Fergus Clark: The ‘Monday Is Okay’ Mix
12th Isle have become a trademark name amidst the Glaswegian musical underground. As arguably some of the most interesting selectors to emerge from the city in recent years, it seemed only right for them to be represented on site. Fergus Clark is one of the founding members of the crew and has amassed vast musical knowledge for someone of a relatively youthful age. You are as likely to catch him playing spoken word as you are obscure krautrock or early techno records. A selector in the truest sense he has begun to establish a reputation in having been invited to play in France, London and beyond. We caught up with him to talk 12th Isle and more. Listen and read the interview below:
Who are you?
Fergus or Feargus is a popular Irish, Manx and Scottish given name. The first form is the Old Irish spelling and the latter the Anglicised form of the modern Fearghus or Fearghas, meaning "man-strength" or "virility". Not sure I would use either of those terms to describe myself though.
Where are you?
In my room in the southside of Glasgow.
What are you?
Hungover and in need of some Vitamin C.
At what age did you first begin collecting records?
I never thought of it at the time as the conscious beginning of a collection and still would hesitate to use the term record collector because of preconceived notions of what kind of habits come with ‘collecting’. To paraphrase a very well known local DJ, I’d say I’m a record user as opposed to collector. I grew up in the digital age of music consumption so from a really early age listened to all sorts of music through iPods, mobile phones and computers etc but I think I was maybe 15 years old when I bought my first record. By the time I got turntables I probably had a couple of hundred and though the initial incentive was to use the turntables for learning to DJ the act of sitting back and just listening to music quickly became more important for me. I still very very rarely use them to practice mixing or whatever. I get bored of it fast.
What led to the formation of the 12th Isle parties?
12th Isle evolved out of a monthly Wednesday night gathering myself and my long time friend and ex-radio show co-host Gareth Roberts ran at a spot called Nice n Sleazys in Glasgow city centre. We still organise a New Years Day event there but the original regular So Weit So Gut parties are no longer. It was never a traditional kind of dance party anyway and we really did get away with playing all kinds of strange sounds back then. I think the name, which is borrowed from a Harald Grosskopft track and means ‘So Far So Good’ was always intended to have a sort of wry humor to it and how long it would last. Gareth is now running a tape label called Domestic Exile and is putting out some great local industrial style music. I began the 12th Isle party with Stewart Brown, DJ Crud, and King Heroin to use our questionable abilities behind a set of turntables to hopefully make weekend party goers dance and let loose to a wide mix of disco, dub, new wave, house and other stuff that hopefully gives the night no set structure but still encourages a good time and friendly atmosphere. You’d need to ask somebody else if we are succeeding. Big thanks to Fielding Hope, who now runs the bookings at Cafe Oto in London, for making this happen and also continually asking me to play records at his old Cry Parrot events despite being too young to enter most of the venues back then.
And now the label?
The idea to launch the record label is a long and quite convoluted tale but to keep this brief, the whole thing just naturally seemed to fall into place for us. I’m very happy about it all. There is a longer answer to this question over on the Lullabies for Insomniacs blog if anyone is interested.
What does this summer hold for both you and the label?
I need to prepare for my dissertation and final year studies at University. The first record on the label should (finally) be out by the end of this month and then we hope to have the second release out before the last part of the year. More on that nearer the time.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
The art direction of the record sleeves and the aural imagery I get when I listen to them definitely informed some kind of perceived narrative for me. Something akin to being lost in the amazon and encountering a strange civilisation and being indoctrinated into their way of life and everything you thought you knew being turned upside down. I think a lot of the time when I listen to certain kinds of music (musique concrete compositions being a particularly striking example of this) I perceive it as being like sonic cinema, for lack of a better more evocative term. My mind goes off on one and it’s very therapeutic. The records included in this mix and the way they are arranged really resonated with me and I have had some great relaxing times listening to it over the past week or two. Maybe some photos of the covers and track titles would help here but I don’t like the idea of forcing this sort of perception upon anybody and would be much more interested in how many different ways the mix could be appreciated or decoded. Some people might just find it dull. It was recorded at a friend’s place and there is some crackle from the gains on the mixer being adjusted that leaked through onto the master audio output, but it’s not too distracting.
If it were to be drawn what would it look like?
Funnily enough I have no answer to that.
If it were a food what would it be?
I’m also at a loss for an answer to this question too. Maybe ceviche… I’d love some of that right now.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
I listened to it walking around Queens Park a lot last week, which is a nice place at the top of my street. The Scottish Poetry Rose Garden in particular. Here is a nice photo if anybody is interested.
What should we be wearing?
That’s entirely up to you.
Where was it recorded?
In the living room of a friend’s house
What were the first and last records you bought?
The first record was Sky by Aaron Carl and the last record was a New Musik seven inch called 24 Hours From Culture Part II from a charity shop nearby.