What’s the connection between Spain and the North East of England? It’s a music genre known as Makina with roots going all the way back to the birth of rave. It means a lot to the people of the North East, a working class area of England ravaged by decades of neoliberal austerity measures. This hyperlocal sound has featured in Vice, Factmag, Boiler Room and a short BBC doc made by Adam Clarkson which can be seen here. I reached out to Adam who very kindly answered a few of my questions. Read on!

Firstly how did the documentary come about? Did they reach out to you? I’ve watched it and the 2020 Boiler Room doc and I feel I’ve really learnt a lot about the background of this localised music community

Adam: So I’ve wanted to do something on Makina pretty much the whole time I’ve been at the BBC but it’s taken years because every time I looked at making a start, something else would come up. Luckily, the planets aligned this year and I finally got it done.

I can’t pretend I’m a lifelong fan or anything, probably the opposite. I was proper into metal when I was growing up so you wouldn’t find me listening to anything that even slightly resembled Makina, but it was definitely around at the time. I remember being at a youth club once and this lad started MCing over Fat Boy Slim’s Sunset (Bird of Prey). He had us all crying with laughter, it was absolutely class. I can hear it now more than 10 years later…I think that was the first time I’d heard anything like that and it stuck with me.

You’d hear it a lot at the playpark near where I lived. Older lads would be there drinking tinnies and blasting it out of one of those Sony Ericson Walkman phones. They’d call us ‘moshers’ and make fun of our music, we’d call them ‘chavs’ and make fun of theirs. Simpler times.

Listening back to it in my mid-20s is completely different. I absolutely love it now.

I think because I wasn’t into it at the time, I’d underestimated how big this scene actually was (and still is). When I started working in Teesside I realised that pretty much everyone there of a certain age had gone through a Makina phase at some point.

I also watched the Two Monkeys documentary. A lot of the names and information is familiar to me as I went to school in Middlesbrough between 92 to 95. Going to the After Dark events and knowing the DJs, MCs and promoters was a kind of bragging rights amongst my peers. Now that they are all middle aged, I guess they have handed down a legacy?

The Two Monkeys Documentary

Click this image to watch an aural history of the North East Rave scene

Adam: The veterans have definitely handed down a legacy, even though some of them are still going I think. Enough time has passed now for a lot of those New Monkey regulars to have kids and they’re being raised as little ravers. A new generation are growing up with the music their parents grew up with. There are young kids learning how to MC so I don’t think the scene is destined to fizzle out or anything.


Click image to watch footage of a 1992 all night rave at the foundational Blue Monkey club, the original hub for the North East rave scene

Do you ever feel there was a bit of elitism on mega rave line ups ie you could find Mickey Finn, Hixxy and Clarkee on a typical Helter Skelter/Fusion/Dreamscape flyer but never any Makina DJs?

I’m not an expert regarding lineups or anything, so you’d be better off asking a proper raver – but there’s an elitism surrounding the genre for sure. I got proper excited about this mini-doc and was telling anyone who’d listen about it and the reaction was kind of like ‘love the people you’ve interviewed, hate the music’.

I think because it’s so unpolished and so synonymous with council estates and working-class communities, it’s an easy target for snobbishness. On the other hand, you wouldn’t hear these tracks on daytime radio or on a telly advert or anything, so clearly it’s not going to be to the taste of the masses.

Boiler Room Makina Documentary

If you want to learn more about Makina in depth. This Boiler Room/British Council Documentary is a concise history of the scene (click image to go to video)

Another thing is how protective these guys are of their scene. They’ve built it themselves and have been working on it for decades, they don’t want to give it away and they aren’t interested in being part of something a lot more mainstream.

If someone wants to get to know Makina, what are the definitive mixes they should seek out?

Adam: In terms of tunes to recommend, there’s a set on YouTube with MC Stompin which is the perfect introduction. The video is called ‘New Monkey – Mc Stompin’. All his stuff is class.

He’s an essential listen without a doubt. There’s a set with him and DJ Nitro on Spotify from 2004 too which is mint. The Makina connoisseurs will probably point you to the New Monkey website which has all the old school tapes and stuff on there. It’s a proper treasure trove.

There’s a Facebook group called North East Makina which is worth getting onto if you’re interested. Loads of different DJs and MCs doing live streams and stuff. It’s still unclear what’ll happen with the restrictions but I know there are events and festivals being planned. Hoping to round up some of the boys and go to one.

Nana Makina & Stretch MC

Nana Makina x Stretch MC is a vibe! (click image to go to the mix) The track list offers a retrospective look at the Eurodance/Bouncy Techno sound that later became Makina. If you’re interested in Stretch Mc’s opening lyrics, there is a powerful and tragic story behind them that speaks to the power of Makina to this community https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/hidden-heartbreak-spurned-gateshead-rave-17336297

Being from the North East, I find the whole scene fascinating. The ‘mini-doc’ is only about 10 minutes long but it could easily have been longer. They were smashing it before I was even born, there’s so much history I’d like to cover and so many characters kicking about that I’d like to sit down and chat to.


Many thanks to Adam Clarkson for the interview. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram


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