Moving to Thailand 3 months ago after a 25 year career as one of Britain’s best known and most popular house DJs, Graham Gold has recently taken a radical leap, though he’s at pains to stress he’s happy with the move.
“I play the best parties in Thailand, including the Full and Half Moon parties where you see some of the most beautiful girls in the world here in Koh Phangan, plus I have two weekly residencies at the best clubs/bars in Samui and a monthly at Bangkok and Pattaya,” he enthuses, “Plus I still have my international gigs. After 15 years of flying at least twice a month to gigs, this is total paradise and I am loving my new life,” he says.
The erstwhile Kiss FM/ Peach promoter has mellowed out in recent years, back-tracking on labelling Mixmag hacks ‘a bunch of c**ts’ last week.
“I saw the first part of the article and it still sounds like I am angry; and I am not-it’s in the past,” says Graham, “I have finally learned not to hold grudges, I have way too many great things going on here.”
“Yes I WAS mad at the time when the first letter appeared (Graham famously called Mixmag a ‘bunch of cunts’ in 2006 after they teased him), but the Mixmag situation had been ongoing for years,” he explains.
“And yes, I did used to see Gavin (Herlihy) every Monday when I went to Kiss to do my show and always used to go and say Hi and talk about new music and we actually got on well-I certainly didn’t raid their CD collection show. Nice joke though, boys,” he laughs.
Mixmag man James Mowbray previously quipped that they’d ‘leave out a box of all our crappy, unwanted promo’ for Graham to sort through for his Kiss show though this week sounded surprisingly sensitive about being labelled a ‘minimal/ electro-tech DJ/ producer/ rising star’.
“In future can you please just quote me as ‘Mixmag publisher’ and leave out the other (bracketed) appendages,” James told Skrufff, “I've received more stick for that than my diss of Goldie,” he chuckled.
Media quibbles (and Mixmag) aside, Graham remains one of dance culture’s most entertaining and passionate characters; agreeably willing to talk about his trials and tribulations.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): When did you make the move to Thailand – what made you decide to quit England- was there a last straw?
Graham Gold: “I moved three months ago. Basically nothing was happening in the UK, and after three divorces I wasn't as minted (wealthy) as people would believe. I was working my nuts off in the studio and whilst I had huge Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren support on the last track (Glorified which came out on Flux Delux) it wasn't bringing the gigs in.
When both Peach and my show on Kiss FM finished, it was total devastation as I had committed everything to both. On Kiss, I’d always had one of their most successful shows, so I never considered it as so important to produce but that is where the scene went- it became totally producer led. So I spent the last three years learning Logic and having piano lessons, but maybe I did it too late. Went Kiss went, part of me went to. I just love radio. And Peach was just the most awesome gig to play every week. It did come back last year but I guess as it wasn't at Camden-it wasn't quite the same.”
Skrufff: Why did you choose Thailand as opposed to Ibiza or anywhere else?
Graham Gold: “Initially because I have friends in Koh Phangan who bought a dive school and I wanted to do my Dive Master (qualification). I also wanted to carry on playing and there are lots of opportunities here to DJ. In an ideal world, it would of been Ibiza, but I just couldn't afford to live there. The Canary Islands was also an option if I had got a show on one of the big stations there but I didn't work hard enough at making that happen-; stupid really because I just spent 4 years going to college to learn Spanish.”
Skrufff: And what prompted you to settle on Haad rin; the location of the infamous parties?
Graham Gold: “I don't live in Haad Rin and never would because whilst it’s the home of the Full Moon parties, it’s also not that nice. And actually the half moon parties are 1000 times better. People go there for the music whereas at the Full Moon parties it’s about getting as pissed (drunk) on buckets of beer as you can. And sadly I’ve done that too. I have only had 2 scooter accidents and they both happened when I came out of the BackYard after-party totally wankered.”
Skrufff: What do you make of the recent Foreign Office travel warning about local gangs launching ‘vicious unprovoked assaults’ on foreigners on the island, have you ever felt unsafe?
Graham Gold: “I have been at the last 3 Full Moon parties and DJed at them and I haven't seen any of this gang business. I did hear about someone going missing, and there were two recent fatalities, one of whom was an Indian, not a Westerner, but think about it; People get so pissed, every drug is available, and some westerners don't respect the Thai culture or the people. And Brits abroad, as we all know, can be a nightmare. If you are a hooligan who wants to fight with everyone, then if you start on the Thais, you will get hurt.
If you come to Phangan, have fun and are sensible you will have a great time. That said, there is good and bad in everyone all over the world, and some Thais are definitely not so friendly, just as some of the Spanish are not in Ibiza. There is resentment that their islands have been overrun by pissed up foreigners, and they tar us all with the same brush-just as the English do to the Eastern Europens who have now settled in the UK. Didn't I read last week that 4 people were murdered in London on just one day? I know where I would rather be.”
Skrufff: Have you personally ever felt unsafe there?
