Ally Tropical talks Wild Wood Disco, Ransom Note, The Pleasant Life, Watching Trees and more


An interview with the Insider

Alasdair King is Ally Tropical. DJ, label head, and Editor and of one of London’s leading online music magazines.

His youth was spent in Rubadub investing in records, soaking up the vibes, and taking in all the tech from the shop stalwarts of that time. He founded the Glasgow based Tropical party and all it’s shenanigans, and when he was invited to join the notorious OG Ransom Note squad, Ally hot footed it down South.

The Pleasant Life label head and LYL radio resident’s tastes and solid sets are not bound by genre, but more by the mood of the moment. Here we talk to Ally Tropical about his Meanwhile parties, his play at the Wild Wood Disco Festival in June, and the fact he thinks everyone should just slow the f*ck down.

Thank you for taking the time to chat Ally. Where are you at the minute and how are spending your day today?

At present I’m in my flat in East London. It’s pretty gloomy outside and not as warm as it should be for this time of year. Today has been spent ‘inbox smashing’ – given the nature of my work at Ransom Note, I receive a lot of emails and it’s important to keep on top of it for risk of becoming swallowed up by ‘content.’

What do you love about where you live these days?

I live by the canal – it’s a pretty peaceful spot generally but for the waterfowl.

You hail from one of favourite cities – Glasgow. Where did you grow up in the city, what was it like growing up there as a kid?

Glasgow is a great city, full of wicked characters and a dry sense of humour, which is hard to find elsewhere. I grew up in the South of Glasgow which has changed a lot in recent times, becoming somewhat more cosmopolitan than it once was.

Growing up there was always laced with some sort of mischief – maybe it’s the strict licensing laws or that Glaswegians are just generally a bit loose but there was far too much of my youth spent in parks drinking cider.

When did you first start to be interested in music, what was it that caught your attention initially?

I’ve always loved music since as long as I can remember. Whether it was playing in bands, someone blasting Hardcore from a phone up the back of the bus or blog House when I was growing up.

It wasn’t until I was maybe 16 or 17 that I began to become more interested in music more broadly, collecting and digging for new records, borrowing ID to sneak into clubs and playing at house parties for friends.

At what point did you start buying records?

Definitely my late teenage years. I used to take the money from my supermarket shift at the weekend and sit in Rubadub for hours listening to records. I used to buy all sorts, but my music taste was heavily informed by the people who worked in the shop during that time who would point me in the right direction.

Rubadub has always been great for that, and I know that Glasgow owes them a great deal of credit for what they’ve done for music and culture in the city.

Other honourable mentions go to Monorail and Mixed Up Records.

Rubadub Records

What was your first record set up at home?

A Digi controller and two Technics 1210’s.

Where were the first places you played out?

Numerous house parties, but maybe the first time proper was at an Art Gallery in the West End for a local magazine. I can barely remember it, but I don’t recall it going all that well as about a half hour before doors the Partick Thistle lot decided it would be a good time for a scrap outside.

You used to throw the Tropical parties…

It was a bit of a gateway party of sorts – I wanted to play out more and also to connect more broadly with musicians and DJ’s that I’d looked up to. I built a small crew of friends around it who’d play regularly alongside guests which included the likes of Marcellus Pittman, Samo DJ, Telephones etc. They were really fun nights, back when everything was a little less serious and I was perhaps a bit more naive. Blagging lifts off friends to pick DJ’s up from the airport and running around town flyposting.

What made you move to London initially? Did you know anyone there when you first headed down or were you riding solo?

I’ve been in London for over ten years now which is a little scary. Time flies. When I first moved to the city, I knew nobody apart from the people who hired me – which were the guys at Ransom Note. It was definitely a risk but at the age of 21 I didn’t feel like I had too much to lose.

In hindsight it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as it’s opened up a lot of doors – not just in terms of music but on a personal level. London can be a grind but in terms of my own sanity, the pressure actually lends itself to keeping myself busy and proactive. I’m not good with free time.

Did you find the city welcoming, were you homesick at first?

Welcoming? I don’t think anyone has ever felt that way about London. I was homesick at first, not in the sense that I wished I was back in Glasgow because I loved the atmosphere and buzz of the city when I moved. I did however miss the people, the humour and who I’d left behind for a while.

What were your first steps inside the London music scene?

It’s hard to think of them as steps really – to be honest I’m not really sure what the ‘scene’ was or is these days. Working in the Ransom Note office was a baptism of fire – the people, the lifestyle, the office. I remember getting the opportunity to warm up for Andrew Weatherall at our office Christmas party having only been in the city for a few months and being overwhelmed at the notion of an office party on such a scale. This was in the Shoreditch days, just before it all became super gentrified. An open-door policy and people pouring out on to the street. That is still to this day probably one of my favourite memories of London.

