Next week sees the launch of Patterns, a brand new music venue in Brighton set to reinvigorate the seaside by establishing a flickering nerve centre for forward-thinking electronic music. Already tipped on the bill are global heavy hitters at the forefront of dance music, from Anthony Parasole, Gilles Peterson and Nick Höppner to Bradley Zero, Jeremy Underground, K15, Space Dimension Controller and Max Graef.
With all this commotion we thought it would be a good time to touch base with someone embedded in the local scene, and who better than Brighton DJ/vinyl-vendor/party-thrower Josef Mehtola. Aside from running his own boutique electronic night Rhythm Junction (which will fittingly be celebrating it’s 1st birthday at the end of this month at Patterns with DVS1), Mehtola is also a recognisable face locally for his work as a seasoned vinyl pusher at both Well Rounded and now The Middle Floor record stores. Struggling to keep his fingers off the wax, Mehtola has kindly accompanied the interview below with an hour long deep’n’dark mix to wrap your ears around.
Starting off, could you give us some background on all your musical ventures in Brighton?
I probably do too many things and don’t do any of them well enough! Joking aside, I love buying and playing records and through those things I’ve had the chance to collaborate with a lot of great people. Whether that’s with Donga at Well Rounded Vinyl Vendors and now on Unconditional Music, working at The Middle Floor record shop with the guys at Rarekind and especially so with my events/record label Rhythm Junction. They’re all well established combined efforts and that makes them really exciting projects. DJing is obviously a little different. That was just more of a natural extension of buying records for me.
As head-honcho of Rhythm Junction, you’ve brought some of our favourite electronic artists to Brighton (notably Max Graef and Mo Kolours). What are you thoughts behind RJ bookings? Is there a certain vibe of party you enjoy putting on?
With the RJ bookings it’s pretty much all down to what we, as a crew, are feeling. Mo Kolours is a good example, his album was a big highlight of the year for us and we just went with that idea. For Max Graef we can’t take all the credit! That was a party we did with the godfathers at Aka Aka Roar and again Max just felt like the right fit with Marquis Hawkes. We honestly just want to run the parties as best we can for the people coming. Keeping ticket prices down and putting the right music in an environment that looks and sounds appropriate is what matters most to us.
You also put on an Idle Hands showcase last year (some good friends of ours!) – could you tell us how that came about?
That was a great party, one of the best from our point of view. Some nights you get a really good vibe going from the start and that was one of them. It just came about from me asking Chris Farrell if he fancied playing in Brighton for us – being the kind of guy that he is, it was plain sailing from there! I think Idle Hands as a label and shop has always been a real yardstick of what’s good in the UK at any time, Chris does a real nice job in that respect. In many ways, Idle Hands have been a bit of an influence on what we’re about.
You’ve got Rhythm Junction’s 1st birthday with Dvs1 upcoming at Patterns in May which we’re really excited for. What are you thoughts on the relaunch of the venue?
I think it’s very much needed. The lack of clubs in town is a little worrying at the moment, the seafront has been lost. Even smaller venues such as The Loft, where we started our parties, have unfortunately changed hands. Patterns has come at a perfect time. The guys running the show know what’s going on, that’s apparent with the first run of parties and from what I’ve been told (and seen so far), the physical changes of the place are very fitting.
How do you think it’s going to affect Brighton’s electronic music scene?
I would be surprised if it made things worse! Really though, I think its great. Already it’s given us more freedom with bookings like DVS1, and that can only grow in the future. With the initial run of shows you can see that there is a real music driven focus and with some of the other plans around live shows I think its gonna profoundly change things for the better!
What’s your favourite booking on the Patterns line-up so far (aside from Dvs1 of course!)?
There’s a lot good stuff, the RA party with Tama Sumo will be killer, as will Tief bringing Jeremy Underground down. First Floor have done a great job with their line up in June, it’s pretty crazy to see the likes of Anthony Parasole in town. The Nick Hoppner and Bradley Zero night really sticks out for me, Hoppner’s recent LP was bang on the money and they both bring it behind the decks.
Moving away from the parties, could you talk us through what The Middle Floor has to offer in terms of record buying?
