From it’s humble beginning back in April 2012, DONUTS has swiftly become one of, if not the most, popular weekly night in Brighton. Both a credit to the community’s tastes and the curators themselves, what started as a simple idea of playing out quality Hip-Hop, Soul, Disco, Funk, RnB and left-field Electronic music has now grown into something much more significant in terms of Brighton’s music scene. With a loyal fan base behind them, Donuts have been bringing some of the most distinguished Electronic/Hip-Hop artists that the world has to offer to our pebbly shorelines. From Canadian Hip-Hop beat-freaks Kaytranada and Lunice to the upcoming showcase of L.A. beat-scene super-talents Exile and Blu, DONUTS are now an indispensable force that is keeping our seaside music scene eclectic and fresh.
In the spirit of just that, we thought it would be great to sit down with DONUTS for a chat about all things music, Brighton, and what the future holds. We’re also hosting an exclusive mix below that DONUTS recorded for the occasion, full of audio vitamins spanning Hip-Hop, Soul, Disco, Funk, RnB and more!
DONUTS presents Blu & Exile tomorrow (Wednesday 2nd April 2014) @ Audio, 10 Marine Parade, Brighton and Hove, Brighton, BN2 1TL. You can still buy tickets here, and peep the Facebook event for more details.
So for those people who don’t quite know what Donuts is and what you guys are about, could you give us a bit on an introduction on yourself and the history of the nights so far?
The whole thing pretty much started by fluke. I’d been DJing for about ten years and had various residencies playing at club nights in Brighton and also putting on my own nights. They were mainly student nights, so I was following trends and playing all sorts of music, nothing I was particularly passionate about. It was just a job and my main goal was to make money. So in April 2012 I eventually decided that I wanted to set up a night with the sole intention of playing good music, the music I actually like and would have fun playing. I actually wanted to call it Gobstopper at first but my designer said he was having trouble drawing one so we decided to go with Donuts because that would be easier! It was really quiet at first but we worked at it and out of nowhere we gained some serious momentum. After a few months we had a great following and I decided that it was a great foundation to build on.
There’s plenty of old school 90’s Hip-Hop/RnB nights around Brighton, what do you think it is that makes Donuts so popular?
To be honest I think we had quite a bit of luck along the way. Right place right time sort of thing. Maybe because we give out free donuts haha. I try and do things a little different by incorporating different styles throughout the night. Skipping between 90’s hip hop, soul, LA style beats, original breaks, disco, old skool, funk and so on. Sometimes I will just play a classic break for a few bars and then on to something totally different that I think people won’t be expecting. The artwork by Calum Torbett is also really eye catching and I think that really helps us with our promotions and marketing.
We’re so pleased to see that Donuts are now branching out and getting involved in pulling in some amazing left-field Hip-Hop artists to Brighton. Could you tell us a bit more about how bringing Exile and Blu to Brighton came about?
Well I have always been a massive fan of Blu and Exile. I never thought that I would get to see them let alone put on the show myself. A friend of mine saw that they were doing a European tour in 2014 so I just sent a few messages and tracked down the person in charge of the tour. Once everything was finalised I put up the event online and tickets started to sell instantly. It’s really great to see that there is such a strong scene even in small cities like Brighton.
Do you have any plans to bring any beat-scene artists (Brainfeeder, Soulection etc) to the seaside?
Yes definitely. In the past I’ve put on shows with Elaquent, Kaytranada, Lunice, and a few more. I think getting some more beat scene artists would go down well here. In the last few years these artists and labels have been going from strength to strength. I don’t want to give anything away just yet but I do have a few artists in mind. Lets hope I can get them while they are in Europe.
What are your thoughts on the Brighton music scene in general?
I think Brighton has a great scene. I remember reading an IDJ magazine when I was younger and it had the top 100 ranked djs in the world (back when the DJ ranking was slightly more credible). I think there were about 4 that were from Brighton. I thought that was really great. For such a small city I’d say we are pretty spoilt for the acts we get down here too. The venues and promoters here work hard and there is so much going on sometimes I lose track.
Are there any forthcoming 2014 Hip-Hop releases you’re especially excited for?
That’s a tough one. I used to get so excited about albums but now so much music gets released on EPs or just odd songs here and there. I am hoping that we will get albums from ONRA, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke because they are always exciting. But that’s just me hoping. I did hear that Q-Tip was releasing a full album this year so I’m looking forward to that too.
What’s your most recent vinyl purchase?
The last record I purchased was actually Blu and Exile’s Below The Heavens. It’s a re-release so not as rare as it used to be but I had been after it for a while. I was just dropping some tickets off to my local record shop and it was just sitting there on the shelf. I’ll probably ask them to sign it when they come down. I’m cheesy like that haha.
Could you name a few new artists you’ve discovered you think we should know about (Brighton-based is a plus!)?
I would recommend checking out both Shash’u and Tuamie. I have been bumping them a lot recently and they both have really unique styles. I think they will both blow up soon but they are not from Brighton. There are lots of Brighton based artists I would recommend checking out! I recently discovered El Train. He is from Manchester but living here and I think he is capable of big things. Along with Flaxeed, V E I L S, J-Felix and lots more. Hoping to compile a Donuts release before the summer so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Favourite record store in Brighton?
I have two favourite record shops in Brighton. There is Rarekind Records, it’s a hip-hop record shop with tons of stuff. The records in there are really well organised, and there are loads of bargain creates too and that’s always a bonus. My second favourite would have to be Wax Factor. This is a huge second hand shop with so many gems. It’s kind of messy in there so digging is fun. They also have a tonne of great CD’s and books and sell coffee. You could easily spend a whole day in there and I would recommend checking it out.
What are your future plans for Donuts for the rest of 2014?
This year I am hoping to move Donuts to some other cities. Bristol, London, Manchester and anywhere there is a good scene. So if you are reading this and want to get involved then get in touch. I’m also planning on booking a lot more artists this year. I am fortunate enough to have made some good connections with the shows I have put on in the past and I am looking to make the most of that. I’m also planning to compile a vinyl release with a small handful of artists. I put out the feelers and have been sent a lot of quality demos. I’m really excited about this project because I love vinyl and have been collecting it ever since I was old enough to steal my Dad’s. I want to carry on expanding our merchandise because that’s been really popular since we launched our website and online store. We’ve even sold a few Donuts skateboards.
And lastly, could you tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
I tried to put a little bit of everything in here. I usually try and include a mix of obvious tracks along with tracks that I think people might not know. I included a fair few remixes, some breaks, some 90s and some LA style beats. I didn’t really plan the mix and now I’m wishing I put some of my own beats in it, and some other local beats too. But we put out mixes and podcasts all the time so you can always check them out on our website.
Big thanks to STW for doing the interview and to everyone who supports Donuts in any way!!!