Getting it together @ Turnmills with Paul Stix
Reported by HarderFaster
Submitted 25-10-06 22:38
There are some lucky people in the industry who have the privilege of literally living and breathing music 24/7. One of these fortunate few is Turnmills’ Press and PR Manager Paul Stix. As well as being responsible for talking the talk for one of the world’s most successful clubs, he also promotes Together, an eclectic monthly party with a varied music policy where fun is the main emphasis, as well as dj’ing as one half of The Scarlet Pimp b2b Mannequin Doll with girlfriend Kelly. Given Paul’s obvious affinity for both kinds of spin, without further ado, let’s let him do the talking…
Paul Stix at Together, May, Village Fete Room
You’re the PR arm of Turnmills, one of the largest and most famous clubs in the world. How long have you been working for the Mills? What is the nature of your job there?
I’ve been working for Turnmills for five years and one of my roles is to promote Together. Before that I did a media degree, but I didn’t get the job just because of that, although there were some very useful things I learnt from it. I started clubbing before I went to uni, then when I was at uni I got into swapping reviews for free entry. I used to write for Spaced and go all over the country. There were those booths with photos you can email yourself. I also wrote for virtualfestivals.com. They’re the biggest festival site now, they’ve come a long way. I used to cover all the big festivals and events: Gatecrasher, Homelands, going up and down the country for clubs.
Once I graduated I thought I’d get into football journalism, something I’d done my dissertation in at uni. But I decided that working in clubs was something I’d rather do. I continued doing work experience for the likes of Mixmag, M8, IDJ and Seven Mag. I then did three months work experience at Distinctive Records. At the same time I did a review of City Loud for promoter Toni Tambourine, who’s now with Defected. He asked me in to Turnmills as he liked the review so much, so I started doing one day a week at Turnmills and four at Distinctive. Three months in they both offered me a full time job and I chose Turnmills.
It essentially grew into a press role, sending out listings, doing any writing for flyers, newsletters to the database. Imagine that people used to fax that kind of stuff! But email is all I know. I guess every club has a designated PR person to sort out radio links, online competitions and listings at a minimum. It’s as important or more than flyering. Rather than paying £1000 for an ad., it’s better that the same publication writes a preview. It beats and ad. because the mag is telling you to go down to the event.
Now I do more PR in general for everything related to Turnmills, as well as helping the outside promoters, but I’m also concentrating on our own events — The Gallery, Together, the Discotech of Bob Sinclar, which has a good formula as we work with the London Macadam, a French publication and the French music bureau. We promote French artists as the whole night is themed around the French. The back room is more underground. It’s a great night, so great to do press for. We always get great photos and there’s really good music. Bob Sinclar’s had five top ten singles and is a good producer. You can hear his tracks all over the world!
I’m also having to work with the promoters, doing a lot of the physical bookings for Together, The Gallery and Bob Sinclar. I’ve just put together the line-ups for the free member’s parties on 30 December and 6 January. I find this very exciting. Before I did this, I did a night called Mongo Bongo with my girlfriend Kelly and resident dj Anil Chawla. The idea was to try the promotion game and dj, and Kelly really wanted to give it a try. We had really good guests, including Nic Fanciulli. It was great for Anil. Now I’m doing what I was going there on a much bigger scale with the prestige of doing it at one of the world’s best clubs. It’s very humbling, I know I’m very lucky!
What have been the highlights of your job at Turnmills over the last five years? And have there been any major crises?
January 28 2006 was the first Together where I seriously programmed the whole night and it was pretty much the biggest night we’d done all year. My boss gave me the faith in booking the line-ups and it’s become one of the biggest nights in London since. It was always something I wanted to do. Other highlights: it’s just great when you can spend your time living and breathing music, I get to meet lots of interesting people, many of whom I’ve become good friends with over the years and had many good times on the dance floor — Jesus, loads! Roger Sanchez was always one of my favourites and now I’ve got to know him; he’s a great guy.
