Thursday, 1 January 2009


2008 was the year where the culmination of four years hard work seemed to really pay off for Ruffnek Diskotek. The brainchild of DJ Dub Boy, Ruffnek has always been about the love of music first and foremost above all other considerations; with an esoteric attitude to its bookings and a consummate approach to the inclusion of both local and national names, it’s fast becoming a much-loved institution in Bristol.

Perhaps one of the questions that remained unanswered until 2008 was if they could translate the success of their smaller events to a larger scale venue; it’s the barometer of success that marks the evolution of most nights. They’d tested the waters this year hosting rooms at Motion for other nights, but going it alone is a whole different matter. When it was announced they’d be teaming up with the Fire crew for a massive rave at the Black Swan for the debut Monster Bass night, the line up left few in doubt they meant business – and ultimately led to a hugely successful party which cemented their reputation.

From their Bristol underground community nights at Cosies to their cutting-edge parties at The Croft and now tackling the big time raves too, the ongoing rise of Ruffnek Diskotek is assured. Simply put, Ruffnek Diskotek is all that’s good about Bristol. We caught up with promoter Dub Boy for a quick chat.

B: How's 2008 been for you?

D: A blur! Lots of good times, lots of late nights and lack of sleep, lots of hard work. 2008 has been a great year for me professionally. RD’s gone from strength to strength and I feel I’ve stepped up a gear with my DJing and been able to play some great gigs. The success I’ve had with music in 2008 has allowed me to start working part time in my day job, which is a real achievement as far as I’m concerned. But life is all about balance. What one hand giveth the other taketh away. I’ve been so busy working this year my personal life has suffered a lot. So I’m still trying to find the right balance between the two.

B: RD is now one of the most successful and longest-running nights in Bristol for providing bass-heavy music. When you started did you have any idea that it would become so popular?

D: Nah no way! I started RD because no one else was putting on events that were playing the mix of music I wanted to hear. So it was for pretty selfish reasons really ha ha! When we started I was programming Dubstep & Garage DJs as the main acts with Dancehall, Jungle and so on in the second room. Everyone used to complain that the Dubstep was too slow and it was boring and so on, and I should put the Dancehall & Jungle on in the main room. I’m very stubborn though and basically knew I was right so stuck with it.

I’ve never been interested in being popular though - my main motivation is to play and promote music that’s good, and that pushes things forward. Popular music is usually rubbish because it has to compromise itself - I’m all about the niches. So yeah, very surprised we’ve become this popular as our approach is totally uncompromising. It’s fantastic that we’ve become so popular without having to compromise ourselves. To me that’s a huge achievement.

B: Tell us some more about the RD history and how the nights came about.

D: The first party we did was in Feb of 2005. I’d met Beavis, who had a small soundsystem at that time. We put on a little party at Take5 on Stokes Croft which was great fun, and had a few of our mates down to play just for a laugh. We played what we play now basically - dancehall, dubstep, jungle, reggae, bit of electronica, some hiphop. Just a mash-up of bass-heavy soundsystem music. Originally I had thought of that as just as a one-off for fun.

Anyway it was my 25th in the August of that year, and after having so much fun with that first party I decided to have another one for my birthday. I’d had this name ‘Ruffnek Diskotek’ in my head for a while, so decided to use it for my birthday party. That’s how RD was born. We had about 170 through the door on a Thursday night in August, which was a total surprise. And then people started to ask when the next one was…so it just went from there. The whole process had been completely organic and totally unpremeditated.

B: What have been some of the personal RD highlights for you over the past few years?

D: Gosh, there have been a lot! Musical highlights are endless but special mention has to go to Peverelist in Oct 07 - an amazing set where he made a great impression on loads of people who hadn’t seen him play before. Pinch said on the night it was the best he had ever seen him play. Monster Bass in October 08 has been the best party we’ve ever put on, that was an incredible night with Mungo’s Hi-Fi on top form. I also really enjoyed The Heatwave & Rubi Dan whenever they’ve come to play - Gabriel Heatwave is my favourite DJ.

It’s difficult to single out musical highlights though, because the music at Ruffnek is always so good. Personal highlights include Monster Bass, our 1st birthday party, our linkups with [dissident] @ Clockwork and the Swanny, Jokers mum rewinding all his tunes down Cosies (LOL!), meeting loads of great people (DJs & punters alike), the very first party at Timbuk2 and of course being voted top club night in 2008!

