HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Evil Nine Interview with Jonty Skrufff

There’s definitely an intellectual almost nerdy side to breaks but that’s the case with the whole of electronic music full stop. Breaks is quite nerdy, but nerds make the most interesting people.”

Sitting in a drab meeting room in the offices of London’s Fabric to promote their upcoming compilation, Tom and Pat Evil 9 laugh as they recall their formative school days, growing up in England in the 70s and 80s.

“I remember the kids at school who were a bit geeky who were picked on and took shit back then; they turned out to be the most vibrant and interesting characters later in life. Those who were really popular at school are the ones who now are deputy manager at Argos or something,” Tom continues, “I was popular at school, but I was still a geek.”

“A popular geek,” Pat laughs.

“ A self-confessed Goth and passionate Cure fan, Tom admits he was also bullied at school (‘when I was a young kid, I was beaten up and shit’) prompting Pat to respond ‘I don’t think there were many people who weren’t.”

“You were either a bully or you were bullied,” Tom replies.

“I’ve always had quite a middle class accent and as a kid I grew up in quite a working class rough area. Even though my family was quite poor, my dad was from a middle class background. We ended up living in the poorest areas of Wales and Yorkshire, where everybody talked with regional accents, so my accent was perceived as being posh.”

Years after finishing school the pair washed up in Brighton separately where Tom made a living selling tat from charity shops while Pat worked brainless factory jobs, both dreaming of making a living through music, though with little success initially.

“When I moved to Brighton I was just messing around making kind of western music, not for a living, I was on the dole (unemployment benefit) until three years ago,” says Pat.

“I was on the dole as well,” says Tom, “I worked in the pound store when we first started Evil 9 and Pat worked in factories. When we had our first single out I remember bringing it in to the warehouse. We were skint for years, trying to make music. Both of us have been involved in music since we were kids, playing in bands and all that. For me the choice was either to pursue art or music, because I did illustration at university, but the experience of studying art drummed all the love of art out of me and I ended up just wanting to do music,” he adds.

9 years after they first teamed up as Evil 9 the duo have finally become bona fide stars of the breaks scene, also attracting interest and support far beyond the genre’s usual cliques courtesy of their willingness as both DJs and producers to journey into electro, house and rock at every available opportunity. It’s a mindset that’s highlighted perfectly on the Fabric compilation, which includes cuts from Simian Mobile Disco and The Clash.

> Interview : Jonty Skrufff

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : How big a deal for you is it doing this Fabric CD?

Tom : It’s quite a big deal for us and quite an honour in a number of ways, because we feel a big affinity with the club, and also because we have DJed there for a long time, even when we weren’t very well known. We are now residents and have a really good relationship with the club. We love playing at Fabric and our ethos of playing there is that we can play whatever we want and most people are with us, whichever direction we want to take it, we don’t feel we have to play one record or another; we can just be ourselves. This gives us the chance to express ourselves fully. With the Fabric mix, we were able to use all the tracks we wanted to put on. We’ve used everything that is just really exciting, unique, diverse and forward thinking music. Rock the house.

Skrufff : Your label chief Adam Freeland plus Tayo and Ali B all started their music careers as PRs, why do you think so many breaks stars used to be PRs?

Pat : I don’t know, perhaps because they weren’t very good PRs? (chuckling) No, I think they were just generally interested in music, got involved in the music industry and I’m sure they DJed at the same time.

Tom : Maybe when they all started out the genre was quite eclectic, I think it has become un-trendy and got a bad name only recently, due to all the shit break beat that’s being produced. When we first started off doing breaks it was quite exciting and dynamic, the scene was on the up rather than repeating itself like it is now. I’m referring to the whole breaks scene, not to the people you’ve just mentioned, maybe they also got into that style of music because at the time it was quite exciting.

Skrufff : Adam Freeland also lives in Brighton in a luxury seafront apartment, are you now living in similarly big pads?

Tom: No, not really. I own my own house, but we’re not on Adam’s level.

Pat : I live with my girlfriend and pay rent in that, we’re nowhere near that.

Tom: Sometimes we earn as much as him, but I think he does better things with his money.

Pat : At the moment I’m enjoying having money after being skint for years. I spend it on crap.

Skrufff : Have you noticed a lot more money in the scene generally?

Tom : There’s a little bit more. People are a bit smarter. They wear more interesting clothes.

Evil Nine Interview with Jonty Skrufff

Skrufff : These days clubland seems packed with DJ duos, why do you do it?

Tom: We go out and represent ourselves as a pair because we play music together. It first started with me just doing it, but it was good for Pat to see how our tracks are going down, it was useful for all of us. Also using Ableton adds another level to it. You really can get into playing off each other and jamming. At the moment Pat is doing less gigs anyway because we are trying to spend a bit more time in the studio, so Pat is doing more work in the studio while I go out and play the gigs. Not clubs like Fabric, we are always together there, but we are trying to maximize our work, instead of just slogging away. We have to try to make our second album this year.

Skrufff : How far along are you with album?

Tom : We’re not very far.

Pat: We’re about 2% into it. We are just experimenting, messing around and trying not to be too out there at the moment. We don’t want to fall into that cliché difficult second album; we have an established sound and whilst we don’t necessarily want to copy that again, we also don’t want to sound completely different. The ideas so far sound great, we’ve got loads of great ideas and are looking forward to it.

Skrufff : Do you want to perform your own songs as a band?

Pat : Yes, eventually. We are trying to write it with that in mind. We’re both bass players, both play bits of guitar and I can play drums, we’ve got a lot of guitarist friends and MC friends and singers. So we’ll try and do it with friends rather than get a bunch of session musicians together, which would be a bit soul-less. We are basically trying to write it with that in mind.

Skrufff : Is the dream to be like Basement Jaxx or The Chemical Brothers ultimately?

Tom: I wouldn’t say those two name, I like them, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate both those acts, but I like the fact that with both of those acts, people don’t say they are this or they are that. They just say they are The Chemical Brothers or Basement Jaxx or Underworld or whatever. We’d like that with Evil 9 too, definitely.

Skrufff : Why do you call yourself Evil Nine?

Tom: Pat came up with it.

Pat : It happened when I was 17 or 18 years old and I was producing stuff on my own. I just went one day ‘Oh Evil Nine’. Literally had just got Evil and counted to a number that sounded good and just forgot about it for years.

Tom : It looks aesthetically nice as well when you write it, because we don’t like it written with the normal nine, like most people would do it, but people just do it even though we say it’s E.V.I.L N.I.N.E. It looks much nicer.

Pat : I think it’s got that nice symmetry to it, in a sense. Personally, that’s how we like it.

End of the interview

Fabriclive 28 -Evil Nine is out now on Fabric.

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