and fellow promoter Steve Elliott of Salvation fame, and this concept will come back soon bigger and better, so watch this space…
Some have questioned your connections with The Orange Group, given past history. What would you say to those critics that are confounded by this change of attitude & direction?
I’m not sure what all the fuss is about…is I’m sure 98% of the clubbing scene is not interested in politics and things behind the scenes but only in getting offered amazing night’s out for money which doesn’t break the bank. These sorts of questions have mostly been raised by insiders of the scene but, I say to those people that they have to try to move into the future instead of always living in the past. We did what we thought was the best thing and that’s it…
Moving onto your exciting new promotions challenge. A.M. is a strong and long established brand. What new elements will you be bringing to this successful Saturday morning outfit?
A.M. is one of London’s longest running after-hours and it’s been a scene institution for the last 9 years, but like anything which is runs for such a long time, it needs an slight nip and tuck here and there to make it current again. I thought that A.M. even though busy, is too straight these days and therefore I want to & will be introducing a strict majority gay Policy and any trouble makers or any who does not respect our gay clientele will be thrown out. I want to give A.M. back to the gay community with a stricter door. Also the feel of the party will be much lighter with more visual effects and surprises. The main floor music will be also giving a little make over and I will introduce more accessible sounds without being cheesy and still remain cool and forward thinking club.
Tell us what we can expect from the re-launch party in terms of D.J.’s & shows?
I will use most of the A.M. residents as they are a vital part of the success story of the brand, but I will rotate them from week to week and take a bigger more diverse D.J. team on to play, plus I will introduce some new unknown DJs to the scene. For the opening, the newcomer featured at A.M. is Joel Antunes who is playing the “Fresh” room, with a hot new underground sound. Other D.J.’s on rotation for the new look A.M. include Alan K, Andrei Stan, Gonzalo Rivas, Guy Williams, D’Johnny, Alessandro Londra, Fat Tony, Severino, Pier Morocco, Saki, Micky Galliano, Tasty Tim and Jonny M, plus international guest D.J.’s and exciting new D.J. talents…I will invite for the re-launch night D.J. Andrei Stan from Brussels, who plays at the massive La Demence party and the Box club, plus we have a P.A. in the amazing Lisa Millet of “Now You’re Gone”, “Bad Habit” and “Sleep Talk” fame, and the sexy Dylan Naylor, a violinist who plays an electric violin over house tracks and who wowed the crowds at the Salvation event at Space Ibiza where he played live during my D.J. set, the crowds went mad!!!
There have been lots of changes to Fire, how will these benefit the new look A.M.?
It will not just help A.M. but all of the club nights I think. Fire was Vauxhalls first mega club and its still is the biggest but the venue’s mainfloor needed a dramatic overhaul because the need of today’s clubbers are much higher than years ago.
Turning to Oliver M as a D.J. What does the future look like for potential gigs in the capital or will you continue to concentrate on international prospects?
I will still play all my international gigs at clubs like, Space Ibiza,La Demence, Sexy, GreenKomm, Gay Village, Into the Tank and of course Salvation, because most of them are on a Saturday. For 2011 there are much more and much bigger gigs in the pipeline than this year & I expect it will be my biggest year as a D.J. yet.
We suspect you were thrilled to be part of the Beyond D.J. line on August Bank Holiday. Will you be playing there again and what about other Orange group events?
Yes, August Bank Holiday was my first ever Beyond …I loved every minute of it and it was the biggest Beyond party yet. I played alongside my D.J. friends Rony and Andrei Stan and it rocked. For sure they will be more gigs coming up for the Orange Group like the B2B at the Colosseum this Saturday and “Massacre” in Vauxhall at Halloween. Plus you will catch me playing guest sets at A.M.
Finally, following your superb track release “Strings Of Motion”, have you been back into the recording studio and if so, what can we expect in terms of future releases?
Ohh thanks, Btw I just found out that “Strings of Motion” is now one of the biggest tracks in South America, being playing in most radio stations and in both gay &straight clubs…I just finished with my production partner and close friend Jean Philips a new track which is called “Paramount” and which is a progressive but uplifting instrumental tune in the “Downpipe” style. We are just waiting to get a vocal to be added by one of the major European house track singers. Plus there’s a new track is in the planning which I can’t tell you about yet as it’s a big surprise…
So, without question the future for Oliver both as a D.J. and as an Orange promoter is looking very bright indeed and we certainly wish him every success with his disc spinning career, in his new found working relationship with The Orange Group and for A.M. under his direction. Whilst Oliver has given us a good insight into plans for the changes to A.M., for our own look at the re-launch on Saturday, why not check out our Weekend Focus report at direct link http://discomattweekend.blogspot.com/2010/09/weekend-focus-am-massive-re-launch and for an insight to Oliver M’s latest D.J. sounds & studio works, check out his website http://djoliverm.com and/or his podcast page http://djoliverm.podomatic.com. Plus, make sure that A.M. this Saturday (2nd Oct) is a date in your diary and join in the fantastic festivities at Fire, we will certainly be there to report on it all. (DISCO MATT)