The Social – a reflection


It’s fair to say for R$N, The Heavenly Social at Turnmills was the sole reason for us picking every two-bit ‘university’ in London that would have us. The prime goal being to get out of the dead end town I was living in and get a musical education. Week in week out down in the depths of Farringdon institution our ears were pummelled with music we’d never heard before from Mr Andrew Weatherall, Richard Fearless, Justin Robertson, The Chemical Bros, Massive Attack… the list went on. It was ace. It shaped our ears. And there the harking back to the ‘good ole days’ of R$N ends. Instead let’s turn our attention back the institution that is The Social and Heavenly. This year The Social turns 15 and The Heavenly Social 20… yes, 20! To celebrate The Heavenly Social is going weekly again back down the Social (lotta Socials in there). Last week R$N hosted one of these shows with the great minds Richard Fearless (sssh) and Sean Johnston. This weekend The Pool take over the concrete basement. They were there man – so was I, see the amazing pic below. foxy – well they were pretty closer to being there from the start. Jeff Barrett, he was there right at the start. And Carl, he’s got a massive beard and was there from… well from the middle. Ahead of their disc playing they all had a chat about the good ole days.

Matt Johnson – The Pool 

Carl Gosling – The Social 

Jeff Barrett – Heavenly

M – So Carlos, when did you start working at Heavenly / The Social tell us about year zero?

C – About 8 years ago I think. Before that I was fresh into London with a degree from a good university working a shitty and slightly bizarre sales job. Dominic Masters from that band The Others was in my team, he was my mentor! Anyway, landed this never-seen-before-once-in-a-lifetime-lucky-as-shit deal and walked straight away with a 2 grand bonus straight into a job at Selectadisc, the record shop on Berwick Street. I was incredibly lucky to work for there for the next 4 years with some of the greatest people ever. Such good times. 

We started to put on a night together at The Social called The Playlist and from there I found myself doing work experience with my lovely predecessor Nicky Moore in the Heavenly office. When she left Martin and Robin came to see me in the shop on a really busy Friday afternoon:

Them: you up for a pint? 

Me what now ? Not sure I can leave at the minute 

Them: course you can

I accepted the job about 20 minutes and two pints later in the King of Corsica (RIP)

Credit: Matt Flint.

M – When did The Social open it doors? 

C – Sometime in the summer of 1999. 

M – and who was it designed by? Prince? The architecture of the place is really great, pretty unique look

C – It was designed by David Adjaye (OBE) and Will Russell whove both gone on to do some really big things. 

It was built to withstand pretty much anything, and it basically has. A real testament to their design as we really have done very little to the place in 15 years – structurally virtually nothing!

M Lots of concrete!


M – Do you feel any kind of pressure from the mayhem that has gone on in that place over the years to maintain the same momentum?

C – No not really, the bar has grown up a little bit over the years! Its not a smash up every night, although you can still get caught out on a Monday night if youre not careful. 

As with most venues that have been around for 15 years there have been some ups and downs, but it feels in a great place right now. Loads of fantastic nights every week including Hip Hop Karaoke, The Heatwave, Huw Stephens and Faber Social all having residencies. 

Im really proud of the fact that we have events on nearly every day of the week; live nights, club nights, literary nights.. its a very diverse programme of stuff that we do and I guess in that way appeals to lots of different people. 

Feels like lots has changed in the local area but I think we have just stuck to our guns and not panicked too much when everything upped moved east! I like to think of us a little safe haven in W1.

How did you end up involved with The Social? 

M So (life story) I grew up in a little town outside Somerset, one of the guys in the year above me at school, Will Jamerson, went to University in Liverpool and set up the legendary party Chibuku Shake Shake up there. 

