This week Adam sits down with Rob Pursey - Master of Ceremonies and DJ at Hip Hop Karaoke, Southern Hospitality/Players Ball, former Fat Lace and Hip Hop Connection journalist, and general hip hop authority. We discuss his journey South from Darlington and Newcastle through Leeds and Manchester, to London. We learn how busy it's possible for one person to be, juggling promotion, journalism and DJing with primary school teaching. We find out how influential hearing contemporary Southern rap in the club was for Rob, and how it ushered in a whole new era of DJing and promotion for him, and how the Southern Hospitality crew basically became an A&R force in the US and across Europe.

Transcript

Adam Gow 0:00

Hi. I'm Adam Gow, the DJ formerly and sometimes currently known as Wax On. Welcome to the Once A DJ podcast. DJing and DJ culture have been a huge part of my life. For better or worse. They've given me a massive buzz at times and loads of stress at others, and taught me a load of valuable lessons along the way. On this podcast I speak to DJs from around the world who've made the names when it was just about skills and selection, not social media followers, will discuss their journey through ascendancy and what pie plays in their life now, whether they're still on the scene said goodbye to the decks forever or still get sneaky mixing when life gives them the chance. Whatever road that travelled, they were always once a DJ.

Ccomfy, ready to go? Good. Welcome to once a DJ Rob Pursey in person in London. Before we go on smash out a corporate gig.

ROB PURSEY 0:57

Loving it only place I'd like to be yeah, great

Adam Gow 1:00

to have you on. So you've been strongly requested for this by our good friend James Hamlin/J squared, legend, no pressure on this, but he tells me that no one knows more about hip hop in the UK and EU.

ROB PURSEY 1:14

It's a bold claim, but you know what? I stand by it. Whether I'm claiming or James Hamlin is claiming it. I think you know what it's got to be close,

Adam Gow 1:23

ya know, as well. By the sounds of your accent you're not from Leeds, you're not from Manchester. You're not from London. So where are you from? And where did it

ROB PURSEY 1:31

originally from what I like to call the proper north? No, not these faint northern towns. I'm from the northeast. I'm originally from a small market town called Darlington, which is kind of above York, and sort of below Durham. And yeah, it's county doing kind of very much the forgotten part of the UK in many ways. There's not many famous people from Darlington, I think, Vic Reeves maybe the only significant person that's ever from Darlington,

Adam Gow 1:59

the only other significant person. Correct.

ROB PURSEY 2:01

Thank you. Thank you for correcting me there, Rob Percy and Vic Reeves. And yeah, so I was I grew up very much away from a lot of the action, if that, so to speak.

Adam Gow 2:12

So where did where did Hip Hop come into your world?

ROB PURSEY 2:15

I mean, it's probably dislike so many people of my generation, like growing up in the 80s You know, you see breakdancing on TV, you see that early wrapping breakdance the movie at the cinema, it just very much in the way that someone now their whole life might be informed by tick tock man was informed by watching, I don't know, Blue Peter, and seeing it and seeing someone on there doing some rapping or someone doing some great dancing. And then you sort of dig a bit more. And then there's a few songs that hit the charts, whether it's like white lines or some of the early electro songs. And yeah, just hit me hard. I was into music very early. I was from the age of like, seven I was obsessed with buying sevens are 1445 that people seem to like to call them nowadays. Yeah, and they've seven in singles. But then, after a while, it became very much sort of 90% Hip Hop.

Adam Gow 3:11

Yeah, so So when hip hop became the one for you, where were you getting your new information? Because you wouldn't have had like the pirate stations or an O like that. No, it's

ROB PURSEY 3:21

very frustrating as sort of, it was like a sort of word of mouth thing. I'd hear about these things happening in London, I'd see the odd thing on television on Channel Four, when they were doing like behind the beat or they were doing the some of this early like youth programming. And they'll be like a five minute glimpse into this kind of magical world that I was three 350 miles away from, and I was thinking, How do I get from A to B? So you know, you might see an interview with Schooley D on a random programme like rapido, or one of these 80s programmes that that no no longer exist. And, yes, I've just piece things together bit by bit by bit and go. Okay, so that's kind of proper hip hop. That's wrapping that's it. I mean, I'm talking really rudimentary things. Now. I'm not doing things that we all take for granted now. And we aren't.

Adam Gow 4:16

So I will tell you, I've been a spy Neil.

ROB PURSEY 4:19

Like seven radio. I like hearing those early songs very, very, very young. And then in my kind of early teens, I was a locked in. I fully locked in. We parents really into music, then yeah, my mum had a competition choir that went around, you know, around Europe and competed to quite high level at choir competitions. And my whole life would be her auditioning singers in our house and again, nothing whatsoever to do with the music I ended up really being into but she her her love for music was definitely Yeah, it was imbued in me. Definitely.

Adam Gow 5:03

And did you have any sort of did you have mates that were into it as well? Was there like a young of year?

ROB PURSEY 5:08

Yeah, I'll be honest with you. I really credit at different stages in my life, different people for getting me into different things. That friend of mine school called Nick, and he was fully into hip hop in a way that I wasn't. He had the Public Enemy jacket, badges. And I never felt comfortable doing that at the time. So I was like, quite a townie, you know, yeah. And I didn't suddenly want to be wearing a cap even I'd be like self conscious, like people about Percy, why are you wearing that cup? You know, it's that kind of small town mentality. Yeah. But I'd go to his house. And he'd always have the latest. You know, I don't know, salt and pepper album or whatever. And he got bought this tape, and it would have an electro album on there. And yeah, so I credit him. And that first agent throughout your here, as we go through, there's always someone who brings me in a little bit closer to the source.

Adam Gow 6:01

So when was DJ was DJing. Early.

ROB PURSEY 6:05

You know what? Yes and no. So I DJ early, then I would say I had a hiatus in DJing. I know a lot of people now their DJ from the age of 17. Onwards. Yeah. And because there's so many opportunities now. But back then it was more a DJ early when I was a student University. And then I sort of DJ intermittently. And then really, really locked in again, once I came down to London when I when I finally moved to the Promised Land, as I

Adam Gow 6:39

spoke about earlier, so where did you get to uni?

ROB PURSEY 6:43

So I went to uni in Newcastle, so I didn't go that far, I was only like, you know, half an hour up the road, basically, from Darlington and their game. So there wasn't like a huge hip hop community there as well. But I instantly and by this point I was also into heavily into like, because I'm my friend Ian got me into soul and funk and jazz and very much that era of where you had talking loud records, acid, jazz, all those alongside the hip hop, you know, so you'd be into Gangstar. But you'd also be into a group and Galliano. You'd also be into the room disciples, he'd also been soul to soul and, and there's a lot of that was going on in UK. Well, not a lot, but it was enough for me to kind of get a little foothold of activity is our 93 ish then sort of like early 90s. Basically, yeah. Early 90s.

Adam Gow 7:33

So what was it like for digging up? They're

ROB PURSEY 7:36

not great. But I think back then I don't think the concept of digging was really very quiet for me yet because I think I was still buying new music at the time. So I was genuinely just buying the latest hip hop album or the latest. You know, talking loud 12 inch or the latest Chardonnay album or or whatever. I don't think I was. I was buying a few older things. I'd be like that I'd probably mistake. Oh, I need to own that Big Daddy Kane record that was too poor to buy in 97 when it came out, but generally I think I was Yeah, so I guess digging is one thing but record shops were they were okay. They were okay. If I think back then. All because shops. Okay, there was a record shop called Hitsville. In Newcastle, which I used to buy all my stuff from an A record shop called volume records, which is pretty legendary. But again, compared to London, probably quite minor, you know?

Adam Gow 8:32

Yeah. What do you study at uni?

ROB PURSEY 8:35

Sociology and criminal justice, which I haven't used whatsoever? Since I finished?

Adam Gow 8:42

Yeah, that was gonna be my next question.

ROB PURSEY 8:44

I mean, I guess, you know, if I'm being really esoteric about things feel safe, you know, being a DJ, it's very sociological, you're you know, you're, you're assessing people's moods and the dynamic, but you know, I'm not that potential. So, I'm not gonna say that,

Adam Gow 8:59

I think when you'd like, I'm kind of into this thing of like, left brain and right brain at the moment. And I think the way they're thinking about what they're describing is quite a left brained activity where you're logically kind of picking at it. But I think when you're DJing, you're more feeling it out. It's more of like a right brain holistic sort of thing.

