Wanna feel old? It’s been 14 years since Mike Skinner released Original Pirate Material, the seminal debut album from The Streets. Having won the hearts of a generation with tales of greasy spoon cafeterias, eighths and Playstations, geezers on E, darlings on charlie and a middle finger raised to the Criminal Justice Bill, Mike Skinner will go down history as the epitome of a sound bloke. Mike picked up the phone to promote the forthcoming Tonga parties he’s hosting with his Mancunian mates from the Murkage crew. The conversation that unfolded covered topics such as P Diddy, culinary advice and left-wing audio books.
What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid?
What was the last book that you read?
I don’t read with my eyes, I read with my ears. The last audiobook I listened to was Karl Marx: Philosophy in an Hour.
Who’s your favourite member of the Wu-Tang Clan?
Raekwon. But I always saw myself as a RZA type of guy – makes the beats, but not a very good rapper.
What’s your signature recipe?
I’d just do a nice bit of fish. Grill it on the pan skin-side, because it starts to disintegrate if you flip it over.
Are we talking a sea bass or something?
Probably a nice bit of salmon, with some sweet potato.
Do you have a number one fan?
There are a few who are completely nuts. There’s a guy called Shep who’s been around since the first album. And there’s a girl called Tess, who lives in Holland, she’s amazing.
Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram?
I got kicked off Instagram I think. I was only on there for about two weeks. I said something about terrorism, and my account disappeared. I’m on Snapchat now.
How do we follow you?
Have you ever been arrested?
No, I haven’t.
Happy hardcore or jump up drum ‘n’ bass?
Jump up drum ‘n’ bass really. But everyone’s got a little place in their heart for happy hardcore. I remember going to World Dance, must have been 1996 [It was 1994 – see above – ed]. DJ Dougal. 7am. That was a moment.
Have you ever had a nickname?
I used to get called House Boy by a load of Jamaicans I knew. This was in the 90s, even a little bit before garage, so it wasn’t really cool to be into house music. Especially in Birmingham.
Do you have any regrettable tattoos?
No. I’d only get a tattoo of something that was going to mean something to me forever, so at one point I was going to get The Streets lighter. But it just looks stupid if you’ve got a logo of your own shit tattooed on your arm.
Describe your worst haircut…
Towards the end of The Streets, I got quite a high fade. By that point I was a bit fatter than I had been when I was 20, and it wasn’t very forgiving. But thankfully I’ve never done anything that bad with my hair – a french crop, you can’t go wrong.
What’s your best tour survival tip?
I really like hacking your packing – trying to get the luggage size down. I’ve got one of those plugs that does every country. And I only wear black.
So what’s the situation with stuff like underwear and socks when you’re on a long tour? Do you stop off at launderettes, or do you constantly have to buy new packs?
Well because I only DJ now, I’m only ever away for up to three nights at a time. But I had phases where I’d just wash stuff in my hotel sink – I got quite good at that. But yeah, you literally just dispose of all your underwear. I don’t think I could do that now, it’s not very ethical is it? With your rider, right, you can’t put underwear or cigarettes – but really that’s what you want, some pants and some fags. But no one will do it, it’s like it’s against the code of dressing room riders.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
I’ve spoken to Kanye a few times. Jay Z? I’ve hung out with P Diddy as well. Gwyneth Paltrow’s kids went to the same school as my kids, and my wife did some work for Madonna.
So out of those people, who did you have the most enlightening experience with?
I spent the most amount of time with P Diddy. He was putting together that Notorious B.I.G. duets album in New York, and they invited me to do a duet with Biggie! The song ended up being Two Nations on the third Streets album. They took Biggie off, obviously, because it was completely bonkers, and they were probably really shocked.
“Everyone’s got a little place in their heart for happy hardcore”
Is there a piece of advice you wish you could give yourself ten years ago?
Get a better room, and get better speakers.
What would you like written on your tombstone?
“Nobody likes a polymath”
In the UK, we’re very suspicious of people who engage in more than one art form. It’s like if you go to a west end nightclub, like Movida or whatever, there’ll be these guys who will give you their business cards and it’ll say “dancer, producer, DJ, photographer, video director”. “I’ll do anything”, basically. I used to hate that, but I’ve ended up being that guy!