Will knew via his younger brother and a mutual friend that I used to muck about DJing in our town in my teens, playing birthday parties, school dances, warming up for my mates band, throwing the odd rave in the football club etc. And he asked me up to spin up there. Then when I moved to London he asked me to help put on gigs for Chibuku in London. He got offered The Social on a Monday night at first. So he put on some of the best residents called The Beat Monkeys (2 DJs, 2 mixers about 8 decks or something silly) and got a coach load of the Liverpool lot down. Suitably we all ended up at The End at Erols night and it was Tuesday morning before we knew it. Next thing your boss Nicky was offering us every Friday and the rest is kind of history… that ran for a couple of years. I kind of lived down there on a Friday, and then Chibuku had its time worked it magic and ran out of gas. So myself and Ben my DJ partner / best buddy… started our own little thing called Blaze Of Glory. Going to Monthly on a Friday. Which I think is when we got to know you…

C – Any memories of your own (at all) of any particuarly big nights down there? 

M – Nicky got us to do a NYE party there once. We had a mirror ball fall on someones head at midnight. Im sure that classic has happened to many, but to actually see it happen was quite funny. There are others of Chibuku residents (whom will remain nameless) throwing vinyl about at closing. Im sure there was a funny one with The Revenge and yourself and you getting locked out your own office.. and many many more. 

C – Yep that Revenge night is still talked about sometimes, ended up with me pissing myself, cutting my pants off (with my beard scissors), falling down the stairs, losing my shoes (later found in Graemes bag in Scotland), stealing the cleaners shoes and her having to walk home barefoot. Not great. 

M – Does Musa still work on the door?

C – Sadly not, what a legend that man is. That said, Ali and Zena who look after things now are totally brilliant. 

You were a fan too then, I think everyone was. Still have people ask about him all the time. 

M – Never known a guy like Musa. Best security bar none, so calm, always remember his was a hot water at the end of the night and he had the best way with letting you know about playing one last tune. 

C – That look from the end of the room! or sometimes hed just take the needle off the deck while you were bending down to pick one more

M – The staff in general always seemed to be having as good a time as the punters. Do you think that’s been key to the longevity of the place?

C – Sounds a little naff but the staff are the heart and soul of every venue arent they. So many of our staff have stayed in touch, or do nights, or like Danny now work at the label!

M – Is it right that Dan Beaumont from Dalston Superstore (right) and Dance Tunnel used to work there?

C – Thats right Dan was one of the managers for a few years and really helped shape the bar, he created some mental cocktails too . . I think the Baked Bean Martini was his!

M I remember lock ins upstairs with Dan testing his custard cream flavoured shooters on us. 

And Wil founder of Ransom Note?

C – Yep Wil was there from the beginning! Got some amazing photos of him from back then that someone dug out the other day. Actually, see below. If one isnt below this text its because Wil has edited out.

(I’m getting fired for this… – Ciarn/Intern)

M HA! So i guess everything started at The Albany, we were a little young for that one, well Ben wasnt. Did you used to frequent it?

C? – No I was still at school when The Albany was going off! I was 15 haha! Ive heard the stories though of course. Theres actually a great written history of it kicking around somewhere. Will dust it off this year. 

M – How have the guests faired so far on the new Heavenly Social Friday nights ? Any highlights?

C – Were only four parties in but its been ace since the very first week of January. Pete Wiggs, Jon Carter, Justin Robertson, DJ Die, Richard Fearless and Sean Johnston have all played totally brilliant music. Been important for it not to feel like a revival thing, been great to see lots of old faces down there but LOTS of new ones too and weve not really been playing Social Classics all night either. Theres too much great new music to just look backwards.

M – Amen

C – Been an amazing response too from punters. Weve kept it free to all members and before 9pm so things have been getting lively nice and early. That is really important for us, were not a club after all . . I think we were described as a Microclub’ once which I was never really sure about. I like to think of us as a bar that plays really good music in the basement, people dance and everyone has a laugh! Its not too dark, theres no flashy lights, lazers or smoke. 

Do you remember the dancing ban ?

M – Bloody hell I forgot, hilarious! Like that mayor from new york, had landed or something, was that Westminster Council gone mad?

C – Not actually sure, I think maybe it was something to do with our license at the time which got sorted very quickly, but for a few months there were those classic signs next to the DJ booth . . Please refrain from dancing

M – The Social has a heavyweight heritage of eclecticism and a little bit of mayhem. Do you think you can rekindle that spirit again? 

