The Brighton music scene: What should we be listening to?

Musically, Brighton should have it all, but somewhere along the line it seems our underground club culture got lost beneath a pile of boozy stag and hen dos and the big name DJs we wanted to attract went elsewhere.

Thanks to a new wave of radio stations pushing the music and DJs that make Brighton current, our pretty seaside city is finally blossoming into somewhere you can hear some cracking tunes and have a good dance. And you don’t even have to be out to do it.

Polly Humphris spoke to DJ and Radio Presenter, Mickey Cee, founder of 1 Brighton FM, the latest underground station on Brighton’s musical block, to find out what we should be listening too.

What’s your opinion on the Brighton music scene?

I think it’s getting stronger. I was really frustrated with it for a long time. Everyone instantly says ‘Brighton’s great; it’s got loads of good nights,’ but it hasn’t – the bigger, more leftfield names don’t come to Brighton generally and if they do come, there’s limited places for them to play except for Audio, or The Green Door Store. For a long time from the mid-2000s, young people seemed less interested in music and more interested in throwing beer around and falling all over the place; everyone wanted to be in a band and DJing and club culture in Brighton suffered for that. 

I don’t think Brighton has as collective a mentality as Bristol, Manchester, London, or even Birmingham yet and great things are born out of collective mindset, which was the idea behind 1 Brighton FM really – let’s create a big family and promote each others nights and gigs and get everyone from all over the community involved.

So, that’s the concept behind the station?

My musical tastes are extremely varied and I’ve been collecting vinyl for over 20 years now right across the board from hip hop, soul, funk, disco, boogie, house, techno and Balearic – everything and anything really, and my idea was to set up a station that reflected and shared the love that I have for different genres. I set up a company called Alias Music and Community Projects, bought in two directors: Christopher Galloway of the Soft Rocks collective and Sam Buckley, whose got studios up in Kemp Town – and the three of us launched 1 Brighton FM to represent underground club culture and a broad range of music – we play everything apart from commercial rock and pop.

Is there nothing already in place in Brighton like that?

No. I’ve got to be honest; I can’t turn on the radio in Brighton and listen to the kind of music that we play. There’s an awful lot of commercial rock and pop stations, and a few good specialist shows on a Sunday like Juice in conjunction with Totally Radio, but nothing else.

1 Brighton FM was born out of my frustration as a DJ and promoter in Brighton, which I find can be very cliquey at times. It was about pulling promoters and talent from everywhere to work together for one aim – we’ve stepped it up a notch with some better-known DJs like Steve Mason from the Beta Band, Martin Duffy from Primal Scream, and Balearic Mike – the knowledge of music on there has blown me away. It’s extremely exciting.

Do you think the scene in Brighton is finally evolving now, into something a bit more collective?

Yes, it’s definitely starting too. Patterns nightclub has just opened on Marine Parade and is bringing in a strong caliber of DJs that weren’t coming down before. Patterns is a strong prospect and I think we need a couple of smaller venues like Plastic People in Shoreditch was; somewhere you can go and just have a good dance to some really good music.

There’s a buzz about 1 Brighton FM; there’s a buzz about clubs like Patterns – young kids everywhere want to be DJs and Producers again and you’ve got people straight out of school making incredible music. That’s very exciting and the place that radio stations such as ours have in the music scene is to get a generation of fresh ears listening to brilliant music and getting inspired by it.

Sounds ace. How do we tune in?

We’re internet based at the moment – – but we’re applying for a community radio license to be on air now – the Ofcom licensing application process only comes round to your area between every three and five years and East Sussex is this summer, so I see that as a good omen. You can sign a petition and support us through the website now as well as have a listen to some brilliant music.

By Polly Humphris