Rob Moller, DJ and events promoter from Newcastle, heads up Ctrl (an underground house and techno night), and Headphone Magic (a Facebook page for Rob to finally share the music he has, loves, and listens to). He’s DJ’d in the city for more years than I’ve lived here, and, having spun on the same lineup as him once, and having seen him spin on numerous occasions, I can comfortably say Rob is easily one of the best DJs Newcastle has to offer. We’re delighted to be inviting Ctrl (with Rob Moller & Nicky Mann) to run Room 2 (dubbed the Ctrl Room for the night) for our Objekt-headlined party on March 10th at Cosmic Ballroom.
With both of us having busy schedules and full-time jobs, Rob and I decided to do this interview over a messaging app (we do like each other’s company, I promise, this was just easier for transcription and flexibility) and I’ve tried to keep the interview as close to conversational as possible. Enjoy!
How did you record the mix?
I wish it was recorded somewhere more exciting but the mix was recorded at home on 2 technics 1210s and my old pioneer DJM 700 mixer.
It’s always the bedroom mix!
Glad to know I’m not the only one. Also, this mix was the last one with my Pioneer mixer which served me well but I’ve now joined the rotary club by getting a Rane, which is great but I have yet to record with it though.
Nice marker that this is the last mix out of the old beast then.
Any standout records in the mix?
Hard to say… I thought a lot about the opening tracks in trying to set the mood… I also like the one with the acidic sound after the hour mark where I try to turn the screw but I have to check the track name…
I know exactly which tune you mean, it’s class (1h12 Mark). We’ll let the listeners do their own digging.
That’s the one mate! Glad you know it!
Always a fan of the acid here at Backdrop. Also love the breakbeat halfway through! Any standout Record labels for you at the minute?
Glad to know you liked the breaks as well! There’s so many different labels I like for many different reasons, but, trying to stay in the house and techno realm, Lobster Theremin always puts out quality stuff… Whether it’s through their label or LT Distribution. I also keep my eyes peeled for releases on Opal tapes, 1080p, Church, Mister Saturday Night, Shall Not Fade, Going Good etc.
Lobster is the one. If it wasn’t limited to house and techno?
PPU, Lumberjacks in Hell, Athens of the North.
Awesome! Thanks for expanding! So, moving on. You run a great underground night called Ctrl. Tell us a bit about that – how did that start, what motivates you to keep it going, what are the challenges you’ve faced as the night’s gone one?
To be honest, I came to the Ctrl parties late. Ctrl was and is Damien and Neil’s creation and I was lucky enough to be asked to play there. But with Neil having a family, and Damien being over in Australia, me and Nicky kind of took it on…
A pretty natural process of inheritance then I guess?
Yeah kind of. And with regards to keeping it going we went down the route of smaller one-off parties here and there rather than booking big DJ’s so to speak… The biggest challenge I suppose any night faces is finding a suitable venue… Obviously we’re also on the look out!
Cool, yeah Newcastle doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of opening new underground venues huh.
Unfortunately not.. The council doesn’t seem to be the most friendly when it comes to one off licenses or late licenses either.
Nope, it’s such a shame what’s happening in the Ouseburn – hopefully some of the cooler bars around there can be saved.
Absolutely! I signed the petition to stop the demolition of the tower as i’m concerned about the knock effect the new accommodation will have on the nightlife in the ouseburn!
Yes! Good man, me too! Was lucky enough to play there on the same bill as you for Bleep Ncl (thanks Bleep!) and it was such a Ravey place and great vibe all round. And I remember your set in particular on that night – it was class!
Thanks! I think everyone who played that night rocked it. Maybe the venue helped but the vibe was really good! I also really like Ernest and Cobalt Studios and would hate to lose them.
Ernest and cobalt surely have to stay, they provide such nice spaces for people to meet and dance.
Yeah Ernest is the cornerstone of the parties in the Ouseburn in my opinion, I really like Cobalt as well. I just wish they had the same license as Ernest to put more parties on.
What has been your favourite ever CTRL event (both for hosting and playing, if these are separate events.) And favourite booking (when you used to bring in outside acts) to spin?
The Rodhad event stands out, Ctrl were the first to bring him to Newcastle and he didn’t disappoint… He played a banging set! Personally for me the night we had Mark Broom playing was my favourite as I got to do the warm up with Nicky. I have quite a few of his records and he’s been around in the UK techno scene for some time so that was pretty special.
Also, even though I never played there, Ctrl used to throw parties in the kitchen of a place called the den… The room was tiny and the speakers were always nearly touching the ceiling.. They were a great laugh as everyone who attended went for it!
You also run headphone magic, tell us a bit about it – how did that start, and what’s it’s purpose?
Yeah headphone magic started out with me wanting a dedicated place to post music related stuff. At the moment it’s mostly YouTube video posts; I tend to post music that I have, like or want with the odd link to a review or something. I like a variety of genres so I post a bit of everything really or at least try to. Another reason for the page was I used to try to keep what I liked and played quiet but I’m trying to break that mould and share the stuff I like so I thought the page would help me do that, Maybe down the line I might doing some writing if I have the time.
Personally, when it comes to vinyl, I absolutely love the tactility of it, along with the purity of just the decks and mixer for performing. What is it about records for you?
I’m not really sure what makes me want to play records… I suppose when I was young DJ’s didn’t play any other format… There were only turntables so it was natural to want to play them as well. I started in my early teens and haven’t played anything else. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that I love collecting vinyl as well! So much so that I’d probably call it an addiction.
I’ve always fancied getting into it but I’ve never really had the patience or the right programs to give it a real go… Maybe one day.
We’re ridiculously excited to be giving you full control of Room 2 in March with Objekt. How do you know Nicky Mann?
I was introduced to Nicky through mutual friends years ago probably around the age of 16-17 when we used to pretty much spend most weekends in foundation nightclub at Promise or Shindig or both. Over the years he was someone I’d always see on dance floors at many different nights (Habit, Error and Jaunt to name a few) so we realised we shared the same interests musically and it went from there really. Since I got involved with Ctrl, Nicky and I have played b2b quite a few times.. Which I think works well as we play different stuff but it seems it fit together nicely… Well in my opinion… Nicky might tell you something different though haha!
I remember speaking to you a while ago, and you saying how you like every one of your mixes to have a beginning, middle and end. Could you elaborate for us? (Like, ambient start, grooving middle, hard finish etc?)
Yeah If possible I try to give my mixes a beginning middle and end, I don’t always stick to that formula but I feel it does make for a more interesting listen when it’s a podcast over a live bar/club recording. With this mix I wanted to try to break it down in the middle before taking it back up towards the end. if you’ve listened to my other mixes I’ve brought it back down towards the end so I just wanted to make this one a little different… Hopefully folks will enjoy it .
Anything else planned for the future – production, more nights, record label, more headphone magic etc?
I’m not sure about plans. Though I do talk among mates about putting more nights on but I’m currently studying at uni whilst working, so juggling this seems to occupy most of my time… I think it’s a case of wait and see…