Pete Wheeler

Author: 
James Winfield
Unbelievably we have made it to our 3rd feature. But far more impressively, Skint Mondays have made it to their 5th birthday, and Ubereadoolische is honoured to talk to Pete Wheeler - also known as 50% of Skint Mondays (and CUBED).

It’s 15 years since your interviewer went to university. Every student night then was a musical vomit-feast of Chesney Hawkes and Steps. A tragedy. What made you believe that you could do something different?

Haha, a tragedy indeed! When Skint Mondays started there was already a culture in Reading for going out on Monday for more 'alternative' music which had been established at The Fez Club which had a rock room and a smaller 'indie/electro' room downstairs. Chris was a long time regular of the downstairs room & I was living in Maidenhead but played at the same venue on the weekends, classic house sets on monthly Saturdays. When the Fez closed and reopened as Sakura, the set up was very different and the 'indie/electro' room suffered. This left a lot of people who still wanted to go dancing on a Monday but didn't feel that the atmosphere was the same, for this reason, Skint Mondays began at Revolution in June 2008.

Do you remember the first night? How did it go?

At the beginning, Chris & I alternated the nights we played along with the memorably named DJ Boob. My first night I remember vividly, it was not particularly busy as people were still not used to going to Revolution Reading for music other than commercial & chart music at this time. I was very excited that night as I was going to be playing my first Glastonbury set the weekend after. I had good friends working at the bar who I knew from my sets at Oakford Social Club, Dogma & Fez so I was mainly playing to them, new tunes I thought they'd enjoy. One track that I remember playing for the first time that night was Fake Blood 'Mars'.

Are students more musically educated nowadays? If so, what do you put that down to?

I think there have always been students that are passionate about music but yes, now is a good time for club music as it does have a bigger following amongst younger people. I think the quality of the more 'pop' side of club music has increased with acts like Disclosure, Duke Dumont, Rudimental & Daft Punk all topping the chart which has opened the door for other artists and increased the interest in nights like Skint Mondays & CUBED which have pushed music like this for a long time.

Ubereadoolische is here specifically to promote house, disco and techno events – how does Skint Mondays’ music policy fit into this?

Skint Mondays has a very broad music policy which means that we play everything from nu-disco to bass, indie remixes, classic pop tracks and upfront deep house. Every night is different as we constantly vary the sets depending on the crowd and the atmosphere, always looking for a good opportunity to throw in a curveball and try a different direction. New music is very much at the heart of what we play and the guest bookings have always reflected that.

You have had an impressive and wide-range of guests throughout the years. Which ones are especially memorable?

This could take a while! We've had quite a few moments that we still love to reminisce over with smiles on our faces. The first guest night we ever put on was memorable as it visibly changed peoples perceptions of the night. Our guest was Emalkay who had made a big impact with his 'When I Look At You' tune. People loved it when we played that track at Skint Mondays so we booked him which turned a few heads as many people at that time thought we were just an indie night or a student night when if fact we had been filling up with all kinds of music lovers and mixing a huge variety of tracks. The success of that night gave us the confidence to keep booking a variety of acts which we felt reflected both us and our night to clubbers in Reading.

The Twelves from Brazil were the first act I was uncontainably excited about booking. Their Essential Mix had been on repeat for months and their remixes featured in pretty much every DJ set I played at the time. Rather than just DJing, they brought a combination of laptop controllers & keyboards and played a full live remix set which blew away everyone who was there... we had them play three times at Skint Mondays over the years and they never failed to make us all dance.

SBTRKT were a late booking in January 2011 who played what they said was their first full UK live show for us. During the soundcheck it was clear that we were in for something special as they improvised their way through the track 'Hold On' long before it was released. When they played their set unveiled a large number of the tracks that ended up on their debut album they had a whole room mesmerised with Sampha's vocals and SBTRKT's live instrument looping immediately demonstrating why they have gone on to such huge success since that show. A very special experience and still one of my favourite Skint Mondays sets.

