01. When did the Mousetrap first emerge?
I had been looking all over London during 1991 for an allnighter venue and had almost given up when I stumbled on Fabio’s which is what it was called back then.
02. Why the name Mousetrap?
The venue had two entrances and the one to the basement had a sign above the door called Mousetrap in a great font. The club started in the basement only, so we would use the Mousetrap entrance. I also really liked the name and the connotations it threw up like ‘Get Caught in the Mousetrap’ as the strap line on our early promotional artwork.
03. Tell us a little about finding the Venue and why you stayed?
After looking around a few venues in Finsbury Park, I drove past Fabio’s, parked the car and went inside. The first thing I noticed as I entered was that I was pretty much the only white person in the venue. I was only nineteen and a little apprehensive as I enquired about the venue over the bar. This was where I met Anthony who was managing the place at the time. I explained what I wanted to do which raised a few eyebrows and asked to take a look around. The ground floor had a bar, DJ booth, dancefloor with a raised seating all around. Over in the corner was a metal spiral staircase which went down to the basement. As soon as I got down there I knew it was perfect. The basement had a very low ceiling with a black and white checked dancefloor, DJ booth in one corner and bar in the other with lots of nooks and crannies and small seating booths. It was just how I had imagined those original sixties venues like the Scene or Flamingo. It also had a killer sound system that was used for the Dub Club and other Reggae based nights at the venue.
04. What were the early Mousetrap nights like, what was the format?
We started on one floor only in the basement the first night which was a success despite sharing the toilets with the venue regulars who had never quite seen anything like it before. The owner liked it and more importantly – us, which are comments I get wherever we go and have a party. The music at the time was right across the board sixties, before Popcorn or Psychedelic sounds became popular. British beat and soul would be played alongside the American sounds.
05. What were the big sounds in the early days?
Early records that were popular were mainly the established Mod scene classics and current club sounds it took a little while for the club and DJ’s to develop the Mousetrap sound.
06. Can you name some of the DJs that were part of the first decade of the Mousetrap?
Obviously the NUT’s team past and present including; Pid, Chris Dale, Speed, Lee Miller, Gav Evans, Mark Ellis and Nick Hudson. Early guests included Paul Hallam (Sneakers), Roger Banks, Jon Paul Harper, Scott Copeland, Nigel Lees, Tony Castle, Putney Sean, Paul Newman, Ian Jackson, Karl Flavell, Dave Ingle and Shinzo Shnijo.
07. What were the highlights and low points of the early years?
The club went well from the start and in 1995 Loaded magazine did a great article on the night which you can read elsewhere in the NUTsMAG, Timeout also covered us early on. By the mid nineties Brit-Pop was in full swing and a new younger clientele started mixing with the regulars. Round this time the club moved into its best era on two floors with the beat basement and soul loft and sometimes a third floor the jazz lounge. The atmosphere was incredible and the scene was very exciting. We should have finished at 6am but often went well beyond that most nights.
08. Moving on with the New Untouchables era how did things evolve?
The club was a separate entity throughout the Untouchables era and then became part of the NUTs portfolio in 1998.
09. Did the music policy change to reflect the times as it were?
By the mid to late nineties the resident DJ’s had started developing the Mousetrap sound. Records were broke at the club every month and became hits all over the European club and weekender scene. Some off the early tracks to break included Hopscotch, Larry Trider, Mike Proctor, Randy & the Radiants, King Size Taylor, Jigsaw, Dusty Wilson and Callum Bryce.
10. How did you manage to keep the various passionate musical tribes in the Scene happy?
The club continued on two floors for the best part of a decade with black music on one floor and white sounds in the basement until the owner sold the ground floor in the mid naughties. During this time an incredible amount of records went onto to become big sounds.
11. You eventually split the allnighter into 2 separate nights?
The downside of having two floors for a long period was that both crowds were used to hearing their favourite sounds all night and those like me who enjoyed both would move between the two floors. So when the ground floor was sold going back to mixing all the music together just didn’t work so I started the separate dances each week.
12. How did that change things, did some folks happily attend both?
Yes, some regulars like Niamh and Innes, Mark Raison and the twins who enjoy all the sounds attended both but the majority went one week or the other.