B: How do you feel about the misappropriation by others of terms like "bashment"? It seems everyone is keen to stick it on a flyer but they dont actually rep that sound.

D: Hmmm interesting question. Bashment for me is two things. One, it’s a term for a party…a bash! But as it’s a Jamaican term so therefore the implication is that reggae & all its facets (and genres directly influenced by it) should be a major part of what is played. The other definition is of course the style of music. To me bashment is almost a post-dancehall style. It’s usually pretty fast and is quite clearly influenced by electronic dance music, Hip Hop & other non-Jamaican styles. So if you’re gonna put bashment on a flyer, you should really be playing bashment or at least something with it’s roots in reggae music.

To be honest I think people are sticking it on flyers because it’s just a cool word to use at the moment, and they think it will help attract custom. It seems they don’t actually know what it means. I’ve been to a few nights where bashment is on a flyer and I don’t hear any reggae or even any music influenced by it. It doesn’t annoy me particularly. Nobody ‘owns’ the term, so really people are free to use it as they want, whether they know what it means or not.

I consider myself a bashment DJ, though and my night is a bashment, so if you want to get to know what it’s really about then come and see me play or come to Ruffnek Diskotek! I play a very eclectic range of music, as does RD, but the foundations are always in soundsystem & reggae culture - hence why it’s always bashment. Others may well disagree with me about my thoughts here, but that’s how is see it.

B: How do you feel the local scene (and overall UK music scene) has changed in the last few years? Is it easier now to push these sounds then it was say four or five years back?

D: The Bristol scene has been amazing over the last few years! The main change is clearly the influence of Dubstep. It has allowed a lot of young producers & DJs to make their mark in music. Things had become quite stale, so the last few years have been very exciting. The challenge is to keep pushing forward and keeping things fresh. It seems Dubstep is falling into some of the same traps D&B did. There’s loads of great music being made, but as it’s become more popular the pressures from that have resulted in less experimentation, DJs having to play ‘bangers’ all the time.

What we’re trying to do is to keep peoples minds and ears open, which is easier said than done! So yeah it’s easier to push the sounds these days to an extent, but it’s still just as much as a challenge to push interesting, forward thinking music. The major change I feel has been that genres and styles are less pigeonholed these days and there is a lot of crossover, much like back in the Wild Bunch days. So it’s nothing new, but it’s great that that approach and attitude is so accepted at the moment. For an eclectic event like RD that’s obviously really helpful.

B: What does RD mean to you?

D: It’s my baby!

B: Where do you see the future of RD going?

Well more parties in the immediate future. We have our Bristol Bassmusic monthly at Cosies on the penultimate Saturday of every month there. They are always great sessions where we can play all the stuff we’re loving at that time, and it gives us a great platform to put on all our favourite Bristol artists.

Also there are gonna be more parties at The Croft & the Black Swan soon. I’m also very keen for us to keep getting bookings as Ruffnek Diskotek DJs or the Ruffnek crew. We are playing music no one else in Bristol (and beyond) is. We have in-house producers and great links with other producers, so we’re playing original material, dubs & exclusive tracks and are ‘artists’ in our own right. I would like us to start playing beyond Bristol and hopefully get involved with programming & performing at UK & European festivals.

Hopefully In the future we are going to be much more than a club night. 2009 will see the start of our label ‘Steak House’ as well. I might even finally get round to making some RD t-shirts and stickers ha ha! The hard work starts here!

B: What would be your dream line up?

D: Bob Marley & The Wailers (before they signed to Island)
The Clash
King Jammy’s Soundsystem (circa 1985)
Dennis Brown
The Specials
Smith & Mighty with all the singers & players
King Tubby’s & The Firehouse Crew featuring all the Waterhouse singers

B: Give us a top 5 (of anything).

D: Shabba Ranks tunes…….

1. Get Up Stand & Rock
2. Trailer Load A Girls
3. Love Punaany Bad
4. Where Does Slackness Come From
5. Roots & Culture


Its one thing to mastermind one hugely successful midweek night, but add to that the creation of another massive monthly midweeker too and you really have to respect the promotion team behind D&B party Run and Dubstep throwdown HENCH. It’s easy to forget Run sometimes given its weekly presence in the city, but without fail week in, week out it packs the ravers into Native to witness a seemingly endless conveyor belt of D&B royalty - on a Tuesday no less. Its one of the few nights in Bristol which has a reputation outside of the city, something which is becoming progressively harder to achieve in this day and age.