ROB PURSEY 9:17

Well, I think it depends what kind of DJ you are. And I think this is something that I'm gonna have to confess, I've never really thought of myself, even though I've done, you know, my 10,000 hours of DJing. I've DJ three or four times a week for the last 1520 years. I do never think of myself as a DJ first. I always think of myself as a music fan first. Yeah. So as a DJ in the environment of DJing. I feel like I'm always thinking of myself as someone in the crowd, rather than someone behind the DJ booth even to this day. Something. How would I be reacting to what I'm doing right now? I mean, I'm sure mostly just thinking about To a certain extent, but a lot of DJs are more technical and they're about their craft, where I'm definitely, with, again, without sounding too pretentious about being one with the crowd with the people I'm serving, you know, I feel myself like, it's their Friday night. Yeah, I'm very conscious of that their Saturday night, I want them to, you know, have a bangin Saturday night.

Adam Gow:

So given that you didn't launch straight into a lifelong career in DJing, then what was next after uni?

ROB PURSEY:

So when when I would just stay on uni for a second, that was my first kind of serious DJing. So I started DJing at a venue called the Riverside, which is actually a very legendary venue in Newcastle. Morpher, like indie music, you know, like Oasis played was one of the first stuff that famous for when they had a fight with the audience with the Riverside, you know, in the 80s. And 90s. You know, everyone from that New Model Army, the fall that it was, it was on the circuit, but we started doing a funk and soul night, on a Friday night at the Riverside, which at the time was quite controversial. A hip hop from console night, because the big guys coming in saying, I gotta play some new MALAMI mate. And we'd be like, well, I want the Geordie accent. Why, man, why? But, um, we'd be playing on Vogue, oh, LL Cool J or, you know, Wu Tang. And it was a, it was a bit of a disconnect. So I think maybe that informed the rest of my DJ knowing that I've kind of got to win people over a little bit here. Because at the time I never had, I didn't have an easy first gig, if that makes sense. Yeah.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, cuz sometimes you do, don't you? But I remember there was one that I think I've mentioned on the podcast before where I went down to a pub that's unlike a pub straight, like on a pub mile pub crawl. And yeah, I took down that hip hop and funk. And I quickly realised that I was stuck for the next three or four hours. Oh, yeah. For people with people that don't want the hip hop in front. What was your proportion of the crowd? Dare it's something like that. Then that was into it and accepting it versus the proportion that was like resistant, that first

ROB PURSEY:

gig at the Riverside. I'd say we had about 15% of the room. So it was tricky. So we'd always be things that we lean on anything that sounded a little more rock heavy. sublet? Oh, we've gone on it song. Let's play on it slam. You know, this will get people this will win people over that kind of thing. But yeah, it was definitely a definitely had a struggle in my first DJ gig. And I learned a lot.

Adam Gow:

So did you do a lot from there? Was that a regular night? Did you say yeah, that was

ROB PURSEY:

regular. And then from there, I then started. So this one I'm a little bit of hiatus, I would say I then started to do a bit of journalism, because I was always a writer. And like, enjoy writing. I was doing English did English a level I was very strong writing. So I remember I wrote for this magazine. Long forgotten Hip Hop magazine now in the 90s, which was run by one of the guys who ran tape kings, which was a they did all the mixtapes in New York, and then a UK guy who was actually Chris Bonington. Son, Chris Bonington, the climber, so it's kind of random. So he was local to Newcastle, which is why I got the link to this magazine. I started writing reviews for this magazine called represent and then and then from there. Mark Ronson used to write for that magazine. Back in the day, I look back at an old magazine that I saw the little credits of who'd done the reviews and stuff. And that was weird scenes out here, and then from there, and then I went to train to be a teacher. So then that was my hiatus. So I didn't really do anything in the sort of DJ music world for like, apart from relentlessly buy records for maybe a couple of years. So that was a strange time in my life. In that sense. We're buying singles as well. And so I was mostly buying singles. It was mostly buying Hip Hop 12 inches, import 12 inches, obviously hip hop albums, r&b singles. By this point, I was very much buying. r&b, hip hop, Dancehall, so it'd be like, you go to the weekend, Westworld would be playing, you know, he'd be playing the latest Mary J. Blige song, next to the latest Supercuts song next to all the new hip hop, whether it's das effects will turn whoever.

Adam Gow:

So I can't imagine buying twelves for personal consumption by singles personal good. I suppose I did. Actually, when I was younger, I bought CDs like that, but I can't imagine older like buying twelves without having gigs to play them. Did they feel weird?

ROB PURSEY:

I think it was just the only way you could get that record in that way. So you got to remember a lot of these 12 inch records would have like a remix or a special version that wasn't on the album. So if you were really obsessed like I was an I am an obsessive and music obsessive, no question, you, you had to have that 12 inch, and you'd be paying like six, seven pounds. And you could or you could buy an album for like two or three pounds more and you just be desperate are there's a remix of Busta Rhymes, I need that remix, or it's got a different beat. Or it's got an instrumental, some maybe, maybe subconsciously, I was always thinking, I'm gonna be DJing at some point. But actually, I wasn't involved at the time. So I was really dislike kind of wasting my money, I guess. But that was the only way you can get it then. Yeah. You couldn't just go to Spotify. It wasn't on the radio in the UK. If you wanted to hear the new I don't know Redman 12 inch or the Redman remix. You kind of kind of had to buy it. Or take westward.

Adam Gow:

What? What age group were you teaching then? Did you did you go into teaching after studying it?

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah. So I took a year out and I worked in the stuff just workshop jobs and worked in a department store worked in a factory where it makes barber jackets, you know, the maxi jackets and stuff, the loads of random stuff. And then there I kind of, and then I used to go to raves and I was really good friends with them. Base generator base, eg who did all the Happy Hardcore raves in Newcastle. So I go to, even though has nothing to do with hip hop, I just go to all those raise with him in Scotland and that kind of stuff. And yet, I learnt there about how there's a whole world that isn't my world. And that was that was super enlightening as well. So then I went to that I met my I went with my then girlfriend to to Leeds to go and do my teeth training for a year by PDCA. And then there are sort of changed girlfriends at the time now with my current wife. So it worked out well. How to little change over and then it was all about Leeds and Manchester for him it

Adam Gow:

was that really refreshing with the scenes a lot stronger there. They last longer.

ROB PURSEY:

So then I was almost every weekend. I was going over to Manchester, because leaders okay, I met some great people in Leeds where Manchester had a bit that little bit more better record shops, a bit more hip hop and r&b Because Leeds was very much a kind of house city in the night. Yeah. Back to Basics and those kinds of legendary clubs, and I go over to Manchester every week. But what was good about Leeds is I met to like really important people to me, I met a guy called Dan Greenpeace, I don't know whether Greenpeace and Andrew Emery through dank Greenpeace and we became really, really good friends. And Dan was kind of like, someone jokingly called him the Westwood of Leeds at the time. He kind of had all the records, did the radio, you know, he was the guy who had all the stuff. Andrew was a journalist writing for hip hop Connection magazine. So that was now then my link I was at Oh, great. You know, I've got a finally got Hip Hop friends in a city. Yeah. And then it really kicked on from there.

Adam Gow:

So what came next then?

ROB PURSEY:

So then I started DJing little bits here in there a DJ at the Art Club in Leeds and small little bit. And then I started writing the odd article for hip hop connection as a journalist, but really more most significantly was myself, Dan. Andrew, a guy called Mike Lewis, who owns Louis recordings. Yes, I sound like a dawn and different allergies and different stuff like that. And DJ Yoda. We started a magazine called fat lace, which was kind of it was a hip hop magazine, covering current hip hop, but it was also kind of lampooning hip hop, if that makes sense. We do like stupid stuff in there, you know, like, taking the makeup and just not taking it too seriously. Kind of, you know, hard to explain. But ya know, Reebok was so insane. You almost don't need to lampoon Hip Hop anymore because it's kind of insane. Yeah, that's so big. But back then it was like, you know, like we poke fun at like poker face rappers like black thought or whoever or what we perceived to be po faced rap. Black thoughts and perfectly nice guy might be a great pub guy for all I know. But we do we do that alongside kind of covering new hip hop and r&b and different stuff.