The main focus of the shop is on the UK stuff, from the Livity/Hessle/Hemlock sound to the 140 gear be it grime/dubstep. The same ideas apply on the house and techno side of things, we’ve been right behind labels like Rhythm Section, Lobster Theremin and Blank Mind, really trying to support the UK. Obviously, you have to have a spread and we do our fair share of import business, too, particularly with electronica/experimental albums such as Vakula, Michal Lewicki, Fatima & Lone. In respect to having a spread, we’ve also really pushed our 2nd game and there is always some sought after heat on the walls.
Any other favourite spots in Brighton for crate digging you’d recommend?
Funnily enough, I’ve always been pretty loyal to our building! Rarekind, downstairs is good for all sorts of stuff, in particular their world section and labels like Mr Bongo, Hot Casa and Mukatsuku, and a crazy impressive second hand selection across the board. One Stop/Vinyl Underground on Sydney Street is a really nice spot to have a look in, they’re great guys as well and are heavily involved in the new radio station 1BrightonFM. You have to mention Resident on Kensington Gardens because they are one of the best at what they do.
Moving on to you as a DJ, what new releases are you digging at the moment?
There’s been some gems recently, the Matthew Oh on Outlaw is great, really refined dubby house/techno. Optimo’s Disco Plate offshoot put out a bit of heater by Noo. Then there’s a couple of slightly more random ones such as Mutual’s debut EP on Hush Hush. It’s an interesting mix of real brash percussion with some killer sampling & nice musical touches. The last one that springs to mind is in that vein but isn’t really a DJ 12’’. It’s an LP from Grandbrothers on Film and they’ve combined a grand piano with electronic production. It’s absolutely deadly – I’ve struggled to go a day without listening to it!
Any Brighton talent (artist/DJs/radio/nights) that you’re feeling at the moment that you think we should check out?
You’ve got Etch who’s obviously broken through a bit now and rightly so, his production is killer and versatile. Foamplate’s another, his productions at 130 and at 140 have got so much personality and a really organic nature to them. I’m really looking forward to Charles Green getting his music out, it’s impressively put together and sits very well with what is happening with house and techno at the moment. Finally on the artist front, Lorca has got some really interesting tracks on the way, keep an eye out for those.
There’s a load of good young DJ’s in town, but Paxah who plays for Mute stands out a bit. He’s an all vinyl guy and seems comfortable no matter what the tempo, would definitely recommend checking him out.
On the night front there’s a nice group emerging – First Floor, Mute, Westpier, FIX, Wave Function & Wax Work. But the night down here that I think is the best at what they do is The Mine; the effort they put in through sound, visuals and line-ups is unparalleled.
Looking past your 1st birthday, what’s on the horizon for RJ and you as DJ?
More of the same but trying to do what we do better. As I mentioned before, with Patterns opening we’ve got more room for creativity in our bookings. I think that will show with what’s happening the rest of the year at the venue, not just for us at Rhythm Junction. We are very excited about a joint party that we’ll get to do later in the year, hopefully that should set a tone we would like to continue. DJ’ing wise, just trying to improve. I say very often it takes 3-5 years to get there (wherever that is) as a DJ and I think I’m about halfway through that process.
Lastly, could you talk us through the mix your made for us?
I just got a pile of records I’ve been feeling recently. A few of them have only been released in the past week, so it’s really a representation of where I am at now. I was lucky enough to be happy with the first take, there’s a couple of ungainly moments but yeah I was happy as I have a bit of a phobia around redoing stuff. In my book, once you’ve mixed two tunes together once, they should be left alone for a bit! The only record that I knew would be in there was the dubplate of Foamplate’s forthcoming release on Gully Records.
Mutual – Isochronal (Hush Hush)
Dark Sky – Manuka (Monkeytown)
Todd Terje – Delorean Drums (Olsen)
Svida – Freefall (Kretsen)
Noo – Must Be The Music (Optimo Music Disco Plate)
Decon / Recon – DR1-1 (Noise Manifesto
Max Graef – As-If (Melbourne Deep Cast)
X – A2 (Rush Hour / No Label)
Antilope – Singing Ghost (Black Jukebox)
Nick Hoppner – Rising Overheads (Ostgut Ton)
Mike Dehnert – Check (Echochord Colour)
Matthew Oh – Sc Acetone (Outlaw)
Linkwood – Object (Firecracker)
Robert Hood – Shaker (EPM)
Usio – Galaxy (Huntley & Palmers)
Rhythm & Sound – King In My Empire (Burial Mix)
Foamplate – Smokey Joe (Forthcoming on Gully Records)