Frederick Sugden is a busy man. Since co-founding Loose Lips back in 2014, the collective has gone from strength to strength, putting on shows up and down the UK (including hosting their own stage at BoomTown) and internationally.
Along with this, he is also an A/R man for legendary label 2020 Vision and working for their publishing arm Sound2020 Publishing. If that wasn’t enough he’s taken even more on by heading up Threads Radio, a brand-new station that launched last Thursday in Tottenham featuring a wide array of presenters and shows, from the electronic spectrum to beyond.
Having followed him and the Loose Lips crew for a while, it’s been clear that everything they do is driven by, not only quality tunes, but a passion for building an underground community of like-minded music lovers, both at home and abroad. This is an interview and that’s been on the cards for a while so I’m delighted he found time to answer a few questions about Loose Lips, as well as the many other projects he’s involved in.
So, I suppose let’s start from the beginning, what got your interested in music and eventually DJing?
It all started with radio to be honest. There was something about the medium, the mystery and ubiquity of it that grabbed me from my early teens. From the age of 16, I was doing regular radio shows broadcast from home, on this sort of internet station where you enter a chat room and dial up.
I wasn’t a DJ then, or even a full blown music fanatic, radio just grabbed me, and introduced me to different musical worlds and into a community of people who loved communicating like that day-in, day-out. That love for radio has always stayed at the centre of everything as my tastes have evolved, and as I’ve become more and more passionate about DJing.
Party-wise, I first started experiencing ‘raves’ and rigs in Devon, at local sound-system parties which well and truly honked it out. My first love was Hip-Hop and this evolved into an interest in Jungle/D&B and Dubstep, before then widening out to House, Techno, Electro and more experimental sonics.
And how did Loose Lips all come together? What was the premise when starting it?
It didn’t start from any spiritual experience, or religious incarnation of a pair of lips (despite the rumours).
It was literally myself, and Dominic Juggins, sat in his living room on a Saturday morning after an all-nighter at Fabric. We went through that same motivating thought pattern that most people seem to when they start their own project – we love music, we want to do more music, we want to work in music, but we’re currently not quite feeling satisfied with the curational control we have in our day-to-day hustles.
It didn’t have fixed principles when we started – it was simply ‘Lets throw a party and maybe write and shout a bit about it as well’. The guiding principles of the crew, which now motivate us all, developed through a living existence of running a project and coming to understand ourselves.
How were those early parties? Was building a collective always at the back of your mind?
The early parties at The Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park (RIP) were killer. They were free entry Thursday night sessions, which usually continued through to the end of the weekend anyway.
At the very beginning we didn’t envisage it being a ‘musical platform’ as such – the active editorial, video content, festival work, mix series, and label all came after the parties, with the first party in 22 October 2014. We knew we’d do radio though, that’s always been the buzz.
You’re now throwing parties around the UK. What’s the biggest challenge you guys face with promoting in different cities, beyond trying to get a crowd out?
Keeping an ever-evolving energy in each location we throw parties in, which is dynamic, local, somewhat from within, yet also connected to the wider narrative and crew that Loose Lips is working on and with around the UK and the world. It’s a challenge which is a constant battle for any organisation that has multiple members spread out across the country, and its something I’m incredibly proud of our dealings with.
We’ve never wanted to rock up to a city and throw parties without any connection to the local scenes, and an understanding of their unique workings. It’s always been our crew basing themselves there first that’s motivated the step to organise a series of events in that location – that obviously stands you in better stead lots of the time in terms of basic numbers and promotional methods.
But, more importantly, the most rewarding part has been forging lasting connections that grow into real friendships and future experiences – whether that’s chilling on the regular, radio shows, other events, or pure unadulterated kitchen sessions.
Loose Lips has grown quite significantly and currently has 14 releases out on the label. Did this seem like a natural progression from the club nights?
The label is a labour of love of course, and we do fucking love it, no doubt about that. It does connect with the club nights but I’m not sure its a ‘natural progression’ or is too heavily linked up with them. Don’t get me wrong, many people who have performed at our events have had material out on the Loose Lips imprint, but they are curated separately, but by the same people, with the same tastes. The label showcases the range of what we’re into and we love a new release being seemingly very different from what came before, but of course connected in many subtler ways, as all music is.
Our last release was this hedonistic, twisted lo-fi hip-hop tape from our Manchester don, Charlie Boy Manson Before that was a post-punk England football anthem, and before that was an incredible album of Proto-Grime, Industrial Experiments and generally mental beats from Japanese genius, Masaki Uchida.
What other releases are in the pipeline?
Up next, we have two remix albums on the way…
The first will be a remix V/A of Charlie Boy Manson’s project, which has invited a range of producers from across the experimental electronic music spectrum to truly ‘interpret’ Manson’s work.