Adam Gow:

And that got you in a bit of beef with another magazine, didn't it?

ROB PURSEY:

Oh, listen, let me get to that. I mean, we did some great stuff like we we get like we gave Eminem is first cover. First worldwide cover ever heard of anyone? Because Dan had an amazing relationship with Paul Rosenberg, who's m&s manager. So did some fantastic stuff with the magazine. We got interviewed for the face and everything but at the time, there was a rival magazine called fat boss wasn't arriva magazine. They just call them magazine fat boss. And then inevitably, that can only be one fat. So we had a little bit of beef with fat fat boss. We also had a little bit of beef with ego trip as well. Yes. Because yeah, it's crazy to think back. It was over a font. Why? Because they perceived as the font we used in one of the Falaise magazines is too similar to the ego trip font and our ego trip were really in our mind was the best hip hop magazine, maybe ever. Yeah, we kind of looked up to those guys. And we had an advert in one of their magazines. So we were like friends with them. And there was some crazy beef and it involved in Andrew and a couple of the other families quote me I was lucky I wasn't with them in this New York trip. Backstage at the Big L tribute concert. So this is the tribute concert to big L's death. So everyone's there facto, you know the holiday CITC. This should be like a celebration. Meanwhile, Paul Andrew, Andrew Emery is backstage getting his deal. poked in the chest saying you're a biter. You've stolen our font. I mean, talk about a petty be like Elliott Wilson, who now obviously is very famous with rap radar, and Chairman Mao and all the all these people who are kind of famous in the hip hop media world. But hey, I mean, it's a funny story now. But at the time, I think it was kind of it was kind of quite quite sketchy,

Adam Gow:

I can imagine. So how long was fat lace running for them?

ROB PURSEY:

So we did that for a couple of years. And then within those two, two or three years, I was like, Look, I need to be me and my wife, my show, I'm sorry, originally. So I was like, we need to be in London. You know, it gets you started in Newcastle and moved to Leeds, you start doing some stuff in Manchester. And then you eventually just, I need more, you know, a need more naturally, where the action is to move to London and 99 for 99 2000 sort of era. And so then once I was in London, it was kind of I was writing for hip hop Connection magazine, like regularly. Andrew hooked that up for me. I was going out all the time, I was starting to get a little DJ sets here and there. And I was just like, I was fully locked in. It was like, Okay, I was a teacher, obviously. So I was still a teacher. So came down. I was working in Brixton at the time, and I then, but every waking hour every night after school, it was going to a different venue. If you go into a different party, going into a different club, I mean, how on earth, I managed to teach the next day. I'll never know how I got through those years. But somehow I did.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, that's what I was just wondering, then, what what age were you teaching?

ROB PURSEY:

So I was teaching in primary school. So I was teaching in a large Primary School in Brixton. And it was a pretty intense school as well. I mean, it was a really well run school. But as a result, as a teacher, you had to be really on point. And I'd be getting in at like, three in the morning during the morning. And then you know, having a you know, two hour sleep, quick shower, up the Northern line, I was living in Belgium at the time, go to work. And then straight after work, okay, someone says, you know, play here, go to that gig. I just was like, I've been stuck in the north all this time. You know, I missed or soul to soul. I missed all the the Western arrays in the early 90s. I missed all that. And I needed to, I need to make up for lost time.

Adam Gow:

So did you keep teaching for quite a long time, then? Well, or

ROB PURSEY:

then. So basically, there was a few I had a few sort of epiphanies, I would say in my DJ life. One of them I remember when, in that sort of late 90s, Terry Murray, at sort of a been at the hip hop for a long time then and I think a lot of people and I'm into our music keep talking about hip hop, I'm just saying to all music. I've always been into music, and I think but for hip hop, particularly. I think a lot of people of my generation people in their 40s they kind of hit a wall around about 9798. Some of them just kind of gave up on hip hop, totally. For me, things got a little bit slick. So I started also buying a lot of like underground hip hop and different stuff. And I really threw myself into that whole independent, raucous fund world and that's with Dan and Andrew. We did a lot of that. Yeah, I remember when I went to London came to London. I remember it was when I was teaching one of the one of the kids said to me, we just started talking about hip hop because they knew I was in hip hop it like oh, that old man's hip hop, sir. Do you? And I was like, Oh wow, maybe I do. Maybe I've lost touch with what I normally I was like bang on it. Whatever was coming. And I remember going to carnival the same year and records I was buying like DMX and stuff. I bought them because I was Just in the habit of buying records but remember they weren't hitting me personally in the same way that records maybe five six years earlier had I remember going to carnivore and just having an epiphany going hearing it loud with the people and going yeah this this is this is me this is what I should always be doing kind of forever

Adam Gow:

so while while you were getting into the rockets and stuff so I guess this is basically showing me so error is and there's only so

ROB PURSEY:

yeah there was definitely there was definitely some clear divisions between what people now refer to as backpack and shiny so yeah, we're still always buying that I would buy a mace 12 inch I'd buy a Puff Daddy 12 inch ibuyer DMX isn't really shiny so but you know, something like jiggy, jiggy, quote unquote geeky piece as well as you know buying the most def record and I don't always love Southern April already by that point. So I'd always buy like outcasts records and and stuff but yeah, it was it was a funny old time in the genre. The battle lines was very much drawn.

Adam Gow:

Yeah. And I think I think you go back now like in the jiggy stuff just aged, I think just really wow,

ROB PURSEY:

incredibly well. posed. Daddy had good he had money. He had expensive studios. Yeah, the best rappers. He had the best producers people forget, you know, have a can. But why rock people? You know, they the hitman. They were all like really the best hip hop producers. And then they were using the best, most expensive equipment. So it's no surprise that stuff was aged like a fine wine. So yeah. But yeah, so then from there onwards, I had that little epiphany. And I remember, I never forget, it was Dan was DJing. One time, this is in the early days of Shoreditch. So these parties thrown by a wrestler, you know, as in the cigarette papers, and they'll call the Sizzler. And I remember we were playing the usual kind of hip hop star from, you know, 90s, hip hop and stuff. And I remember, I'll never forget it, it was like, you know, in these like movies where your light bulb appears above someone's head, I had your splendid like, usual sort of hip hop, I liked 90s, hip hop, Pete Rock, all of that can now be displayed fabulous. I can't deny it. I can't deny it. You don't majiggy Rick rock production. And me and my friend, we just looked at each other together. And we're like, This just sounds better than everything in this moment. And it was like, Okay, I need to live a life in the clubs, playing this cheeky stuff, playing this stuff that hit all women started dancing differently around me. And I was like, okay, come on. Like, I'm not being funny. But you know that the ITC record is not producing this reaction. And don't get me wrong, I love the ITC more than anybody on the planet. But it was definitely one of those epiphanies where I was like, and we were, it was we were still on a couch at the time as well as this to like, add to the we're still on the couch. And we both looked at each other. And we're like, this is the future. It's crazy. I think I remember it like it was yesterday. What

Adam Gow:

was it hard to move into that? Like was Were there people in London that have that sort of scene on lock there? No. Right.

ROB PURSEY:

So then that's that was kind of London, really. So you had that scene was big, always much bigger that kind of like the jiggy r&b Rap kind of crossover scene kind of club club. And you think this is sort of late, late 90s, early 2000s, like the Gary's stuff was massive at the time. So you had clubs like twice as nice that were running r&b, hip hop Garriage. And it would be that kind of hip hop that found a place and obviously, then we got Neptunes and Timberland, and suddenly, the tempos went back up and hip hop. Girls started coming back to hip hop. And it just became, then I just started DJing heavily. I was just like, Okay, this is on, you know, we can we can make this a viable thing. Now. It's not, you know, loads of guys in their hoodies head nodding. I mean, it's nothing wrong with that. But you know, it was it was viable.

