Native Mix #017: Donuts

The Native Mix

Kieran Mallon


24 Apr 2017

The DONUTS crew come through stronger than ever after a tumultuous venue change.

Now we all know that DONUTS has gone through a turbulent couple of weeks but, since announcing it's new home, support for the revered student night has been incredible. Few promoters can boast such a fierce loyalty from their guests, but DONUTS is not just another weekly party - at this point it is woven into the fabric of Brighton itself. To use a moderately gross expression, DONUTS is where many of us cut our teeth on Brighton's nightlife. For example, here is me, almost four years ago, popping my DONUTS cherry.

The fact is, DONUTS is something of an institution - a status which is epitomised by the uproar at its eviction from The Green Door Store. It was a backlash equivalent to that time that they changed Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (that is to say: entirely warranted). But the past is the past, and frankly, DONUTS seems to have come out of the other side of the crisis even stronger than before. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Fresh Prince.

"Initially it was not seen as a job. I was running another two nights at the time and also working in retail, trying to sell art on the beach and run a vinyl-to-CD duplication service. None of which were particularly successful." - Matt Tanner, DONUTS founder

Named after J Dilla's seminal final album (which, if you haven't ever listened to it, literally stop reading this article right now and go do that), DONUTS started back in 2012 'pretty much by accident'. Initially named Gobstopper (after a track on said album), DONUTS has by no means had an easy path to the top.

"There were so many times where I almost threw in the towel but not many people know this." 

Copyright infringement cases and prolonged health issues were amongst the main obstacles that would face DONUTS in the early days, yet neither was enough to prevent it from becoming the most popular student night in the city.

On top of their coveted Tuesday nights, which will finally resume on Tuesday 9th May, DONUTS are arguably the biggest booker of hip-hop talent in the city. Brighton isn't a huge city for the genre - but DONUTS are making steps to change that. Over the years they've booked some of the biggest names in hip-hop, only, you wouldn't have known it then. Their eye for talent has seen them book Knxwledge, Danny Brown and even an incredibly early Kaytranada show.

In that vein, whilst DONUTS may have had it's fair share of hardships over the years, when asked for some highlights from over the years it becomes clear that the amount of joy that DONUTS has brought dwarfs any struggles that the team might have had. Matt tells stories of making beats with Knxwledge on Ableton at his home studio, taking 9th Wonder and Rapsody on an historic tour of Sussex - including a road trip to Arundel Castle, and of course, who could forget the time that De La Soul turned up unannounced to a Tuesday night at the Green Door Store and stayed all night?

"But undoubtedly the best and most memorable moment for me and everyone involved in Donuts is the support and comments that we received when we notified people of our venue change. That really was quite overwhelming.  I screenshotted many of them and will never forget that."

The future is bright for DONUTS and co. With their Patterns launch tomorrow, a growing team in London and an expansion into Europe on the cards, the Brighton institution is set to become much more than a weekly party. If everything goes to plan then we'll soon be seeing vinyl releases under the DONUTS brand as well as a small roster of musicians signed to the project. On top of this, founder Matt has revealed to us a couple of exciting but highly-top-secret projects that we should be hearing more of in the summer.

Following such a tumultuous period, it is reassuring to see that DONUTS' hard work over the years has paid off. After putting so much into Brighton's nightlife over the last half a decade, to see Brighton returning the favour in such a swift and unquestioning fashion really embodies what DONUTS and this city is all about.

Listen to the DONUTS mix below:

1. Your favourite event you've been to recently?

I think my favourite show I have been to would be Sango at KOKO in London. I have always had a serious love for Brazilian music and culture and he is a unique artists that blends some of my favourite musical elements into one!

2. Your dream booking?

My dream booking would have been Prince before he passed. I am gutted that i never got to see him because throughout my life I have always admired him and his music! But my dream booking would be to get Kaytranada back to Donuts. This time at the Brighton Dome or something like that. I have a lot of admiration for him and his music and now he is somewhat of an international superstar so he would have no problem filling up a big venue like that even in a small city like Brighton.

3. What are you listening to right now?

Thats a very difficult question haha. As we speak I am listening to Monte Booker. He is a guy that i think we will be seeing a lot more of soon. I have listened to his remix of Beyonce Baby Boy about a thousand times since it came out!