Raf Rundell is quite the busy body in the very busy London dance music scene. So it was a nice little surprise that he made time to meet us for a drink at The Ship in Marylebone—he’d later take us for stronger drinks at the Heavenly Records bar The Social before taping a BBC Radio 1 show where he was asked to rate pop songs. After having several drinks with us. Busy body. Rundell is one-half of The 2 Bears, a production duo he shares with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip. (The jams, and yes they are jams, range from house and 2-Step to best Hot Chip song you’ve probably never heard). Rundell also knows his food and drink.
As we’re finding out this week, the cocktail scene in London is major.
I’m a bit more hip about it these days. I used to have an office above a club in Dean Street called Quo Vadis, they have a restaurant on the ground floor and member’s club above. Karl Marx used to live there. They have a couple of the guys in the bar doing good things. They’re always off to Puerto Rico for a rum championship or something. It’s a whole new world, this cocktail thing. It’s interesting.
Have you come across any bands that are big into mixology?
The Hot Chip boys always drink. Al [Doyle] always likes to make espresso martinis before they go out and play. That’s a good kick in the ass. He was telling me that they’re going for negronis this time. What is it again?
Campari, sweet vermouth and gin…
Oh bloody hell. It’s a fucking doozy.
And no juice. All booze.
Holy shit. That’s a go-faster drink. I’ve learned a lot from Joe. His dad is a big fan of bourbon. I didn’t know about Old Fashioneds before Joe. They’re big into their cocktails.
So you started out your career in music as a press agent…
I found my way into doing press for a bunch of indie bands. We looked after Teenage Fanclub and Pulp and Sigur Rós, who I also managed. When they first came to America I went with them. That was amusing.
So going out to dinner with Sigur Rós in the States? Interesting…
Icelandic food is something else. Like a goat has been buried and pissed on for weeks. It ain’t no fun. But those boys. Where did we go? A couple of them were vegan and vegetarian, so it was interesting.
What about looking after bands in London. Where did you go?
We used to go to this restaurant, Maggie Jones in Kensington, with Teenage Fanclub. It’s a similar atmosphere to this place, dark wood ephemera. I’d mostly be the person to show up and make the introduction and then make my way off. I was the junior.
Were you making music at this point?
Not really, I’ve always been a DJ. Since before I worked in music.
We did a DJ Week a few months ago and it was clear that these guys are really into seeking out great food.
Often when we get booked somewhere, there’s always a bit of excitement of where we are going to eat. There’s this restaurant we go to in Glasgow all the time, Fratelli Sarti. They have a big Italian community there. A lot of people came in when Franco was in Italy in the 1930’s. In Sydney there’s a fantastic Thai restaurant we go to called Spice I Am. That’s one of my favorite places to eat in the world. It’s nice if you’re by the sea, going to get your fish and chips. In London, if we’re going east, it’s a Sichuan restaurant, Gourmet San. They do fried crabs in piles and piles of chili. The numbing kind. My favorite places to eat in London avoid the pressure of going to a fancy meal. I’m not interested in that all the time. It’s usually Thai or Pakistani.
You live down in Brixton?
Just south, in Peckham. There’s not a lot of great food around there and we kinda travel all over London for food. Kingsland Road for food Vietnamese. Usually if you’ve got a hankering, it’s a Sunday afternoon and you’re still hungover and I’m like let’s go get some kimchi.
What about Vietnamese pho?
That’s a good way to sweat it out.
So your record is really funny. All that pitch-down voice stuff.
It allows me to fuck about it and say a lot of stuff I normally can’t get away with.
How do you guys create songs?
It’s more like I’ll go around and Joe will do something and I’ll show up with a sample and we’ll get it made. I’ll do my singing and I’ll write something on the spot. Quite often I’ll leave it with Joe. He sort of gets on with it on his own. He’s unbelievable and he’s absolutely at the top of this game.
Are you going to play together as a band?
We’d like to, but it’s going to take a lot of work. Hot Chip is going to go on tour and I’m the tour DJ. It’s a brilliant thing. By the time the band goes on, I’m done for the night. Quite often Joe and I will do club shows after as well.
What’s the Hot Chip bus like in terms of food? Any staples?
I really like those [Lindt] Lindor balls, the red ones. That’s on the rider. They really like this stuff in Belgium and Holland, speculoos. It’s like those gingery biscuits from Flemish countries, but the paste from those. It’s like biscuit paste. It’s disgusting but really amazing. So sweet. There’s something a bit depraved about it.
Any liquor on the bus?
It’s fairly indiscriminate—you just pick up what’s on the rider. I don’t think you mind when you’re in the back of the bus. I don’t want to make it out like they’re heathens. You go on the road and get quite self indulgent because you’re away from home. It’s summer camp.
When you’re at a gig and then you do an after party and roll into a hotel at 4:30 a.m., what do you eat?
I grab a can of cashews, some fruit juice, then I’m sweet to crash out. I’ve had Joe order food in my room a couple times and fall asleep. I’ve had to wake him up. “Your burger is here!” We’ve both done it. There was one time in France when they got really angry with him. They banged on the door and realized he was asleep and then he woke up and was like “Where’s my burger?”
What about the hangover the next morning?
Some days the full English breakfast, bacon and fried eggs. More often I’m quite meek in the mornings. It takes me a little while. I won’t have an appetite to start with and then two or three afternoon. What I’d like to do is eat some fruit and yogurt or cereal and a good cup of coffee.
Have you worked in the food industry?
I worked in the kitchen of a seaside town called Whitstable, which is famous for oysters.
Can you shuck?
I got the scars to prove it. We’d do 200 covers on a Sunday and had to get through quick.
You got your ass kicked.
You feel good at the end of the day. I was young enough to not get into the boozing. But I could see if I did it too much longer it could turn that way. I figured working in music would be an easier way to be an alcoholic.
You’re saying the DJ industry is not an occupational hazard?
It’s an occupational hazard, but you don’t have to work as hard. You don’t have to get up and do a double shift.