We spoke to Bugged Out!'s Lemmy Ashton about his role and memories as a resident for one of the most defining UK club brands.
Last updated: 27th Jul 2016
Bugged Out! is one of Britain's most treasured clubbing institutions, and is as relevant now as it was back in the 90s and early 00s when the parties shaped a generation as the likes of Daft Punk, Erol Alkan and The Chemical Brothers made history as its iconic status was cemented.
The brand to this day continues to host arenas at festivals like Field Day and parties at The Warehouse Project, along with its own get-togethers including the infamous Weekender at Butlins and the new venture at the Dreamland amusement park in Margate. It's Just A Big Disco, and fun is still most definitely at the forefront.
The residents at Bugged Out! have been a key component of the brand's success over the years. James Holroyd, Justin Robertson and Dave Clarke were just some of the stalwarts that set the mark and enticed revellers week after week whilst shaping the clubnight's reputation as it conquered Sankeys (Soap) in Manchester and Cream in Liverpool.
Now the regular slot belongs to London-based DJ and producer Lemmy Ashton, who is known for his intense, genre-spanning marathon sets and his ability to surprise with leftfield groovers, merged with classic house cuts and plenty of disco. We caught up with Lemmy ahead of Bugged Out! In Dreamland to ask him more about his role as a resident.
Why do you think that the role of a resident DJ is so crucial to a successful club night?
A good resident DJ is involved in all aspects of a club, from knowing the door staff to being on first name terms with the management team and have strong links with the bookings. Good relationships between everyone involved helps set the vibe of the club before the doors have even opened, and successful club nights thrive on good vibes.
Being a resident DJ also involves having a wide and varied taste in music, depending on what week you’re playing, or what style the line up is that night depends on what records you put in your bag.
Having a good knowledge across the board helps with the bookings side of the club too, if you find yourself filling your USB/crate/bag with more and more from a particular artist they invariably end up on the bill. Keeping things fresh is crucial to a successful club night, it’s dangerous to be static, as everything in music moves at such a fast pace.
What do you think your duty is as a resident?
More often then not, people aren’t coming to the club to see you play, you’re there to set a mood and tee it up for the act on after you. So probably the first and most important duty as a resident is to create a vibe without reaching for the big, noisy, power records.
You have to always be aware that its not about you and you’re there to make the night go as well as possible, for both the acts and the crowd, and that almost always means not playing 'Voodoo Ray' at 11PM.
You’re also there to be a lightning rod to the other acts on the bill, they might be in the city for the first time, alone or just not up for spending the two hours before their set sat in the hotel. So it's also about getting along with everyone, making sure they have fun and making sure they want to come back. Music is a great conversation starter, and you can almost certainly bet on some shared interests.
Tell us about the very first time you played at a Bugged Out party…
It would have been in 2012, I was actually working at the Apple Store at that time, and had managed to wangle a ticket to the Bugged Out Weekender in January but I had work on the Sunday so it would have been a short trip.
However after a chance meeting with Johnno and Erol in a backstage corridor lined with signed photos of Shane Ritchie, I was handed the reigns to the Sunday pool party. Which did mean making up an excuse to not go into work.
How do you think that your sets represent the club night and its music policy?
Bugged Out! has taken many genres in its stride, from the acid house of the 90s, electroclash of the 00s, techno, dubstep, electro and more. So I try to make sure that i’m always bringing something fresh to my sets as a resident there, rather than paying homage to the illustrious history that the club and brand have, I try to use it as a spring board for new sounds and records that have roots in their history but are always moving forward.
For a long time the resident DJ was overshadowed by the headline act but the scene has come to appreciate and acknowledge them again, with many club nights adopting well known residents for series. Why do you think it's changed?
There’s a growing trend in the club going public and beyond of wanting to experience a premium quality product. Be that a coffee, backpack or DJ set, people want to know that when they are spending their money they are getting a worthwhile return on it, and there’s nothing more value for money than a resident DJ.
I’d also attribute it to some great online publications putting out amazingly interesting long read pieces about the importance of the resident. Clubs like Berghain, Robert Johnson, XOYO and of course fabric are amazing for their residents, they get as much love as the headline acts - Craig Richards and Gerd Janson for example.
What track in your collection always sets the tone for the night at a Bugged Out event?
It’s difficult because it changes all the time, I have a few tracks that are a bit of a litmus test to see if the crowd are ready to start shifting up through the gears. 'Switchback' by Black Light Smoke is one of them, it’s still around 110bpm but it can really bang if the room is ready to go.
What has been your favourite moment playing as a resident DJ for Bugged Out?
There have been some amazing gigs over the three or so years I’ve been a resident for them, but in recent memory it’s definitely NYE 2015 with the Hydra. I opened room two just after midnight, and it went from empty to rammed over the course of 45 minutes, it was the first time I brought a drum machine with me into a club to play alongside DJing and it went off!