Drop The Lime later that year was a great deal of fun, mixing bass and rockabilly with his own live vocals. Other highlights include Justin Robertson, Rory Phillips, Jack Savidge of Friendly Fires & Daniel Avery who all took us on seamless music journeys with plenty of their own productions thrown in. Australian duo Flight Facilities also stand out as they played the best new and old disco while dressed up in flying helmets and goggles.

Since we moved Skint Mondays to Sakura, the stand out set for me has to be Eats Everything. He'd already played a great early set at CUBED last year but this time he headlined and really made the night his own. His tunes, mixing and personality, with him happily posing for photos with regulars mid-set, made it one of the most enjoyable and memorable sets we've had over the five years.

Justin Martin is a massive booking. What was the inspiration?

Obviously the success of the Eats Everything night was part of the thinking behind getting Justin to play, with the dirtybird connection and their own sets together. His album is easily one of last years best and his recent collaborations like 'Wheelgunner' (with Ardalan) & 'The Gettup' are great peak time tracks. Justin also impressed us as someone who's been doing this for a long time, building more fans and getting better all the time. At risk of sounding extremely cheesy, I'd like to think that at 5 years in existence we might be seen in a similar way.

If money wasn’t an issue, who would be your ultimate DJ for Skint Mondays?

Haha I like this one. Daft Punk springs to mind! 2manydjs or A-Trak would certainly represent well the sound of the night over the first few years, then for more recent times probably Jackmaster & Erol Alkan.

Blank cheque and no holds barred on self indugence I would go for Dimitri From Paris, The Magician, Todd Edwards, Bibio, Oliver, Caribou/Daphni, Greg Wilson, Cut Copy, Dusky, Jacques Lu Cont, Breakbot, Flying Lotus & Aphex Twin.

Particularly want to see how that last one goes down at Sakura Reading on a Monday!

You also DJ. What would you describe your own style as?

I'm not keen on the word 'eclectic' but i'm happy to call myself a party DJ. Many serious DJs wouldn't want to be labelled as that but I like it because it's an element I enjoy in other peoples DJ sets. When I'm out, I love hearing loads of new & upfront tunes, some classics and some unexpected tunes I'd maybe not heard for a while, all of which fit with the character of whoever is DJing. I like to think that is what you get from one of my sets. Saying that, I play a lot of different venues for different nights & crowds so I play everything from pure house sets to Sunday afternoons mixing folk and downbeat, I really enjoy the variety as I'm into so many different styles of music.

Do you think Skint Mondays could work in a rich place like Monaco or Qatar?

Hehe I'd love to see me & Chris a Middle Eastern hotel playing Duke Dumont while 19 year olds buy £1.50 Jagerbombs...make it happen James! [Ubereadoolische interviewer]

How far along with the project of turning Reading into the next Berlin do you think we are?

I think that might be a tad overambitious for a provincial home counties town less that 45 miles outside of London but it is incredibly exciting to see the growth of club nights in recent years here and to have been part of it. The last time its seemed this big here was when The Matrix had people like Chemical Brothers play Big Beat Boutique there and Checkpoint Charlie brought Laurent Garnier to The After Dark. It does feel like a great time for clubbing in Reading and I think it can definitely get even bigger here.

What else in Reading would you recommend to the readers of Ubereadoolische?

From Disco To Disco is another great night locally with a real love of house & disco at the heart of it. Time have been putting on great parties for a while in Reading too & there's a bunch more good night at Milk (formerly Afrobar) right now too. To be fair I think Ubereadoolische already knows about these but it can't hurt to make more people awake of them and get the music scene even stronger in the town.

Can you offer any exclusive secret news?

Aaaah, not really, it normally takes me two pints before I spill the beans! Ok, as its you, one of the 'ultimate DJs for Skint Mondays' is booked for CUBED later in the year