Mugwump – The Ransom Note Mix


Mugwump's history stretches far… over the years he's released on labels like Kompakt, R&S and Gigolo and remixed the likes of The Asphodells, CCC – and Bob Sinclair no less. Just a cursory glance at his back catalogue illustrates the diverse nature of Mugwump's approach to production, combining a variety of influences from 80's pop, dub and new-beat with disco and techno – let's call the overarching flavour 'mutant disco'. 

Now, with Subfield, Mugwump's own label and his rather fine Leftorium clubs he's solidifying this diversity. We thought it was about time we asked him to lay down his Ransom Note mix mandate and we found out a bit more about the man like Mugwump. 

First up, the mix… get this in your ears:


So without further ado, please introduce yourself…

Who are you: Mugwump
Where are you: Brussels
What are you: A Supreme Mugwump of The International Confederation of the Wizards

Memory Lane Refund: 

What was the first electronic record you ever heard? How did it make you feel?

Probably M 's "Pop Muzik" in the jukebox of my parents' (they had a cool pub in the center of Brussels and everyone was always dancing) but I can't really remember what I felt when I was like, 7 years old. It stayed in the jukebox for a long time, next to disco classics, crooners and French pop.


Let’s talk about Boccacio. It’s a club that’s always fascinated me. It always feels wrong / fetishistic to hark back to the old days but it was one of those really influential clubs from the annals of time that people pore over. 

Would you mind telling us a bit about it…

Fascinating it certainly was. Totally. I always had this sort of little fear taking over me when arriving nearby through the highway, there was a giant lazer flashing at miles around so you knew it was coming and just when you got in the club, the tension would only go up because of the music : slow, dark, ultra loud and at the beginning the fauna in there was quite intimidating. It was absolutely thrilling. I went there a thousand times although it was on Sundays and it had several lifetimes, from the early proto New-Beat era (where they'd play Steve Reich, Coil, Klauz Schulze and Severed Heads to a full house that wasn't specially on drugs by the way) to the more mainstream New-Beat explosion (still mostly drug-free), then onto house, techno, rave and in the end, sadly, hardbeat and trance. As far as I'm concerned, it stopped being relevant quite a bit before THAT historic drug raid in 1992 or something and the new licensing laws that made it closed at 5am instead of the Monday evening. After that it was over for me, the whole scene went berserk to the sounds of Bonzai, which I really disliked…Anyway in its heyday, I knew quite well one of the resident deejays, Eric B, who I had met earlier and hung with, at La Gaité, a small club in Brussels where they would let in very young folks. After the club closed, he would take me to other clubs where they let me with him. I ended up buying records at USA Import in Brussels where he'd hang out with all the resident DJ's from many clubs around. Later I started to work there. It was always closed on Mondays of course…it was a glorious era. 

To close the subject, 5 years ago, there was a Mugwump track that's some sort of homage to the club and amazingly enough, it was released on R&S, the label that's forever tied up with the Boccaccio history… I still play it.

Is it true that the Bocaccio name has been sold again and it’s opening again in Ostend? Or that it’s re-opened as an Italian restaurant in Wakefield:

The name was bought many years ago and a really commercial club in Halen was made out of it, they have a seaside version of it in Ostend probably but it's not even worth talking about it. The original club is still open but with another name. Again, very commercial.

What was it like hearing New Beat for the first time?

I can't really say I discovered a New-Beat sound once in a club. There's always been a scene of DJ's playing obscure music (Popcorn) before New-Beat 'arrived' but the massive reaction to obscure proto-New Beat stuff being continously played by the residents of many Flemish discotheques after the Popcorn craze led producers to slowly start making their own music based out of that vibe, it went a bit more commercial and mainstream of course, but it was more the slowness of the music that was particularly great and felt like something new and totally hypnotic of course. People don't always realize we had this huge electronic scene that drew thousands and thousands of people in the Belgian clubs every weekend, way before house & techno started.


