Warriors of the Dystotheque is the brainchild of Irish DJ Jonny Mac. They grew from an anti Social network love of lo-fi music and electronic DJ culture between artists spread across globe. Style has no limit; these guys take in elements from 60’s garage, broken beat, jazz, downtempo, house, techno, electronica, noise, psyche, and pretty much anything that opposes the mainstream, beige, cliches of modern music. The band are composed of DJ / Producer / Engineers Jonny Mac, Sean and The Brothers Nylon; Mike and Nick Rufolo.
Their backgrounds have fed into a decade of touring gigs and collaborations with acclaimed artists from such bands as Orbital, The Prodigy, The Happy Mondays, Pop Will Eat Itself, EMF, Shawn Lee and many more. In fact, those connections have proved invaluable, as their current production project features Graham Crabb (Pop Will Eat Itself) & James Atkin (EMF), and also guests Melissa Graham, Si Hayden, Tony Jarvis and Ella Joy. Warriors of the Dystotheque are now signed to London label Tigre Fair Records with a EP out now.
A&R man Simon Huxtable caught up with Jonny Mac from the band to chat about his career, the Warriors and the new single.
Hi Jonny, I’m glad we could finally get together to chat. The new single sounds fab, what was the story behind the tracks?
I had spent eighteen months prior to this on a tech/deep house based project as M-Capio, but decided to get back into my true love of electronica and downtempo cuts, so I laid down some beats and keys on what was to be Hashtag. During this time there was no band. I came across Mike and Nick from a friend Shaun Stenton’s who I’d just collaborated with on a few house tracks. They were on a YouTube link, jamming some serious Zappaesque funk, which blew me away, so I decided to send them an e-mail, and we got chatting. Then I sent them the Hashtag stems to see what they could come up with. A few weeks later I got back their stems, they had added a three part bass clarinet, some guitar, and some off the hook effects. I chopped it up, arranged it, and added some more beats, and an old friend from Coventry, Si Hayden, added some bass. It was sounding pretty good at this point, so I let my good friend Sean, also from Coventry, hear it.
He liked what he had heard and made a few suggestions. I’d studied music with Sean back in 2001, and also DJ’d with him for several years, so I thought I’d put a project together, and ask Sean and the brothers from NYC, if they were up for that. So the Warriors were born. Mike and Nick in New York had been jamming in the Bronx and met a cool cat, Tony Jarvis, who also heard the track and instantly wanted to sing on it, so the stems were uploaded again back off to New York, were Tony laid down his smooth vocals. Sean and I produced it, and after few twerks Hashtag was complete.
Atom Vibe bore the same thought process, myself laying down bass and beats, uploading stems off to NY, the brothers back on the clarinet, some Rhodes keys this time and slide guitar, then myself and Sean tweaking and twerking it. We thought we needed another vocal on this one, so Sean enrolled Melissa Graham, no relation, who had sung in 90’s girl band Solid HarmoniE. Melissa recorded her vocals in Nottingham and sent them back to us, were between myself and Sean we produced it. Atom Vibe done.
The Future Is Ours has that “Death In Vegas” Andrew Weatherall influence, which I knocked up myself, and then Sean added a few bleeps and squeaks to it. We sampled “Cyrus” from the Warriors Movie, “the future is ours” speech, more twerking by Sean; he loves twerking! And that’s the EP done. We have since had Hashtag re-mixed by James Atkin, front man of 90’s legends EMF.
The band is from all over the place. How do you practice songs? Do you live near each other now?
I moved to Coventry in 99, and met Sean shortly after. We studied music together, and he also DJ’d at my breaks night “Frequency” in Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham, so we go back a long way. The brothers I have only known eighteen months, via the anti-social network, “Fakebook”.
Practice, what’s that?! We just swap stems, and so far we’ve got twelve tracks, and eleven of those have worked by just sending your part across and getting the next part back. We seem to have tapped into each other, and all is good at the moment its worked pretty well on the fly, and “No” we are all still in the same place, but hopefully that will all change soon.
You’re signed up with Tigre Fair now. Can you talk us through the process of being signed, and how was it different from previous bands you’ve been involved with?