Adam Gow:

So was that before, before that point, and that realisation? Would you have been one of those guys in the hoodie we like, was it all kind of my backpack stuff? Because you said you were kind of downs in going out

ROB PURSEY:

was because of the the areas I lived in, but also, I would always do both. Like, and I was unusual in that sense. I would always go to those kinds of backpacking places to go and listen to whatever he wants. I go to like an ugly duckling show. Or I'd go to a Jurassic five show. Yeah. Then I'll also say like, came to London. I'd also go and see. JP JP Johnny roast is like, yeah, he had a residency at sound, which was in Leicester Square. And he'd be playing pure r&b on a Friday and out to a very, like sec, London crowd. And so I'd go to that as well. So I'd always be It's kind of the story of my life. I've kind of got my fingers in like a million come to some music obsessive like, I need. I need it from everywhere. Yeah, I can't just be like, This is what I am. And the I'm all things to all men. And sort of, anyway, I can't think of the right analogy. I'm trying to say.

Adam Gow:

So in all this in all this time, because I know, I know, you're not just about Southern rap, and like the sort of subsets that we've talked about. Yeah. Did you always stay in touch with like, the West Coast or free?

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah, very much. So. I mean, I, like I say, I mean, you started the podcast by saying, I think I know more about hip hop than anyone. It sounds super arrogant. And it's not really anything to be proud of proud of, but I've just always, you know, I don't see it go. I know more about that. But like, who cares? You know, like, I don't even care. But just by the nature of my sort of obsessive nature with the music, every day, I wake up, and I've got a thirst for knowledge, and wish I had a thirst for knowledge of things useful. I mean, I'm one of the world's most useless human beings, you know, if you need a plug rewired, or a knob put on a wardrobe, don't call me, you know, but if I could have funnelled that, that energy and that obsessiveness and that enthusiasm into anything else, I'd probably be a world beater. But this is, this is so yeah, all the West Coast stuff. And, and obviously, I've retraced a lot of that stuff. But back in the 90s, it wasn't like now you had to, to a certain extent, you only had a certain amount of money. You couldn't necessarily go right. I'm gonna buy every West Coast rap CD or every UK rap 12 engine, you had to have to sort of specialise to a certain extent. Yeah.

Adam Gow:

So when you went back into the clubs, and DJ like that was Was this the point when you were like that? Did you start getting more tired? Are we still keeping up with the teaching? Oh, you're like, right, I need to stay. Right.

ROB PURSEY:

That's a really good question. So I, I was keeping with the teaching still. And I remember met, I met rich super Rick's, you know, super guru, amazing DJ. And I met a guy called, I met a guy called Taylor and a couple of other people in his orbit. And we were sort of they introduced me to a lot of southern rap. And I was just getting obsessed. I remember hearing David Banner, like a pimp, and again, in another epiphany moment, thinking, oh, yeah, the South is really finally going to take over. And I remember just listening to get from getting obsessed with TR, early TI, early David Banner. So we had a night but then called some a first sort of regular DJing. Again, I would say was that early 2000s. It was myself Super X and a guy called Tom Hickey, who was a great DJ, again, just a DJ. I didn't DJ for that long in his career, but was a great DJ, very influential on me because he just played bangers and he just he was one the first detailer thought, oh, yeah, he's got no regard whatsoever here of like, he's just playing the best records all the time for and I was like, this is a new policy. And he wasn't, he wasn't trying to. It wasn't like, I'm gonna educate this person for an hour. He was just like, Yeah, I'm just gonna play the biggest bangers and it really kind of made me think yeah, we should we should all do this a little bit more. I don't mean necessarily the biggest most bait popular songs just, he just went for it. You know, just a DJ really went for it. And we had a night called crunk. I mean, this is aged it right. So this is 2003 crunk where we played a load of hip hop at the time so it'd be like loads of 50 cent and all the kind of regular hip hop like lot of Rockefeller a lot of Dipset you know, whatever was kind of big in the generally but well, alongside a lot of kind of David Banner TI, early Little John productions youngbloods. And that was that was really when I started like really enjoying DJing because it was just the passion for I had for that music. I think he came across and that night was wild. It was at a place called the electricity showrooms which still exists the building on the corner of kind of on several what they call it home, Hoxton Square. Ran. Yeah, it was it was lawless. Back then it felt lawless. It was like a little basement playing that music and it was man grey times

Adam Gow:

I think with like, I don't know a lot of that sort of stuff. But what I think of with that is just the really snapping 808 drums and it must have been like, when you play in that stuff when it's new and it's just it just smacks doesn't it? Yeah. 100% So from them, were you just just pushing more of those nights were you getting asked to bring these parties elsewhere?

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah, so then myself and super rich. We started our small business and that exists to this day southern hospitality. So we were like that I start doing more purely southern based events. And we did in the first event we did under the brand because Tom moved to Sheffield, and that electricity showrooms kind of died a bit of a death. He was DJing in different places. So we were like, look, let's, let's take this, quote some quotes seriously, and make sure that we, you know, brand it and do things properly. It's kind of my first attempt really, at really doing doing it and doing things properly. And simultaneous sales vying for hip hop Connection magazine. And I was really pushing the southern agenda alongside a guy called Phillip liner who was the editor of hero Hip Hop connection at the time. And I was kind of a sounds like, really kind of cheesy, but I felt like it's kind of an ongoing beef that I've always had with the wider hip hop world. And I'm still, I'm still at war with these people. So I remember we gave David Banner his hip hop connection cover, and we gave like Little John like great reviews and stuff. And the abuse we got for this was crazy to be letters, like written it, you know, back in the days, and people would write letters. Yeah. And be like, you know, this, Rob, personally, I think I was writing under the name, Rob, are breezy at the time. And this are breezy guy. What does he know about real hip hop? God has given this little John Allen four stars out of five, one a banker, like God, idiot guy, like, you know, what does he know about real hip hop. And this is always been the irony. Like, I know everything about quote, unquote, real hip hop, spend my whole life and the mid 80s to now, like, obsessing over buying my whole, I'd be rich, if hadn't spent all that money on record. I'd actually like not not be a loser. Like, I'd actually like to have like four properties, you know what I mean? Like, I've paid my dues, like, come on, like, and I just knew that I just knew that this was the most exciting hip hop at that time. Yeah. And I was belligerent about it. And, you know, time has been very kind to me, because I was 100%. Correct. You know, that was the most excited about. And so we had the sort of twin thing of like, okay, we're going to push this southern hospitality still always play the new hip hop as well. But we're also I'm writing about this in the magazine and pushing that agenda. And I felt like, I've got my voice, you know, and I felt like I was, you know, what's the word? Lady of rage would use unfuck with I thought, I thought, you know, what, like, I can back up any argument here. I'm not gonna I'm not gonna get found out.

Adam Gow:

I think it's it's the dark, like the tribalism of music. Is is really special. And yeah, wonderful thing. In terms of our what it used to be, I don't think it probably is there in places that I don't see it in different

ROB PURSEY:

pockets. Now. It's in different media's now. Yeah, whether it's Tik Tok, whether it's YouTube, whatever we'll carry on.

Adam Gow:

Yeah. And I think just there are the downsides to it in that people will beat the chest about their thing so much that they won't necessarily believe that something else can have that same value.

ROB PURSEY:

I've got a theory, and I'm going to get it out on this on the once a DJ podcast, and I've said this a few times to people, I'm gonna say it here. Basically, a lot of people they get into a music, but they're also buying into an identity. Yeah, and I don't think that's something that I've ever done. Personally, I'm just a music fan. First and foremost, whether it's everything from Fleetwood Mac to you know, yacht rock, I know you're a big rock rock guy, to rock music to anything like to hip hop the soul from, I just love music. I never wanted an identity. I've never dressed a certain way particularly, I've never been what I needed to be part of like a group of people who were all into hip hop, I've been very kind of comfortable in who I am. I think a lot of people they get into something. So they might get in somewhere the 15 to 18. And they buy the jeans that go with it. And they buy the hoodie that go with it. And they buy the the badges and the stickers on the wall that go with this music. And then when that music evolves, which is going to or changes or dissipates or becomes more diverse, whatever way you want to look at it, or more popular even though like it's too much change going on for them. So for myself, all I've got to do is change. The music's got to change a bit, whereas some of these guys are like, Wait a second. I've got these baggy jeans. Like you're now asking me to wear skinny jeans. I'm not going to do that. You know, I used to wear a cap you want me to wear you want me to get a face tattoo as well. Think there's just too much going on for them to change like to change and they feel very attacked. They're like, Oh my God, everything that's made me who I am is being challenged right now. So I was at Carhartt, wearing Timberland, Timberland boots, stomping Smith and Wesson fan from the mid 90s. Puff Daddy is challenging all this stuff, or whoever's talent, you know, fabulous is challenging all this stuff. And I don't want to change and people get there kind of their guard comes up. Yeah, their natural reaction is to go. This isn't real. This isn't that this isn't that. Whereas the reality is, it's, it's a crazy thing to say. Because it's cost it's real. And costs, it's to that new generation. It means the same as it did to you. Like, just by law of averages.