I love T2, I love the Fandango room which Nic Fanciulli used to do it with loads of my favourite djs: Paul Woolford, Greg Vickers (resident at Tribal Sessions), it’s a good underground house room perfect for that kind of music. It’s also where I first started there, just going there to be a part of it, so it’s a highlight having gone from being a punter to someone who works there. It’s quite funny, the first time I went there I got turned away by Tom for wearing trainers. Now I get to wear whatever! That night I ended up going to Peach instead, which was alright once you got past the drug dealers and piss in the toilets!
As for crises: there’s always a number of things that can go wrong on any night — the CDJs not working, the djs being late. But there’ve been no major crises I don’t think. The team have all been there a lot longer than I have and know it inside out. Nothing springs to mind as a major problem!
Paul Stix giving out prizes with John Kennedy, Together, March
What goals do you have for the next year or so? And beyond?
As well as working for Turnmills, I’m also PR Manager for Get Loaded in the Park, Cardiff Calling and overseeing the Metro Weekender as a whole. So next year I’m going to continue doing that, as well as some interesting line-ups for Turnmills, especially making the Together line-ups good. I want to take Get Loaded in the Park to new audiences. We’ve had three sell-out years, but can only continue doing so if we do better, improve where possible and keep going. We pretty much sold out both days in Cardiff. The Metro were just setting up in Cardiff so it was good timing. It was such a fun thing to do, on a beautiful site with great transport links and the Welsh were a pleasure to work with.
When you were growing up, what kind of job did you want to do? Were you always interested in the music industry or was it something you fell into?
It was something I was always interested in. My Dad surrounded me with music when I was younger and I was always interested in writing and going to parties! I didn’t know it was going to happen, but I had my heart set on it. As I said, it was either that or football journalism. I’m glad I chose music as it’s a lot more fun. It’s quite ironic that I did a media degree as I wanted to go to uni, but as much as I learned a lot of stuff there, having a media degree didn’t help me at all. My work experience was crucial. It’s the old cliché of who you know!
Building up those relationships is crucial. People like Gavyn Mitchell (resident at the Gallery) who’s easily one of the UK’s best djs of tech trance started off coming to Turnmills and asking for any jobs. he was packing flyers for ages, then got up the ladder and worked on the Gallery membership. Now he plays all over the world and puts top Gallery line-ups together. So if you’re prepared to work hard, you can fulfil your dreams!
Paul Stix dressed as a women for Together, March: some mothers do ave it!
What would you say are the most important aspects doing PR for a club? Have you ever had to do any cover up jobs when parties have got out of hand!
We touched on this earlier. Clubs probably didn’t think they needed PR, but in today’s music scene it’s good to have. You’re responsible for trying to expose the club in a positive way in as many different media formats as possible. As PR you have to be confident and friendly, add twists to stories to get coverage in the mags. You’re almost the face of the club, as you’re the first point of contact, so you need to know what you’re talking about. You have to get along with people and be able to sell the club to as many people as possible, and think of new ways to promote the club.
As for the second part, I wouldn’t say I’ve had any ‘cover up jobs’. The one thing that was the worst thing we’ve experienced is going back a number of years when there was a shooting at the club, which was in no way the fault of Turnmills or the staff, but the club was closed from that weekend to the following weekend. We had nothing to hide, but I’d never dealt with calls from the press where I’d had to speak about something so serious. It was a serious situation talking about a shooting when you’re used to telling everyone how great Tall Paul is! But the next weekend was a perfect weekend for the Mills, as we had a great party on Friday then Fatboy Slim on the Saturday. You couldn’t have picked two better nights and it was definitely business as usual… so for me it was a bit odd! I guess in other types of PR you’re there to cover up all the time, but we haven’t had to.
The Scarlet Pimp & Mannequin Doll: Stix & girlfriend Kelly dj'ing
Turnmills would have to be one of the busiest clubs in London, being consistently rammed every Friday and Saturday night. How do you deal with the constantly huge workload? Doe sit mean you have to work all weekend as well as on weekdays?
