Double Trouble celebrate Rhythmatic’s 3rd birthday with headliner Marco Carola
On sitting down in a café in Spitalfields, it’s immediately hard not to be charmed by Kiri and Kostas Poulos. Brothers, twins and rock solid friends, the duo also go by the name of Double Trouble Productions and are the team behind the international Rhythmatic nights too. With over ten years experience, the boys have worked with everyone from Armand Van Helden to Carl Cox and are rapidly approaching the third anniversary of their Rhythmatic pseudonym, where non-other than Italy’s finest tech export Marco Carola tips the bill.
Tonight, in the heart of the east end, and despite it being a dark drizzly Monday evening, the boys are bursting with energy (where do they get it from?) so naturally, Tinker Tailor & One More Sailor were keen to find out exactly what it is that makes them tick. Here, the twins give insight into running one of London’s most forward-thinking production agencies and parties, plus share the secret to their endless energy…
Tell me a little about the history of Double Trouble and Rhythmatic. How did it all start?
Kiri: The whole thing started about three years ago but our first business was Magpi Events in Newcastle about 10 years ago. I was living in Newcastle and I seemed to be quite popular with people there. As a result of the dance scene there, one day I decided that Magpi Events wasn’t working for me so I decided to pack everything in and stop. The business ran for about four to five years in Newcastle and included some things in Greece, but things didn’t work out as we hoped so we took a break. Kostas: I had been living in Greece and Cyprus because of my medicine, but I wasn’t very happy with what I was doing so I said to my brother “Listen, I want to come to Newcastle, and maybe move to London one day.” So that’s what we did. We didn’t move to London to do events, we moved to try something different.
Kiri: In the second year of living in London, we decided to go to Miami during the winter Music conference, but purely to party, not on the premise that we would go back to business. Having said that, while we were there we met some wicked people, plus with our contacts from the past, we met up with a lot of DJs too. When we got back to the UK, we had new connections and we were so excited that we thought we should do something about it. A good friend of mine, Tommy, introduced me to one of his close friends Silky who eventually became one of our residents. We all went out and at one point he said “what about if you and your brother manage us?’ At the time we were thirty years old and we said, “It’s either now, or never.” We also had a night out with one of our best friends, DJ Satoshi Tomiie, who invited us to his night at The Cross. He then introduced us to his friend Stathis Lazarides. Kostas: With all these things happening we thought, “you know what, we’ve got Stathis and Silky – we should do something about it”, so we met up with an energy drink company and arranged a party.
Why did you choose the names ‘Double Trouble Productions’, and the less obvious, ‘Rhythmatic’?
Kiri: About three of four years ago, we used to go out a lot so all the clubs used to know my brother and I. People used to always say “Oh, the twins, the twins, the twins, the doubles, who are you, who are you?” Kiri: No-one knew us by our names but they knew us as ‘The Twins’ so Double Trouble Productions made sense. Wherever we used to go, people loved our presence and we created a really good buzz so it was only natural to call the company something similar to ourselves.
After we established our name as a production company [Double Trouble], we sat down with Stathis and Silky to talk about all sorts of silly things, playing with words. We wanted to give a name to our brand that would give it a specific identity. We didn’t want something lame like ‘Dirty, Dirty, Dirty’; we wanted something that’d cover house across the board. I was thinking ‘rhythm, rhythm, rhythm’ and Rhythmatic just came naturally.
You’ll soon be into year three of Rhythmatic. Looking back, is where you are now and what you’re doing different to what you expected?
Kostas: Three years has passed very quickly, I can’t believe I’m sitting here discussing that in a couple of weeks we [Double Trouble] are already three years old. It’s an inspiration, yet we haven’t tried very hard to get here.
Kiri: Things just happen for us, we never push our brand more than our capability as we don’t want to do that. For example, people said to us when we started doing events in London “You’ve got to get out of EGG and The White House”, and EGG, as much as people don’t like it, was where everything started for us. Now, after only three years, we’re working with Marco Carola – it’s a dream come true. We always book DJs who are good for our brand, but to have him on our third birthday is quite spectacular. In an environment like London where it’s so competitive – big DJs, big promoters – it’s about being known. A lot of people who are established here have roots, Kostas and I don’t. When we did events way back, we used to work with people like Felix da Housecat, Arman Van Helden and Sister Bliss (Faithless). It was different, but consider the names we booked back then – they were huge and everyone was saying “How the hell did you book them?” With Marco Carola, with the new wave of DJs, they’re a natural fit for us, still Marco and Carl Cox [who DT secured in the summer of 2010] are big bookings for us.
Kiri: We know the business; my day job is very similar. It’s only a matter of time to grow even bigger as Rhythmatic and obviously, you want to do things naturally – you don’t want to become too big too quickly.
Kostas: We keep it like family. Teenager, adult, then more mature.
Kiri: Even when we were grew up as teenagers, we never went “Oh my god, let’s go clubbing, do drugs, alcohol”. No, we did things organically – as we grew up, as we were ready. We never rush things and for us, we think that’s the key to success. We do things when they need to be done.
You once said in an interview, in reference to what other aspects have helped your success, that “travelling and meeting people over the last few years led us to meet some really wonderful friends…who gave us their all”. Who were you referring to and how did they help?
