From its humble beginnings in the basement of a restaurant to a long-standing residency at the Pickle Factory, John Gómez and Nick the Record's Tangent party has been a vital part of London's nightlife scene for ten years. To celebrate, they've put together an excellent compilation on Mr Bongo Records, and we asked them some Mr and Mrs style questions.

Where did you first meet?

John: I was living in Madrid at the time and, by some accidental online detour, ended up on Nick's DJFriendly records site. I started buying records from him, but we met in real life at a record fair in Wembley. After that, we went to see Don Blackman at the jazz cafe, where our hearts' desire for more records set our souls on fire.

Nick: I thought we had met before that, maybe just over the phone, when buying records was less anonymous. But that day at the record fair, we got along great and discovered we were both going to see Don Blackman that night.

What was your initial impression?

John: Nick still had long hair back then, and a kind of Cornwall surfer hippy meets St Albans record fiend zen energy to him.

Nick: He had that youthful, insatiable record nerd energy I was used to seeing when meeting my clientele. I felt a little sorry for his girlfriend that night because she kind of became the gooseberry in the situation. As well as the intense vinyl hunger, he had a sense of humour and was up for the piss-take, which is probably the reason we hit it off.

How did the idea for Tangent come about?

John: Although I'd known Nick primarily for his knowledge of USA disco and boogie, I was really impressed when I heard him DJ more electronic sets. He has a very subtle way of building and releasing tension, and there are few people you meet who have a genuinely broad and insatiable appetite for new music, so I thought I'd try to steal a mountain's worth of track IDs. Unfortunately, Nick is a selfish git, so I've only managed to get about five tunes off him in ten years.

Nick: We started to hang out more, and John started coming to a lot of my gigs. He kept coming back and had a good crew of friends. He suggested one day that we have enough friends between us and we could try to put something on ourselves. Let me clarify: where John says Electronic sets, he means house. I had a residency in Japan for 20 years (which you can read about in a Test Pressing article here) before we started Tangent, and it was 75/80% House based, but with my own very personal taste of house, informed by disco and jazz and eschewing the hits and anything too obvious/easy to play. Ironically, when we started Tangent, the small basement vibe and great system lent itself to playing everything other than house.

John and Don Blackman

Most successful club nights are a response to a question or need. Can you tell me a bit about the London club landscape when you started and how you saw Tangent in relation to it?

John: At the time, Plastic People was set to close, which left a really big hole in London's nightlife. There was nowhere that had such a free and wide-ranging music policy, on the one hand, or such a meticulous approach to sound, on the other. We wanted to incorporate some of its fundamental principles into Tangent, paying particular attention to sound quality and creating a place where we could pull out some of our deepest records. I think there was a bit of a generational shift when plastics closed: lots of regulars just stopped going out, but younger generations never experienced it, so we hoped to connect with some of the kids who would have become the new regulars.

Nick: Greed. Not for money - we rarely did more than break even before the move to Pickle Factory. Greed for the chance to play longer sets on a great system.

What was your lowest point? Did you ever consider binning it off?

John: I don't think we've ever considered binning it, but we did find ourselves homeless when the owners of our first venue in Hoxton built an actual wall through the dancefloor days before our party. We did one party at TRC and then moved to The Pickle Factory, which has been our home for the past 7 years. We both love playing, so as long as people keep turning up, we'll keep doing it.

Nick: John only discovered the wall as he was walking past the venue and went in to have a look. We could have shown up on our planned date and discovered it on the night….

When did you feel it all clicked into place? Was there a moment you thought, "Okay, we've got something special here"?

John: I guess when it got to the point that we looked up and realised we didn't know a single person in the crowd. Tangent started as a party for our friends, but our crowd has renewed several times over the years. We're lucky to have always attracted a really friendly, mixed crowd that comes to get down.

Nick: Yes. The original venue was in a basement, so there was little passing trade, but thankfully, word spread quickly and organically.

I have an idea about the sort of records I associate you both with, but I can't really vocalise it. How would you describe Tangent's music policy?

John: there is no such thing as a policy other than good music. We do have a yellow card system for cheesy saxophone solos, and if I ever play something Nick thinks is shit, he'll make sure I know within a couple of bars. And will remind me continuously until I give in and turn it off.

Nick: No policy. More a case of what we can play that's going make the other one go; WTF is that.

How has this evolved over the years?

John: It has definitely become more electronic. Initially, it was vinyl only because it was a DIY party, and that was the set-up we used. At the time, the afro-disco, soca, and zouk craze was kicking off with Invisible City and Red Light Records really shaping what record nerds were listening to. We embraced these trends, but with the move to Pickle, we moved into more electronic, trippy territory, but with a broad, global, soulful feel to it. To be honest, we've played everything at Tangent.

Nick: At our first home, we hired D&B Audiotechnik speakers, and we had Darren Morgan from Love Machine bring in customised decks and a mixer, which made the vinyl really sing. With the move to Pickle, it's a little bigger, and we still have the great D&B speakers.

We can get away with all sorts of music and make it fit. I guess I have been digging and ripping a bit more back into my House collection, so I play a little more of that these days. Still a very varied selection of music. We always bring it up slowly and don't play anything House tempo for the first 2 to 3 hours.

Do you ever discuss a loose game plan before a gig, or do you freestyle it?

