Interview: Stink Like Sock

Ahead of their next party at The Junction in Cambridge on 17th November Bearded took a trip to Cambridge's premier bowling alley (obviously) to meet the Stink Like Sock team for a bit of a personal history lesson.

Posted on Nov 6th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Interview: Stink Like Sock Bearded: Where did the Stink Like Sock team first come together then?

S: Do you want the proper story of how it came together or the edited one?

Entirely up to you; whatever you want published really.

T: Do you know what? I don't care, I'm really not that bothered... Basically we went to get draw, we were sitting waiting to get some draw in Hitchin, the guy was being fucking long as per usual,


T: we had some time to discuss stuff...and the same thing kept coming up. All of us were DJing at the time and doing pirate radio and we were generally miffed about the amount of events that lacked a good sound system and proper vibes. It was all just run to make money.

S: All the events were the same; always the same people on, the same music being represented, shit sound system, local politics was always involved.

T: ... and because we were all original ravers as well as DJs we felt we had something to offer. The idea was just to start a night so that you boys could play your style of music and I could play my style. We could all just get on with it, get our mates down without all that shit that comes with promoters who are money driven you know?

S: The idea was simple, it was all free at the start. It was literally just about going out and having a party and having a good time.

G: ...And if anybody else turned up they turned up, it was a bonus.

Originally didn't you start with a "quid for the system" sort of scheme?

G: Yeah ‘Pound For The Sound’, everyone just threw a quid in a bucket.

S: That was always key, we always had to have a decent sound system.

T: Yeah that was the priority. We had a tiny little pub with 100 capacity upstairs and stuck a 10k rig in it.

S: Barely that, the room was tiny!

T: Yeah downstairs in the pub they'd have bulbs exploding, the ceiling of the toilets falling apart...

S: The actual turntables had dust on them from where the plaster was coming down from the roof and all that.

T: ... and by the time we left that venue I believe they had a fairly significant fine from environmental health due to the fact that there were residents around and we were just absolutely taking the piss with the sound system. But the vibe just grew from there. We knew from the first couple though...

S: It was almost community based wasn't it? Supplying to the area. At the time it was drum & bass and dubstep, T in particular was really pushing the dubstep sound, so we were really headed into that area, and everyone took to it really well didn't they really?

T: Yeah I mean at that time dubstep wasn't anywhere near what it is now. The only other guy I knew that was really doing it was Raff from Macabre Unit, he's always been doing the dark 140 sounds, so he would come over as well. The drum & bass as well was the sort of stuff you wouldn't generally hear when you went out either, so it was really just pushing the whole of "future music" thing and people just took to it. We were so surprised from the response we got from people. The fact that they would go there with no pretensions, you didn't have to have a dress code, you literally just went to go there and had a good fucking stomp.

S: The atmosphere was always good. It was a tiny venue so it just always felt special.

T: It was an absolute fucking sweatbox as well.

S: Carrying the system up the stairs there wasn't great though was it? I'm glad we don't have to do that bit anymore.

T: Yeah hauling a bass bin up a set of rusty stairs in the back of a car park wasn't so much fun.

Was it your own system then?

T: We had a couple of guys locally that had systems we used to hire from.

S: Trauma mainly. Big up Trauma.

T: Yeah, big up Trauma. We used to use eight Punishers and a load of big tops in a room that couldn't hold a hundred people. It took the piss but that was what we were supposed to be representing so we were happy with that. Alot of people made the journey from the next areas. From there a few people who were attending were affiliated with The Junction in Cambridge. I was asked to play a dubstep set at 'Warning' a night run by Pete Edwards who also manages The Junction. After a few sets there and some discussion, Pete just decided to give us a punt.

G: There was nobody doing a big dubstep night in East Anglia at the time.

T: He saw our work rate, what we were doing at the time, saw our attitude behind it all: not money driven, just passionate about what we were doing, driven to put on a good rave and enjoy it.

S: That's the thing, it's never been about money has it?

G: Never.

T: ... And you can tell by the clothes we're all wearing, the houses we live in and the cars that we all try and drive but constantly break down that it's not about money you know? I want people to go out and have the time that I had out when I was raving. That vibe, that atmosphere, as ravers that's what we want to get across to people.

G: It's for people that work hard during the week, then it's the weekend. It's time to get out and forget about all that.

T: The ethics of what it's about, and the fact that we've maintained our integrity and never detracted from our style and been like "oh we could do this to make a shitload more money, or we could book him for a shitload more money" has carried us through really and that's how we've kept going. I hope that people see that that's what we're doing. We do it because we just fucking love this music and we love raving and we love sound systems and we love seeing people skank out with a smile on their face really.