I had only sent the demo off to a few select labels, a couple of them showed an interest including Tigre Fair. Tigre Fair is run by an old friend of mine, another Coventry guy, Mick Wilson, of Parks & Wilson/Tilt fame. Most people won’t need an introduction to Mick, as he’s been a major player in the game for years. I’ve known Mick for over a decade, we actually had a breaks project about 03/04, but we were both were very busy at this time and it didn’t come to fruition. I let Mick hear the demo; he loved it straight away, and offered to sign us. So knowing Mick and his back ground I was more than happy to hook up with Tigre Fair.
Tell us about your life on the road. I bet you have some fantastic tour stories to share! Let’s start with Orbital, how did that opportunity come about?
Tour stories, oh there might be a few of those, but most wouldn’t be safe for work!
I’d spent three years DJing with Leeroy from The Prodigy, we’d just came back from Ibiza in 2003 were we held a residency, and I was putting together the music side of things for Faceparty, not Facebook. I don’t know if you remember that.
Anyway they were throwing their party in Billingsgate Market in London, were I booked Supergrass, Pete Doherty – I don’t know if it was the Libertines back then, I can’t remember, and a few other bands. Then the DJ side of things, Krafty Kuts, Mark Moore of S-Express, Leeroy and myself, and the big name was Phil Hartnoll from Orbital. This was just prior to Orbital splitting the first time, and was pretty much Phil’s first DJ set.
Me and Phil partied pretty hard that night and clicked well; and swapped numbers. The following weekend I was in Northern Ireland DJing. Derry on the Friday night and Lush at Portrush, on the Saturday night. Phil was also in Northern Ireland, in Belfast on the Saturday, at Shine, we agreed to hook up there so I raced to Belfast after my gig and caught Phil.
After his set we went back to his hotel for a few drinks. We chatted about our careers and I told Phil how I had spent the three years prior with Leeroy, DJing all over, and how I had booked ninety percent of the gigs as I was well connected in the breaks scene at this time. So we decided to do our own gigs together, anyway at this point myself and Leeroy was coming to an end. I went on to spend the next three years with Phil, playing some amazing shows, and having some great laughs, and the highlights of my career to date. This pretty much came to an end when Orbital re-formed and I continued DJing and promoting.
You also survived two tours with the Happy Mondays! Was their reputation well deserved?!
Well there weren’t too many happy Mondays after the tours, so I guess they have earned their stripes as the twenty four hour party people they sang about!!
It came about through my breaks night I ran in Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham. It was at the Leicester venue where I was approached by Kav from the band AKA Weave, who later went on to play guitar for The Happy Mondays, to go on tour as the DJ support for them. They’d also enlisted Shaun Ryder and Bez to DJ separately from me on the tour. You might know this now as Get Loaded, but this is where it began.
So AKA Weave live, Shaun, Bez ,Tom Autobot & Myself set off to Scotland, with gigs in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh on this leg of tour, it was Bez who showed me how the Happy Mondays played the game. We spent the whole tour drinking Tequila, which was my favourite shot at that time, and “partying” hard. Great shows and great laughs but it was the week after I returned home I went to DJ for Pete Jordan/Spectrum at The Bomb, in Nottingham. Before I went on he called me over to the bar, he set up two shots of Tequila, I was more than happy to indulge in these but as I lifted them up and smelt the Tequila I threw up. A delayed reaction from touring with Bez of The Mondays!
Two weeks later I had to do it all over again with Shaun in Ireland, then Amsterdam and a fifteen week residency in Ibiza followed. That year almost broke me, and The Mondays played a major role, but I would do it all again minus the Tequila!!
Talk us through how you started out DJing. Who were your heroes and what sparked your interest?
I was a big Pop Will Eat Itself, EMF, The Prodigy, Orbital, indie dance kid, and had been in bands since I was thirteen. As dance music came in, like most people I went out raving, Sugar Sweet at the arts college in Belfast with David Holmes was where I spent most of my weekends. I actually caught Orbital live there, where they played the track “Belfast” for the very first time. That’s actually where the name came from, as Phil later told me.
