What is the M.A.D Collective?
Felix: We’re the Mutually Assured Destruction Collective, based on the Cold War principle, so we use a lot of Cold War imagery in the nights.
Who’s in the collective?
Thom: I guess it extends beyond the people who just put on the night, we have Moses who’s an artist who does visuals for the nights and James who’s our designer. And obviously myself and Felix, but we’re in the process of putting an EP together which could feature over ten artists.
Felix: We’re moving towards a record label so it’ll be a roster in that sense, but there’s no really defined borders. Anyone who’s ever DJ’d for us, anyone who’s done some art for us, they’re all part of this loose collective.
When did you start?
Thom: My birthday, January 17th. A friend of mine, sick of me whining on about the state of Norwich’s nightlife asked, ‘Why don’t you do it yourself?’ Eventually we did and luckily we got a good reception for it.
Where there any nights you took inspiration from in setting up M.A.D?
Felix: There were nights we liked but I guess the thing we were most conscious of is that UK hip hop can be very corny and we just wanted to avoid that.
Thom: It’s flat peaks, ninety per cent male, high seventeen year olds, just not a scene we wanted to go for.
Felix: We wanted it to be a bit progressive and a bit arty with it.
Thom: We have like 50-50 male and female, which is rare for hip hop and I think that’s to do with the music we play. It’s not all tear out aggressive hip hop and grime.
On the grime note, there’s a kind of re-emergence at the moment, do you reckon this will play into your nights?
Felix: Ahh, the grime renaissance, we were talking about this other day. When I was doing my GCSEs I loved grime. We’re going to be a UK hip hop label, so we want to represent that side of things.
Thom: We’re planning to put out a grime EP in the next six months.
You mentioned the Cold War imagery, is that political aspect something you feel is important to the nights?
Felix: I like that it’s got a little agenda to it. We’re both liberal guys.
Thom: (laughing) Or lefter. It gives us a lot of imagery to play with,
The graphic design is really strong.
Thom: That’s really testament to our graphic designer, James Ratcliffe, who also runs a night called Shapes in Bristol. He’s a great designer but given what he has to work with he’d be an idiot not to create something nice.
Felix: It’s good because we can have a political undercurrent we can tap into and gives us some kind of theme for nights.
Felix, does the political side of things play into your work as Paper Plates?
Felix: In my previous music, I always resisted that because being preached at pisses me off. I respected political rappers for their stance, like Akala, but it just sounded corny when I did it. It’s more social commentary than political. If Thom and me do something I know it’ll be political.
Do you reckon you have some kind of regular crowd now?
Felix: We’ve got a lovely bunch of supporters. There are people who have been to see us every night.
Thom: People we don’t know as well. The Boat Party was a real eye opener, I only knew about a third of the people on there.
Felix: Yeah, same here, which means people bought tickets and just jumped on a boat with us for a few hours.
What do you think of the Norwich scene in general? You’ve got groups like Def Tex and Boom-Bap festival all based locally.
Felix: People are starting to care about hip hop again, which is nice for us. Def Tex are good old boys man, one of them came to one of our trip hop nights and he’s such a legend. There’s videos of IllInspired rapping when’s he’s like eight years old and he’s fucking killing it.
Thom: Considering there’s not that many hip hop nights, there’s a lot of appreciation for hip hop. Wordplay magazine is based here. It’s mainy from the locals but I think we’ve helped shelter a scene with UEA students that might not have gone to hip hop nights.
Outside of hip hop, is there anyone locally you think is doing something interesting?
Thom: Kieran Harper, he’s a menswear designer.
Felix: Kind of bespoke. If you tell him you want say a saddle bag to go halfway up a mountain he’ll tell you what you need and he’ll make it.
Thom: Musically I think now with 808 gone and POW! gone there is a gap in the scene. I mean Norwich’s greatest shame is that it doesn’t have a good nightclub and I think if there was one, with a nice space and late licensing then there are people that could do it justice.
It is a shame that the more interesting nights have to use small venues that close early.
Felix: It’s a thing for us when we want to book larger artists; we’re not sure where we could hold it.
Thom: We want to use less conventional venues, anywhere we can get a temporary events license, be it industrial space, on old building in town, anything we can get our hands on.
Obviously you’ve got your ear to the ground. Are their any up and coming artists you want to big up?
Thom: I think it’s worth keeping an ear out for Mr Keys’ album, that’s gonna be huge, he raps with S.M.B, Dirty Dike, Edward Scissortongue, Jam Baxter, that whole High Focus lot. Obviously Mowgli, we’re very proud of booking, he’s managed to do something not even the U.S. has.
Felix: He’s got his own sound without catting it from anybody. We’ve gotta shout out Lee Scott. Lee Scott is this Scouse guy and he makes dark, cult shit. He’s on Blah Records.
Album of The Year?
Felix: Oh damn, I should thought about this, what came out this year? I’ve been listening to a lot of Erykah Badu.
Thom: Jam Baxter’s album came out last week and its huge.
What are your plans for the future?
Thom: Getting it out to other cities, we’re looking at getting set up in Bristol, London, and Brighton. We’ve got a venue lined up in Bristol some of our mates are doing up as cooperative which is perfect.
Felix: We want to keep it going in Norwich though, that’s important to us.