Five years ago the UK hip hop landscape changed with the arrival of The Doctors Orders to the proceeding. Named by Time Out as being “the kings of the capital's hip hop scene”, they have been responsible for throwing some of the biggest and best hip hop parties from London to Plymouth and not forgetting the famous Brighton beach parties and weekenders.
This year alone, The Doctors Orders have brought legends such as Statik Selektah, Saigon, Just Blaze, The Alchemist, 9th Wonder and now Detroit heavyweight Guilty Simpson is back in town to perform at The Doctor’s Orders hotly anticipated 5th Birthday bash at Fabric on 23rd July 2010.
When the word on the street is that not only has hip hop lost its way, but is in fact dead, how are The Doctor’s Orders managing to ensure it’s kept very much alive and kicking. I caught up Spin Doctor, the man described as the ‘driving force behind all these events and more’, to ask what was the thinking behind bring differing elements and talents in the form of Tim Westwood, Guilty Simpson, DJ Nonames (Foreign Beggars), as well as The Doctors Orders’ regulars such as Shortee Blitz, DJ MK, Harry Love and Chris P Cuts together for what is already been called the celebration of the year.
“The majority of the line up are people that we have worked with and have proved popular over the last five years, but with a different twist, such as getting the Extended Players to do a six decks set. Guilty Simpson, not only joined us for our birthday last year, but also is one artist you will hear often when we throw our jams. With his new album out, and his new work with Madlib there has been an amazing amount of hype around him right now, so we had to get him back.
“The big coup for me was persuading the big dawg Tim Westwood to do the ‘Golden Age’ set. Loads of our audience grew up listening to his shows, and I felt as a hip-hop promoter there was always a Tim shaped gap missing off the CV. Then of course there is me, the Spin Doctor, doing what I do, DJ Nonames doing a late night up tempo Grime and Dub Step set, so there really is something for everyone in this line up; whilst still making sure that our army of regulars are guaranteed the best night possible!”
Let’s take it back to the Old Skool, OK five years ago, how did The Doctor’s Orders first come about and why?
Spin Doctor: Well I had been spinning for various promoters around town and was never convinced that the parties were that great. There were loads of good music being played by loads of good DJs, but it never really said party to me. Most events were male dominated, and there was nowhere really putting on the US DJs and acts I wanted to see and hear.
I started with a party called ‘Indelible’ and then approached Herbal about throwing my own birthday party, that went so well they asked me to stay. Our emphasis has always been not only on bringing in the best and most exciting guests, but also creating a friendly party atmosphere where people can really let loose. Hanging out and looking good is all well and good, but we want you to come out and get down and dirty – I think we have done that pretty well.
Following The Doctor’s Orders launch and even now, it has been described as a “wholly unique event”, what makes it stand out from the crowd?
Spin Doctor: I think the attention to detail. I was explaining this to someone the other day. Right from creating our flyers with the cartoons, which I think express the party attitude, to making sure that everyone has the best night possible by making sure they are comfortable and able to enjoy themselves, we have a different attitude to things.
A lot of it is also about the bookings we make, there are few clubs I know of where you will have heard a hip-hop violinist or even half the DJs we have put on. While yeah it is a business, I would much rather people went home with a smile on their face than I went home with a wedge in my pocket – If we can achieve both all the better.
Time out named The Doctor’s orders “the kings of the capital’s hip hop scene”, which is huge by anyone’s standards. What has been the secret to your continuing success which has seen The Doctor’s Orders get bigger and better year after year?
Spin Doctor: The bottom line is passion. I feel so blessed to do something I genuinely love and feel excited about, and I think that has helped us build year on year. Because of the standard of the events we put on, people that come for the first time more often than not keep coming back. What we offer is not only of a really high standard, especially in terms of the hip hop a-list guests we put on, but I think we’re very reasonably priced, with a lot of our events being between £5 and £10.
Lastly, I think people notice that we try and give something back to the scene. At least twice a year we throw free parties, and on two other occasions in the year we throw events where all the proceeds go to charity. So I’d like to think people realise we are looking at the bigger picture.
There are certain DJs who are amongst my favourites, who are regularly on the Doctor’s Orders roster; you all even have the same pose (imagine beer in one hand, bird in the other). It seems like a real family unit, how have you been able to build such a strong and loyal team and following over the years?
Spin Doctor: [Ha ha] I love the image you have just built – If only it were true. The bottom line is that the DJs we book love not only what they do, but also doing it at our events as they know they are dealing with a knowledgeable crowd that are up for a party. No DJ wants to spin to a room of people who are too busy trying to act and look cool rather than have a really good time – there are way too many of those parties around.
I only book DJs I trust, so I don't have to be one of those promoters telling them what to play and how to play it, which no DJ likes hearing. All of this has helped us build strong relationships where we are now as much mates, as we are colleagues.
There is barley a week that goes by without a promotion by the Doctor’s Orders, whether be in London, Brighton or Plymouth. I think I might know the answer, but I’ll ask it anyway, of all the nights that you’ve hosted in the last five years which has been your favourite and why?
Spin Doctor: Man that is a toughie; there have been loads of dope nights. The ones that really stand out are the J-Dilla tribute parties. Especially the first year, when we had no idea what to expect but the place was rammed within an hour, but that said, they just get better and better. My birthday day parties at Cargo the last two years have also been brilliant. It is so rare that people get to party outside in London which makes it really special; in fact I am still recovering.
I also have really fond memories of the huge BBE parties we put on with the label. The line ups were ridiculous, and the budgets matched so the stress levels were insane, but to make those events come off were probably the most satisfying. DJ wise I also really enjoy throwing the parties with a theme, last month we had a Motown vs. Def Jam party in Brighton and I had the place rocking to 60's Motown and sounds like ‘Mr postman’ – that was so refreshing.
With every success, I believe there is a period of growth and re-adjustment, so what didn’t work so well in the last five years and why do you think that was?
Spin Doctor: [Ha-ha] I like that. It has not all been roses and light. There have been a couple of parties that have bombed and bizarrely two of them have coincided with the England football team getting knocked out of big competitions. It is always a little hard to know exactly what it is promotion wise, that is working and what isn't. There is always an element of trial and error, and I have definitely learnt from my mistakes.
So what’s in store for the next five years and beyond for The Doctor’s Orders?
Spin Doctor: I am already excited about the plans for the next five months, never mind the next five years. I think people will be pleased to hear that we plan to keep booking the best talent around, both for regular and one off events. We have some exciting shows already lined up with the likes of ?uestlove, Diamond D, Bobbito and Keith Murray. I am also on a real mission to find the right venue for a weekly Saturday night party – so watch this space.
By: Thuto Mali
THE DOCTOR’S ORDERS 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY, 10PM – 5AM, 23rd JULY 2010 AT FABRIC, CHARTERHOUSE STREET, LONDON EC1.
Advance tickets are £15.00