There's something seriously good happening down in Herne Hill. Yeah, you read that right: Herne Hill. For those who've not head the pleasure of ambling around SE24, imagine one of those strange, hinterland-y parts of nearly-suburban south London that feel strangely not there, weirdly unreal because of their total and utter normality. It's one of those: Nunhead without the Irish pubs. Once a month though, something happens, something that's worth the journey, something that's becoming something of an institution down in the best part of the city, and that something is a party called The Occasional Feel-Good.
Taking place every so often at the Island Arts Studio, located in an arch under the railway station, William Smith and Daniel Ghazvinie's party is a word of mouth sensation, and the kind of club night that builds a devoted crowd of clubbers ready to let themselves be taken into strange sonic territories. Smith and Ghazvinie are as happy to play a Harold Budd deep cut as they are the new Hunee remix. And that's what makes it such an exciting proposition. Influenced by the likes of World Unknown, another night where anything goes, the Occasional Feel-Good feels like it might become Shoom for the streaming generation. Because we love it so much, we asked Smith to give us the lowdown on what goes down, and he's recorded a fantastic mix for us too.
The mix that Will's put together for us is classic Leisureware. If you've ever been lucky enough to head down to TOFG, or checked out his entry in Bicep's top-notch mix series, you'll know that Smith's got a knack for making the unexpected work. Over the course of nearly 80 minutes, he slides from gravity-free R&B to acid-bleached balearic workouts, via celestial house obscurities and dusty ambient bliss-bombs. It's one of the best mixes we've heard this year so far, and we're sure you'll agree with us. Think of it as the perfect thing to stick on when you and your mates have braved the nightbus back from Herne Hill and you need to check out of reality for just a few more hours.
As a disclaimer, I've had the pleasure of DJing with Will in the past and I bumped into him at fabric once and I've never seen anyone look happier to be in a club before or since. It was a divine moment, and one I find myself thinking of often. Anyway, I decided to have a chat with the man himself about DJing, the Occasional Feel Good, and jogging bottoms. Here's what went down.
THUMP: Can you tell us a little bit about your introduction to DJing? Where did you start out and what kind of stuff were you playing?
When I started DJing SU bars, French electro bangers were de rigeur. Shouts to Tommy Tombstones for my big break! It was almost long ago enough for misty eyes, but not quite. Now I just play cool music, natch.
How does a lad from the North Norfolk coast get into krautrock and private press new age in the first place?
Nelson's County hasn't directly affected my sets. You won't often hear me play a shanty about how Ipswich is shite. But I like to think the place's inherent oddness has coloured my approach. Moving to London, specifically South London, had me embrace the weird and wonky. Nights like World Unknown and Rhythm Section have been big influences.
What kickstarted TOFG? What made you think, "Fuck, I've got to start a night!"
I've always run nights here and there, mainly to give myself a gig! The Occasional Feel-Good has been going for almost two years. It was conceived to be original and positive, done for the right reasons. The main tenet is ZERO COMPROMISE. That's not to say we're deadly serious, just that if it isn't fun or doesn't feel right, it certainly won't happen at the night. So no Internet spam, overhyped headliners or grumpiness. Lots of rum punch and writhing around though.
What's the vibe down there in Herne Hill?
Herne Hill is a rather yummy enclave perched between Brixton and Peckham. The vibe is chill, mainly down to the idyllic Brockwell Park. Island Arts Studio is my dream venue. We deck it out with trippy visuals and luminous tat. Some truly excellent ladies run the place and its ceiling is a curve that focuses sound into the pleasure centres of your mind like a prism.
Is there a signature TOFG tune?
We tend not to repeat ourselves, but the TOFG anthem is probably Ashley Beedle and DJ Harvey's edit of "Voices Inside My Head" by The Police. It's a big, wiggy take on a lesser track from Zenyatta Mondatta. There are moments of pure euphoria as one thousand Stings serenade you.
For one night only you've got an unlimited budget. You can book two DJs to join you in the arch. Who's in the booth?
Well, my main man Daniel Ghazvinie is the other resident. He's a citizen of the world with impeccable taste and cherubic features who pushes me to the outer limits and beyond. One of the super special guests would be DJ Sprinkles. Her sets, productions and approach to life in general are inspiring. The other would be DJ Harvey, no question. Harv is the one true God in human form.
Tell us a little bit about the mix. Where should I listen to it?
There's a lot of brass in there – good for your mood. I've included jammy bits from Ashra, The Durutti Column, Suzanne Kraft and more besides. The mix begins with the KLF, so I'd recommend people use it to soundtrack any obscure Hebridean rituals they might organise this year.
Finally, what's the ultimate outfit for leisure?
Ah! I'm now a trackie bottom apologist. Dizzy heights of comfort. It's a slippery slope though – first you're padding around the flat in a pair, then it's a few shop runs and all of a sudden they're on you in the club. Team your trackies with some towelling sandals at home for the ultimate zen experience.
The next Occasional Feel Good takes place on Friday the 6th of May down in the Herne Hill railway arch as always. It's a fiver to get in and you're guaranteed to have a good time. Email leisureware at gmail dot com if you're interested…