G: Yeah no egos or money or any of that shit.

T: Yeah especially coming from scenes like garage and drum & bass, where it was just so egotistical, the whole thing about dubstep in the early days was it was just such community vibes.

S: Yeah it was almost family orientated wasn't it?

T: It even still feels like that now. We all go to events and we'll see people from the family tree, people from within that community, and I just love the vibe around it. We wanted to convey that in East Anglia because there was nobody doing it and it was something we felt we had to spread. It felt like people just couldn't not feel this.

S: It was all about getting people playing the right sounds with us as well.

T: We know we could have quite easily gone down a certain path and lined our pockets but if we booked somebody we weren't completely happy with we'd probably all feel like we were cheating ourselves.

S: Well we wouldn't be able to sleep at night to be fair; lining the pockets of the wrong people.

T: I think it's our upbringings within the rave scene as well as our own personal standards that have been the catalyst for it taking off and maintaining. I think a few people can see we just really have a deep rooted love for this stuff. You see it on the nights at the Sock, we're all on the stage jumping around, acting a fool, having a great time. As much as the rave has to be run we're raving as well and joining in. That's all it should ever really be about.

I do think far too many events have grown too serious. It's all got a bit pretentious. You go out and there's just tons of people stood about tweeting photos and trying prove they aren't "mainstream" or some bollocks.

G: Yep.

T: Yeah I agree.

S: Yeah.

T: Since dubstep and then... I don't want to say "post-dubstep" because I don't like that term, let's just call it bass music, but since it's become so widespread you know? Some people just want to go "I'm part of this scene, I'm part of this scene". They don't necessarily care about the music, it's just an image thing to them which is a shame.

S: I think that's where we're quite lucky, because a lot of the core people who come to our nights connect to the vibe of the night, and the music we're... I don't want to use the term "pushing" to them: but the side of the scene we're trying to represent as opposed to the side of the scene that gets pushed on them by other sources.

T: I'm all for progression, don't get me wrong, and I've got nothing but love for the people moving out in different directions, but the term dubstep has become so diluted...

S: It's kind of lost itself now hasn't it, it means nothing almost.

T: Nobody knows what it fucking means.

S: It is difficult when you're handing out flyers to people and they say "what is it?" and you say dubstep, and automatically they seem to be thinking of a different sound to what we're trying to showcase. It's really frustrating sometimes, it really is. But unfortunately that's just how it is at the moment.

Do you think the fragmentation of it all has made it harder for your nights then?

All (More or less in unison): Most definitely

Have you had to change how you sell it?

S: Well, yeah a little. About a year ago we sort of had to adapt the workings of it a little. We decided we just wanted to bring in people that actually played the sounds we loved...

T: ... I've just thrown my burger all over the fucking table...

S: Is that a double?

T: Yeah. I didn't ask for a double, but the gods have blessed me with a double.

S: ... But no, it has been difficult for us, Because when we're bringing new people into the dance they're expecting to hear a certain sound of dubstep and when they're not hearing it, not that we ever get many negative comments, but there has been some occasions... Remember there was that one girl on Facebook who was all "you didn't play this tune, you didn't play that tune" and it's sort of like, that's not really what our night's about.

T: It's the whole; you can't please everybody all of the time. So rather than trying to please everybody we try to concentrate on pushing what we believe in and if people take to it that's cool. We're not forcing it on anybody, at our raves it's just "this is what we're loving, this is what we're about" and it's the vibe of the people that has carried us through. We've seen other nights both locally and further a-field that are pushing the robot-chainsaw-dildo-sex sound more, and as I said it's the whole scenester thing as well, but they'll go to that to appease their social group or whatever and after a few weeks no one is going. Whereas with the Sock we see the same faces and we know they're there because they love the music, the system and having a good time. It should be fun, it shouldn't be pretentious.

G: It's always about having a laugh. As soon as it stops being a laugh the whole world's in trouble.

T: Exactly, music is a release, it's enjoyment and it needs to be viewed as that, not as an image as such. Again it all boils down to integrity. We believe that we've always maintained and stayed true to what we're about. If people want to come to that fine, if they don't I'm not going to force it upon them.

S: I think that's what's stood us in good ground in the actual scene as well though, people have noticed that we are doing it right and doing it properly, not just trying to make a fast buck. We've spoken about it before, we've always wanted to leave... Sounds a bit silly, but we've always wanted to leave a legacy. We want people to look back in say, ten years time, and say what a decent night Stink Like Sock was... I think we're getting there aren't we boys?

Is that why you've brought in a booking like Oneman for the next Sock? To try and get away from the vibe of people only liking one sound?