New Beat continues to rear it’s head over and over again within many musical corners. What do you think it’s enduring appeal is?


Definitely the rebelling factor. It has a big 'Fuck You' written all over it's dark synths, the slow beats, the tension, it's just not easy and disposable. And incorporating these influences into new music right now is probably an antidote to all this homogenised deep-house that's flooding all over.


What was your last day job and when did you realise you could give it up?


Unsurprisingly I've been working in quite a few record stores in the past. I'm still part-time working right now, promoting cultural events, and I do run my own Leftorium events with my partner Prince Off.


What’s left is right…When I first moved to London I used to work at a place called Smithfields where Heavenly had a club called Leftorium where Harvey would play for 8 hours solid – and piss in pint glasses behind the decks that I had to clear up – tell us about how Leftorium


I'm quite shocked to hear the name had already being used. Although it's great it's linked to Harvey obviously. I used to do 8 hour sets when I had my Food residency but that was another thing. I chose the Leftorium name because of the shops where you can buy things, that are strictly designed for left-handed people, I thought it was pretty accurate to promote parties that'd mainly showcase the more leftfield end of house, disco & techno and that's what my partner Prince Off & me, we mostly do. We decided to start the night as an alternative to the Brussels club scene. We do have people like Ivan, Andrew, Sean and most of the Kompakt brigade regularly playing. We also had Roman Flügel, Ata, Gerd Janson, Miss Kittin, Hell , Derrick May and imminently Ellen Allien or Damian Lazarus. It goes a bit all over the place musically and we do have a great mix of people : straight, gay, young, older, hip and European expats, its not segregated at all, which is great too. I usually close the night with a lot of 'chug', techno and obscure classics.

I’m guilty of pigeon-holing – and for that I’m sorry – so bear with me but what effect has the whole ALFOS / slower chug sound had on you in recent years. I think it would be fair to say Boutade – which still sounds amazing today as it did back in 08 – was an influence on the art of slowing down, don’t you?

The Norwegian scene kickstarted that but the whole ALFOS scene has a darker edge and i can obviously really relate to it due to my roots in New-Beat. However, I had already started to incorporate New-Beat influences in the Mugwump productions back in 2004 and Andrew has been supporting the Mugwump output before ALFOS started, I think. Each time I met him in Belgian festivals or clubs, I'd always give him cds and vinyls of our stuff and most of the time he'd play it. When 'Boutade' came on, I repeatly received text messages from Pete Herbert and other London friends saying he'd kill another club with it, I think Sean & him namechecked the record as an influence on their ALFOS night too. And they also made the new version that was released last year on International Feel, a hit too. And now I get some Facebook messages when they do play the new Mugwump on Subfield, "Share of Thee Grail"… Anyway it was great to get invited to play their X-mas party last winter with Ivan, people were very cool and supporting. I was also thrilled to have the chance to remix "A Love from Outer Space" from Andrew & Tim 's project, The Asphodells. It's a nice bound

Do you have an i/smart Phone? 

Yes of course.

Do you use social media and for what purpose? 

It's totally needed to exist as an artist in this digital era.

Geoffroy aka Mugwump;

What are the musical nuances between Geoffroy and Mugwump and why produce under different aliases?

I started to play under my own name in the 90's and have been very successful at it in Belgium, with not a produced record under my belt back then apart from my 'Moving House' compilations on SSR. I'd play a wide variety of house, techno, disco and electro but I felt the need to re-invent myself after the Food club years ended so I started the Mugwump moniker. Geoffroy was then, Mugwump is now. The 'aka' phase is over too.

First and last record bought? 

I always respond differently to that one, because I can't really remember. I used to buy the records with my mother every Friday to fill my parents' jukebox and I started my own collection of 45's in the process. Probably with Plastic Bertrand "Ca plane pour moi". The latest was Harvey's "Wildest dreams" album and the digital from that Tiefschwarz "Bodydub" remix, which closed the mix I did for you… I still had the Clone white, but completely ruined it back then.

What is the state of mutant disco in 2014?

