In Conversation with Frederick Sugden: Loose Lips, a past, present and future.
After our journalist, AlexJB had a chance to play some tracks on Frederick Sugden’s radio show, the guys sat down and had a deeper chat about Loose Lips and its origins.
AJ: Hi Fred, great to have you here, so first things first I wanted to ask you about how you first got into dance music because I guess nobody is born collecting records and putting on nights!
FS: (Chuckles) well actually I grew up in Devon and my background was not in dance music at all. My mother is a piano teacher and my background was very classical, I played grade 8 Clarinet, so I wasn’t really in one of those households where I was surrounded by dance music from a young age. However I would say that it was definitely friends that got me into it. I mean as I grew up in Devon there weren’t really any clubs so it was just illegal raves on Tek and Jungle rigs, stuff like that. I got into it more deeply through simple stuff like friends’ YouTube playlists to be honest and then I just took it from there.
AJ: Oh right, so I guess it must have been weird though to then make the transition from those free-parties to actually clubbing.
FS: Yeah definitely, I mean I think that really changed the way I saw dance music because a club is a very different atmosphere. I think with free parties sometimes it can feel more like a release of rural living whilst clubbing in the urban environment, while still a release, tends to have a more serious feel (which isn’t always a good thing at all).
AJ: Do you think though that might have also been a change in the way you saw things as you had gotten older, when the freshness of new experience had faded?
FS: Yeah I guess maturity plays a part, the way you look at things and the same with experience. When you first get into something it is always harder to figure what is going on and you tend to take it as a more holistic experience but then after a while the smaller details start to emerge.
AJ: So how did you transition from starting to go to clubs, to Loose Lips happen? Obviously that did not happen overnight!
FS: It did all happen quite quickly, partly because I’ve got an incredibly obsessive personality. I started to develop a real passion for radio in my last couple of years of school and then I took this to university in London. Since age 16 I was doing weekly shows (sometimes more on multiple stations) and loved gathering music and spoken content for these. Early on, these were populated very much by the music I was being shown by my more experimentally-minded friends around me.
This radio DJing slowly brought some club gigs and within a year or two, I found myself gigging quite regularly in London but wasn’t satisfied with the musical freedom/diversity and culture of the nights I was playing at. Consequently, alongside Dominic Juggins, I decided to start our own outlet. It was this simple and I really think this is the same for so many collectives – it’s simply just the logic of ‘right, lets do it ourselves’. The real concepts behind Loose Lips and the wider platform all came later.
AJ: Were there any wow moments or was it much more gradual?
FS: The real wow moment for me was when I suddenly realised how a personal project was really taking over my life, dreams and motivation entirely. When something becomes so central and defining like this, its exciting and worrying!
AJ: In fact one thing that piqued my curiosity is your Dj name ‘Medallion Man’. Is there any reason behind this?
FS: Haha, yes there is in fact. Well I used to wear a lot of unbuttoned shirts and you know I had quite a few necklaces, so my Mum said that ‘you look like the typical medallion man’ and it kind of stuck from there and now it’s the name I use out and on radio and everything.
AJ: On top of your radio shows which are quite interactive, you separately run a mix series. You recently hit 100 mixes in your series, any highlights?
FS: Ooh, it’s hard to say because there have been some great mixes but certainly the most memorable would be number 37 by Modularse, who was from Macedonian collective BKTRSH. We in fact went over there to do an event and we became friends, one of our crew now even has a girlfriend over there so it’s really changed our lives a fair amount and now they are coming and visiting us on April 14th to play at The Island in Bristol – It really has gone full circle.
AJ: One thing I actually noticed about your events is you have started using Jenga Sound system, a fantastic custom rig. It’s not something you always see. what was the reasoning behind this? Is it related to the Tek rigs!
FS: Partly. These guy’s parties were some of my first experiences of raving as a teenager and they’ve always been so committed. We are good friends with the guys who run it and so it makes sense to connect our projects to benefit everyone. They’ve got a tasty sound system, we’re booking some tasty artists…simple! It’s a 16KW custom turbosound rig – in The Island in Bristol, it’s unbelievable.
AJ: So looking at the future then, do you think that Loose Lips is going to start doing vinyl? Do you see it as always being a small indie label or growing to something like R&S?
FS: To be honest it would be amazing to have the label grow to the size of something like Renaat’s and still keep such taste-making integrity. Our plans are to develop our cassette series throughout 2017 and then kick off the wax in 2018. We’ve just put out LL011 on cassette, an amazing mixture of dub, spoken word and electronica by a good friend of ours called Circula.
AJ: Ok, got a bit of time for some ‘fun’ questions. If you could host an event in any location, where would it be?
FS: In the Grand Canyon.
AJ: Haha, party with the fossils, not sure what the environmental protection agency would say about that! I also hear you are a chess teacher, now of the djs you have booked or met, who would you most like to play in a game of chess?
FS: Haha, good question. Ummm… it would probably be El-B you know, I mean he has that old school garage personality and he is a proper geezer you know and I think he would be savvy around the board, he is very intelligent.
AJ: Fantastic stuff, thanks Fred!