When Time Out phones Mike Skinner to chat about Tonga, the new monthly club night he’s launching, he’s just finished breakfasting on an Omelette Arnold Bennett (smoked haddock, Burford Brown eggs, Mornay sauce) at Claridge’s. It’s not what you’d expect from the former urban everyman rapper (as The Streets) who’s now a successful DJ and producer. But don’t worry, he hasn’t gone all uptown in his musical outlook: ‘We like to keep the [club] night as scuzzy as possible, while we’re as baller [someone who flashes the cash] as we can be.’
It’s an intriguing club night. Apart from Skinner, the line-up hasn’t been announced. Nothing unusual there, but as he explains, ‘It’s a policy of wait and see who turns up.’ One of those likely to appear is Murkage Dave, Skinner’s breakfast partner today and founder of Manchester-based arts and grime collective Murkage, who are co-running Tonga.
So it’s a grime night? Nope. ‘It’s what you might call party bass,’ reckons Skinner. ‘Bass music can get quite chin-strokey these days. [At Tonga you’ll hear] the darker end of house, rap, trap and grime.’
The venue is also a surprise: The Victoria, a pleasantly scruffy Dalston boozer that’s a safe distance away from the chaos of Kingsland Road. Usually home to rock and indie gigs, it should be a pretension-free party location.
So has Skinner requested a rider of posh omelettes and Bolly from Claridge’s? No chance. ‘After more than 15 years, my rider is now a can of Coke. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, if you ask for weird shit, it ends up costing you anyway.’ That’s more like the Skinner we know and love.
Tonga, The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, E8 3AS, Saturday October 4, 10pm-3am, £5