T: Exactly, all the pigeon holes take away that key element of just being into good music. You're limiting your enjoyment because you're restricting yourself to one style of music.

G: It's as much about investigating in new eras and genres as representing the sound too. One sound gets related into another sound and that's how the whole thing started anyway. That's why we always try to get in a bit of everything we love. Like we had Shy FX down before because we love that variety.

S: Yeah I'm well chuffed with Oneman as a booking, I think he'll bring a proper party vibe.

Yeah he's a sure thing. I remember once when I saw him out somewhere he dropped into some Fleetwood Mac and the place just went off.

T: I have a secret love for Fleetwood Mac. I grew up on their tunes. I can't remember which one it was, it had the big open out vinyl with all the art work inside it...

Oh Tusk, that's my favourite record of theirs... You should try and get them in for a set.

T: I would love to get Fleetwood Mac in for a Sock! From what I know we probably couldn't afford enough high quality cocaine to keep them all going for the night. That is a well documented part of their band... As much as drugs are a taboo subject though think of how much good music came out of their drug taking... If drugs didn't exist what would music actually be like?

G: ... Radio 1...

T: But yeah I'd happily have Mick Fleetwood down for a set... In saying that it was always about Lindsey Buckingham for me, as a guitar player he was just next level.

At this point conversation wanders into the incestuous, wife swapping nature of Fleetwood Mac's recording career for a solid ten minutes.

T: ...So yeah we should really get back to talking about the rave in November or something? As much as I love the Mac and will be dropping 'Big Love' in the middle of my set in a couple of weeks time... You never know Oneman might drop it.

Could you not do a sort of musical Tourette's Syndrome soundclash where everyone has to randomly drop a Fleetwood Mac number in their set?

T: That would be great. I don't know what I'd drop... ‘The Chain’? I really like ‘The Chain’.

Conversation drifts back to Fleetwood Mac and playing ‘The Chain’ when stuck in traffic jams... This was my fault.

So is the future more of things like the Outlook boat parties as a way of expanding the brand?

T: We'd definitely like to do more of that. We've always had a great time the years we played at Outlook. The first year I went in 2009 I did the Blackbox boat, played the Ballroom in 2010 and the Dungeon last year. I did the Black Box Fort Arena this year which was mental, and Swiss & G repped in Dungeon again this year. That dungeon set was mental, sweaty and thoroughly enjoyable jumping around business.

S: Think I had my t-shirt on for about 5 minutes then that got ripped off. I like it in there, it's a great room... Apart from the slight smell of urine. People do like to find a darkened corner in there to save a trek to the bogs.

Yeah I'd be lying if I said I've never used an Outlook alcove to be fair.

T: I'm not gonna lie I urinated in there this year... It was on the Sunday though.

S: Oh that's fine then yeah!

a whole week to hose it down before Dimensions starts.

S: I think next year we're definitely doing another boat party though.

T: It was something we weren't really expecting, but one of the guys affiliated with us; Timba, came in the top three of the DJ competition at Outlook this year and we were all playing as well so we approached Si with the idea. We didn't think it was even going to go ahead and then when it did, the tickets went on sale and it sold out within an hour which was just an instant, massive buoy of motivation for us.

S: It was just nice to be in that crowd of people, you know with all the other names doing boat parties

T: It shows us too that whilst we're out here in East Anglia plugging away doing our thing people are actually taking note of it.

S: Yeah obviously because we operate out of Cambridge it's nice to know you can make a bit of a name for yourself outside of London. Like at the 5th birthday bash when we had Goth-Trad in. Never in a million years would I have thought we could have got Goth-Trad over, and we all just stood there with ridiculous smiles on our faces looking at what we've achieved in a relatively short space of time.

T: Going from the George Pub, where we were for twoish years to the Junction was a massive step up for us, and it was just through all the word of mouth and people speaking well of our brand and what we represent. The name too, the name seems to be infectious. It's all just from the face you pull when you hear a dirty bass line really.

S: Everyone misses the skunk reference on the logo too. They just think it's on there because it's smelly. It's more of a tribute.

T: It's a tribute to what stops us losing the plot when we're out for god knows how many hours flyering at 5am in the cold, defrosting the car after postering, dealing with agents and everything else that's stressful behind a rave.

S: I do like the name actually.

T: People hear it and immediately go "what the fuck?" but they never forget it.

G: You only need to hear it once. It doesn't represent anything nice & fluffy because it's not. You know? By the time you leave the event you are probably going to stink like a sock.

If you want to get involved in big sound systems and smelling like sweaty footwear check out all the event details here or skip that bit and just buy a ticket here