C – Well there have been a lot of sore heads on Saturday mornings over the last few weeks, although I think that much was always a given. I dont think as residents we ever find eclecticism a problem and were encouraging all the guests to come down and do something different too, play whatever they want. DJ Die played a cracker, took in so many different styles over three hours . . proper anything goes set. Really want him to come back soon. 

What about you chaps on Friday, few curveballs maybe ?

M – Always!

We saw you guys last year at your Stonebridge tent at Glastonbury, you also book stages at No.6 Festival amongst others. And way back in the day we used to work together a lot on the Rizla and Guardian arenas. Do you still have a burning passion for that smell of sweat, mud and port-a-loos / nepalm in the morning?

C – Well we still all seem to find ourselves at lots of festivals every year! Stonebridge is such an honour to do – brilliant, exhausting, incomparable fun every single year. So many special guests too – last year on our stage we had your man Greg Wilson, Daniel Avery, Fatboy Slim, Jackmaster, Toddla T, Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, Rudimental, 2 Bears, The Horrors, Jagwar Ma, Psychemagik and loads of others! Im not sure how it happened to be honest . . oh and of course not forgetting you guys! 

How did you find the festival ?

M – Loved it, especially the Bristol contingent whom came out in force, for us it is round the corner now! Been going since teenage years, so it was nice to be back again after a couple of years off! 

What are you other favourite festivals?

C – Port Elliot – feels like home, we help to run great area and stage called Caught By The River which is  something else that has grown out of the Heavenly office. 

Secret Garden Party – it was our first time last year and blown away by the attention to detail. We were in and out in 24 hours though, id love to go back and spend the weekend. 

Bestival – always love it there. Rob and co put a lot of love into it and it shows. So much going on and such a lot of energy in a relatively small space.

Festival No.6 – Just been incredible the first two years. Its small, in an insanely beautiful setting, great mix of music and other programming. Well worth the epic journey.

What about you chaps, I think I said to you other day that im a bit jealous of your Croatia jaunts . . feels like im missing out by never going to a festival over there – its a lot of fun right ?

M – Yes The Garden festival was the baptism, for us, ask any of those whom have been and most will have a little sparkle in their eye. Or can shed a tear remembering the early days of boat parties that went for days. Now the cat is out the bag and the sunday supplements are doing travel editions on Croatian festivals, so you can take your pick which one musically suits you best. There is so many to choose from! But Croatia is beautiful.   

C – . . and Ibiza too ?

M – Dont get us started we might be here a long time. The Pool Travel Agency.Com… GO, book that ticket. 

You DJ as The Heavenly Jukebox, how did that begin?

C – Started a long long time ago around the time of Turnmills by Robin, Jeff, Martin and Nick. Myself and Danny are just the new boys. The Jukebox is us lot playing records that we like together, rarely bothering with mixing – no real sound as such. Depends where we are, what time it is and the general state of mind of all involved. 

M – Is there still a Jukebox in The Social, whats the most played tune at minute?

C – There is indeed. Its got a bit of mind of its own and does tend to get stuck playing the same song all day if you let it. Well never replace it for an iPod though, such a beautiful, hardworking thing. Got some big plans for it this year too.

Tell me about The Pool, how did that all come about ? 

M – About ten years back maybe a bit longer, I finished a film degree, moved home for the summer and then moved up to London with some mates. Decided making movies wasnt for me and landed a job with Nuphonic after calling the up on the off chance as I was buying a lot of their records. 

Worked a temp job in St Pauls for the school of nursing and midwifery for a while (don’t ask) and soon threw in the towel to spend 24/7 in Nuphonic offices on Scrutton Street opposite Weatherall’s studio. Nuphonic was in a bit of a mad spot, it soon sort of fell apart and morphed into Tirk. Set in motion by the mighty Turk himself Sav Remzi. Billie and James from (Horsemeatdisco) whom ran the DJ agency for Nuphonic, both went different ways. James to run the HMD empire. Billie to conquer fashion heights with Diesel. So I took hold of the agency and ran with it. Tirk went through various ups and down’s eventually getting sold to a big digital monster, at which time I got out and set up on my own as The Pool…   

C – Who do we need to watch out for on the books?