Regardless of the club being busy, the workload is huge. I’m always working to a variety of deadlines, be they in two weeks time, six weeks or three months. I’m always planning deadlines and working to them. You do get used to it and now I have a way of doing it where I’m used to it. I now have a series of things I do on a daily basis to satisfy each of the nights, and once I’m on top of that, it’s all on schedule. Obviously having a good relationship with the press is handy — we do get good press coverage right across the board, but it wouldn’t happen if the nights weren’t good, the djs weren’t of the highest quality and the club wasn’t well run!
I usually work 10–7 as a standard day, Monday to Friday, but I do a bit of work before I come to work and that said I probably work later. When it comes to weekends, I go down to the club as much as I can. That’s kind of changed a bit more I’m a promoter for Together, but I do still come down as much as I can. But I don’t send to suffer during the week. My body clock is used to late and irregular hours and no sleep! If I was doing a suit job and had to be there at 9am things would be very different, but our office is relaxed, I go in and there’s music playing and it’s all good!
With Sean Ryder, Together NYE
You were involved in this year’s SW4 and Get Loaded events, both of which were hugely successful. How is running a campaign for such large events different to a usual club night? What were the best parts of the festivals for you?
I really enjoyed working on the festivals. They’re very different to usual club promotions. With clubs, there’s only so many people you can physically talk to about the events. The Sun and Mirror gossip columns aren’t really interested. But when you’re working with the likes of the Happy Mondays and Babyshambles, it opens a lot more doors! Some of the things we did… like arranging for Pete Docherty to be on the Jonathon Ross show and got 4.2 million viewers. That was probably my highlight actually! The BBC had tried to get Pete on the show before and hadn’t. Once we spoke to them they dropped who’d they’d booked.
‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ was a new Babyshambles track recorded at Turnmills and you got it free if you bought a ticket to Get Loaded in the Park. It was amazing! Me and Jonathan Ross were talking beforehand, then the next thing they’re having a good banter about our event to over 4 million people! So working on some of the bigger events in with a wider appeal means you can set your sites higher and do more. It was also a big turning point for us in terms of promotion this year, for as a result of that performance ticket sales went up dramatically and loads of people heard about the festival, which was what we wanted! I had a signed present for Jonathan Ross. When they were both plugging the festival I was speechless — “Go on Son!” It was really exciting and puts us in good stead when concentrating on Turnmills, just because I now know more people and have more ideas.
I don’t actually get to see much of the festival itself to be honest. On the day I’m involved with the guest lists and press areas, artist liaison, helping out in any way possible, making sure all the guests and journos are happy and getting photos. If truth be known I didn’t see much at all of this year’s, but I did see De La Soul, one of my favourite old hip hop bands. I’d kind of finished before Babyshambles came on, which was a highlight. Getting Pete Doherty on stage — if people knew what was involved! My boss Danny had to pick him up from the Priory and get him back before his curfew at 10pm. Danny got him back at 9.58! It was an absolute nightmare in terms of legal conditions. So when he finally walked on the stage it was a great moment, the whole place went mental and it justified everything we said we’d do. He put on a great show and he’s since signed a new record deal and they’ve got some great publicity, including getting Pete and Babyshambles on the cover of NME. Last time he was in there as a bad influence! Now he’s on one of the biggest covers of the year! Plus he’s pretty much recorded a new album at Turnmills. Pete used to be there in the studio a lot of Fridays, not that anyone would know. I don’t think he’d necessarily be reaching for the lasers!
It’s very difficult when you book people if you can’t get near the artist, but with Babyshambles because we were talking we couldn’t get enough! There was the free CD with the tickets, we did one free with the Big Issue and another free download. So working with them, there were three new Babyshambles tracks given out. We were up for a few awards in the festival awards this year. One was the Innovation Award, because of the free CDs and so on. We’re nominated for the London leg of Get Loaded for Best Medium–Large Festival, Best One Day and the Innovatin Award. Cardiff Calling was nominated for Best New One Day Festival. We won in 2004, winning Best New Festival for Get Loaded in the Park and last year we were best runner up for the Best One day Festival.