I was listening to Meat Beat Manifesto, loads of other electronica, and then The Chemical brothers, Massive Attack, and Portishead (there’s a cheeky WotD remix of Roads on our mix). It was after hearing The Chemical Brothers and Portishead doing their essential mixes in 1995 that I then went out and bought my first and only set of decks, 1200’s, and embraced this new trip hop beatnik culture. I guess a few joints might have played a part…
I was heavily into Ninja Tune, Mo Wax, Wall of Sound, Warp and other cool labels. This was really what made me tick, breaks, beats, basslines, funk, old school hip hop, acid jazz, disco, all in the pot, add in big beat, and breaks, a few years down the line. That’s my real love musically. DJ’s such as Derek Dahlarge, Jon Carter, Jose Padilla, Keb Darge, Plump DJs, Freestylers, Justin Robertson, Andy Weatherall, and Mr C, all inspired me. Its not only broken beats though I also love my techno and underground sounds, pretty much if it’s good its good in my eyes.
You’ve mentioned earlier promoting a night, so with over a decade of experience, how has the job of promoter changed in that time? Has the internet made it easier or tougher to pull off great parties?
When I started there was no internet, it was all handing out flyers, posters in shops, and midnight pasting runs, but a bit more personal than it is today. It’s easy to get a thousand people following you on Facebook, saying they’re coming to your night, but none turn up, cos let’s be honest, nobody really knows anybody on the internet, and people click like and going, just to be cool. A few months ago I noticed a guy going to parties in London and Ibiza on the same day, but I’m pretty sure he was down the local.
I threw some great parties for going on a decade with some of the biggest acts across all the scenes, but the market is swamped now, there is clubs everywhere, and DJ fees take the piss, after all, it is someone else’s music they are playing, but that’s for another day…
So let’s move on to the production side of things. How long after you started DJing did the production bug bite?
Like I said I have been in bands since I was thirteen playing drums, bass, my oldest friend Maxi back here in Ireland had gone out and bought a sequencer and a Roland U20 synth. We were listening to a lot of Depeche Mode, New Order, Meat Beat Manifesto, NIN Ministry, Therapy?, Helmet. From this we formed an industrial band, Apathy International; we were full of teenage angst, and were featured on the first cover CD of Future Music Magazine in the early 90’s. We also had the Amiga or Atari and Cubase 1 on the go. I then was in several bands before the DJing and studying music came about, but the production and playing live in bands, got pretty much shelved until 2008, where I started a project in Coventry with a few guys, Chris Fairless and Craig North, under the name Vice Deviants, on a techno tip, although this faded out around 2010.
Late 2010 I decided to move home to Ireland after fifteen years in England. I had made arrangements for this at the end of January 2011 but at the beginning of January, my good friend and house mate passed away. He was the same age as me, and it hit me hard. Two days later he was buried and the following day I upped and left back to Ireland where I have been ever since. I spent a few years not listening to any music, but one day purchased Logic again, and started writing some tech/deep house tracks, became M-Capio and I’ve since had fifteen releases. My last EP, the Arenula EP had a track “what is” in the top ten Beatport Deep House Essentials Chart for four weeks, Check me out on there – M-Capio, but now it is all about the Warriors project, my real love of electronic & beats with this transatlantic hook up and our EP “the Future is ours” with more to follow.
Talk us through your studio, any favourite toys?
In the studio I’m running Logic with my Macbook and several plugins, Oxygen 49 M-Audio MIDI keyboard, KRK 8 monitors, Focusrite audio interface, a pair of AKG studio headphones, Volca bass & Volca beats – the bass being my fav; it’s a nasty little 303 at heart & ‘Everybody loves a 303’ according to Norman Cook!
I’ve also got a bass guitar, Traktor S4 and my beloved Technics 1200’s from where it all began. Oh and a Pioneer DJM with full acoustic treatment; pretty basic, but its what you get out of the kit and like most, I’m a crate digger and if an old sample, beat or loop ect inspires me, its ripped! Then of course there’s the studios in France & the fully loaded NYC studio were the brothers can play anything you put in front of them with Nick graduating from New York School of Music so we got it all covered.
For the new EP, how did you put the ideas together? I guess many Skype sessions?
No never, its all been on the basis of Sean or Me starting something sending it to the NYC studio and we trust what they will do and so far so good, though if we get into a studio the outputs only gonna get better but for now were working on this lo fi approach.