Adam Gow:

Come on, guys. Yeah, I was went to this day retreat, this mindfulness retreat, and it was all about death and impermanence. And it sounds like it'd be really glum, but it was the it was the opposite. It was really good. It's about kind of acceptance of change. Right? Yeah. I think a lot of people could do to go to something like that. Because you do think, I think particularly in our world, when, by our world, I mean, hip hop. I think it's especially prevalent. Yeah, but you get these people that every time Hip Hop slightly changes, like you say, it's always the guys that are like, Yeah, but Rakim is the best rapper ever. You notice like, just explore does explore

ROB PURSEY:

exactly. It's like if you apply the same logic to food, for example, okay, and go, You know what, I only ate his food. Unless it's a blackforest Gatto, and a prawn cocktail. And hola Sanya, I am not messing with it at all. It's not real food. Like, it's insane to think I get it. But I do get it right. I do get it. And I'm not mad at those people who were just like, You know what, this is what I like, this is my generation. And I'm cool with that. I love those guys all day. And they still, they still live in the little Mobb Deep records. I've got no problem with them. It's when it's an equivalent guy. Just raining on the parade of people, young people try to enjoy themselves. I'm not just stop it already. You're not right. You're not correct. You might you've not correctly. None of us are correct. But I don't get it. But it's not correct. That's kind of what I'm saying. You know, in an in a nutshell. Yeah.

Adam Gow:

Something that I've not talked to anyone about on this podcast yet? And this is probably relevant to when you were DJing. Think So correct me if not smoking ban. Yeah. What was your experience of that as a DJ in clubs was a really

ROB PURSEY:

interesting stuff, though, because I actually stopped smoking stopped DJing in the UK, because I was going to New York so much in the early two early 2000s going to buy records, doing interviews for hip hop connection. And the smoking ban came in in New York in 2005. I think I think earlier than the maybe the earlier 2003 I remember it being about 18 months before we got it here about 18 months, two years. And I was DJing at the time. I was another thing I glossed over before we came across. I used to vent with DJ Yoda called spread love at the social in the early 2000s That was one of our you know, that was probably one of my early DJ experiences. Incredible club. We had like everyone there from you know pinball Wolf, madlib Ugly Duckling, like ever a track did a show there. When he was still too young to be in the club. We had to get special dispensation to have him in the club and stuff. Amazing times you know, big up DJ yo will pick up gentleman's who got me involved with that. And, but I remember the social in London, which is, we'll come back to later. It's a it's a tiny little venue. And the smoking there used to literally, I have bad sinus issues anyway, used to absolutely kill me. And I remember I came back from New York after the first time, I think with a smoking ban. And I just was like, I can't DJ for a bit, because I couldn't face going back into that smoking pit. And it's weird how. So for me on a personal level that changed, but on a sort of general level. On a sort of general level, I think it changed things a little bit as well. Did you ever experience over that?

Adam Gow:

Yeah, because I would. I would DJ. I mean, I went to America just before the smoking ban. I was smoking anyway. But I used to always prefer to smoke outside. I live in houses where people smoke in them. But I was always I always preferred smoking outside. When I went to New York and it was a smoking ban. That was the winter of 2004 I think. And I thought smoking ban was great as a consumer. But then I remember I used to play gigs in between bands, and after bands and like you'd get on after the first band and everyone would just empty out or you'd be playing tunes to no one yeah. It was it was really weird. It was in May. It did make

ROB PURSEY:

a difference. Yeah, I remember noticing that exactly. That is suddenly you be like, Oh, why is the club emptied out? Yeah, there was suddenly in it because it was this intense. But then you're in the club, you were just in it to win it. There was no reason to leave. Certainly on a winter's night, you'd be like, there's absolutely no reason to leave the club. You know, it's been a long time since I've thought about that. But there was a number that those days of the first DJ sets, you know, when people walked outside and you were like, yes, thinned out a bit, then you sort of almost timed it. Right. I know, that pocket of people, they like this kind of music that we finished there Faggin, like 1510 minutes, and you have to sort of be in the back end is like, right, let's hit

Adam Gow:

it hard. Yeah, cuz what you would get is, in a lot of groups, the majority would smoke. So say like, out of eight people, five of them might smoke or six of them. So the other one to three might just go through them.

ROB PURSEY:

And some people were smart, they knew that that's the best place to like, chat to chat to the opposite sex or whatever. So you're like, you'd be out there. Even if you weren't smoking, just be in amongst it, where you could actually hear yourself talk. And you know, that was always the thing wasn't it as a smoke ad sometimes go out there myself and hang out with the smokers just because for that exact reason. Just you get a bit of a chat and you get to socialise a little bit. I think he's like, over the years that proportions inversed Yeah. How's he first inverted? Yeah, Trevor, what

Adam Gow:

it is? Yeah. So it is like, it's the odd person that will be going out for that cigarette and the majority of staying in now. So it's not quite so

ROB PURSEY:

interesting and thought, I'm not thought about this in 20 years, but there definitely was a transitional time. Yeah, yeah. Cuz

Adam Gow:

every time we record an episode and embed it in there, I'm like, I forgot to ask like the smoking. Yeah. Mad, Mad. Yeah. So what was the next step? Where was what was southern hospitality, the thing that that kind of consumed you and that was the main content? Well, that that was the brand, we started doing

ROB PURSEY:

this part of charity parties around and we started making a bit of headway, the same time, I invented, I won't know how many but I thought of the concept of hip hop, karaoke. Yeah, in the UK. And myself and Philip Malone, I started that. And we were like, someone's gonna do this. And they just set it as long as again, another like, lightbulb moment, someone's gonna do this. And we worked out, we saw that someone had already done it in hip hop in New York, he bought coke in New York. So we reached out to them and said, Look, we're gonna start in London. And this was back in the day, the vinyl, so you had to take all the songs you had on the song list, and take the records for you had to have the instrumentals for because there was no Serato still, this is I was like the early days of Serato. We weren't really on it yet. And yeah, so I started did the two things hand in hand, it was like, we started doing a few club things with Southern hospitality. And then hip hop, karaoke became like, a sort of major concern, sort of it became a bit of a phenomenon quite quickly, once he moved to the social and it was just insane.

Adam Gow:

Like, and that's taken you pretty far and wide, hasn't it?

ROB PURSEY:

So basically, from sort of, started demo again. 2005. We started doing it very seriously from about 2008. Nine, and at the same time, so, so much going on. Now. I'm gonna try and pieces together. Hold on, let me just not waffle. So I'll say like this. So I have my daughter, my daughter was I was waiting for my daughter to be born. And this is like 2007 2008. And so I met a guy called Davey boy Smith, who was a very important person in my life. Still working with super Rick's. I was doing Hip Hop karaoke with Phillip liner. I was still doing Hip Hop connection magazines, a writer. I was still a primary school teacher. Wow. Three days a week. I was starting to DJ on tours by this point. With my guy, DJ dog. We were doing these tours from Malibu, which where we go around student venues working for Malibu Pernod Ricard doing these sound lashes where we played Hip Hop against rock and it got to the point in my life where life was pretty insane.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, just on those then would did they reach out to you or did you go to them with a concept

