Interview: DJs Len and Cliff, Masterminds Behind Feeling Gloomy, A New Party at Fontana’s


DJs Len and Cliff (the dejected alter egos of Carl Hill and Mike Toller) hail from the capital of gloom, London, where they hosted a long-running dance night called Feeling Gloomy, spinning dreary New Wave to a crowd of Debbie Downers. After they successful debuted the popular UK party at Glasslands a few weeks back, the two melancholic lads have officially settled the anything-but-dreary soiree at Fontana’s. In advance of their debut there this Saturday, we asked these two sensitive transplants a few questions concerning their sad condition, where they’ll live now they’ve finally moved out of their parents’ homes, and the ultimate question: are New Yorkers the most tragic individuals of all?

Why is your party only now in New York? What took so long?

Cliff: That is the question! We have been planning this almost since we started we just had to make sure it would be good and not do it for the sake of doing it.

Len:</b New York’s a long way from London, and we’re not very good at rowing!

Cliff: And I couldn’t find it on the map.

What’s the root of your depression?

Carl: I think the turning point you refer to is when I was sacked from running a horrible club in the UK called School Disco. I was lying on my bed with no job, no girlfriend, and about to turn 30. I thought, ‘What’s the bloody point.’ Then “There is a Light” by the Smiths came on the radio. Its got a line about being run over by a bus in it which made me laugh and I got an idea. So I guess you could say Morrissey helped me rather than depressing me!

Len: I remember when I was five I got my first ever model steam train from Santa. I played with that train for many happy hours, before my Auntie Edna sat on it and crushed it. I think that’s where it started for me.

What is about the Smiths and the Cure that helps sooth the soul?

Cliff: I think if you are down and you listen to happy music you think, ‘great, everyone else in world is having a great time, and I’m here on my arse being miserable.’ You feel a bit isolated. But if you hear someone like Moz or Robert Smith going on about being down at least you think there is someone else out there who is not having the time of their lives and I guess, rather perversely, in that way it can make you feel happier.

Len: I agree with Cliff. Sad songs have a power to lift you like no others. Have you ever tried listening to something cheerful like “Walking On Sunshine” when you’re down? It just makes things worse.

What other bands and/or artists are a good remedy when feeling blue?

Cliff: Abba. Some of their stuff is really dark. “Winner Takes It All” for instance. I’ts all about them divorcing. Another one for me is Elvis Costello. “Oliver’s Army” just makes me want to get up and kick all the pricks.

Len: For me it’s the really depressing ones. “The End” by the Doors usually hits the spot, or “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones if you’re in more of a hurry.

Can depressed individuals ever be happy?

Cliff: Yes, just look at Jimmy and Marie Osmond.

Len: We’re not down the whole time! Though I think it’s good to be in touch with both sides of your psyche. I guess if you’re only happy or only sad, you should probably be somewhere you can’t hurt people.

Are you on any medication?

Len: I once went through a phase of drinking a lot of cough medicine, but that was only because my Gran kept her sherry locked up.

Carl: Does Viagra count?

Do you guys smile while DJing?

Len: I often smile at ladies, though they rarely smile back.

Carl: All my girlfriends have said I never smile enough in my everyday life, so probably not.

Who would you consider more depressed: New Yorkers or Londoners?

Cliff: London is my home and the home of misery so I’m going to have to go for a home-win on that one.

Len: It has to be Londoners. Come on, it rains here all year round, public transport smells of wee, and portions are much smaller at restaurants.

What are your plans while in New York?

Cliff: We may look at some of the sites. Last time I was here a nice man offered to sell me the Statue of Liberty so I may try and buy that this time around.

Len: I’d like to ride the Subway a lot, and see how it compares to the London Underground

Cliff: I want to got to this restaurant called ‘Ninja’. They serve your dinner and have real ninjas. We don’t have that in London.

What neighborhood will you call home?

Len: It’s got to be Brooklyn. People there have the time and inclination to sit down for a nice cup of tea and I’m sure it rains more there than in Manhattan. So we feel right at home there.

Cliff: I like the bit with the statue of the lady holding a lamp. She seems nice and reminds me of my gran.

Fill in the blank: I know I’m a New Yorker when_______?

Len: I know I’m a New Yorker when I know the way home better than the cab driver.

Cliff: Ich bin ein Berliner.

Feeling Gloomy debuts at 11pm this Saturday at Fontana’s.

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