As far as I'm concerned, very good I reckon. It has infiltrated a bit everywhere and there's an ebullition of creativity.

Which song do you wish you had written?

That's a tricky one. You can probably guess I'm quite partial to strings, so "Unfinished Sympathy" maybe?

Musically you’re all over the place at the moment. I don’t mean you don’t have a direction I mean you have a lot coming out and are playing a lot. Why do you think you’re so prolific at the moment?

I've been lucky enough to have music released on some rather amazing labels so far and I felt it was time to concentrate on doing mine. Doing Subfield together with !K7 is quite exciting for me and that probably explains me being noticed as 'prolific' although I've never stopped being in the studio. I also just started a new collaboration with DC Salas, a great upcoming producer from Brussels and we get along pretty well. So we have new material ready for Subfield of course and some remixes for Soft Rocks' Kinfolk imprint and the Silence imprint from Vilnius (linked to the great Opium club there), they're in the mix here. I'm also venturing into other music areas so expect a lot more.

"If you bubble under the surface you’re always relevant.”  I read that somewhere when listening to the end of your mix where you finish with that excellent Tiefschwarz mix of Unit 4 but it got me thinking. Tiefschwarz blew up in a big way where you couldn’t move for a few years without seeing a Tiefschwarz remix on everything… I would imagine it was difficult for Tiefschwarz to remain relevant with such a high profile.  But as you’ve always bubbled under the surface of things you’re always relevant in some way. Or am I talking nonsense?

You're probably refering to that UK national treasure which is 'hype' ? : ) I don't believe any creativity would be altered because of some over-exposure. If you're listening to anything Ewan Pearson, Joakim, Andrew Weatherall or Ivan Smagghe have recently produced, the spark and the creativity is always there and we can fairly say they had and still have a lot of hype around them.

So, onto the mix… 

Where was the mix recorded?

In the booth at FM Brussel, the radio where I have a weekly show for 10 years now, since they launched actually. We just had a massive party last weekend to celebrate the birthday.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix? 

On the way to a cool party in a Tuscany villa.

What should we be wearing ?

Some serious SM outfits?

What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format.

I'm not too excited by the prospective of 'recording' a mix but starting a varied 8 hours set in the morning at Panoramabar would have me in a great mood I reckon. I love that club, played there a few times for Playhouse & Kompakt, partied there every single time after I DJ'd in Berlin… It totally reminds me of the freedom we had in the Boccaccio with its ultra late closing on Monday evenings. Also last year I played in the garden of a Sao Paulo museum for around 3000 people, the setting was nuts…


Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

I really, really love everything I've put in there but maybe that Timothy J. Fairplay breakbeat remix from Maheras.


What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?  

I still have tapes from Dimitri (The Roxy Amsterdam) which are absolutely mint.

If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?

I played once before Alfredo in an open-air Ibiza party at The San Rafael Hippodrome when I was fairly young, he was very nice. Would love to hear him play his Amnesia classic mixture but would not dare to interfere. But if u want me to namecheck some killer DJ's, I really loved the dutch Dimitri, Jon Dasilva (who play loads over here back then) and my fave Belgian DJ, Koenie (Wonka/Wally's Groove World). In the early 90's Italian DJ's like Ricky Montanari, Flavio Vecchi or Leo Mas were also out of this world… As far as b2b DJing goes, I only did a few times in recent years, with Ivan Smagghe (at ALFOS), Max Pask from Throne of Blood (in a Brooklynn warehouse) and another one (accidentally) with Superpitcher (at my own Leftorium night) so maybe these 3 again…

What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?

I basically bought two second-hand Technics 1200 mk2 and a Rodec mixer by then. Now I just have one in my living-room. I don't really need a DJ set up at home anymore to be honest.

What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?

C'mon, they're equally important of course.

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything…

Nothing is impossible

Upcoming in the world of…

MUGWUMP "Interluudes" EP Out on 22 september trough !K7, much much more to come on SUBFIELD after that.