Quite a few nice signings coming in at the moment. Must be the footie, transfer window or something if you know what I mean. No we’ve got some great guys working with us, real heads… Ben, Robert, Thomas, Gavin. Each looking for new talent. Rob’s just signed Andra’s Fox, Telephones and Mr Ties. Thomas who’s playing with us on Friday has signed Bell Towers. And Gavin whom actually works with Greg Wilson a lot, has picked up Josey Rebelle, whom does this great Sunday morning show on Rinse Fm. Our Soundcloud is the best place to get feel for them all, via regular mixes the odd downloadable track etc. We also run a blog called Loop to read on the bus / bog.

What new stuff is coming up on Heavenly ?

C – It really is an exciting time for the label. Were working with TOY, Stealing Sheep, Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs, Mark Lanegan, Cherry Ghost and of course Jimi Goodwin from Doves whose genius solo album is out really soon. The Temples debut comes out on Monday and weve just signed this amazing new band called The Wytches too. 

M – Heavenly musically is quite a mixed bag, we like to think of The Pool in a similar way, reflecting various musical styles, at times this helps and at other times it hinders people getting what we are about. Do you at times find it hard to define what Heavenly is, or musically what makes it tick?

C – Think this is one for Jeff!

J – We dont try and define Heavenly. Whether its the label (Recordings) or anything else that we do under the Heavenly umbrella (like the bar for example) it will always reflect whatever makes us happy. It usually comes with a smile and a decent pair of shoes and its great if it clicks with other people but over all of our years we have only ever really acted on impulse and instinct.

M – A lot of the DJs, associated with Heavenly, Sean Rowley, Richard Norris, Andrew Weatherall, Chemical Brothers, Richard Sen, Richard Fearless, Gruff Super Furry Animals, Jon Carter etc all seem to have something within what they do that puts them between the poles so to speak. In that they can jump between that dance music landscape but also be playing alongside bands, working with live acts etc. I kind of see that as Heavenly Social’s success almost being the ultimate indie / dance party. Sunday night anything goes?

J – Guess so. We all just love music. Folk tried too hard to define what the Social at the Albany was all about when really all it was was a bunch of folk who knew about and loved music sharing the love. 

M – I was also always drawn to the soul / rnb influence that Heavenly had going on, from artwork to music, style etc. There was something mod about the whole thing, are we dreaming? There used to be quite a few of those style of nights going on at The Social too?

J – You arent dreaming. 

Bell Towers and The Pool DJs are the special guest at the Heavenly Social on Friday 7th Feb

Matty & Ben Down The Social Smashers 

The Loft Various (Nuphonic)

Love Unlimited Orchestra – Strange Games and Funky Things

Lexx – Sirocco

Busta Jones – Makin’ me Hot

Primal Scream – Uptown (Long after the disco is over remix)

J.AM. – Number 1

Idjut Boys All Night Long (Unreleased DUB)

Unknown – Last Train To Oslo 

D-Classics Stretch

Ten City My Piece Of Heaven

Voyage Souvenirs (Mattys Down Bitch Edit)

Chaka Khan Fate (Ben Terrys Guitar Fix)

Don Ray Got To Have Loving 

Blue Magic Welcome To The Club (Teds Entry Theme Tune)

Bell Towers – Feb Chart   

Ani-i – Kino i 

Tambien – The Tambien Project 2

Cale Park – N1

Full Circle – Back to Disco Valley

Enchante – Born Free 8

Gemini – Image-a-nation LP

RVDS – Moon On Milkyway

Iueke – Tape 4

Takeshi Kouzuki Whirlwind

The Heavenly Social Continues in 2014…

14th Feb – Rhythm Connection (Dan Beaumont and Nadia Ksaiba)

21st Feb – Very special guest + Tim Burgess

28th Feb – St Davids Day Special with The Welsh House Mafia – Green Gartside (Scritti Politti), Huw Stephens, Pete Fowler, Kieran Evans and Robin Turner (Heavenly Social)

7th March – Hannah Holland

14th March – Dave Maclean (Django Django)

21st March – Sophie Llyod

Photo Credits: Louisa Mair, Tom Gilfillan, Paul Kelly & Mat Flint