Tell us about the guest singers you have worked with on this project. How did you all come to work together?
On the 1st EP Tony & Melissa have came though the others in the band, but we also have Ella Joy, a young female singer / producer from the Midlands. She’s up next on ‘Return To Coney’ an real dark haunting cut which will hopefully be out before the end of the year on the second EP, its also on the mix I’ve done for you guys and again I saw her on a friends wall on Fakebook so hit her up and she’s onboard. I don’t care if I ask and they say no, ’cause I’m no worse off than I was before and I’m not made of glass, I’ll not shatter at being turned down.
Then we have the talents of Graham Crabb from the 90’s heavyweights Pop Will Eat Itself, Graham would be possibly my oldest friend in England. I met him the first day I moved to Coventry. The night before I moved I was living in Dundee and running my Frequency night at the Uni there and had Bentley Rhythm Ace DJ for me. I was due to move to Coventry 2 weeks later, but after the night in the club we went back to a party with BRA and they told me to hook up with them in a few weeks in Birmingham when I moved down, but also dared me to come the next day as they were DJing that night in Birmingham. As it goes, I went down (the best move I made it seems) the following day partied for several days with BRA who introduced me to Graham who had been in PWEI with Rich from BRA, and we became great friends hanging out all the time, and Graham coming to loads of my shows and festivals, pretty crazy considering I was a guy from a small town in Northern Ireland who was a massive PWEI fan!
So last year PWEI did an Anti FIFA World Cup track Reclaim The Game Funk FIFA and the Warriors remixed it and this year we recorded a more punky beats pysch track called ‘Weirdo’s Monsters At The Gates’ and Graham laid down his usual attitude driven vocal rant. Also James from EMF has agreed to sing on a track when he gets his run of live shows out of the way, oh and we remixed for him on his Love Blind track also and I think that should make an appearance later this year.
So what’s next? An album, touring?
We’ve not being recording over the summer ’cause we have 12 tracks already finished and three remixes over the last 18 months, so took a break to get this EP out and enjoy some down time. I spend my days working at my new hobby of gardening and growing my own vegetables – Its great when your straight! haha
I’ve also done an M-Capio collab with Trikt which also makes an appearance on the mix. As WotD, we have the second EP almost ready; were just waiting on one more vocal from Tony Jarvis for a track called ‘A Warriors Cry’ which he actually also contributed heavily musically to. Then the other track to feature on it is ‘Return To Coney’ with Ella Joy. Its finished and currently being remixed by new kid on the block – Miaoux Miaoux from Glasgow who’s really making an impression on the scene with Lauren Laverne all over his singles on 6 Music and his album, School of Velocity, is a great bit of work. Sorta reminds me of New Order which is always good, it got 4/5 in Mojo Mag, so you might wanna check that out.
Our album is there now bar more twerks from Sean, although maybe when we get back to it in a few months we will add or take away a few tracks, who knows, though I did hear a Tigre Fair studio in Ibiza mentioned for the future so who knows we might need a few Mondays in DC10 to gel as a band and get to know each other before recording!! Touring – fingers crossed if we’re well received, there is nothing we’d love more than to take our sound live and maybe I’ll call Bez and get a bottle of Tequila!!
It’s been great to meet you Jonny. I wish you every success in the future. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Thanks Simon for the interview and the mix, its been a pleasure and I’ve surprised myself by actually remembering a lot more than I thought I would! Oh and the The Mondays are a lot happier now…
01// FC Kahuna – Hayling
02// Massive Attack – Paradise
03// Bonobo – Silver
04// Lamb – Trans Fatty Acid
05// Synkro – Changes
06// Synkro & Manos – Lost Here
07// Jamie XX – Loud Places (John Talbot Remix)
08// M-Capio & Trikt – Don’t Let The Ket Outta The Bag (Exclusive)
09// Roni Size – New Forms
10// Leftfield – Dusted
11// Swayzak – Illegal
12// Warriors Of The Dystotheque – Return To Coney
13// Maribou State – Raincoats
14// Portishead – Roads (Warriors Of The Dystotheque Remix)
15// Massive Attack – Weather Storm
16// Ron Size – Heroes (Kruder Power Cut Version)
17// Mike Post – Theme From Hill Street Blues