Stathis, Emily Stephens who helped with networking, and Silky who unfortunately is not with us anymore, [he’s managed under another agency]. In addition, Betoko who’s another very good friend of mine, people like Low & Murphy and of course, Rico Novo with his great support since day one – for believing in us. Our PR lady Lauren Fenner has always been three for us too, with her solid personality and writing skills. Kostas: We didn’t know anything about London; a few of them took us out and showed us what it was all about.
Kiri: They helped to establish us, helped us to find our feet.
What goes into organising something like your upcoming third anniversary party?
Kostas: Well, uh… Kiri: Nightmare. However, the key to success with something like this is how precise and accurate you are with everything. Thank god my brother’s a doctor – for him, precision is everything. I’m an Events Organiser, so we know that organising something to this scale takes many, many, many hours. There’s a great English phrase; ‘military precision’… Kostas: It’s a serious commitment. Kostas: It’s not just about booking a DJ like Marco Carola, Carl Cox… Kiri: [finishes Kostas sentence]…and dumping pile a stack of speakers into one room on the night… Kostas: No. It’s the hospitality, it’s the venue, and it’s the production. Kiri: With our events you will see the best thing that London has seen in terms of production, facilities and everything else that comes in-between.
So how do you manage it all alongside a full-time job?
Kostas: It’s a hard game, but we are very good at managing our time. It’s 24 hours in the game, eh? Kiri: The warehouse for example is a six-month project from the day we put down the plan to the final thing. Plus, it’s not just getting everything together and get other people to do it, we go there, we set up the club, we take it all down, we clean. We do everything – we give everything to everything.
You must be completely knackered?
Kostas: No. We love it! Kiri: If Kostas and I don’t work, we’re miserable inside. Kostas: Stress gives me drive. Good stress, yeah? Kiri: I work every day for about sixteen hours non-stop. I cannot do without work.
How did booking Marco Carola come about?
Kiri: We had a long talk about our birthday with our team and Marco Carola’s name came up. At the time we thought it would have been tricky but we said why not? After sending the details from our last party with Matthias [Tanzmann] and Davide [Squillace] he really wanted to do it, even against Cocoon.
How are you feeling about going head-to-head with Sven Väth and Cocoon at Fabric on the 27th November?
Kostas: I think there’s work for everyone in London. When you go against something you have to be very careful, it’s competition, but if you’re good…[pauses] people will appreciate that we have Marco Carola and System of Survival playing for us. Kiri: The fact is that as a promoter, regardless of when you do an event, you will always have a good couple of nights against you. However, for us, going against Sven Väth, we see it as healthy competition and what I mean by healthy is that it gives us even more reason to keep pushing our brand. We did it a couple of years ago, going head-to-head with Richie Hawtin at his last night at The End which was even bigger than the one that Sven Väth is doing now – we still managed to pack out the EGG. Obviously yes, it’d be nice to go against a smaller night, but I’m not concerned, I know my strengths – I’ve got Marco Carola and I’ve got a great team. I think people will appreciate us and respect us even more when we go against the big boys. We’re taking the risk and I can assure you that on 27th, it will be a good night.
You’ve met and worked with some big stars over your career so far, particularly Carl Cox and Sister Bliss of Faithless. Who have your personal favourites been, and whom would you like to secure?
Kiri: We don’t have personal favourites. As Rhythmatic, we do not operate on the basis of ‘book this guy, book that guy’. I know it’s a diplomatic answer, but what’s important for Rhythmatic is not the DJ, but what they play. Before I choose DJs, I don’t know them. For example, with Wesley Razzy, I checked him out as someone told me to check his mix. I was so impressed that we booked him. Kostas: We don’t like to have barriers – we are open to every single person.
What are you most looking forward to in 2011?
Kiri: Six big warehouse parties in London! Starting from February, all the way to November, which will be our fourth big anniversary at a 2,500 capacity warehouse in London. Plus, we’re planning some things abroad that have still to be confirmed – Ibiza, Amsterdam, South Africa, Greece. We can assure you our six warehouse parties are going to be pretty special. Come December/January we’ll be doing a press release so things will be revealed then.
Having grown up in Greece and lived in Newcastle and now London, you’re no strangers to travelling. Where in the world is your favourite place to party?
Kiri: I think everywhere and anywhere so long as you’ve got a good vibe, good friends and good music. It can even be in your house – anywhere and everywhere. If you have the right people around you, and good music – fantastic.
That’s kind of what Rhythmatic is all about, right?
Kiri: Actually, Rhythmatic is like this. When we put our night on in a specific club, in a small place, a big place, in no-where, in everywhere, the vibe is exactly how we feel and exactly what we want to do.
Other than dance music, what ticks your boxes?
Kiri: Recently I’ve been listening to Stathis Lazarides mix [laughs] and Ekkohaus from Moon Harbour.
So is it always house music?
Kiri: No, noooo. Actually, my favourite piece of music which I do love is Boléro, [Ravel’s Boléro] it’s classical, [start humming the tune]. It was one of the first pieces of music I listened to thought you know what, music is good. Back in the day, we used to basically destroy our sister’s music as we never loved it. Until I was 16/17, I wasn’t into music and then I got into it.
The last few remaining tickets to Rhythmatic’s 3rd birthday party on 27th November are available on Resident Advisor – buy them here before they’re gone.