Switching up the Saturday night club scene, we sat down with Phonox’s Mantra residents Tommy Gold and BossyLDN and delved deep into the craft behind London’s exciting new club night.
Over the last few years, the future of London nightlife has been a hot topic as it’s been hit with various licensing issues, venue closures and conversation on whether it’s an accurate representation of the culture itself. Fortunately — things seem to be taking a turn for the better. As the legendary Phonox open its doors to a new and exciting era of club culture in the form of ‘Mantra’, they have enlisted an array of talented residents that have begun to reshape London’s nightlife culture at the new residency series.
Of course, none of this would be possible without Mantra’s carefully selected residents including BossyLDN, Tommy Gold, Skinny Macho and P-Rallel. We got the chance to catch up with two of the powerhouse creatives – BossyLDN and Tommy Gold. If you’re new to the former, the duo — made up of Dhamirah Coombes and Izzy Steven — are currently tearing up the creative scene after crossing paths in the beginning stages of their careers. After realising they had similar ambitions and talents, they combined forces and have been fronting and directing London events ever since. Whether it be music, fashion or art — BossyLDN have always kept female representation at the forefront, sourcing unique talent in London and showcasing them on their widely respected platform. Already having smashed their Boiler Room sets and NTS Radio Shows, the duo claim that their different backgrounds have enabled them to bring different skills to the table and learn from each other. Therefore, it only made sense for the two forces to bring BossyLDN and their exquisite taste in music to Mantra.
Alongside the explosive duo, Mantra has enlisted London’s own Tommy Gold to bring his fiery energy and craftsmanship to the new Phonox residency. Ever since he was introduced to it at a young age, Tommy began making waves in the electronic scene and started to study various DJ sets and tune his ears to select the finest tunes. Before he knew it, he was playing on NTS Radio and performing his very own Boiler Room sets. This kind of energy is the type he’s bringing to Mantra — a consistent vibe from the back of the club to the front — for the audience to leave all outside stresses at the door and simply have fun. This is what makes Tommy stand out against the rest; his ability to interpret the energy of the room and adjust his selections accordingly making it a personal experience each time he gets behind the decks.
Bossy LDN and Tommy Gold are the perfect residents to define, share and evolve Mantra’s vision. From hosting radio shows and parties across the globe to running their own record labels, they are both currently helping develop a fresh and exciting scene that’s centred around hip-hop, arts, and fashion. Check out the interview below and be sure to catch the London creatives at Phonox’s new club night each Saturday, tickets can be bought here.
Tommy, how did your interest in music begin?
Tommy: From the age of 13, I got into electronic music and before that, I only really listened to 90s hip-hop, r&b and soul tunes and funk that my parents used to play. Then, my big brother brought me into electronic music and from there it just became an obsession.
Girls, what was the moment that led to the creation of BossyLDN?
Izzy: D and I, we met at a photoshoot where I was the stylist and she was the photographer, this was really early on in our careers. We had literally just started, and we had one conversation about life, vocalising our opinions and they were the same. From that moment on, we began to meet up every day and started a business.
What is your personal ritual before starting a set?
Tommy: When I first started, I used to really over plan my sets, and it’s never as good as when I’m just doing it in the moment. I just taught myself not to plan too much and just expect the unexpected. If you go in with an open mind with all types of music, you’re going to be good at reading the crowd. Some people drink a lot before they play but I’m not too into that. I just like to have one drink. Ideally, I’d like to be in the venue an hour before I play just to get the whole vibe of the place, and see what people are saying. Just so I know how I can take it to the next level and make sure that people are having a good night. I think being focussed adds to that.
Dhamirah: We listen to jazz or classical music in the Uber. We listen to nice relaxing music because we know we’re about to go to a night with heavy, heavy trap but that’s also music that we both love.
Izzy: We have a tequila shot, and D and I have a look that we give each other at every event – only we know what this look means.
What kind of energy can people in the crowd expect from your sets at Mantra?
Tommy: I aim to have the same consistent vibe, from the front to the back of the club. I want people to have fun and to not think about anything they have going on outside of the room. Also, they shouldn’t expect to hear a normal hip-hop set, they should come willing to turn up to the music they wanna hear, but I might throw in something unexpected that’s still accessible to everyone.
Dhamirah: Mad energy. A lot of the feedback we get is from girls and women who come to our events, they always say to us ‘we feel like we can be free at your events and we’re there without judgement’. They can dance without feeling like people are watching them and they can do what they want at the event without any judgement.
Izzy: I feel like, at our events, we have an array trap and music most people would think male DJ’s play for men, but females actually love. We get female mosh pits and they are just so comfortable – it’s always a vibe – there’s no judgement. Everyone can do what they want and it’s a safe space. The majority of our events are 80% female and the rest male. We just make sure to have a good party. You need more girls because they’re the ones who scream and do everything fun. The boys stand around the edge and the girls start the party. Our parties are lit. Hot girl summer all year round.
