cover photo: MRWash
East London collective and party Tales Of Voodoo are here to make you think differently about your Saturday night. Hailing from all over the country, and brought together by a singular love of the weirder side of psychedelic house, disco, afrobeat, and funk; the boys, Alec Eve, Owen McGonigle, Andy Holt, and Ben Evenett are approaching their first year of parties that have been packing out intimate venues.
With the gang soon to be working with the team at Amsterdam’s Night Noise to drop their first single, and another edition of the party approaching this Saturday 24th – Uph Rowland grabbed the guys to have a chat about their origins and what to expect on the night.
More softly spoken Owen and Andy bounced off boisterous Alec and Ben, giving the impression of a tight knit crew who know how to push each other’s buttons. They were roasting each other’s answers as often as they were finishing each other’s sentences, and asking them to pick Five for the Floor resulted in a 30 minute intermission to the bar whilst they squabbled over what to include.
Even in the crowded scene of parties in East London, CTC recommends getting to know these guys early…
Go ahead and introduce yourselves:
Alec Eve: I’m one of the DJs at Tales of Voodoo; I also pretty much sort out the venue side of things. I come from an events background, so I do kind of a bit more of the venue chat and putting up the organisation side of things.
Owen McGonigle: I’m another one of the DJs. I’m a visual effects artist, so I’m involved in some of the graphic design stuff too, as well as the music. And the vibes. Alec and I are ginger.
Andy Holt: I’m the third and final DJ – I’m not ginger, fortunately. I kinda swan in quite late to the party, so I just make it look good.
Ben Evenett: Hello, I make the pretty pictures – the projections. I’ve got an illustration background.
How did you guys link up?
Owen: Pretty much it started with Alec and me. When we met we figured out we had similar music tastes and both had a DJ background. I did some stuff up in Dundee, and he’d done some stuff everywhere – and then we met Ben – was it at Bloc?
Ben: No – we met at Secret Garden Party! I remember chatting to you about stuff back then…
Alec: I think we’ve all wanted to be doing nights for a long time. Ben and I met at a festival, then Ben came to another festival with us all together – we were chatting and it was a bit of a light bulb moment when we realised – shit, maybe we can put this idea together, which is combining the visual side of things with the music we’re into. I think one of the things for me was that we go to a lot of nights that are kind of samey… you go to a techno night, or a house night, or a disco night… OK, it’s great, I love all those kinds of music, but I want a bit more from it. I think combining the music that we’re into, and the visuals that Ben puts together, is how it came about.
What’s the main focus with putting your night together?
Owen: I definitely felt that there was a lot of stuff happening on the continent, where they were coming out with a lot of music that we weren’t really hearing in the UK. A lot of weirder stuff, influences from different cultures… I feel like the UK scene was getting a bit stale. I felt that London needed a little shake up, with some different music.
Alec: It definitely stems from electronic dance music. But, it really spans decades and genres. Ranging from obscure 80s, to African tribal rhythms… Anything we feel brings the party vibe.
Andy: I think we all noticed that everyone took themselves very seriously. And it was very serious dance music, taking things very seriously, and we’re gunna all look at this guy, in one direction, and just stare at him, and take it seriously. And none of us are really that vibe.. so with Ben’s incredible visuals, taking you kind of away from where the music is coming from, to distract you and make you lose yourself a bit… that was the main focus.
Alec: I think one of the big things for us, especially when we were talking about the outlook of what we wanted Tales of Voodoo to be, was: we want to take people on an experience, a journey. So that’s beginning with the music, and it’s always progressing, and it’s never stale. Combining that will the visuals that Ben does, it’s more – he takes you on a visual journey.
So we’ve heard a lot about him – Ben, tell me what you do…
Ben: I’m the VJ – I come from an illustration background, I did a lot of set design. I fluttered around doing different practices – which I think you can kinda see in the work. I like to think of it as Pop Art, so taking influences from absolutely everything, and bringing it together. The reason I started VJing was when I was at Uni and my friends were all DJing, and I hated the visuals I saw out… I mean, I have time for geometric shapes! Every now and again, it’s nice to have minimal visuals, but it’s just so saturated; everyone is doing it.
I treat it like I’m painting, and basically wanna make people enjoy themselves to the next level, rather than just some pretty shapes on the wall. Every time we do a set, I’ll start with a fresh deck; the more I try and create these images, the more I try and create a narrative within them – so I don’t know where it’s going to take me.
What are you looking for when you create a visual, and what’s the route to achieving it?
Ben: I think the perfect thing we’re looking for is when the music and the imagery pairs up in perfect synergy; when you just get that butterflies feeling, and everyone’s like ‘Yes!’. When what the guys are doing with the music, and then what I’m doing with my own stuff, and it’s just a match made in heaven – this kind of mash of pop culture.