Discussing Run cant be done without mentioning its sister night HENCH, one of only a handful of genuine Dubstep nights in Bristol. HENCH has raised the bar for other promoters in terms of its bookings and vibe, and after moving from a mid-week to a weekend and now on to Native, 2009 is going to be a massive year for the twin promotions.


Bristol is a city in a state of sonic flux right now, and the more traditional nights are losing crowds to the multi-genre super events where you can taste all your favourite rave flavours under one roof. So it’s heart-warming to witness the rising success of a genuinely idiosyncratic promotion that has character in abundance. Gimmie Shelter is another weekly event in an unlikely home at the top of the Hatchet pub, but promoter John The Mod has been tirelessly carving himself out a niche there for some years now. Offering up to two bands per week and then the eclectic selections of John himself, it’s a rare jewel in a city increasingly bereft of creativity and individuality.


Personality is often missing in the multimedia viscera of promotion, where anodyne plaudits and nepotistic backslapping mask the empty gestures of an industry drip-fed on hyperbole. So it’s a rare treat when a night like Penguin Dance slips through the dire morass of identikit promotions – with a twisted sense of humour and a sincere sense of creativity in their work, the night has justifiably grown to become a success. Something they’ve never been afraid of is ambition – with large scale events and collaborations with growing audio-visual network Five|On|One already under their collective belt in 2008, it will be a pleasure to see what they conjure up this year.


Season Five has grown exponentially from its roots as a mid-week D&B and Dubstep event to take on the weekend market with success. With a core team of dedicated and talented residents and an intelligent, progressive booking policy, the night has serious potential to go on to become one of the biggest and best nights in Bristol in 2009. As fewer and fewer genre-focused nights are emerging, it’s a brave move to concentrate on specific strands in sound. But Season Five has a clear identity about itself and one that will serve it well this year.


With only a handful of events this year to consider, what you have to look to is the amount of praise those events created. From a team who have the depth of experience and knowledge in the scene to create incredible promotions, everything about Dissident is on point. From the incredible, inspiring artwork of their flyers to the sheer quality of their line-ups and attention to detail, its no wonder Dissident has become one of the best-loved promotions in Bristol.


Ostensibly a variation on the Secret Wars idea, Weapon Of Choice had a good year in 2008. The premise of live graffiti and live Hip Hop went on to mutate into utilising Dubstep and other genres, with the completed artwork being auctioned off at the incredibly successful Graffle events. From the ground up, Weapon Of Choice has a perfect combination of visual and audio alongside a well suited home in Mr.Wolf’s. Another mid-week event that belies its location in the week with a huge following, WOC promoter Cheba will have his hands full in 2009 if its increasing popularity is anything to go by.


Pretty much the only dedicated garage night in Bristol, Bodynod has suffered in the past at the hands of the rampant ignorance present in the city toward the genre. However, as a genre revival of sorts followed in from 2007 to last year, the event’s fortunes were revived, first with a massively successful event at Warehouse, followed by two incredible parties at Native. Drawing together the best elements of the sound be it UKG, Funky, Bassline and beyond, the vibe at Bodynod is simply the best in Bristol. With a truly passionate promoter in Adam Telford organising the show, it’s a given that 2009 will see big things for the night.


Break has one of the strangest booking policies in the city, but is all the better for it. Whilst some nights are content to drop a pin in the latest list of an agent’s special offers and serve it up as something incredible, Break have trod their own path with some genuinely inspired bookings this year. 2008 saw some increasingly ambitious events from the promotion, not least of all it’s NYE link up between Clockwork and Blue Mountain. Its one thing to host large events but it’s another to take risks with that format; Break does both and has taken the formula off into bold new directions.


Every month up at the Golden Lion, the Funk From The Trunk crew have been steadily building a loyal base of supporters with their blend of live music and quality DJs. It might not be the biggest rave in town, or play Dubstep on seven million speakers, but FFTT has a genuine desire to showcase the best music around and is all the better for it. 2008 was a consolidating year for the hard-working promotion team behind the night, and BUG fully expects them to take the event even further in 2009.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah big tings at FFTT!