Labour leader candidate Chuka Umunna was a UK garage DJ
Sadly, there has been very little competition to out-cool Arctic Monkeys super fan David Cameron for the country’s leadership….until now. Even the Prime Minster and his equally streetwise wife Sam (detect the sarcasm) can’t compete with Streatham MP Chuka Umunna – an actual former UK garage DJ and music journalist who yesterday put his hat in the ring for the Labour leadership.
His life as a former king of the London club scene isn’t recent news, but after last week’s devastating result it’s certainly welcome. If in five years time we don’t have to decide between a leader who tries to win street-cred with the music of Ellie Goulding and a Prime Minster who boasts more of his fondness of Mumford & Sons and The Killers than actual achievements in Parliament, we’ll be tidy.
Speaking to The Independent in 2011, the Shadow Business Secretary, who is dangerously close to bringing the House of Commons in to the 21st Century, outlined his eclectic musical tastes as ragga, jungle, hip hop, soul, US house and UK garage in the mid-90s “before it became really big,” adding that his DJing was “strictly vinyl”. Hear that Calvin Harris – strictly vinyl!
Just last month, in his campaign leading up to the general election while politicians were bombarding neighbours, local papers and any news station that would have them; Umunna sat down with DJ magazine to elaborate on his fondness of the garage scene. The appeal “was that there was no element of us seeking to mimic what people were doing in the US — it was a very British sound, and it just completely captured my imagination,” he says.
it was strictly vinyl
“I first started writing about it on a freelance basis for Touch Magazine, which was the offshoot of Kiss FM,” he continued. “Then when I was at university, I bought some decks — they were very old skool decks, belt-driven.”
While at university in Manchester, the then-law student ran his own club nights with friends. Favourites including Sweet Female Attitudes Flowers, MJ Cole and Karl ‘Tuff Enuff’ Brown being regular floor-fillers for the aspiring politician before he eventually become fascinated with soulful US house.
Of course, Umunna’s love for dance music didn’t win him his seat last Thursday. Although, he does see Britain’s multibillion pound music industry as a vital part of the UK’s economy. “There’s lots of opportunities, and we’ve got big challenges as a country cos we’ve got a big trade deficit and we’ve got to turn it around if the UK is to pay its way in the world,” he told the magazine last month.
“So we’ve got to think about what those industries are that deserve medals for British industry trading and creating more jobs in the UK, and the music industry is definitely one of them.”