What were the major differences in the scene in both cities?

London is definitely more ‘official.’ There are far more opportunities here, but with these come a lot of pressures and unwritten rules which I wasn’t aware of at first. This person can only play this club, this person has an exclusivity clause, this person this, this person that. A lot of that is due to commercial pressures I guess – everyone has to make a living and when music becomes a part of that it all has to suit up, I guess. Glasgow was certainly friendlier and more amenable.

When did you start up the Meanwhile parties then?

Meanwhile is a party I run collaboratively alongside Daire from First Second Label and Samson A.K. It’s a low-key affair with the focus placed on spotlighting great DJ’s and producers.
It’s not overly complex beyond that we each have similar taste and wanted to create something which was accessible both to those keen to play and attend.

When was the birth of Pleasant Life Records?

Pleasant Life was founded in 2020. It evolved through the fact that given the nature of my work at Ransom Note, I am constantly being approached and sent music. Some of this is unsigned and definitely should have a home. The process is usually pretty collaborative, going back and forth with the artist to build the record and fine tuning it along the way.

What’s happening with the label at the minute and what are some of the challenges you have faced with running a label?

The label has been on a bit of a hiatus as of late, but I have begun piecing together the workings of a compilation which will hopefully see the light of day. Part of the rationality behind this hiatus is because of the sheer cost required to release records at present – stubbornly I was always committed to releasing on vinyl but the realities and practicalities of this have forced me to reconsider.

If you could change one thing about the music industry today, what would that be?

If everyone could just slow down a little that would be great. Just because something can be played at 140bpm doesn’t mean that it should be.

LYL radio in France is a really interesting station. Tell us a bit about it and its mission? Is that what resonated with you?

I first built a relationship with LYL Radio when my partner was living out in Lyon. It’s a city which I have grown to love and have been grateful enough to play in several times.

What drew me to LYL was its slightly haphazard, DIY approach which allowed for me create a show which wasn’t necessarily bound by genre or style. It’s a pretty fluid platform and so too are my shows, the tone varying depending on my mood as and when recording. I’ve used it as an opportunity to showcase the music which I love personally, presenting it in some sort of oddball way which sits somewhere between a mixtape and radio show.

I’ve also been lucky enough to feature guests over the years – friends and DJ’s I love such as Lupini, Vladimir Ivkovic, Ivan Smagghe etc.

When can we hear the next show?

The next show is on the 2nd of May and that will be available for rerun online afterwards. Listen back HERE

You’ve been the Editor of Ransom Note for over ten years now. It has to be one the most credible online mags around. Doesn’t suffer fools and is not afraid to say how it feels politically. It has always stayed true to the underground. Has it been tough to keep the mag going over the years?

Incredibly. I could say a lot about this but in all honesty Ransom Note is testament to the hard work and love which many, many people have put into it over the years. It doesn’t just ‘exist’ without contributors, writers, helpers, crew, friends and good will and perhaps the hardest part of running it is trying to express that. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

With the demise of the print mag, what do you think is the future on the online magazine? Do you think it still has a place?

Social media has changed the way people “consume content.” There is value in an online publication, much in the same way as there once was a print edition. However, we saw what happened with print and dare I say it social media is the single biggest threat to online publishing in an old school sense. That is unless you want to spend your entire life on Twitter or Instagram…

No Carbs til Barbs for Ransom Note this year?


Are you still involved in ‘Watching Trees’ with Optimo? Tell us a bit about this event?

Watching Trees is very much something happening this summer. As to what and who and how, I will say no more. Check out more on Watching Trees HERE

Delighted to you are playing at the Wild Wood Disco Festival. Is this first for you? What do you know about the event?

It is! It popped up on my radar last year and I heard really good things as to the crowd and atmosphere. I always prefer festivals which are built around a core crew with a well-cared for and well considered setup, and Wild Wood seems to have built a reputation for that having chatted to several people who have played and attended.

Can you give us a track tease for your set?

This one is sounding good to me.

When are you playing, what stage are you on?

I believe Saturday afternoon alongside my dear pal Matt Cowell. He’s already told me it will be sunny.

What is you top tip for surviving three days off your nut in a field?

Hangover Espresso Martini.

For more info on Ally Tropical and Wild Wood Disco check:

Ally Tropical Facebook
Ally Tropical Instagram
Wild Wood Disco Facebook
Wild Wood Disco Instagram
Wild Wood Disco Website

Love this? Check out more about Wild Wood Disco 2024 HERE

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