How did Stink ever make it past an impromptu pool party?
Damian: Usually in these situations you have a good day and it's a laugh and it's something you remember, but this time we actually made it work. I went back to London and this friend of mine had shown me a new venue in London called the T Bar. He said he was taking it over and looking to put some nights in and I said, You know this could be good for Stink. I called Michael and we decided we would do it on Monday nights in London once a month, and that was back in October.
The first party, we had about 500 people. Very underground, not much promotion, just the two of us. The second month, there was 650-700 people and by March, it was ridiculous. There were people queueing up at two o'clock in the morning trying to get in and the place was just rammed. We created a bit of a beast, and I think the guys at DC10 figured if they were going to do something, they were going to do it with someone they knew. I had worked with Michael before and they asked if we wanted to do a party. For me, DC10 is a dream come true. It's my favorite place to play in the world and to have the opportunity to have a bit more of a say in how the night runs and what we do there is... it's a beautiful thing.
You stink, sorry you think the party will make an easy transition from T Bar to DC10?
Michael: I've never been to DC10. It will be my first time today [June 19]. I played for Cocoon at Amnesia in recent years and I just never made it there, I passed on the way—
Damian: I hope you like it! Can you imagine if you get there today and you hate it? It'll just be me turning up with my records. Sorry, it's not Stink! It's just Ink.
Michael: I'm looking forward to it. The worst that can happen is people throw things at us but I've been through that before. The first time I played at the Cocoon club in Frankfurt I heard whssh and suddenly there was a piece of lemon on my record. Someone was throwing a glass of caipirinha at me and it's quite impressive because the DJ booth is pretty high. It's not easy to get a full glass up there. They had these fancy, small mini-bar fridges for the DJ and this big glass crashed through one of the them. She could have killed me. It was a girl, a psy-trance DJ and she was playing at an after party the same night like, There was this DJ, fucking boring... And people were like, You threw a glass of caipirinha on Michael Mayer, are you crazy? So the next time I played at Cocoon I wore a motorcycle helmet.
Projectile barware aside, are you stressing over Stink's debut in Ibiza?
Damian: We have nine dates. I didn't realize it was quite an undertaking, but I've been talking to people since agreeing to do nine parties and people were like, Nine? Really? That's a lot of work. I hadn't really thought about it, I just thought Ok, it's the summer. I'm sure we can pull a great lineup together over nine weeks. Putting the lineup together was the best part for me. It was interesting because the music that we're into has become so big over the past couple of years. You now have DC10 booking people like Guido Schneider and Luciano; you have Cocoon booking Pier Bucci.
We needed to try to find a way of putting a lineup together that was distinct, different from everybody else. We have enough artists to go around because the night is a combination between Crosstown Rebels and Kompakt, but not enough time to bring in everyone we want 'cause we're just using the inside room. Michael and I are playing three parties: the opening, the closing and one in the middle. I think the lineup is really exciting.
Michael: Nearly everyone we asked to play agreed. The support was amazing because it's kind of short notice and in the summer everyone is playing everywhere.
Damian: And it's a Friday night, which is tricky to book DJs. But we've got the full support of Circoloco. They're confident about the party and they'll be working on our behalf to make it happen, so we're confident that they will make it happen for us. We're not considering this party as us having arrived in Ibiza; it's an experiment. I'm very aware that people try to create new parties in Ibiza every year and 80 percent of them fail, but I'm trying not to worry about it. From what I hear, people seem to be pretty excited about it, especially the fact that it's a Friday. There doesn't seem to be much happening on the weekend in our world of music. So I'm quietly confident, but aware that it's very difficult to start something new here.
What makes you think Stink could beat the odds?
Damian: With the exception of Cocoon and maybe Defected, there's not many label-oriented nights. The combination of two labels, Kompakt and Crosstown, is quite unique and doesn't generally happen in our music. I think our friendship and the connection we have allows a lack of ego, a lack of a competitive edge between us. We're in it because we love our music and have a musical respect for each other.
I think our artists have something slightly different to offer the people. They're not just DJs who come in, play a set of records, get their money and fuck off. The music's gone a bit too glitchy and a bit too clicky. Too cold. I think that a lot of love has been lost so we're saying that we need to put a bit more heart and soul and love into what we do. There's a lot of love and very special people involved with what we do.
Mmm, feeling warm and fuzzy. So we're going to be all loved up on new music?
Michael: That was the initial idea for Stink. At the pool we did not play techno, we played anything but techno. It was such a relief.
Damian: We realized from our iPods that we had so much in common. Michael's from Cologne. I'm from London. We've known each other in the past although we hadn't spent that much time together, but just that one afternoon playing music together we were like, Fuck! You've got that track, I've got that track! I can't believe you have that!
Michael: Anything from Abba—
Damian: Yeah, we both had Abba on our iPods. I think we're both caught up in the early '80s soul, funk generation, the crooners who sing about love. That was one thing that I think we realized we have a connection with. The music can border on cheese but essentially, really great music—
Michael: Stinky !
Damian: I don't think we risk being called cheese mongers in terms of what we play. I played a Neil Diamond track in a set last week in America, Sweet Caroline. With our labels, I think we try to find souls a lot more than other labels do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but at least we're trying, not just looking for the uber-cool, minimal clicky track that everyone is going to play because it's like, the cool thing.
What's more important is what remains when you're old and gray. What are the songs you're still going to want to listen to in thirty years time? I think we look for things like that.
Michael: Both our labels are on the cutting edge. We're always looking for something in the breaks, when something's not in order. It's way more interesting to see hard techno guys dancing to gay disco.
Damian: At the height of this minimal techno explosion, I released a track called "Speechless," which was like a soul diva disco record. Michael released "I Built This City For You," which was like an '80s singalong. I don't think many people would have the fun or the confidence to do that. We've played together in London at Stink and we had something quite special there.
What makes DC10 so special?
Damian: I've played some really, really amazing places over the years, but there is nowhere like DC10 anywhere in the world. Many people try to replicate the energy and the atmosphere but it's like no other place on earth. It's difficult to put into words, you just have to be there to experience it. I've only ever come across two people in my life that have said they've been to DC 10 and not enjoyed it. One of them had just broken up with somebody and wasn't in a good mood, and the other person had done a really bad pill and felt really sick. Apart from that, I defy anyone to not have a good time there. There are elements of danger there, but I think that's part and parcel of underground clubbing. There's elements of safety that are a little bit unclear.
What happens if there's a fire? Are we all going to die? We probably would...
I think if a fire broke out people would just fucking party until they burned to death. The place has that kind of atmosphere...
Plus the added thrill of feeling like every incoming plane is going to crash into the DJ booth.
Damian: I could think of a worse way to go. You're having a great time in the middle of the dance floor and suddenly a plane crashes into you. Two thousand hardcore ravers died here—and enjoyed it! From the very first time I walked into that club I knew there was something about that place that felt very, very special.
When they first asked me to play there, I was fucking scared. I was really petrified. I'd actually seen somebody play a bad set there and they were booed off. You don't see that very often. This was a big-name DJ and they were booed off. It was really awful to watch, but I felt it and they deserved it because they'd come in thinking they were a big-name DJ and they can come in, play their records and take over. And it didn't work because they were not part of what happens in this place. There's a special secret ingredient that happens there.
It used to just be about the terrace, but over the past three or four years the emphasis has kind of moved back inside. Now there's this crazy equilibrium where the club is working on all levels. If you're a novice clubber and you go with the right people, this place is going to change your life.
Michael: Now I'm excited!