ROB PURSEY:

that was that was the stroke of luck, DJ dub had knew someone who was working there. And he needed another DJ in you could DJ and I got the job. So I got that was one I got lucky. And it was first time I earned like, really good money from DJ and you know, like, you're like, Oh, I used to earn 50 quid from this. And now I'm earning 10 times that. Yeah. And I'm doing 12 of these gigs a month. And it remembers something just had to give at that time, because I remember being in Birmingham DJing at three in the morning thinking, I've got to get back to South Norwood. I teach in South London at eight in the morning. I'm still DJing in Birmingham. So anyway, so to cut a long story short, I went down to two days as a teacher. And then I started, as I was doing Hip Hop karaoke once a month. I was doing southern hospitality events here and there may be sporadic events. I was making a bit of money from those. A bit of money from this. I was writing for hip hop Connection magazine still. Then probably the most significant thing I did at the time was, I started a blog, we started a blog, we started blogging, and I had no concept of blogging. This was all Davey boy Smith. He was able connection, right, who I met through the magazine. So myself, super Rick's and Davey boy, Smith became southern hospitality as a kind of collective. And we started blogging, and it was weird. It was something I did, basically, while I waited for my daughter to be born, you know, yeah, you've got young children, yourself. And some of those nights your wife's come to bed early. Because she's, you know, eight months pregnant. She's not she's not thinking she wants to go raving. So I was like, I could go Raven, but that's a little bit selfish. So so let me let me start blogging. And after a while, we started connecting with crazy artists. And it was the early days of Twitter like 2009 2010 and Davey boy Smith, who was I've got to credit that guy. He was an unbelievable force of nature. He worked for the ft. But I think he just took a long toilet breaks. And he just started like, it just started like connecting with these rappers and going, Yeah, let's do this. Let's do that. Let's do that. And before we knew it, we were like, doing gigs out in Norway with like, rappers from like, Alabama, shout out my guy, DJ J Raffo. Who we connected with in Norway. We started doing like collaborative mixtapes, like themed mixtapes with, like Southern artists, and for all these southern blogs like dirty glove bastard. And we were suddenly part of this kind of blog world. And it was only when we got this email randomly one day from, you know, wiki who do all the stats, and they were like, You are now in the top 10. UK music blogs, and it was like enemy, Little Wayne HQ. So we were like that we are like, on the map. And then it was crazy. We then started doing working with artists were like, we had a record label. Davey boy Smith and super Rick's they made lots of happen. David way Smith. hooked up, you know, Danny Brown, he linked Danny Brown with like, UK producer like darky Freekeh. And they produce the blueberry song. Oh, wow. Put that out on someone's toddy records. And

Adam Gow:

was that was that before Danny had blown up? It

ROB PURSEY:

was kind of that xx x time so he can have it blown up on the blogs. But he hadn't really blown up commercially. But he was blown up on the blogs. And yeah, it's almost like this song was to talk about because we were doing South by Southwest. So we do a showcase in South by Southwest with loads of Bay Area artists, Southern rap artists, we had people like Ty Dolla Sign on our showcase young thug like all before they blew up.

Adam Gow:

So that's not that you guys were we're going over there from the UK, you. We were effectively like almost like a&r in a bit. Yeah,

ROB PURSEY:

I mean, Davey certainly was 100% was the we go out there. And we're sort of just known of these as the kind of the English guys who knew everything about hip hop music. And we'd be the sort of connection to Europe. So if there's like a European electronic producer, who wanted to do a record with gangster Boo from three, six mafia, rest in peace, we'd sort of made that happen. Dave would make that happen. He would like join the dots, you know, someone like Sinden would be suddenly doing a record with some rappers from like Alabama, like G side. And it was a mad time that the whole blog time was, it was honestly, my daughter was just born. I was still doing a bit of teaching. I was DJing a lot. Trying to be a new father. It was overwhelming, but it was honestly, you can hear the enthusiasm in your voice. It was like, the most intense, amazing time in my life, and just be like flying out to South by Southwest in Austin. You know, meeting with rappers doing this, then coming home changing nappies, then Hip Hop karaoke, by this point had gone weekly at the social because it was so popular. And it was just like, round every every single week. And I was making good money from that. We were I was writing for fact magazine at the time shout out Tom Lee. It was just a crazy overwhelming time and eventually something had to give. I remember Dave Smith that Why are you still teaching Rob? Like, just leave it and then you'll gonna be doing even more stuff. And I've got big him up for that. Because eventually, just one day while my daughter was about one years old, I was like, You know what? I've got hammer notice. My wife and my wife just went. I think it's a good idea. I've got a bigger you know, it wasn't we just got a new baby. Yeah,

Adam Gow:

like it must have been, I was just thinking for her part. Well, I don't know about just imagining what it would have been like for their point of view where you're, she's there with like, the one year old and in, you're just like, here, there and everywhere. Yeah, miles an hour, million miles an

ROB PURSEY:

hour. And she just totally back to me, and was like, go for it. And it was like, you know, when I think back, like, that's a lot. That's a lot of trust to put in someone. Because I wasn't earning that much from this. At the time. I was. Not much. I was like, the teaching was still topping up the bits of DJing. I was doing. Obviously, the blog work wasn't really making any money. I was spending a lot of time doing it. And I was still really there with my daughter every day. My wife was working a few days teaching. We had no childcare because my mom was my mom had died. Didn't have any real family support for it. My brother was helped me out a bit, but

Adam Gow:

we still buying records year by this point.

ROB PURSEY:

No, because Serato obviously still buying old records for fun. But so you didn't have to buy them for the day. Yeah, this is like 2009 2010 Everything was coming down the pike now. It's just, you're on the blogs every day you're on the Datpiff live mixtapes, you know that that whole 2006. Seven to like, 2014 before streaming really took hold. And so it wasn't having to buy records. But

Adam Gow:

it was still a time investment, though, isn't it? Keep it up.

ROB PURSEY:

So every day I was blogging every day, I was doing mixtapes, I was doing, constantly tweeting a lot back, and I think of how much free game we gave away on Twitter, you know, being super naive. I get people like from labels, and Dave got even more than me, labels and like, see a Creative Artists Agency going from Fancy meeting up for coffee, wanted to pick your brain. And now you'd be like chatting to them, who you're listening to at the moment. And I'd be like, you know, cuz I'm just an enthusiast. And I was just giving that away. And I think back I should have, like, held it on all in. But, you know, like I said, at the start of the podcast, I first and foremost, I'm a music fan. I'm enthusiastic, I'm not cynical. And you know what it is what it is. But we were on it, like we were on it, you know, we knew everything, you know.

Adam Gow:

So after you handed in the notice with the teaching, then we started to stop it.

ROB PURSEY:

You know what, it's a funny thing, because I always enjoyed being in the classroom, the kids, but I, or the politics of staff room that the paperwork was never really for me. And I thought I would miss it. I think about three days later, I don't think I gave it a second thought. It's almost like it hadn't happened to me. And that's so bizarre, and it had been a good sort of 1011 years of my life and, and my parents are both teachers. And it's, you know, I was around education. And yeah, I didn't give it one second thought I was too busy thinking about you know, the new became mixtape shall be king, you know, the mean, or the new Future mixtape or, or whatever. We're going to programme at South by Southwest. And

Adam Gow:

so from that point, how was it quite quick for you to get up too early and enough money to make? Yeah, so

ROB PURSEY:

this is a thing. So hip hop, karaoke, then really took off. So I was making, you know, had a packed out event every week, and then started doing this was the other key event we did. We then started doing an event myself and Dave called players bought. Yes, so we were like, Okay, so this is Southern hospitality presents players ball, but it was like, we wanted an event that captured the energy of the music we'd been listening to for the last six or seven, or in his case even more, he was a real three six mafia fan, etc, etc. And we started players born in the end of 2009, in a club called Camp in Shoreditch, which was still for the creative arts music project. It was like it was like a pop up, I think. Right on Wall Street roundabout. And that that. So we started there, and we were just like, it wasn't more like what we're going to play at this event. We had a policy of like, what are we not going to play at this event? Yeah, we are going to do we're not going to play A Tribe Called Quest. We're not going to play Wu Tang Clan. We're not going to play Mobb Deep. We're not going to play Biggie all that stuff. Yes, we'll play G unit in the game and stuff like that the newer sounding more hip hop But it's going to be Gucci Mane, it's going to be Young Jeezy, it's going to be TI, it's going to be Travis Porter. It's going to be what you know, all the way turned up. It's going to be that and we're going to stand on that. So if anyone asks us for like, an old record, we're going to stand firm and say we're not playing it. And we did it. And I remember the first event. It was packed out. Because Dave put on the flight. I think that Gucci Mane might have been the first flight was like, the slogan was get crunk get booked, get wild. And it was like, and it just, we just communicated a different energy to people. And they came in just, and it was mad. And it made me realise there's a whole generation of people younger than me, who had grown up on this stuff. And they'd seen this stuff on MTV base. They'd seen it on channel, you, they'd seen it on flavour. On Channel Four, they'd seen it on the early 2000s, the Senate on 106 and Park. So they knew these records, they knew, you know, walk it out by UNK, they knew young jock is going down, they were like, they weren't really getting played by a lot of hip hop DJs in the UK. And so we were playing that we're playing early future, all the Gucci. Our man it was, it was insane. Like anyone has been a Player's Ball, they will attest to it. Our slogan, eventually became players ball till we fall. And it was that it was like if you aren't like sweating, dripping, by the end of this, we have failed as DJs. And Davey boy was like, the most wild DJ because he like, he just got drunk. And could you know, he won't mind me saying he couldn't really DJ. And I remember at one point, he was so drunk, I had to, like, lean over to him and move the crossfader across, cuz he just stood there, put, like lining up a banger. And I could see it was, I think, I think that he was asleep or something. But he was like, his eyes were closed, I was like, He's gonna need to move the crossfader across. And it was just grey time around. And, and we, and people were very much drawn to that. When so players wall became bigger. So we did that at Glastonbury. We did, then we moved to East Village. And that was packed out as I started making money from that, we then connected with so many people around Europe, who weren't so in my mind sort of backward thinking a lot of the European guys were on all this stuff. So we went out and played sonar, and you know, on the same stage as like sceptre, and people like that, and we did some amazing gigs, pushing that kind of Barcelona, pushing that kind of southern rap agenda because we felt like Europe embraced us. And obviously, America embraced us and they didn't think anything strange about as being, you know, like, now you get all this stuff like, ah, you know, this, your English you this you white, whatever. Like, I've never had that conversation with anybody, like people, when when you go to like, Austin, they just go, they've got to know the music. They've booked us. You know,

Adam Gow:

we started talking to baby J, you know, bigger baby J. He was like sending sending beats down to people in London. And they just kind of weren't this is at one point. And again, I don't think he'll mind me saying it at one point because just because it wasn't from our in London that just weren't interested. But he was getting beats to people in New York that were taking him. Yeah. Bizarre. Yeah, it's crazy.

ROB PURSEY:

Because people just, they see you that way. I remember. Remember one of my favourite moments, I was at South by Southwest. And we were like, pushing our show putting posters up like people do. Because the big music conference didn't how much you know about it's like a big Music Conference takes over the whole town. Yeah, check and film conference as part of it as well. So you there we had this crazy lineup. And I remember just trying to have the flyer to some guy and I was like, Yo, Tonight we've got this showcase. And I was like, you know, somebody's pushing my wares. You know, like the guys do with their CDs on Oxford Street guy. We've got Pete key playing we've got you know, coming but who we had that year, some really good people like Mary Ty Dolla Sign, whatever, your fat pimp and he went, they just turned to me, but I am fat pimp. And like, I was pushing my wares to fat pimp himself, because we obviously never met fat pimp. Yeah, we just we just been dealing with him. Just like it was insane moments that like, we've been dealing with fat pimp over email, and then randomly bump into fat pimp in Austin. It's just like, you know, and they don't think anything twice. They're like, Oh, Rob, you know, they were Davey boy. And it's just, everyone was just united by that kind of feeling of. It's a new world. It's Twitter. It's blogs. It's exciting. New hip hop's exciting, crazy times.

Adam Gow:

So plays ball was actually kind of a stronger brand than hip hop karaoke. No,

ROB PURSEY:

no, no, definitely not. Hip Hop robbery. Okay. Hip Hop karaoke in central London. It's Also, particularly we've been at the Queen hawkstone We've done it every single major festival Blake loft and return you've done this year we're doing 25 festivals with it. You know like it's still to this day it's my living It's my life. It's my baby it's everything shout out Bobby champagne everyone involved in Jimmy played, you know, Tama heavy Rob everyone. Everyone involved in hip hop karaoke. Those days in the social were like, absolutely legendary Dave, you know, somewhat so that I'm going to pick myself up now when timeout had their final issue. They did a list of legendary London clubs about 50 clubs, and we were in that list and I was like, it felt good to be recognised. Because everybody at some point, everybody was anybody went through that party on a Thursday night, social in the basement. You know, Ed Sheeran would sit at the back hanging out, like all the big guys now who were making waves in London like Alani. All the guys went in recess, they would party there every week. It was just Usain Bolt came and party with us one night. It was just, every week, there'd be some randomness happening. Because of where it was. It was right, just off Oxford Street. It was just an amazing, amazing time. So yeah, hip hop, karaoke has always just been. So it's funny. So there's some people who know me as the hip hop karaoke guy. Yeah. And then there's a whole nother world of people more internationally, who know me as a southern hospitality guy. And even funny, so we bring some of these artists to London. And then we take them through hip hop, karaoke, and they go, yo, what's this? The be mind blown by how intense and epic it was on a Thursday night. And they were just, we just got them in town, to do a showcase or something.

Adam Gow:

Yeah. So then from there, you went more into club promote in specifically there?

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah, I kind of did. So without the distraction of my kids are getting a little at a second child. And so my wife could then be a home, and I could be at home. This has been the, the beauty of this whole lifestyle that, yeah, I've been totally exhausted. For the whole of my 30s and 40s. So far, totally exhausted. But it meant that we didn't really have childcare, we didn't never have to pay for childcare. So wife left a job and I kind of became really like a full time club promoter, I would say, like, four to five Hip Hop karaoke parties every month, and then be doing the whole festival season. had players ball once a month, I started and r&b party in Shoreditch called rated R, which was and you know, and that's

Adam Gow:

part of Southern hospitality, as well as Yeah, it's another

ROB PURSEY:

part of some hospitality. And it's just because I'm a huge, huge r&b lover, you know, Mayacamas off the r&b icon. Very, very self aggrandizing there. Because I love that as much as hip hop. So I thought that was my little baby when not many people were doing. I mean, everyone's doing r&b event now. But at the time, they weren't doing that many certainly not in shortage. And I'm with a few of us, like, few few venues doing it. So yeah, became a full time club promoter. And the blog stuff, obviously, as you know, around about 2014 blog stuff really kind of dissipated. Yeah, like websites, they sussed it out, you know, and the streaming game came in, and it really, really changed things. Those kinds of we got new gatekeepers, Spotify, and yeah. And I also at the time, I started working for Apple music. So I started doing that early playlist, massive shout out to Steve Oh, in on that one. In the early days before Apple Music kind of materialised. We're setting up a lot of their playlists for them. Obviously, the algorithm does a lot of that now, but at the time it was Yeah, we did it. We did a lot of that stuff as well. So I was at home doing a lot of that during the day. I could be with my kids. I was working nights, getting in at five in the morning, but then getting up at eight in the morning. I mean, it was crazy, but it was it worked because it felt like I was doing stuff I wanted to do. So I never could never be mad at it if that makes sense.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, it kind of energises you does Yeah,

ROB PURSEY:

yeah so a lot of club promotion I started doing social radio as well the run that time myself Super X and a few other people were involved with that we still do that now. And that's like a nice that's like a beautiful outlet for me now, Soho radio so we can I can do my like, nerdy hip hop scene go really deep on on a pointless rap r&b subject. And then when I go to the clubs, I can just be a club DJ.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, you've got different different channels for different purposes.

ROB PURSEY:

And now I'll now I like to do more things I'm doing that I do a lot more sports hosting now and I do things like I was a judge at Red Bull culture clash. Thanks to Tom Lee again. Little things like that. A few more curation, I guess under the banner of curation. Yeah, you know that obviously the Apple Music was curation. That's something I've always enjoyed doing as well play and do some playlists for certain places, and just trying to bring it all all together. Yeah,

Adam Gow:

I mean, it sounds like you've you've managed over the years. I mean, I couldn't have had your work life balance, because I need more sleep than that. But it sounds like you've really thought money as well to navigate that.