Graham Gold: “No never. I truly believe that that shit doesn’t happen to decent people here, it only happens to those who go looking for trouble. As we all know, the media only ever report the bad shit-good things don't make headlines. Or in the case of the Sun and the News Of The Fucking World they just write about who can they stitch up and try an ruin careers for doing a line of charlie, when all the fucking journos are on it themselves. Who gives a shit if a bloke from Blue Peter wants a nose up (line of cocaine); he didn't go on TV and say "here kids, here's one I chopped out earlier'.
The few attacks that happen DO happen around Full Moon are when there are 20,000 people on the beach at these parties from all over the world. Certainly some of the fights could be racially motivated and yes, there is a dark side to Haad Rin; a lot of the regulars here say it isn’t the same as it used to be. But in the next breath they say, that’s because it’s full of pissheads (drunks). And isn’t that a little déjà vu with what everyone said about Ibiza in ’99.”
Skrufff: Looking at your Myspace: you say ‘Financial Status; All gone on divorces and taxman’”: what happened? How bad did it get?
Graham Gold: “Pretty shit, to be honest. I was faced with huge maintenance payments every month and a big mortgage, and, as I don't come from money I had no idea how to be shrewd. So I was always the first at the bar and the first to buy presents. Plus I got investigated for seven of the last nine years of trading by the taxman. They never found anything and my accounts were totally kosher: I even declared all my overseas fees, but I ended up having to pay large sums in additional accounting fees.”
Skrufff: How much is the DJ lifestyle incompatible with marriage?
Graham Gold: “It doesn't have to be incompatible if you marry the right person. John 00 Fleming is a perfect example-he is abroad at least two weekends out of four and he never strays, or even thinks about it. He has everything he wants at home-Selma (his wife) is a total babe-and if that is the case then I believe that people who marry their soulmates do NOT stray. I went out with a girl for 8 years on and off and I was never unfaithful to her. Yes I love to flirt, when you get older, you want to know you are still attractive but that’s as far as it went.
It’s not actually the being away at weekends that is the problem, anyway, it was when the summer seasons were 16 weeks long and I was literally never at home. Every week was Ibiza, Mallorca, Canary Island and Greece and to be honest I’d end up feeling totally fucking lonely. You play to all these people, see couples snogging (sometimes even seeing couples holding hands can get to you) then you go back to an empty hotel room.
I have even said to John 00, you don't need the money-take a weekend off every month and enjoy a bit of normal life, because when you are away so much, every waking moment when you are home is playing catch up, and then you are off again. Djing is the best job in the world, but I don't think anyone actually has a clue how tough it is-they only ever see the party side. Oh, the benefit of hindsight.”
Skrufff: What happened with the taxman specifically?
Graham Gold: He went through old Mixmags and Ministry magazines etc and checked for advertisements where I was listed as playing and compared them to gigs I’d invoiced- though never read the 'on rotation' strap line. He also singled out car park receipts for £2.50 at the Central London NCP carpark when Peach was at the Café De Paris and asked why they were dated for the Saturday when the invoice for Peach was for the Friday. He just didn't get it. And there were loads of occasions when he saw adverts that said I was playing somewhere and the gigs didn't happen or they just used my name, but on all those dates I had already raised invoices for the clubs that I actually was playing at, but he never bothered to even check. On one occasion he told me I was playing in Germany at the Impulz festival, but it doesn't happen there, it’s in Holland and the invoice for that gig said that (on exactly the same date). The invoice was also already in his possession-what a cunt! And to think we pay these arseholes’ wages. He even went to Kiss FM to have a meeting with the Managing Director as he didn’t believe I didn't get paid for the Kiss compilation albums I did or consulted on.”
Skrufff: On your Myspace you talk happily about driving round Kog Panghan on a 110cc bike: what was the flashest car you ever owned??
Graham Gold: “I was never a flash car person to be honest, the flashest car I’ve owned was a top of the range Alfa 156 with white leather seats and big white wheelks- hardly a Ferrari.”
Skrufff: Was giving up DJing ever an option?
Graham Gold: “It never has been, and never will be, I LOVE my music, I love how it makes me feel and there is not bigheadedness in this next statement, but I know I am fucking good at my job. I believe I am actually playing the best sets I ever played now because I don't do drugs when I play. It shouldn't of been rocket science for me to have worked that out but it took a while.”
Skrufff: Any regrets?
Graham Gold: “For the move to Thailand, none at all. In an ideal world it wouldn't have happened as I would have still been working my tits off-that said, I am here too, and have landed some great residencies, and still not had the two days off a week I promised myself. But I had also never experienced Thai girls before or this whole island life. I totally love it. Of course, I miss my kids way more than i thought I would have. For work there’s just one- I never made Radio 1. Bastards (laughing).”
Skrufff: What have been the key lessons you’ve learned from the last 2 years?
Graham Gold: “Don't assume everything lasts forever. And if you work your arse off, take time out to enjoy the fruits of it all. And don't think that just because you are born in one particular country that you have to live there all your life-it’s a big world out there, and there are often a lot better places than home!! All you have to do is to take some risks.”
http://www.grahamgold.com (For details of Graham’s upcoming Full Moon Party gigs and more, click here)
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)