13. Twenty five years is a massive achievement, you must be proud?
I’m very proud, there is something magical about the venue even on a quieter night we still have a great atmosphere and on a busy one there is nowhere better. It’s my second home and I get to enjoy the night as it’s a relatively easy production. I love Djing there as well as you can always slip some new sounds in which I’m passionate about.
14. What would be your all time top 10 Mousetrap spins from all styles in one list?
So many Mousetrap anthems over the last 25 years and many ended up on the free anniversary single. Mike Leslie – ‘Right or Wrong’ is one I always use to play at the end of the allnighter. Gene Latter – ‘Holding a Dream’ is a great funky blue-eyed soul dancer with fuzz. The Latin Dimension – ‘Mr Mod’ was an LP only track and available for the first time on the Mousetrap 45.
I found the Jack Hammer 45 down in the subway at a record fair in Sweden when I was Djing out there for a couple of quid. I later realised that it was only released as a 45 in Sweden and would start to fetch big bucks as its popularity grew. It went on to become one of the most popular releases on the label.
The first European track to be released for the Mousetrap 14th anniversary 45 was Erick Saint Laurent – ‘Le Temps d’y Penser’ which is a killer groovy garage dancer. Speeds discovery ‘Lovemaker’ by Callum Bryce also went on to become a massive Mousetrap record.
Although no doubt played on the Soul scene Chris Dale introduced tracks like ‘Fine, Fine, Fine’ by Judy Hughes and Dusty Wilson – ‘Can’t Do Without You’ to the Mod scene at the club. The list is endless and I have not even mentioned The Paragons, Bit a Sweet, Tam White, Chris Britton, Phil Wainman, Don Fardon version of ‘I’m alive’ (which eventually ended up on a TV advert featuring Don), Louisa Jane White, Heidi Bruhl, Jimmy Thomas, Paul Nicholas and The Tops that all ended up on the Le Beat Bespoke album series. You can view all the Mousetrap releases here or even buy them via the NUTSTORE.
15. You have even managed to fit a few film crews into the Mousetrap over the years too?
MTV came down to film in the mid nineties as part of their series on club land culture and made a great snap shot of the club which features interviews and footage from many of the regulars and is a great testament to that era of the Mousetrap. You can view it on our NewUntouchables TV youtube channel here.
We did a fun shoot a decade later in 2005 this time with no interviews just footage from the club which turned out a bit like a scene from a movie and was beautifully shot by Simon Smith who did a videos for The Cure and the Wonderstuff amongst others. Take a look here.
There is also a really nice interview with Rhys Webb of the Horrors a club regular who recalls his first visit as a sixteen year old from Southend and the whole new World he discovered. Rhys is quite often seen behind the decks spinning his vinyl treasures or grooving away on the dancefloor. Watch it here.
16. What has the past few years been like for one of London’s great institutions?
We have had our ups and downs like any club over a period of twenty-five years and are now on our third or fourth generation of regulars. I’m very humbled and happy when I get comments from the new faces experiencing the club maybe for the first time, about it being their favourite night out in London and without doubt it’s still mine after all these years.
17. How do the venue owners feel about having a club night running for so long?
Anthony the boss, has always been supportive and has seen the bigger picture when things are not going so well, which is rare in the fickle World of London club land and the pressures of running a venue. Ade the security chap and Alex at the cloakroom, have been with us a long time and I want to thank them all too for the fantastic ride we had together so far.
18. Any names that you wish to check for their help over the years? What’s the tiny Mouse called in the logo?
Many heroes behind the scene for me who I would like to thank including those who run the door Maz Weller, Paul Owers, Ellie Tracey and Kolorz. The great artwork created by Dom Strickland, Jason Ringgold, Mary Boogaloo and Bazden at Pip! Pip!
The resident DJ’s past and present who have helped me create the Mousetrap soundtrack Chris Dale, Speed, Lee Miller, Jack White, Gav Evans, Pid, Steve Bowstead, Mark Ellis and Nick Hudson. The hundred or more guest DJ’s who have often travelled far to spin I thank you all.
Most importantly the regulars both past and present that have supported the night and created some of the best times of my life.
Marvin and I hope to see you all get caught in the Mousetrap once again on either 20th Feb 2016 for the Psychedelic allnighter or 27 Feb 2016 for the R&B allnighter to celebrate an amazing twenty-five years of Mousetrap!
Best Wishes Rob Bailey
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