Exclusive Interview: Mike Skinner & Murkage Dave – “I Am The New Michael Jackson”

Grant Brydon

4 years ago

By Grant Brydon

Mike and Murkage 03

Mike Skinner and Murkage Dave are on their Jackson and McCartney right now, doing more for race relations than when the King Of Pop sang “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white”. Or at least they seem to think they are.

When given the brief of recording one of their conversations, ahead of the Tonga nightclub night that the pair run in London, most of what was emailed back to us probably isn’t fit for publishing. The elements that are, however, all seem to centre around the pair’s observations on race, covering topics as broad as Mike’s Jamaican influenced dance moves, the tackle that killed Bob Marley, trolling teachers, starting rumours of a new Streets album and, naturally, being the new MJ.

If reading this conversation doesn’t put you off, then the Tonga Balloon Gang will be back in action this Friday at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington. For tickets head here…

On Mike’s Dance Moves & PBMs

Murkage Dave: Mike’s got some moves, Mike’s got some steps…

Mike: What makes you say that?

Murkage Dave: We spoke about this… Your steps are heavily Jamaican influenced.

Mike: They are yeah, when they get going.

Murkage Dave: And I respect that, because you’re at a white wedding, everyone’s doing the dad dance and you’re actually kind of seeding in the Jamaican vibes. You’re doing your bit for multiculturalism.

Mike: For the PBMs.

Murkage Dave: Mike is probably the biggest PBM I know. Mike is a Positive Black Male, a lot of people feel that way about him, in the scene.

Mike: Because there absolutely is a scene. And there is a place that they all go to.


On The Death Of Bob Marley

Mike: I was listening to that Damian Marley ‘Welcome To Jamrock’ tune the other day. I never liked it when it came out, but I listened to it the other day. His vocal is so charismatic, it’s a really powerful vocal. I’ve never listened to his other stuff. Did you like the Nas [Distant Relatives] album?

Murkage Dave: Yeah, it was pretty good.

Mike: Does he sound as powerful? Does he always sound like a foghorn of positivity?

Murkage Dave: Do you know what? Damian Marley is only a quarter black, because his mum was white and Bob Marley was mixed race.

Mike: And is he like – because Bob Marley’s kids aren’t like rich are they?

Murkage Dave: I think he was pretty well off because his mum was a lawyer.

Mike: Who was that guy who wrote for The Sun? He was like a bit of a celebrity, he was like a music sort of… Fuck was his name… Danny Baker!

Murkage Dave: Oh right, the radio guy?

Mike: He was the guy that tackled Bob Marley. I mean if it was the blood clot as a result of a football tackle that killed him. Do you believe that? Is that true do you think?

Murkage Dave: He had cancer in his foot, right?

Mike: But wasn’t it because of a football tackle?

Murkage Dave: I didn’t know that, this is new information [to me].

Mike: I thought it was something to do with, he got tackled playing football and then the clot killed him, or maybe the clot caused the cancer. I don’t know. But as I heard it, it was Danny Baker.

Murkage Dave: He took away our shining black prince.

Mike: The icon of PBM.

Murkage Dave: Was Bob Marley the OG PBM?

Mike: It’s a lot more complicated than that. I saw the Nelson Mandela film with Avon Barksdale in it.

Murkage: What?

Mike: Idris Elba…

Murkage Dave: Oh right, yeah. I’ve never watched The Wire.

Mike: You’ve never watched The Wire?

Murkage Dave: Nah man, too negative. I’m keeping it positive over here man.

Mike: Well I think it was as negative to everyone involved. No one really comes away from The Wire looking really good. At any level.

Murkage: Are you talking about whites and blacks?

Mike: If you want to take it there, yeah.


On Trolling

Murkage Dave: At primary school I used to troll teachers. It would be like England vs the West Indies at cricket and I’d be like ‘Who you supporting sir?’ and they’d be like ‘England’ and I’d be like ‘Are you racist sir?’ I really regret it man…

Mike: I don’t regret any of my trolling.

Murkage Dave: You troll me all the time.

Mike: But I don’t mean it, I troll myself.

Murkage Dave: You always troll us about the new Streets album.

Mike: I don’t always! There was one conversation…

Murkage Dave: It’s out on Christmas Day.

