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With Habitat’s first event of 2024 approaching, producer and DJ, ‘Tone Rarri’ discusses his career so far

Written by Sophie Hall.
Posted February 15, 2024.
tone rarri is one of the people behind habitat in manchester

Habitat has cemented its place at the heart of Manchester’s club scene since its launch in 2019, going from strength-to-strength and hosting events with musical legends such as Beenie Man and collaborating with brands like WHP and Msvon World.

After a well-deserved break, Habitat are back, hosting their first club night of the year, and to give us the lowdown on his career to date and the upcoming event is part Habitat owner, local DJ and Producer, Tone Rarri.

Tony Bennett, known only by his stage name ‘Tone Rarri’, is one of the biggest promotors in Manchester. He is the founder of Habitat, who have been known to host some of the city’s craziest club nights. All due to an idea he had with his mates five years prior.

The last night ‘Tone Rarri’ was involved in was a fundraiser for Gaza, back in December. This raised an incredible £6663.70 for doctors without borders, an organisation putting health providers where they’re desperately needed.

But now he’s back, switching to “one off events” rather than weekly club nights. He states: “people don’t party the same way they did 15 months ago. Due to the change in economy people spread money where they’re getting value, like when you go to the shop”.

Let’s go back to the start:

“I have been a promoter for about 11 years and began DJing at 25 with Murkage”.

Where did DJing start for you?

“I think it was just natural progression, I think if you care about music and if you’ve been a promoter for a long time, you naturally want to just learn as well. I think that’s how it started for me. I was looking at these artists thinking you’re amazing, I’m gassed by it, so you just want to learn. At first, I was sh*t but opportunities came along, and I eventually got into it”.

What was your first gig?

“I can’t remember my first ever but I remember one at Murkage with Mark, and it was a peak slot… it was back in the time we were playing bass house I think”.

What was the defining moment for you when you realised you could do this full time?

“It was just natural progression really, you naturally want to earn. Every time I thought I was good, something would happen and I’d level up… I guess you could put it down to competition and being inspired by seeing other DJ’s that are all so sick”.

At this point, he had moved into a house share in Fallowfield, with Mark, a fellow producer, and Rob, who was a mate and a “music guy”.

Tony explains: “we had a fourth bedroom that we turned into a studio… the solo stuff we produced took off and we started touring around Europe and that. We went straight with Aarrt & Gaika kind of level. After that took off, we did that for like five years, we produced on several different records and we got to travel loads. We played pretty much all of Europe and Japan, China, Hong Kong South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Russia, etc. That was more down to production really”.

 “It (the flat) was on the ground floor it wasn’t bad because we’re all music people. It wasn’t until about a year in, we found out that the neighbours had a bedroom backing onto the back of the studio, but they never mentioned it and said don’t stress it. I was like what? We would work all hours of the day, when you’re in production mode in the studio man, you’ll work all hours, you’ll work nights, in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter time just goes out the window.”

“It was a creative place and we would have friends who would come stay with us to work on stuff…after that we moved out and got a proper studio”

Your biggest success in producing?

“The Wire article was a big look. We numbered 9 in 2016 and toured due to that. We climbed highly on The Wire albums, with Gaika, which is a big look. We beat a lot of people that are big established artists. That was crazy to me. It was 2016, and it came in 9th, so check this, 12 was Solange with A Seat at the Table, 13 was Kanye with The Life of Pablo, then number 23 was Kendrick Lamar. We toured for years on the back of that work”.

And how did Habitat come to be?

“I do Habitat with Omar and AK”.

Tony states Habitat was “kind of born out of” the fact that “there wasn’t a place for us creatives to go, not for people to go out on a weekend to get p*ssed, but for people who actually care about music”.

“There wasn’t a space for us on the weekend.”

“We kind of built over lockdown, we had to do a couple of sit-down parties which I hope to God we never have to do again, it was hard because people just want to dance. When we got out of lockdown we went in full throw and hit the ground running really”

The idea was of a club night specifically directed at the city’s musical personalities, officially launched in 2019.

Tony puts the club nights’ continuous success down to the vibe people have come to expect, “you can’t manufacture the energy… it’s legit, you can’t magic it up, you have to nurture it”.

The first event hosted was back in November 2019. This didn’t sell out, “because unless you are the most popular person in the world, you will not sell out straight away…I didn’t care about the money, just the party being sick”. He even used guest list sparingly so people “could experience it”.

What has got to be your favourite venue played?

Off The Square, in Northern Quarter, has apparently been one of the best clubs. “The owner is easy to work with and open to whatever, as long as people are safe and there’s no issues”.

Tony prefers being in the midst of the scene, with his decks in the middle of the floor, which has never been an issue at Off The Square, “but it’s hard to DJ when someone jumps on your back! … there have been moments where it really was going crazy and it might have been a bit overkill though”.

Reflecting back, what would you say the best night you’ve played is?

“If I had to pick, it would be playing Albert Hall with Beenie Man”, which was a packed gig consisting of 2000 people, a 1 hour 40-minute set in which he only got a 5-minute break throughout the entire evening. But of course, that was the least of his worries. “If you’re going to pay £20 for tickets, it needs to be better than just alright… you want to know before buying the tickets that you’re coming to something good.”

“I also enjoy our specials, like the Halloween and New Year’s parties”.

So what can you tell us about your Valentines special?

The first showstopper of 2024 is one “for the lovers”, on Saturday 17th February, where fans can expect one of Tone’s RnB specials.

Hosted at ‘YES’, their ‘Pink Room’ will be transformed into a rave cave. The space, which holds 250 people, is expected to be a sellout, with tickets costing £10 each.

There will be a mix of RnB / Dancehall / Funky / Trap / Afrobeat / Jiggy sh*t, with a full lineup to be announced soon.

Where did the name ‘Tone Rarri’ come from?

“I wanted something based on my real name and I also loved wrestling so i was going to base it off part of a wrestlers name…”

“Paul Heyman is a wrestling manager, when he was in ECW he used to be called Paul E Dangerously, so I was going to go for ‘Tone E Dangerously’, then i was like nah that’s ridiculous and I wanted to bring it to modern day so it’s still my name but has a bit of showbiz on it, so it went to ‘Tone E Ferrari’ … ‘Tone E Rarri’ … ‘Tone Rarri’”.

Do you have any regrets from your music career so far?

“I regret not playing more club music, I have to water it down and give people what they want, but the upside to this is that I probably wouldn’t be as good of a DJ if I didn’t have to do this. It’s made me very in tune with the audience which is a skill in itself”.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

“Networking is fundamental. The more people you know, and the more people who know what you do, is important”. That’s how Tony got into promoting himself. “After meeting contacts at 19/20 years old, I was doing my own event 6 months later”.

And what is your go to tunes to play? Let’s break it down into three:

A singalong? – “I’d have to say All Falls Down”

What to play if you’re losing the crowd? – “My go to is any RnB rap”

An end of the night song? – “Probably True Love by Drake. I like to do things differently and finish the night soft for the last 15 minutes. I prefer to go hard at the start”.

You can tune into his slot on Rinse FM, which is on the first and third Wednesday of every month.

Tickets for Habitats Valentines special are available to buy here –

Stay tuned for more chats with some of the people that make Manchester what it is over on the Union editorial page, and don’t forget to follow us on socials.