Then, after that, we’re buzzing to drop a remix V/A of Vapor Pad, an incredible IDM-ish piece by Rico Casazza that we released back on LL010 as part of our ‘refugee community kitchen’ fundraiser compilation.
Beyond Loose Lips you also started your own community station, which is just re-launching as Threads. Can you tell us about it.
Wow, where to start. I’ll summarise and try to keep you interested.
As I mentioned earlier on, radio is a huge passion of mine which naturally evolved into the dream of starting a new station. I never thought it would happen for a number of years yet, but 2 years ago, it did.
Now, in Jan 2019, Threads Radio is launching – an exciting new brand, run by some of the team behind the London-based DIY station 199radio. There’s a big crew of amazing individuals involved but I must do a special shout-out to THINGS DISAPPER’S Lee Fagan, who is at the core running it with me. Threads’ London base is to be at The Cause in Tottenham, an ethically conscious music venue which has made a huge impact since its launch in 2018.
At launch, listeners can expect to hear music from the likes of Chaos Theory, Timothy J. Fairplay, Jerome Hill, Liquid Ritual, Graham Dunning, Ireen Amnes, Faux Naïf, Rommek and Sisu – alongside a raft of new and exciting talent.
But music isn’t everything, and the station will have equal focus on incredible and important things happening in the community at large. The Hospice Biographers charity relays the stories of people in palliative care; the INSPIRE! Show featuring the perspectives of young people outside of mainstream education; and the Bubble Club music show is run by people with learning difficulties and autism, to name a few.
The station also features a second stream Threads* which will play host to a sister studio situated in Berlin, alongside array of content from across the world. As with the Tottenham arm, Threads* will actively engage and participate in the issues facing the communities it streams from. It will identify international collaborations by the specific district of the contributors, rather than the city, for example Threads*Moabit (a district in Berlin) or Threads*Vinohrady (a district in Prague). A global station with a local focus: Think Global, Act Local.
What goes into running a community station that people may not know about?
I’m not sure if there’s anything that people wouldn’t necessarily ‘know about’ – its often just the extent and intensity of these roles which might surprise people.
One example is the social side – a community-driven station can’t just be about enabling people to stream shows. It’s about building relationships with these people, connecting them with others within the station – doing so in such a way that is genuine, but also scalable if a station, like Threads, wants to involve more amazing characters.
This is really demanding mentally and time-wise, but is at the same time my favourite part of the role – connecting the dots between people. If I didn’t enjoy being social, reaching out to people, and take huge excitement in other people’s narratives, then I wouldn’t have jumped head-first into running a community-driven radio station.
You’re also working as Head of Publishing at 2020Vision Recordings’ publishing arm, Sound2020. Could you give us some insight into this role for those who may be unaware?
Publishing is a mad maze, a part of the music industry which stumps many people, not excluding those who work within it. I got into it after being lucky enough to land an internship at the legendary label 2020Vision after I left University (having studied Philosophy & Politics). After learning about everything from label/artist management through to distribution, PR and publishing, a role came up to take over the reigns of Sound2020 Publishing Ltd.
Essentially a music publisher is responsible for ensuring songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. This can be contrasted with a focus on the income from the actual ‘recording’ of a piece of a music and its derived incomes, which is what a record label deals with.
It’s about valuing ‘rights of composition’, not about the rights of those who actually own that composition once its recorded and sold (note though, such distribution can still then pay dividends to the original composer, because its utilising their creation if consumed).
So I would typically split my day to day work into two areas:
Retrospective administrative work, such as registering compositions, ensuring collection of funds and signing up new artists/tracks
Forward-looking creative work, such as artist collaboration and sync work (licensing music for use in film, TV and games).
In terms of your own DJ sets as Medallion Man, how do you approach these? I know you like to mix it up but is there any genre you feel most affiliated to?
Recently, I’ve really been enjoying playing sets which explore the common grounds and weird outer edges between IDM,Electro and Techno.
As you say, I don’t define myself as a DJ playing a particular style and have for a long time taken a pleasure in doing all kinds of gigs. That won’t stop anytime soon I don’t think.
Loose Lips hosted your own Block Party at Barrio Loco at BoomTown, how did that go down?
It went so well. It was definitely one of the funnest things we’ve ever done as a Loose Lips crew, and it brought everyone together 2 years running. We ran a daytime stage every day from 1200-1900, themed around your classic NYC Bronx block parties.
Hoping we’ll be back there again this August.
What’s in the pipeline for 2019?
A banging new website with a whole new side to Loose Lips’ offerings, some weird and wonderful events, and loads more exciting content across all of our current projects.
Big thanks to Freddie for the interview.