I guess the route to achieving it is spending way too long on the internet! Going down rabbit holes. When I first started doing it I was cutting out things in newspapers, and making little loops… I think the GIF has done wonders for my art! The simplicity of a GIF, and the looping rhythmic soul it has, and it’s just six images stuck together.. and speaking of the GIF, I want to make people laugh, feel nostalgia, I want them to have their mind blown. So it’s kinda like a psychedelic journey through art and history.
I remember from the last party some kind of train loop..?
Ben: I think the track from that, it was the train track wasn’t it? I don’t even know what it’s called…
Owen: Yeah, so we were jamming at my house, and there was a track I played – it was a re-edit of an African track, but there was little sorta ‘Wooh!’ in the background, it sounds like a train horn! And the beat’s a little bit like a train going, so when I played that, Ben just said ‘I’ve got the perfect visuals for that’. I feel a lot of the stuff comes about through jamming, when we play a track he’s got some visuals; or vice versa, if he’s got this visuals we might have a track for it… and we try to get that connection.
Alec: Yeah I think that happens quite a lot – a lot of happy accidents. But Ben’s got quite a big library of stuff as well, so through jamming away back at one of our house, it links up.
Are there particular events around that are inspiring you at the moment?
Owen: I’d definitely say two big inspirations for me are ‘Beauty and the Beat’, which is a bit of a religion.. it’s like church. It’s the best party in London for sure. It’s just incredible, amazing sound, amazing records, great vibe. But also ‘A Love from Outer Space’ which is a lot more electronic. ‘Beauty and the Beat’ is like psychedelic disco, funk – it goes all sorts of places as well, but ‘A Love From Outer Space’ is more electronic, it’s Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s party, and it’s super spacy, trippy, quite 80s – I think they’re the two parties that stand out for me.
Where can we find you next?
Alec: Tales of Voodoo is coming to Haunt in Stoke Newington on the 24th of March. We’ve got our first birthday party at the end of May as well, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Also look out for our tracks on Soundcloud – we’ve potentially got some releases coming up, but also we give away some edits that we play on the night.
To get a flavour of what the boys will be spinning this coming Saturday, we didn’t let them leave without picking us a few records for Five for the Floor:
Obi Onyioha ‘Enjoy Your Life’
Alec: I don’t know who released it originally, but Soundway picked it up which is a re-release label that’s amazing – if you haven’t heard of it, go check it out. This particular track was introduced to me by a very old friend of mine who was being a right bastard – he played this as a record, and wouldn’t tell us the name of the track! He recorded it onto digital, and he gave it to me with the track name as ‘Some funky Mofo with a guitar from Africa’ – and that’s how I had the song for about 10 years! Until Soundway re-released this record called ‘Doing it in Lagos’ and they had it on there, and it was a massive lightbulb moment, and I thought ‘shit, that’s that record’.
So yeah, thanks Al for that! It’s chilled, but it really goes down a treat because it’s got an absolute groover bassline that is just a real killer.
Electrodomésticos ‘El Frio Misterio’
Owen: I was in Brazil recently on a little island near Salvador called Boipeba – this was post carnival, we were all a bit of a mess. We headed to a burger bar which was owned by these Chilean guys, and they were playing all this South American funk and salsa, all sorts of stuff – which was awesome. But out of nowhere came this absolute banger – it was this weird trippy 80s dark electronic track – and we were all eating food and just stopped talking and thought ‘what the fuck is this, this is amazing’, so we went up to the guys and chatted about it. Electrodomésticos are this weird Chilean band from the 80s, the lead singer Carlos Cabezas sounds a little bit like the South American Bowie! Just weird and great.
Velvet Season & The Hearts Of Gold ‘Truth Machine For Lovers’
Andy: How’s that for a mouthful. This was released on Lucky Hole Records, I first heard it about 5-6 years ago at a party run by one of my best mates, called Studio 89. He played this to me and I kinda lost my mind to it – it’s just got this incredible groovy bassline, and it’s really spacey; it’s perfect for 1-2am. And it literally has the best cover ever. The sleeve is insane – it’s naughty.
Chaim ‘Perfect Circle’
Alec: This is on Disco Halal, Moscoman’s record label. I think one of the reasons we chose this is because there’s an incredible scene going on in Tel Aviv and there’s so many great artists coming out of that part of the world – Yovav, Autarkic, too many to name. But yeah, there’s such good vibes there, if you can see any of them live they’re really good. This is another track that is quite dancey, maybe a heavier section of the night.
Abel ‘African Sheikh’
Owen: It’s a re-edit of a track by a Spanish dude called Tino Casal – the original track’s called ‘African Chic’. He’s just edited the beginning, which is amazing, it’s really really good – but you need to go on Youtube and watch the original video of this track it’s hilarious. The track goes into a cheesy 80’s Spanish weird sorta vibe, and the video compliments it perfectly. The main dude looks like Murray from Flight of the Conchords, with lots of makeup on and ridiculous clothes. And there’s a crocodile! The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.
Huge thanks to the boys for taking the time to put this together.
And see you at Haunt on Saturday!