BC: This year we celebrated 10 years of BobaFatt at Big Chill, some great memories! What have been your stand out moments from playing in Brick Lane?
BF: Yeya! It’s been a decade-long hazy tequila blur to be honest, haha! Can’t think of a standout moment as such, just general wholesome debauchery - I’ve had a lot of good times and made a lot of good friends. It really does feel like a home from home now. One very random memory that sticks in my mind (not sure why) is the Summer that Major Lazer ‘Pon De Floor’ was huge. I was playing it to a rammed bar peak time, place was going nuts, and someone, deadpan, came up and said “can you play the theme song from The Lion King?.. I think it’ll go down really well..”. We’ll never know if he was right.. Possiby the strangest request I’ve ever had in 25+ years of Djing. As a punter, first meeting Idris Elba when he was playing there, and seeing the late great DJ Derek there on a packed-out sunny Sunday afternoon stick in my mind. Been some wicked parties with Toddla T, The Nextmen and others over the years too. Oh, and shout out to the roller-blading guy!
BC: Our music programmer Chris let it slip that you’re a real James Brown fan so we obviously picked you to curate our Godfather of Soul “Big Chill Presents” playlist. Was it hard to narrow down to just 10 songs?
BF: If you ask any DJ worth their salt to give you 10 James Brown records, they're probably gonna give you 20. Which is what I've done. I didn't even dip into side projects with The JB's, Lynn Collins, Marva Whitney, Bobby Byrd etc, or the thousands of tracks that have sampled James over the years - this is just a selection of James Brown cuts that I revisit regularly. There's a reason I picked each of these, but probably best you just press play and get on the good foot for two hours, rather than me waffle on more. I should mention a party coming up in early May as well at The Book Club for The Doctor's Orders, where my good mate DJ Mr Thing is doing a 2-hour James Brown set. If you know about Mr Thing, and understand what that may sound like, you'll understand why it's something not to be missed!
BC: You’ve played in some really unique venues like the Natural History Museum, how did that gig come about?
BF: A mate and former boss, Tracey, was events manager at the time – she’d heard me play before & asked if I’d be up for it. It’s pretty surreal Djing in there late at night, surrounded by actual dinosaurs! Definitely one I’ll always remember. I’ve been really lucky in recent years getting booked to play at really esteemed & varied places like Royal Albert Hall, Somerset House, Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Koko, Brixton Academy, Jazz Café, The Roundhouse, Troxy, The Forum… A privilege I don’t take lightly. There’s been a few quirky ones too. The most unique one was maybe playing in Wimbledon Library a few years ago though, which included having to give the Mayor of Merton a scratch tutorial. All pretty strange.
BC: For those that aren’t in the know, you are one half of the DJ duo Main Squeeze, alongside Mo Fingaz, how did this partnership come about?
BF: I met Mo Fingaz back in the late nineties when I ran a record shop in Bath. He used to come and buy records from me when he was a teenager; skateboard and big gob in tow. We basically worked the same DJ circuit in the South West, and have been mates ever since. Coincidentally we both moved to London around the same time, just over a decade ago, so was a no brainer that we started doing parties together as we’d always got on & always been into similar music. That and no-one else knew who we were. Apart from Nice Up’s DJ Shepdog that is, who was the first person in the city to book us, for a gig at Big Chill House. This is where Main Squeeze was born, also 10 years ago later this year. Nowadays, we host a monthly party in Peckham, have a regular Friday night show on Soho Radio, and have a bunch of festival bookings coming up too, coinciding with our 10th anniversary.
BC: Tell us the story behind the name BobaFatt?
BF: Pretty sure it stemmed originally from a drunk conversation in a pub a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, but, again, it’s all pretty hazy if I’m honest. Aside from being a bit of a Star Wars geek, like a lot of people, it’s a play on a few things – my real name, the fact everything I play is FATT, and the irony that I’m probably the skinniest person in London. In-fact, there was this kid at a festival once who was genuinely really disappointed to discover that I wasn’t really ‘fat’. She thought I was a fraud. Someone also asked me if it was an ode to Fatboy Slim once. It’s not. No-one gets it. It’s a really stupid name. No-one knows how to say it, or how to spell it. I’ve seen every possible incarnation of it on flyers over the years. But hey, it’s stuck now! And the DJ alter-egos I had before ‘BobaFatt’ were all pretty terrible, to be fair.
BC: What have you got coming up in 2018?
BF: Lots! I’m playing at a couple festivals in the Summer, like Shindig, Hospitality and Soundwave (both in Croatia), there’s our monthly Main Squeeze residency and Soho Radio show, various gigs here and there with Soundcrash, The Doctor’s Orders and others. I’m resident at new R&B night, ‘Real Love’, with Ronnie Herel, DJ Swerve and Big Chill compadres Janeen Beanz & Russ Ryan. Plus I’ve started making a bit of music in my spare time, as well as knocking out mixtapes, doing a bit of writing, dabbling with cutting videos together & manning the socials for various music industry folks, like Near Mint Club and new Hackney record shop, Stranger Than Paradise. I’m the label manager for First Word Records too which keeps me busy a lot of the time, working on releases for artists like Children Of Zeus, Kaidi Tatham, Darkhouse Family, Yazmin Lacey and loads more. It’s a real joy to get to work with such talented people, and alongside label founder Gilla, and there’s some really wicked releases in the pipeline with that. We’ve got our 14th Birthday party on March 24th at Total Refreshment Centre incidentally, with most of the label roster playing. And doing more stuff if I can find more hours in the day. I wanna learn the drums. I wanna learn photography. I might start drawing again. Just make stuff. Fingers crossed, it’s gonna be a great year all round on these fronts. And, of course, I’ll be DJing monthly Friday nights at Big Chill Brick Lane!