Tonga, the latest project from Mike Skinner and Murkage Dave, boasts a wilder creative energy than you’ll find at most established U.K. club nights, let alone those that haven’t even reached their first birthday. Going from venue to venue across the U.K., the duo’s intimate parties aim to take over the world 200 people at a time, and have already featured surprise guest appearances from U.K. heavyweights Kano and Giggs. Now, to celebrate the first anniversary, the duo are venturing into original music as Tonga Balloon Gang—a crew consisting of regular club night MCs and DJs Oscar #worldpeace, Klepto DJ, and Smith—kicking things off with their debut track "Make No Scene" featuring Boy Better Know MC, Jammer.
It’s the first taste of a three-track EP, due to arrive on November 14th (Tonga’s first anniversary). “I’ve been making music to play out since the end of The Streets,” Skinner explains. “The science of making beats that translate to big systems is something I think about most of the time. I'm a producer—no one thinks I am, but that's all I've been doing for the last 20 years. I used to say some shit over the top of it sometimes and people started thinking I was left wing and into T.S. Eliot. I mean, look at photos of me in 2001. Do I look like I was reading T.S. Eliot? Fuck that.”
The night was conceived 12 months ago, after Skinner met Dave on the U.K. club scene and bonded over a love of rap music, five star hotels, and internet memes. Skinner had wanted to start a night for years, and the pair decided to take action after a galvanizing visit to Manchester’s legendary club Murkage (“the biggest weekly night in the city that didn't play Taylor Swift on repeat,” observes Dave). At Tonga parties, the pair and their crew mash out everything from rap to garage, grime to dubstep, keeping the energy at a high. “A lot of the time people are just walking around existing, but Tonga actually makes you feel like you are living,” says Dave, whereas Skinner comes out with a more surreal observation: “Tonga is really really hot. Especially when the MD goes in the coke. Talking of coke I like to smell of coke by way of Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather. Tuscan Leather is £145 a bottle. It costs more than cocaine. It would be cheaper to rub cocaine all over your neck than use Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather.”
Jammer and Skinner go back way before blowing stacks on fancy cologne was even an option—the BBK MC/producer met him back in the early 2000s after being enlisted to remix The Streets’ Original Pirate Material single ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’. “To be honest I had no idea what was going on when I got the call from Mike,” says Jammer of their latest collaboration. “But I liked the vibe of it. There were six producers getting to work and it reminded me of how we used to work back in the day. My aim was just to tell my story. It always is.”