Mothership Connection

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Joshua Toko’s better known to London clubbers as the DJ Josh Caffé and the electronic musician behind Nostalgia of Mothership. He’s united acid house heads both young and old, gay and straight with a sleazy-funky, jacked-up sound and an on-message attitude. Our Richard F’row door-stopped him in the booth at Savage and recorded a chatty voice memo with the DJ of 2017.

Richard F’row for Boy’s Own: Your Night Sheen project has taken over the basement at London’s finest evening, Savage, and is releasing music too. It’s so much more than a club night. What else is occurring?

Josh Caffé: “The concept of Night Sheen has naturally spawned into a few things over the years, which I’m quite proud of. Originally it was just a mix series I used do regularly on Soundcloud, together with another one called ‘Deep Dreaming’. The Night Sheen mixes were always an extension of my DJ sets anyways, so I decided to turn them into a night.

Also, to me, ‘Night Sheen’ just really summed up what I wanted to create with a club night: playing with friends, supporting new DJs plus occasionally some special guests, and being in a place where you can be yourself and listen to music that really takes you on a journey. Everyone is welcome as long as you bring positive energy to the dance floor. The guys over at Savage were doing parties every weekend at Metropolis strip club, and had a new basement space they wanted local nights from friends to host. I did a couple there and they went really well, considering there’s a specific crowd that goes to Savage regularly and don’t really listen to acid house.

This year I decided to turn the concept of Night Sheen into a record label. I’d worked on an album and wasn’t getting much luck getting a release date confirmed with labels that were interested so I thought to hell with it, I’m going to do this myself and really show the concept of each release in the way I imagined it to be seen. The first release will be my two part EP series, Black Magik Dawn, out in January 2018.”

Luke Solomon delivered a stand out Night Sheen set, and then he remixed your Nostalgia of Mothership project. Any juice on this?

“Luke has such a good soul and really wants to support underground talent. He’s kind of been a mentor to me in a way. I played him the demos from Nostalgia of Mothership. He really liked them and believed in what we were doing as a band. When it came to remixers he was first on our list and considering he doesn’t do that many remixes nowadays it was a total honour that he agreed to do it.”

It’s hard for you to pick a favourite Night Sheen guest, I guess – I’ll just put Jonathan Bestley’s disco set down in the Shelter basement out there – but feel free to..? Or is there someone in particular you’d like to play Night Sheen?

“That’s definitely a tough one and I’d be upsetting the others if I had to choose. I would love to have Virginia come and play for us soon though. Virginia if you’re reading this, consider yourself told!”

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Your co-conspirators are a genuinely interesting set. Can you give us the inside track on your recent work with, for example, Madison Moore or IB Kamara?

“Ibrahim [IB Kamara] is someone who I have a lot of respect for as a black African creative and artist.  We meet through you, Richard, actually. He wanted to get back into music and we met up for chat about what he wanted to do and I introduced him to a couple of people that were looking for new vocalists. He has an amazing voice. Reminds me of Anthony Haggerty [of ‘and the Johnsons’ fame]. I was working on a solo showcase at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch at the time too, and he kindly offered to style me for the show. We have very similar approaches to fashion and styling, so it was the perfect pairing.

I met Madison over cheap Chinese dinner in Berlin, through Shaun J Wright. We had a nice chat about techno music and spaces to party in London especially for people of colour. He’s a jack of all trades (academic, writer, DJ, voguer) and overall ‘fierce kween' with a lot to say and a very clear point of view.

He’s actually invited me to speak at the Working Group on Club Culture panel on 25th November which I’m really pleased to be part of. ‘Supported by Somerset House Studios and the Cultural Institute at King’s College London, this working group on club culture and the politics of bass brings together a diverse array of scholars and artists invested in the politics and pleasures of the dance floor, the nightclub and the DJ booth’.”

As someone eminently qualified to answer the question – how do you think London clubbing compares these days? Is there anything you’d change?

“One of the things that defined London’s nightlife culture was the venues and the eclectic mix of music that was played. That’s definitely lacking these days. I’d make it easier for venues to get late licences and have more music varieties on offer in one venue.”

 Photo: Matt Hass

Photo: Matt Hass

Finally – Luton Airport?

“Oh my god, don’t even get me started. Just get rid of it. That’s all. Even my suitcase hates it.”

Josh plays alongside Danny Rampling, Farley & Heller and X-Press 2 at the Shoom 30th anniversary party on December 8th, 2017 in London.

For dates Night Sheen dates in the New Year, check the night’s Facebook page

Issue ThreeSteve Beale