With girlfriend Kelly at Bestival
Turnmills has hooked up with the guys from Heat and Frantic to form Lock & Loaded Events. Why the merger? How is it all going so far and do you have any more major events or festivals planned?
Basically Lock and Loaded Events is a collaboration between Get Loaded in the Park and SW4. In 2004/5 it was almost like Get Loaded and SW4 were competing, so it was a bit strange. Now the two companies have formed one company that oversees both days. It’s much smoother, we’re all in one office which is buzzing, it’s ideal. Lock and Load will continue to do the festivals next year and other big events like Brixton Academy parties. Other than this, Heat, Frantic and Turnmills staff have formed a new company called Evolution99, or e99, which offers PR, print, graphic design, web design and banners — basically every form of club promotion, from putting on a club night with the wealth of experience from promoters. So we do that as well as our individual projects. Why? It was the logical thing to do.
In terms of major events there’s loads really! There’s going to be loads of Turnmills nights, Heat Events, Frantic Events and events at Hidden and the Renaissance Rooms — loads of things!
Stix with tv ed, Together, Feb
You’re a major part of the Mills’ successful night, Together. What is the philosophy behind Together? What do you think makes it such a successful night?
The philosophy — serious music not taken seriously! First and foremost, with the line-ups we try and be as creative and imaginative as we can. We try and take what’s hot now across as many genres as possible. This year we opened a live room with Jon Kennedy. who’s tipped to be the next Jon Peel (from XFM) as one of the ressies, so he’s booked people like Lethal Bizzel (grime/hip hop), the Presets, Who Made Who and other interesting live acts. Elsewhere in the club there’s big house, electro and techno people, people like Justin Robertson. He can adapt to play before or after a dj of any style. We’ve got really good residents — Anil Chawla is now a ressie.
Music aside though, the main idea of Together is to give a different spin/angle every month that people will enjoy. We did the Hat Brigade in February, where clubbers made their own hats and had a best hat competition where the prize was two tickets to Bestival. A guy with a TV on his head won! The final on the night was hosted by the Cuban Brothers — it was so funny! We now do things like that on a regular basis: the Mother’s Day theme, an aqua party, where people were in their swimming trunks.
The last two we’ve done have been very successful. At the Sports Casualties Party about 80% of the club wore stuff like tennis outfits and golfing gear. We even had a gold tournament! Unfortunately we didn’t get round to doing a Sebutio competition (table football). We’re appealing to people’s silly side and people love dressing up and something away from the norm. It’s just one big happy silly rave!
A willing participant, Together, Sept
The next Together is a Halloween special. Can you tell HF readers about some of the surprises you’ve got in store?
Firstly, parts of Turnmills are allegedly haunted, so it’s quite apt we’re doing a Halloween party. The whole club will be draped and dressed accordingly. We’ll be giving out prizes to the best dressed, the scariest dressed, there’ll be blood punch, vodka slugs and anything remotely scary will happen. We encourage people to get involved in fancy dress by them saving £3 so it’s only £12 instead of £15. We’re going to be playing a scary soundtrack, it should be really good fun. All rooms are themed individually: the acid lounge will have Funk d’Void, Jon Carter and Justin Robertson. We’re very excited by the Carpet Records Disco Crypt where Dimitry from Paris is playing a legendary set. In the Torture Chamber we’ve got Roni Size and the Full Cycle Crew. So it’s a very varied mix of music but hopefully not too varied. If you’re into music, you’ll appreciate all three rooms!
Fave dj Nic Fanciulli from Together, May
Who or what inspires you musically? What djs and producers do you rate at the moment?