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah, I mean, it depends on some quality of life definitely suffers at times. Because yeah, it definitely. I mean, big up James Hamlin, he's been someone throughout my, I know, you had him on your podcast recently, a great, great interview. He's a great human, because certain intervals have sort of sought sought advice from him, because he's very good in the kind of business world. And he's, he's someone who has guided me a little bit. So every so every time every time I say, James, I feel like I'm, I'm on the treadmill, I don't know where to step next year, do I want to step off because I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed. And he's been very good at giving me a little bit of guidance here and there. And so I've got to beat him up for that.

Adam Gow:

I think what he's quite savvy with is he's thinking about what the payoff of the different things are 100%

ROB PURSEY:

that because he's a strategist at work and yeah, works in marketing. And I'm a little I'm a very emotional human. Like, I very much wear my heart on my sleeve. I wouldn't say I'm chaotic. I do I do work. Well, I'm not unreliable or anything. I'm very reliable person. Hard worker. But um, yeah, and I'm, I am. sounds really cliche. I'm just here for the values. And so far the vibes of like, serve me, served me fairly well. So I'm a little bit almost the times I start to strategize a bit too much, and start to overthink things and like, what someone else doing? I should be doing what someone else is doing. Yeah, I find that it's, it's a folly. It's a little bit silly for me to do that. Because I'm not then. And I find I get respect from some of the biggest DJs and stuff because I am who I am. They like me for who I am. I mean, this like someone like a mountain to smooth, I would argue is in my world of hip hop, r&b. That kind of world may be the biggest DJ in the UK. Right? And it was rubbish, his top DJs and he's wrong. And he trusts me when he's doing other stuff. And he can't make a Ramesh date. I've had the privilege of being able to tour with Romesh Ranganathan. Yeah, which is fun, a great gig for me. I've loved him. And you know, Ramesh is a fantastic guy. And that's because someone like mine, he knows that's something I can do. Because he knows I'll I know that pocket of hip hop and then get on in that Ramesh Ranganathan work. So there's no point in me changing or trying to adapt to be, you know, I could be on Tik Tok, doing a mashup every day. And, you know, the, but at the end of the day, I just like to be authentic. And I have my own authenticity, and it's a bit random. The I'm a northern guy, like, who knows everything about hip hop, who also is quite into sport and all this kind of stuff. And I do do what I do. And I just try and stay authentic to me. And I think so far that served me well. I've never Touchwood I haven't come across too much opposition to that. I think people respect it.

Adam Gow:

Yeah. And I think there's a lot to be said for realising your your own qualities what I don't mean you specifically I mean, as people realising what makes you you Yeah, cuz there's people I know in life that like one of my friends recently, I've kind of realised is caught up or has been caught up in this idea of who they think they are. I think they should be coming I could definitely I could definitely say that about myself but it's something through through self work gradually kind of picking away at that interesting but you get caught up in I want to be this oh, this is what good looks like but it's about what makes you you what makes you special.

ROB PURSEY:

Listen, and I'm and I'm human like everybody else. I open Instagram some some David inspires me some days it intimidates me. And I'm like, why am I not doing what that person is doing? I'm human. And I think sometimes people look at me like Rob's got it all figured out. And I genuinely my one thing I will say is like, I do not have anything figured out at all still figuring it out. And um but I know that when I'm closest to my authentic self, that's the best me and I perform better and I do better I'm happier. And I enjoy my DJ and when I'm trying to force it you know it's my own fault. I'm friends with so many people who are more talented than me and need to start rolling with some losers So Adam if you know any please introduce me

Adam Gow:

and no one so you're basically saying you need to be like the forms instead of the Ralph mouth to go like Oh Happy Day to bury

ROB PURSEY:

or the rich aquarium who would let me give me that analogy again.

Adam Gow:

So you need to be the Fonz. The Richie Cunningham.

ROB PURSEY:

Yeah, yeah, so like yeah, when you said the Fonz that imply that I might be cool. I'm not cool. No, I'm not cool. But I see what you're saying mind state funds mind state

Adam Gow:

where I was confusing call for abilities. This is coming back to what I said about what I think good looks like.

ROB PURSEY:

Amazing. Yeah. You know, like talking about this it like so far that it really makes it run over? Obviously the last couple of years with the pandemic has been hard for a lot of DJs. Yeah, like, and I'm fortunate that I can speak to great people still like a sun DJ Santeria. I know we have, who are DJ Jonesy or Andy Parnell, Central cdjr. Martin are mentioned and they can they send to me, and I'll give them a call. And they know and they seem to sense when I need a little bit of a boost or, and you know what network of people like it feels like a very Doggy Dog world, the DJ world and it is in the club promotion world. Oh my god, this some scumbags let me not make any bones about it. And for someone who's very ethical, I find it really hard to navigate that world. So I'm trying to be loyal, trying to be ethical. And I have been, you know, shut on me a million times. But on On the plus side, I've met some amazing people. And my inspiration comes from my peers and from my friends and and I'm grateful, super grateful. So on days, like today chatting to someone like yourself intelligent person or yourself, chatting about myself. I mean, so how indulgent is that, you know, I feel super, super blessed.

Adam Gow:

I think what's nice, all those this is chatting about yourself. I think what I try and do is is make it reflective and just try like see if there's any any, anything that you've not kind of it's nice when people come away from it going. I've never thought about this facet of my life like that. Yeah, surreal boost for me. So

ROB PURSEY:

I mean, look, I'm going to be brutally honest with you. I lost last, you know, like, say through the pandemic. And so it's been it's been a bit trickier. And you have questions doubts, I Oh, god, did I do the right thing? Like, things are fine. Now again, obviously, yeah. But you had to do the right thing. And a lot of anxiety creeps in. And you think, well, if I just had a regular job I could have just had, I would have still been working that throughout that 1218 months, whatever it was, that all those anxieties creep in. And it's only when I talk now you hear me? I could talk like for hours because actually, you're having the good grace to ask me questions, but I'm excited about it, you see? And that's when I'm like, Oh my God, I've done like, like loads of cool stuff. And but in those darker moments, you don't remember that? Yeah, like, why haven't I just got a nine to five and I saw someone did an amazing tweet. And it really made me laugh, though, when it was something about all his friends who aren't DJs they all have a kitchen island in their house, because they've all spent their time going to be in queue and making the house look immaculate. And those DJs have just been like sort of like living hand to mouth for the last 20 years. And it was like it was a real symbol. And now I live in the suburbs, and I've got a couple of kids and they go to people's houses. I always go to the house. I'm like going, Yeah, they've got a kitchen island in their house here. I can eat their house if my house isn't like that. Because I've been like, you know, getting up in the morning like flying to a gig. Trying to be a good parent and

Adam Gow:

Barstow have they got a complete collection of 45 kingswells They

ROB PURSEY:

haven't that's right for me yeah, in your face,

Adam Gow:

right we're gonna have to start wrapping up because we've got to go smash out this corporate let's do it. And just before we do, as well as say, Thank you. Is there anyone specifically that you think we should get on the show? And if so,

ROB PURSEY:

why? Oh, good question. I would love you to get mine on. The show mine too smooth, because that guy is smashing it beyond all recognition. I think he's actually someone who give so much back to the apart from, you know, he's probably like, you know one of them making so much money doing cool stuff, all those kinds of things that everybody who quote unquote wants. He does it with class, he does it with style, and he puts everyone else on. And I think he's someone that he could if you got the right thing out of him, he could lay the blueprint that that almost could be like a little capsule for people to learn from. So yeah, whereas mine is just a bit of a waffle. Whereas his will actually be super useful.

Adam Gow:

Yours is a great kind of memoir. I think mine is a memoir of a lot of stuff in there a lot of different places. I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

ROB PURSEY:

Thank you so much for having me on love the podcast been recommended to a lot of people. Yeah, and if I do have one bit of kind of advice to people is just be authentic and enjoy it.

Adam Gow:

Amazing. And where can people find you online?

ROB PURSEY:

Yep. At our OB pu R se y i have to spell my name because I've got Rob Percy they always spell it PE so it's RT R OB P you are RSEY on pretty much everything. I am Rob Percy in real life, and online.

Adam Gow:

Awesome. Thanks very much.

ROB PURSEY:

Brilliant. Thanks, Adam.

Adam Gow:

Man. Let's go do this.