My Djing didn’t begin under the Terminates Here name. I’d also managed a little bit under my former name ‘Jonny EOL’. All but one of these sets took place at Imperial College, where I studied (yes, really) for three years, though the Djing chances only came along towards the end of my time there.
It was only in my second year that we got our out rock’n’metal night ‘Whiplash’, and the Djing here was handled solely by our college radio DJ Steve (not a Steve any of you know now). No bad thing at the time – he really had a grip on the metal sound of the late 90s. Pity he didn’t care for Rammstein, but you can’t have everything.
But In His Voice I Heard Decay
But eventually a chance would come for the rest of us. Our Whiplash event chose to upgrade to a live band event called ‘sICk night in’, people were invited from other Uni Unions from around London, and there were DJ slots between each band to fill. My own patronage of events like Full Tilt and various shorter-lived nights had given me access to various industrial and darkwave themed tunes that no-one else had in the days when file-sharing was only just starting up. And hence a set was secured….but first a little practice.
We had secured the used of the Back Room in our college bar the night before the big event to get used to mixers, PA systems and CD-Js, and hence my first tentative sets were delivered – three tracks to get used to the buttons and faders. Then a couple of skater-types had their practice session, and decided “We don’t like what anyone else is playing, so we’ll shut ourselves in the booth and refuse to come out”.
Typical of the IC attitude as a whole, where the ‘I’m better than you’ mindset ruled with toxic prevalence. I hadn’t really gotten to grips with the kit by now, so eventually we coaxed them out and I played a couple more tunes, just so I could work out what a crossfader was for, and that was it. Off to Full Tilt. The place I discovered many of the things I was actually playing at the time.
On the night itself, I got my chance to DJ to a crowd for the first time. On a sprung wooden floor, with DJ kit set up on a trestle table (and no light source), the CD players were prone to skipping and one gave up entirely on my third song. So two attempts in and still no chance to work up some set time. But a first lesson in learning about navigating sub-standard equipment. Many more would follow.
I made it back to the Back Room a few months later – a digital hardcore/breakbeat DJ wanted an opening slot filling with a different (but distantly related) style and he brought me in. Oddly, this was my only experience of Djing off vinyl, ever – the format was seriously out-of-fashion at the time amongst all but scratch-style DJs, so I could pick it up cheaply on a student budget – there was no ‘state of the ark’ retro-chic motivation here. Still had a limited setlist and not much ‘feel’ for how tracks go together, but at least it was my first go at playing a set uninterrupted.
What Will Become? What Will We Be?
I left Imperial College a month later, but but I remained on-call for the next year or so as their industrial/darkwave DJ, having built my social life around the style since departure. I returned five times in total, slowly expanding my range. By my third attempt, I was including things like PAL and local bands Killing Miranda and MaxDmyz. Which turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, as MaxDmyz themselves were booked to play the next ‘live bands’ event, taking place a week from the end of the academic year and chance to let hair of various lengths down.
I was back as DJ, this time to play support slot to the headline band. Unfortunately, the event was running severely over time due to the fact we’d “borrowed” our live room from another student society and they were playing control freaks. Add this to strict curfew limits and we only to play a couple of songs each. Another sad but true lesson – Steer clear of running events where the venue staff show any kind of reluctance over having you there.
We both returned in November, the event was moved to the ground floor club room – an area over which the organisers had total control on the night. It took place during a difficult time in my life (out of work with few prospects despite my academic achievements) but it was a chance to catch up with old friends and even make some new ones. Including Pete Valente, MaxDmyz lead singer and only constant member. The first of many people I regard as allies to the Terminates Here cause, a full seven years before I began my mission in earnest.
After this, my social life moved more towards the London goth & related club scene. Most of the key DJ slots were filled by an established core of DJs, but I did manage to get my foot in the door of one of the many short-lived “Thursday nights at Gossips” events – Metal Box.
I Think We Made It Better
This was an era when our scene could still call upon students and other people not against clubbing on a work night, but by the time I made it, it was a dying trend. Within a few years, no-one was running scene-oriented club nights on anything other than a Friday or Saturday, and only Slimelight were able to do so on a weekly rather than monthly basis. I played a couple of 45 minute sets to a small assortment of scene faithful and random drunks, trying to work requests for ‘old-school Metallica’ and The Sex Pistols into what was supposed to be a goth/industrial set.
I might have actually got said bands into a set that otherwise comprises of Rammstein/Apop style material, but the writing was on the wall. The Metal Box night was gone within a few months, Gossips itself would be gone soon after, and I returned to focusing on my EOL-Audio website, reviews, band profiles and genre definitions all broadly related to “the scene”. I made tentative enquiries into Djing elsewhere, but most promoters pretended not to hear, or made loose agreements never followed up.
In many respect, I wasn’t ready. The scene was at its most political in the mid-00s, and I never had the skills nor contacts to manoeuvre my way through all that shit. Watching a member of venue staff playing a major scene club with a carrier bag full of CD-Rs, barely able to string together two tracks in the same style, was beyond the pale however. The individual was popular enough to avoid en masse criticism, which was a lesson that having friends in the right places was more important than any knowledge or ability, at least when getting started. As for EOL-Audio, it was going nowhere and I closed it early in 2007.
After a year-and-a-half essentially ‘out’ of the scene barring the occasional gig attendance, I began rebuilding my online profile in mid-2008 under the new title of ‘Terminates Here’. It was a term I’d originally developed an obsession with when I lived at the end of the Piccadilly line for a couple of years – that automated recording was the voice that welcomed me home each night. I used it as part of an April Fools joke, titled my new website under the name and originally was going to a form a band with said moniker. But when my first DJ chance in six years emerged, Terminates Here instead became my DJ name and now the main story begins – in 2008.