I’m inspired by lots of people from all walks of life musically. My favourite would probably have to be Nic Fanciulli. I’ve seen him develop from when he used to play the back room to now where he’s pound for pound best house dj to come through in the last four years. I still love people like Roger Sanchez — how he can play for ten hours straight amazes me, he doesn’t need a toilet and plays like his life depends on it! There’s loads of other people I really love. I’m really into people like Trent Moeller, a Danish guy who plays live. He played at Together in February and it was one of our biggest reactions we’ve ever seen — it was phenomenal!
I’m also really into the whole indie/dance crossover thing, Justice, Erol Alkan, people like that are always great, you never know what they’re going to play or the order they’re going to play it! On the flip size, I love people like Mr Scrufff, The Next Men, music across all genres!
My tip for the top would have to be Anil Chawla. After much encouragement over the years, he’s pretty much become all the things we wanted him to become — an excellent dj and a really exiting new producer. I also think the likes of Tim Davidson, Mark Sun and Dale Anderson will all go far.
Anil Chawla: Paul’s tip for the top
Finally, you also dj. How long have you been dj’ing?
When I was younger I wanted to be a house dj, but didn’t have the money, time or equipment to do that. It’s only now I’m doing Together that I get the opportunity to play essentially any old sh*t really — be it TV themes, 80s pop, classic acid house or funky soul. I got asked to play at the Secret Garden Festival over summer and last weekend I played at the Opera House in Bournemouth, playing back to back with my girlfriend Kelly as The Scarlet Pimp b2b Mannequin Doll. We’ve only been doing it this year really. Everyone’s got their own record collection and it’s not difficult to put together a series of music that’s interesting, That’s what I play, stuff that people know and love and don’t usually get to hear out. Hats off to Sean Rowley and his Guilty Pleasures party!
Paul Stix dj'ing
All photos courtesy of Turnmills. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Together presents "Disco of the Dead"
Saturday 28th October
10pm - 6am
£12 in Advance / £15 Guests / £12 in Halloween Fancy Dress
Click here to buy tickets
Like a scene out of Wes Craven’s ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, our forthcoming Together party is likely to scare the sh*t out of you – so you better watch your step. Occupying EC1’s haunted house on the hill (that’s Turnmills to you and me), Together presents “Disco of the Dead: in full Technicolor” on Saturday 28th October and a wickedly wicked ‘Halloween Special’. From the zombie-brained intensity of The Acid Graveyard, to the devil’s disturbingly Disco Carbon Crypt and the bloodcurdling beats & b-lines of the Torture Chamber, this month’s Together horror show is sic I tell you. SIC. And that’s without mentioning the Witch Kraft, Scary Movies & Blood Punch? Oh…
The horrifying hub of the action will take place in The Acid Graveyard – an eerie dancefloor located deep within the main room. A sinister soundtrack of acid house will be blasting out of the speakers, brought to you by 3 of the globe’s leading purveyors of that squelchy, supernatural sound. In residence for the night will be Soma Records hero Funk D’Void aka Francois Dubois. Much in demand as a DJ around the world, the man with the funk is also a critically acclaimed producer of note, with three albums to date - 1997's 'Technoir', 2001's 'Dos', and 2003's 'Volume Freak' - not to mention his work as a remixer, where the likes of New Order, Kraftwerk, Underworld and Laurent Garnier all requesting his unique take on their music. Four-to-the-floor specialist Jon Carter offers more blood & guts to the acidic mix, backed up in terrifying splendour by Together’s main spook and lover of all things techno – Justin Robertson. Fellow resident and rising superstar Anil Chawla backs up the beats with a spine-chilling opening set.