John: We only discuss it at the level of general mood when we take Tangent on the road and have less hours to build. We used to play an hour each, but I found it exhausting to stop the adrenaline rush late at night to pick up again. So now we do three songs each, which I think helps with the flow of the night and makes it more dynamic. Nick and I are fundamentally different DJs, so this balances out our most annoying tendencies.

Nick: I have annoying tendencies?

John: Well, Nick's songs tend to be so unnecessarily and unbearably long that he manages to take up the better part of an hour with most of his 3 song selections. Greedy bastard.

Tell me about a record that you actively dislike the other person plays.

John: I think the biggest clanger I've heard Nick play was a rework of Adele. He played it in Melbourne and not Tangent, but it was such a shocker that it definitely counts.

Nick: I would never play it at Tangent but that Adele record works really well with the younger crowd who I play to at Jazz Cafe. It's a good remix, and I have literally 450 people singing along with it. Absolute scenes.

I hate the House version of Southern Freeez by On, which John used to play. I don't think I ever mentioned it to him, though.

How did your long-standing relationship with the Pickle Factory come about?

John: I think they wanted to bring in some of London's (and UK'sthe) established parties as residencies. So they brought us in along with Sofrito, Cosmic Slop, Body Hammer, and Secret Sundaze. I think we're the only ones that survived like disco cockroaches.

Nick: I think some of those people still do occasional parties there. But we are the longest running and most frequent with 4 or 5 a year. The amazing sound and the size and shape of the room have made it the perfect home for us.

If, for some reason, neither of you could play at Tangent, but the show had to go on, which DJ do you think would be most suited to take over?

John: AI would do a pretty good job with the following prompt: 14-minute Japanese disco loop vocoder solo delayed woosh noises. That should do.

Nick: Haha. That's a tough one. Pickle is closing for a refurb later this year and will reopen with 2 rooms and a garden, so we are thinking of suitable guests. It's a pretty short list so far.

Spill the tea on each other's annoying habits.

John: Complaining about how he will struggle to get any sleep about five months before a gig or trip.

Nick: Guilty. I'm perhaps in wrong job as I'm not great at sleeping in new places. If I didn't have blackout blinds at home my career would certainly suffer.

John's most annoying habit is that he's really good at discovering records. That's also his best quality, of course. The annoying part is that now that he has a radio show, he tends to play them there right away. Before the show, I would get a head start on searching them out.

Pitch me the concept for the compilation.

John: a last and desperate attempt to get us more gigs.

Nick: hehe. Just some great tunes with a varied selection to give a glimpse of what you might hear us play at a Tangent night.

Were there any tracks you wanted but couldn't get?

John: Yes, for sure, but one in particular I feel was a real shame we couldn't get licensed, Angélique Kidjo – Wé-Wé (Tribe Mix). It's not rare, but it was our first proper Tangent anthem, and I think it captures the Tangent sound perfectly.

Nick: yeah, that's a classic for us. It's just that it is with a major label; they take forever to deal with these things. So it may be ready for/if there is a volume 2.

Can each of you tell me a bit about one track that is particularly dear to you? Where did you hear it? What does it make you feel?

John: The King B became a big tune for me after I picked it up in Paris a few years ago. I went straight to the NTS studio from the Eurostar on Monday morning and road-tested a few things I'd grabbed over the weekend. The chat blew up with this one. It's an ultra-hypey algoriddim record with all the ingredients the kids like today: it's mega obscure, has this 90s Cameroonian hip house feel to it, and the arrangements are really great on this. It's a huge festival tune that I'm sure will make the rounds this summer.

Nick: LTA kinda sums up my taste in house. A little jazzy, a little druggy, a lot of beauty. I'm a sucker for great keys. They give me goosebumps. I heard it in a pair of headphones in a record shop when it was released. Never heard anyone else play it, yet it was an anthem for me in Japan and beyond.

The compilation is more of a balanced listening experience. What would your top 10 Tangent peak-time classics be?


The Skizo Project: Beautiful Sounds

Arrow - O' La Soca (Afro Soca Acid Dub)

Matt Bianco – Smooth

Eros – Go For It

Judy Larsen – Gambling Man

I've also added Nick's:

Record Mission 1

Record mission 2

Record Mission 3

Appreciate a side

Appreciate b side

Record Mission 4

Nick: haha, yeah, I do make them to play them… and my memory is going, so that will do.

What's next?

John: middle age and years of watching my collection of 15 second insta-story clips that i'll look back on longingly thinking, well that was quite fun.

Nick: No sign of retiring yet…. We have one last Tangent at Pickle Factory on July 20th before it closes for refurbishment. We might do a one-off Tangent while it's closed if we find somewhere suitable. We have some Tangent sets at a few festivals this summer. Love International, We Out Here, Houghton.

Final question: can each of you tell me what kind of sandwich the other would be?

John: Given our venue, the music he plays, and his dairy complexion, it has to be cheese and pickle.

Nick: Given he is Spanish and not shy about getting a little lairy, some extra salty Jamon.

'John G​ó​mez and Nick the Record Present TANGENT' will be released on July the 14th on Mr Bongo

The last Tangent party before the Pickle Factory is refurbished will be held on the 20th of July

Photo credits: Seb Gardner