Friday, 16 June 2017

Passed Clouds - A Story of a Dying Club Culture

Tally ho, you lot. Normally I like to keep this blog fairly lighthearted and try to avoid getting too political about things, but today is a bit different.

Below you'll see a short film made by one of our talented correspondents - Max - about the steady decline of club culture in the UK. I know that a lot of you are based overseas (bad luck), but the principals discussed in this film are pertinent to all big cities.

The last few years have seen a number of famous and not so famous clubs close their doors in the face of heavy handed local authorities, outdated licensing laws and the predations of planning authorities.

The club that this film focuses on, Passing Clouds, was the sort of venue that our scene relies upon. We're never going to be in a super-club like Fabric, which can rally the support of thousands of passionate followers. We need these open-minded venues to support our scene, which the mainstream are not going to back.

In fact, Passing Clouds was one of London's top vintage remix venues - in my top five places to check if I wanted a last minute night out. Around the same time that PC closed its doors for the last time, another of vintage remix's first homes shut down, the Bedroom Bar.

As Chris Tofu indicates in the film, the developers and incomers are not interested in preserving cultural hotspots if they can make more money by turning them into flats, while in the unlikely event that a venue doesn't disappear during a 'regeneration' project, the chances are they're going to want to play mainstream, middle of the road music. They're risk averse, these developer types.

Anyway - Check out the film, and have a read of Max's 'Director's Notes' below. And if there's a venue near you that's under threat, stand up and do your bit to protect it, lest we all have to listen to Deadmau5 and his ilk forever more.

Toodle pip

Jack the Cad

‘Passed Clouds: A Story Of A Dying Club Culture’ is a documentary about Club Culture and the closure of clubs throughout the UK.

This documentary was originally made for my final university project, and it is about an issue which is very close to my heart. Nightclubs and grassroots music venues are seeing their doors shut, up and down the country, many of which receive no fanfare at all.

The documentary intends to bring a focus on to clubs such as Passing Clouds and bring attention to other grassroots venues that have faced similar fates. As a DJ myself, I performed at Passing Clouds and Bedroom Bar only a few weeks before they each had to shut their doors. I had some of my first ever gigs at those venues, and to see them get shutdown was totally devastating.

It is fantastic to see people rally to save clubs such as Fabric, but unfortunately most clubs don’t have the following or financial capabilities to keep their doors open in hard times.

The closures come down a few key reasons: the price of property, increases in rent, drugs, noise issues, as well as local councils enforcing difficult to meet restrictions & being unsupportive of the nighttime industry.

In the documentary I speak with a number of industry professionals who share their thoughts on the closures and the reasons behind them, as well as sharing their personal anecdotes of what club culture means to them.

I also explore how clubs and music venues play an invaluable economic role to our society, but even more importantly, how they play a significant role in bringing people together and creating communities which otherwise might not have existed without these venues & spaces.

Last year the BBC made a short documentary on the topic of club closures, but I felt that it trivialised and failed to truly show the meaning that club culture plays in many people’s lives. One of the key problems I found with was their choice of interviewees. One on whom was Steve Aoki, an American EDM DJ. I felt he was highly unqualified to speak on the topic of UK club culture, and that his fame was the only reason for being in the documentary. It ends up coming across as very corporate and unrepresentative of real underground scenes. My documentary attempts to try and look at the topic from the people who are really involved in the scene, and to give an unfiltered view into how the people who are really being affected feel (Rather than a multi-millionaire DJ who doesn’t even live in this country).

The main purpose of the documentary is to inform people about the significance that club culture plays in many people's lives, and to show that it is more than just going out and getting pissed with your mates on a Friday night; but rather it is about music, love & human connection.

It doesn’t matter what music you like, whether it’s Electro Swing or Jungle or Techno, if you care about your subculture, it is time to stand up and protect it, because if things keep going the way they are, there will not be anything left to protect.

If you are interested in reading more about the topic, here are a couple different reports which I used in my research for making this documentary:

Nighttime Industries Association: ‘Forward Into The Night’:

Mayor of London’s ‘Rescue Plan For London’s Grassroots Music Venues’:

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Swingamajig 2017 - part 3 - Chicken Brothers

Last but not least in this year's Swingamajig preview are the mighty Chicken Brothers - pioneers of the scene in Liverpool and festival fields around the land, scratch maestros and all-round good eggs. One member of the flock has just flown back in from Oz, setting a new world record for 'Longest Flight by a Chicken' in the process, so the answers are a little brief, but entertaining and informative none-the-less.

Jack: You’ve played a few Swingamajigs now – can you share your best memory of the festival, if you can remember any of them?

Our favourite memory would have to be at the first ever Swingamajig — playing the closing set with an audience made up of loads of UK producers, DJs and performers all getting down and interacting. A particular highlight of that set was when Odjbox approached us to request some Odjbox... He also went on to say that we were top of the list of people to play the electro swing office Christmas party, being "the dj's DJ..."

Jack: The Chicken Brothers have a habit of popping up during other people’s sets – have you got any guest appearances planned?

Not due to do any cameos at Swingamajig this year as we will be working all day helping to run the event in different areas. But we will be on hand to play the opening set at the after party, and as a reverse cameo we have our newest member Mike coming down on rooster duties [I think that means MC duties. Ed.].

Jack: You have a hand in loads of events and festival stages and so on. What is it that sets Swingamajig apart from other festivals?

Swingamajig is special to us because we have been involved in it from the beginning, and now help to run various areas of the production as well as perform. It's filled to the brim with our favourite acts, producers and DJs. Plus the crowd are next level awesome! It's a solid date in the diary every year.

If you've got your ticket yet, I think there's still a few left, but don't delay. There's so much more to do in addition to the music. I've been asked to take part in some sort of table-football event, so watch out for that; there's dance classes, something called the Bacon Cheeseburger Pie which sounds life-changing (or perhaps life-ending), and performances from the likes of Oh My God It's The Church, magicians and all sorts of scantily clad ladies. The festival's tagline is 'A show like no other'. They're not wrong. It is, as Odjbox said, the vintage remix world's office party, so there'll be some tired legs and sore heads come Monday morning.