The gruesome, yet groovy grooves continue next door in The Carbon Records Disco Crypt, where the most dapper dude in the business – Dimitri from Paris is the headline attraction. Amidst the madness elsewhere, the fabulous Frenchman will spin a devilishly delicious 3 Hour set, exploring the slickest sounds in town… he is of course, the ‘King of Disco’. Warming the floor will be Holland’s DJ Loud-E, a relatively unknown talent in the UK – but put simply one of the most exciting DJs we’ve heard for years! If Dimitri is the King, then Loud-E is the ‘Prince of Disco’. Heir to the throne and all that!! The Carbon Crypt will come alive again late on, when label henchmen Jan Carbon and Mike Oman (no really!) put a tougher-edged vibe on proceedings and slaughter a few brand new 12 inches in the process! Meanwhile, more sinister sounds lurk within the terrorizing Torture Chamber. In this throbbing beast of a room, Full Cycle presents ‘Little Bristol’ and an epic event featuring Roni Size and the full FC crew. Roni sized up this new third room back in April 06 when he made a star guest turn and loved it so much that he wanted to return with the full clan to rinse out the system good and proper! So joining the Reprazent guru will be Krust, Bryan Gee, Die and Clipz with MCs Dynamite MC and Sweetpea.
The cloak and dagger treatment continues with the evening’s other entertainment, namely the Haunted Lounge – which features those Laughing gas fiends fiends Fishseeksbicycle, plus the upstairs Loft which sees vintage clothes peeps Rokit join forces with The Zimmer Frame Zombies to present ‘Carrie’s Period Drama’ (see line-up above for the full frightening rundown!). The scary soundtrack will be brought to life by The Wonderstuff (DJ Set), 10:4 Rubber Duckie, The Scarlet Pimp, Mannequin Doll and Nikolas Esselle.
** DRESS TO DEATH!! **
Together embraces the Horror of Halloween with blood-thirsty glee this month as we ask you to ‘Dress to Death!!’ It’s ironic isn’t it that parts of Turnmills are actually haunted for real and there’s us lot throwing this Halloween bash with tombstones, gremlins, witches n’ stuff all roaming around like a free spirit of the night. Oops, probably shouldn’t have mentioned that? Anyway, don’t take our dress suggestions literally (unless you want us to dump you in the dungeon), but please try your nerve-jangling best to get into the spirit of the occasion – it is the ‘Disco of the Dead’ after all. Those of you brave enough to come in Fancy Dress will be rewarded for your creepy efforts by paying only £12 on the door to get in (normal price £15), so for the sake of a bit of blood, some skeleton bones or the odd crooked tooth – it’s well worth a punt! As is now tradition, the Together gang of scary souls will be in full costume too and if you’re short of ideas, then here’s a few tips of what you could come as… A Wicked witch, killer zombie, Victorian vampire, a rotting corpse, black bats, wondering werewolves, punky pumpkins, Freddie Kruger, Eric the Executioner, Grotbags, Hannibal Lecter, Beetlejuice, Pinhead, Chucky the Clown, Pat Butcher, Alien Monks, the Bride of Frankenstein, Count Dracula, his dad, Lord of Death, the Grim Reaper, the two-headed monster, ghastly ghosts, the Blob, Michael Jackson (Thriller video or current look) or Satan, the Devil himself; George Bush!!
** Prizes will be given out accordingly to the ‘Scariest Looking Sons of a Bitches’.
House. Funky Techno. Techno. Breaks.
The Acid Graveyard:
The Carbon Records Disco Crypt:
Dimitry From Paris (3 Hour Disco Set)
DJ Loud-E (Holland)
The Torture Chamber:
Full Cycle Presents… ‘Little Bristol’
MCs: Dynamite MC, Sweetpea
Rokit & The Zimmer Frame Zombies Present… “Carrie’s Period Drama” Feat: The Wonderstuff (DJ Set), Ed’s 130th Birthday Party, Blood Punch, Random limbs, Scary Movies, Grotbags, Vodka Slugs, Thriller Dance Moves, Apple Bobbing, Zombie Bashing, Witch Kraft, A Smokers Coffin to Cough in, Ouija Boards.
DJs… The Scarlet Pimp / 10:4 Rubber Duckie / Mannequin Doll / Nikolas Esselle
The Haunted Lounge:
Hosted by Fishseeksbicycle
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