Mike: (Laughs) It’s called Inside. It’s available from Red Records in Brixton, only physical. And it’s entirely ghostwritten… and this is was the sort of jump off point of me saying I troll myself, because I think if you got other people to write all of your songs for you, I think you could end up with better songs. Because other people know you better than you know yourself. I could write a better story about you. If you wrote a book about yourself it wouldn’t be true. There’s all these things that you may be a bit insecure about, and other things that you’re overly proud of. It’s very rare isn’t it, that autobiographies are really, really good.

Murkage Dave: Yours is really good.

Mike: Well it’s ‘a memoir’ for a start…


On Dave’s After-Hours Activities

Mike: But I say it about you, literally. You go out every night.

Murkage Dave: I don’t go out every night.

Mike: You go out every night. You go to everything.

Murkage Dave: You sound like one of those girls… I’ll meet a girl in a club, and she’ll be like ‘Oh my god, you go out every night, you just get paid to have fun. Your life is just one big party.’ That’s what you sound like right now.

Mike: No, I think that, it’s true. I”m not just making this shit up.

Murkage Dave: I just tend to go to bed at midnight most nights, and just watch House Of Cards and go to bed.

Mike: Everything I’ve ever mentioned, whether it be like a DJ or a club or someone. You know them and you’ve seen them, you’ve been…

Murkage Dave: I’ve been in the game for a minute.

Mike: We’ve all been in the game, I’ve been at home in the game. Even when I was like fully in the game, I was actually at home.


On The Stone Roses & The Art Of The Interview

Mike: Tim’s wife…

Murkage Dave: Your Tim?

Mike: Your Tim.

Murkage Dave: Which Tim?

Mike: The Tim you know. My ex-manager.

Murkage Dave: Tim Vigon. He’s the reason I know you.

Mike: Well no, he’s the reason I know you. And then it was at Gorilla wasn’t it. And then I tried to come to your thing after the Stone Roses gig, but all my Stone Roses brothers were not having it.

Murkage Dave: In Manchester?

Mike: Yeah, you did an afterparty for Stone Roses. There was loads, but one of them was Murkage. I saw the flyer and I was like ‘I’m going to go for that.’ And they were like ‘I ain’t going to that!’ My brother went to bed, which was lame and Rob [Harvey]’s brother went to the bar.

Murkage Dave: So you’re trying to say that Ian Brown didn’t want to come to the Murkage Club?

Mike: I didn’t say I was with the Stone Roses! I was with my Stone Roses brothers, Stone Roses lovers, fans. There was my actual brother, and Rob’s actual brother and Rob, my sort of brother in arms. My brother was like a super Stone Roses freak, and Rob’s brother, super Stone Roses freak. So we all went up.

Murkage Dave: I’d have been hurt if it was Ian Brown that didn’t want to go. Because I see Murkage as the new Stone Roses. We are the black Stone Roses of the 2010’s.

Mike: I’ll find out.

Murkage Dave: I said it once on Twitter and somebody called me a c*nt. I said, ‘You don’t know it now, but you’ll know it soon, that Murkage are the new Stone Roses.’ And someone said ‘You are a c*nt.’ I guess that’s a bit of a polarising thing to say. But the thing is, why can I not say that? Is that a bit of a Kanye thing to say?

Mike: Life is harsh. And we’re all descended from the same fucking Ethiopian, so I am the new Michael Jackson. Quite frankly. And that’s going to be in big words… I love interviews, I like working out what’s going to be the big bit. And sometimes you can do the big bit and know you’re doing the big bit. You say it it’ll be the big bit. That’s the hook. Particularly if you’re doing like, NME, because then you can just be like ‘Yeah, to be honest I just do drugs everyday.’ That’s the big bit. Because they used to constantly ask me, you’ve got to give them something on a drugs tip. But I’m just at home most of the time really. I’m not like Murkage Dave!

Murkage Dave: Bruv! You know I don’t take drugs.

Mike: No, no, no. Listen, this is the funny thing. Because you’re taking it like… My whole point is, I mean it only like, you’re hustling and you’re a really nice guy. You’re like the nicest guy that anyone knows and no one has a bad word to say about you. But you’re out every night. You’re not going to die in your 50’s, don’t worry. If I was getting texts from you where all the words were backwards and shit, I’d be like ‘Hang on a minute, Dave’s not a PBM right now!’

This Friday @ The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington

Click here for tickets.


Words by Grant Brydon
Image by Olivia Rose