Reckless Kettle profile: Turn It Up

Launched in 2013, the Reckless Kettle events have become a highlight of Dundee's nightlife. Here the duo behind the increasingly popular club nights, Fergus Tibbs and Mikey Rodger, explain the appeal of their self-described 'parties for freaks'

Feature by Claire Francis | 05 Feb 2018
  • Clubbing Highlights August

Reckless Kettle established themselves in 2013 as party-throwers across Dundee and Scotland. The duo, consisting of DJs Fergus Tibbs and Mikey Rodger, found a regular home for their club nights in The Reading Rooms, a venue set in the industrial area of Dundee. Their first anniversary at the Rooms saw a guest set from Tama Sumo of Berghain/Panorama Bar, and subsequent nights have featured guests including LYLO, General Ludd and LAPS. As a DJ act, Tibbs and Rodger keep their sets exciting with an unpredictable blend of influences: they're just as likely to spin African funk tunes and post punk rarities alongside floor-focused house and techno. We caught up with the pair via email to learn more about just what a Reckless Kettle party entails.

The Skinny: What were your early musical influences and how did you start out as a DJs?
RK: We grew up just round the corner from each other in Glasgow, so have been listening to pretty much the same music for as long as we can remember. As soon as we turned (almost) 18 we were regularly going to nights at Chambre 69, Sub Club and La Cheetah, and that’s when we started thinking about running our own nights. It’s when we started going to uni together in Dundee (Fergus at art school and Mikey a medic) when we began seriously collecting vinyl and getting our first pair of Technics. It’s hard to talk about our influences and say that Optimo is not one of the main reasons we got into DJing in the first place. We fairly religiously attend their parties and they definitely shaped us in the early years.

Tell us the story of how Reckless Kettle came to be – why Dundee, why The Reading Rooms, and why the name Reckless Kettle?
It's purely chance that we ended up in Dundee together; it's basically the only place we got in to uni and coming from Glasgow we were definitely a bit sceptical at first! The Reading Rooms became a regular haunt of ours and over a few years we got to know a lot of people in Dundee's small ‘underground’ dance music community, which mainly revolved around a few pubs and The Reading Rooms. It was a natural progression going from playing small bar sets in these pubs to doing nights at the Rooms.

The name Reckless Kettle comes from a term for volume our chemistry teacher back in school used – “turn the kettle up on that music” – which we always found hilarious. I suppose we are a bit reckless sometimes, so the name just stuck. So cheers Mr. Bowman for that!

What is different about the nightlife in Dundee compared to other cities in Scotland?
The nice thing about the nightlife in Dundee is that the community is really small, so everyone knows everyone. You can go out on your own, fully in the knowledge that there will already be a big bunch of your pals already there. Being a DJ, the small size can be a blessing and a curse; after building up a close group of RK followers we can really push boundaries with some of our tune selections. On the other hand if you don’t have the full confidence of the small Dundee crowd nobody will come! When starting out RK nights the Rooms was basically the only club putting on decent music. Now there are some DJs and promoters finding alternative, sometimes non-club venues and putting on great nights.

What kind of acts do you look for when booking guests for your parties?
We try to strike a balance between familiar club music and new bands that might not usually be found in a night club setting. There seems to be a rift between the live music scene and the clubbing scene in Dundee and this is something that we are trying to change.

What bookings do you have in store for 2018?
We have some forthcoming acts we're really excited about: Solid Blake from Apeiron Crew is playing at the end of March and the 70s/80s post punk band, Boots for Dancing, will be joining us in April.

Your club nights often incorporate art installations, sculptures, zines, etc – how integral is this to the RK club night experience? Is this linked to the broader arts culture in Dundee?
Prior to becoming residents at the Rooms, Fergus organised a two part art and music event, ‘Ice Cream with the Enemy’, at the Tin Roof artist-led space in Dundee and the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow. We played alongside our good friends LYLO, accompanying a DIY art exhibition that featured about 20 artists from both cities. We try to emulate the feel of those events in our club nights.

The art elements are important in creating parties that are memorable, while allowing us to give emerging artists a platform to show their work. Although the changes happening in Dundee (for example, the construction of the V&A Museum) are widely seen as a positive step, we see non high-art, low level artist led activity far more exciting. If we can provide even small opportunities for artists, that’s great. If not, at least it’s somewhere cheap where art students and skint emerging artists can come to party.

Next up you have a B2B planned with This Way Up's Vinyl Matt. Tell us more about that booking.
This Way Up is a new independent record and book store in Dundee, run by a couple of good friends Ani Pendova and Matt Storey. Matt (aka Vinyl Matt) has introduced us to many of our favourite records and is a regular favourite guest DJ at our nights. We are always surprised and amazed by some of the gems he has in his box.

In March you have The Reckless Kettle Drag Party. How important are club nights that provide spaces for LBGT+ to the clubbing community in Dundee? 
It’s very important to us that all our nights are inclusive and provide a safe place for the LGBT+ community to dance and have fun. The drag party is no different, but it will perhaps allow people to express themselves more than usual, which is something we like to encourage!

What has been your favourite RK moment to date?
There have been a lot of great moments, although playing techno at the first Fetish Party alongside a live sitar player wearing hi-vis workman's vest was pretty excellent. Another funny time was when we were playing at a small festival in Dundee and the generator konked out. While Mikey kept the crowd at bay, Fergus ran off to acquire some dodgy diesel from a fairground ride. That’s what all the big-name DJs have to do, right?

Your club nights have gained something of a cult status reputation for being 'weird' but you prefer to think of them as 'freaky' – how would you sum up the RK experience?
Our motto is ‘keep it freaky’ which means we actively encourage people to let themselves go and be a bit silly. We want people to leave thinking, “that was a bit fucking weird, but in a good way.” This is reflected in every aspect of our parties: the music, the art installations and the club set up. It also helps to keep out the Spice Boys. 

Reckless Kettle B2B with This Way Up takes place at The Reading Rooms on 15 Feb

The Reckless Kettle Drag Party takes place at The Reading Rooms on 15 Mar