Rollo Jackson's London... On a Regular

The director presents a short film about clubbing in the capital, with Seb Chew, Mark Ronson, Benji B, Richard Russell and more

In this new short film from Somesuch & Co. director Rollo Jackson, London’s weekly club culture gets the rose-tinted treatment with a look back on the changing scene from heroes like Richard Russell, Erol Alkan and Lil Silva. It was made in collaboration with Seb Chew, co-founder of YOYO and creative director of Basement. Catch our interview with the pair after the cut.

Dazed Digital: What inspired you to make 'London... On a Regular'?

Rollo Jackson: Seb and I met on a plane to Berlin and both realised we had a lot of mutual friends and mutual thoughts on music and going out. We both thought it would be fun to work on something together one day and when he got involved with Basement we came up with this; which is essentially a celebration of weekly London club culture. It’s very much a collection of thoughts about why going out to listen to loud music in a dark room can be so special, it’s not meant to be a definitive or prescriptive history of any scene.

Seb Chew: The initial conversation Rollo and I had was to try and make a film that looked at the benefits of listening to music in a communal environment, in an age where you can pretty much have access to any music ever made, for free, without leaving your house. Basically, why should anyone be bothered to leave your house and go to listen to music in a club. 

DD: Which of the clubs mentioned in the doc did you attend? Which was your favourite and why?

Rollo Jackson: As a young teenager my group of friends were more into going to raves rather than going to clubs, so our focus was slightly different. In my late teens I was at The End and Bar Rumba every week without fail for Movement, Renegade Hardware, Ram Records nights etc. It was a totally different experience, it didn’t have that feeling of utter euphoric anarchy that a rave has but it did have that communal aspect; you ended up knowing (by sight at least) half the people there and it felt like an extension of downstairs at Blackmarket Records. Rather than wall to wall bangers to keep people up til 7am they were the testing grounds for producers and DJs for new tunes which felt really special when you were as obsessed as I was. The End had the best sound system in London at the time and DJs were there to hang out rather than to rush off to their next booking.

Seb Chew: I think I went to pretty much all of them. They were all great, and extremely important in my musical development. (My totally biased opinion was that) YOYO was my favourite. It was my home, something I shared with a dear friend of mine, and ironically something that kept me relatively sane, during a relatively insane ten year period of my life.

DD: What's your personal earliest and most formative clubbing experience?

Rollo Jackson: I have endless rave anecdotes like when my friend took a whole pack of Pro-Plus because he was scared of falling asleep at his first rave or when he had let drops of water from the ceiling fall into his mouth all night only for us to tell him that was actually other people’s sweat he was drinking…Or when my friend got kicked out of Bagley’s and he swapped shirts with a mate and climbed over the railways tracks at King’s Cross to get back in.

Clubbing-wise one of the earliest and craziest places I went to was a place on Denmark street that was run by some gang where you could buy weed through an internal letterbox on the top floor. My friend used to MC there on a Tuesday night and I’d go to work straight after it shut. Then one week it was on the front of the Evening Standard as it had been raided by the police and they’d had to use diggers to break down the metal doors to get in. Turned out it was the centre of some massive drugs ring. Most clubs felt at that time they were on the periphery of something illegal which had an added excitement I guess. Ironically it just called itself ‘Social Club’.

Music-wise: probably Andy C’s 2 hour sets at The End with MC GQ. Blew my mind every time, I came away feeling like I had learned something as well as having the nest night ever.

Seb Chew: Probably ‘That's How It Is’ at Bar Rhumba. It was Gilles Peterson and James Lavelle's night that started in the mid 90s. They played everything from MAW to the roots to Rotary Connection.

DD: In the doc it's said that grime was maybe the last pre-internet great movement. What do you think are the greatest post-internet movements?

Rollo Jackson: Not sure. Brostep? Grindie? Hahahahaha. Joke.

Seb Chew: Unsure. Good question. 

DD: Do you think London has the most exciting clubs in the world? If so, why – and what's second best?

Rollo Jackson: I’d like to say yes but then I’m sure a lot of people in New York, Berlin, Ibiza etc. would disagree. It kind of depends on the music you’re into and your generation, not sure you can compare Detroit 30 years ago and London now. 

Seb Chew: Yes, mainly because of the mix of people and cultures that exist here. New York I feel is probably closest, probably down to the mix of cultures there too, although is not that amazing at the moment.

DD: Do you miss the days of Plastic People etc, or are there just as good nights now?

Rollo Jackson:Those nights seem rarer but then I’m looking for them less maybe. I think that going to the same place every week is incredibly comforting and special. I don’t really need that in the same way as I used to, probably because I’m less obsessive about keeping up in a certain music scene and as you get older inevitably you shift away from that gang of friends who go everywhere together vibe. I think those nights definitely exist though, purely because there’s a ton of amazing (DJ) music being made, especially in the last few years.

Seb Chew: They're fond memories as supposed to something that I miss. Club culture has changed, but there are certainly a bunch of really great clubs/club nights happening in London now.