What’s your opinion on club culture in London at the minute?
Tommy: Over the last year or two, I’d say London nightlife has been making a comeback. There’s nothing like playing in London. It’s my favourite place in the world to play, not only because I have my people here, but I think crowds here are very receptive and becoming more interested in hearing new music. Mantra at Phonox is a prime example of that, showcasing the mad talent that’s around here and creating a space where that can thrive.
Dhamirah: I think it’s exciting, it’s definitely not what it was. There’s room to create something new.
Izzy: I just feel like as well when you’re doing something that’s urban a lot of venues just don’t let you do it. Even though we’ve never had a fight at our party and the majority of the people are girls who, literally, the most they are doing is twerking on someone.
With the amount of work you have to put in, how do you keep yourself inspired and motivated?
Tommy: I remember why I started doing this in the first place; it’s funny because as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that music is no longer an escape from school or whatever is going on in my life. It’s my day to day now and that’s amazing, but I’ve got to remember once upon a time it was an escape for me and I treasure that. When I’m working, I remind myself that music is something special to me, it’s not just a job.
Izzy: I pick up inspiration from literally everything. Especially travelling. We travel a lot now, we just pick up inspo from different cities. I also think everyone is their own inspiration as well if that makes sense. We should inspire ourselves.
Dhamirah: I get inspired by people around me, and at the minute I’m looking at a lot of old campaigns. Looking at what young creatives are doing now, or looking at where they get their inspiration from. There’s so much everywhere and there’s never been a more open time for it.
Tell me how your residency at Mantra came about?
Tommy: It’s quite funny how it came about. One of my friends, Tom, and the girl he’s seeing are very close friends with one of the dudes at Phonox, they were having dinner and spoke about me, it came about like that. It’s funny because every opportunity throughout my career has come about organically, through having genuine relationships with people and word of mouth. It’s a really nice way for things to happen as they never feel forced.
Dhamirah: Their mantra of connecting the dots between DJ’s and the music scene over here in East London with the scene in South London is very smart. They’re bridging the gap between two creative scenes and uniting both together under one roof.
Izzy: So, Phonox used to be ‘Plan B’ and I feel like a key reason we said yes, is because that was our home, when we were younger – everyone used to go to Plan B on a Friday – it’s where I met all of my creative friends. I used to see the same people every week at this party that had sick music and sick vibes. It’s actually quite incredible that now we are residents at the venue where everything kind of started. It’s like everything has come full circle.
What kind of advice would you give to anyone trying to follow in your footsteps?
Tommy: I think just go for it. I had to get myself in those sort of circles, where people loved music or fashion. I would say just surround yourself with like-minded people and then anything is possible. It’s crazy to think how much people’s energy around you affects you.
Dhamirah: I think the first thing you should do is just do it. Do it for yourself, practice practice practice. Don’t be scared to ask people for help, the worst thing they could do is say no. A lot of the time people will actually give you the time of day.
Izzy: And put your own mixes out, don’t ever assume… put your own mixes out and do everything for yourself first, and then send it to someone. Don’t just assume that you deserve something. I feel like people nowadays just assume that it’s really easy, but you need to put your own work in first. Most of the time people are way more willing to work with you if they see you’ve already done everything off of your own back. And don’t compare yourself to anybody else, you’re on you’re own journey and everything’s going to happen in your own time. No one else can be you, so just be you.
On the flip side, what’s some advice you have been given that has really stayed with you?
Tommy: DJing can be centred around pleasing other people and being praised for what you’ve done, so no matter what, never think of yourself as better than anyone else. Always stay humble and focused.
Izzy: The best advice I was ever given would be to what I just said previously; to be yourself and what are you scared of? The worst thing that could be said is no.
Dhamirah: Just trust that what you’re doing is right and just be patient.
Tommy, you mentioned that London is your favourite place to play, do you think that will always be the case?
Tommy: No matter what, the best thing about the job is travelling – the vibe is different anywhere you go and nowhere is necessarily better than another, it’s just different. But having said that being able to travel to different places has just made me appreciate London more. I think the familiarity with London is the reason why I love it so much.
Girls, was it always the plan to have your fingers in many different creative pies?
Dhamirah: I think because we come from different backgrounds, we both bring different skills to the table and we both enjoy everything creative. It’s kind of a happy accident really – Bossy has given us the platform to do all of the creative things we’ve always wanted to do.
Izzy: But I feel there was one underlying tone which was female empowerment. Females actually being at the forefront of the music and creative industry and having their voices heard.
If you had to describe BossyLDN in 3 words what would you say?
Dhamirah: Bossy. Open. Dynamic.
Izzy: Big Dick Energy.