Reviews/Previews

MEOKO Horizons: Review of Electron Festival, Geneva

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MEOKO’s brand new feature sees our correspondents set foot on foreign soils - in this first edition Bj Daly ventures to the land of cheese and mountains to see what our friends on the Continent are getting up to.

Geneva, Switzerland, is not a city one associates with a thriving underground scene. A financial city by nature, Geneva’s picturesque waterfront is fronted by banks, luxury goods shops and old world watchmakers. Yet this Easter weekend, tucked away a little downriver from where Lake Geneva drains out and becomes the River Rhone, a scene of a quite different nature is unravelling- Electron Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

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Touching down into Geneva airport at 10pm on Friday night nursing no small hangover due to the previous evenings’ festivities with Mulletover (which did much to restore their reputation), with no time to lose I immediately make my way into the city centre and downriver past the Batiment des Forces Motrices, an imposing opera house and exposition center which sits in the middle of the river and previously served as a hydroelectric power station until 1980. On the opposite riverbank, I happen upon the 'Usine', French for 'Factory' which is the main nerve center from which the festival started 10 years ago. The Usine is much akin to the legendary Kunsthaus Tacheles art center in Berlin (closed as of September 2012) and in a similar fashion houses concert halls, a nightclub, art spaces, studios, a theatre and a cinema, all used to various extent by a non-profit artist collective to promote art, culture and music.

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Temple of Boom- L’Usine Cultural Center

With no time to hang about, I immediately head over to pick up my press pass in the staff area and bump into Andre Joye, one of the festival programmers, who gives me the quick low down on what Electron is all about.

“What did you set out to achieve with the artistic programming of Electron on this, your 10th anniversary?”

AJ:            “We wanted to take a look back retrospectively at music on the international circuit over the years. A lot of hype is created over artists who don’t yet deserve the acclaim and we endeavoured a return to old school values. As such, whilst the programming is very diverse in genres and offers a nice mix of established and emerging artists, we have tried to place the emphasis on legends and pioneers of many varying genres. This edition for instance will feature techno and acid-house pioneers LFO, House legends Derrick Carter, Theo Parrish and DJ Sneak, digital punk-hardcore act Atari Teenage Riot and mythical reggae collective Trojan Soundsystem. Let’s not forget either the legend that is Daniel Miller and also special mention to the 20-year anniversary showcase of the seminal German Techno label Kompakt, to which the opening night was dedicated and which featured Mohn, Sascha Funke, Justus Köhncke, Saschienne and enchanting Brazilian producer Gui Boratto.

 

“How do you feel Electron is positioned within the over saturated electronic festival scene in Europe?

AJ:            “The Internet creates so much buzz around artists who may have only released a handful of records. As a result, festival line-ups easily become influenced by this hype and many across Europe begin to look a bit identikit in look and feel. We try to offer a programming both musical and artistic which is diverse and different as we feel our public is curious and hungry to discover new artists that have perhaps hitherto been underrated. It is also important to us to respect our own artistic scene without which none of this would be possible. As such the festival features many talented Swiss and local artists such as Quenum, Crowdpleaser Dachshund, Oram Modular and Kadebostany - to name but a few featuring alongside more established international contemporaries.”

 

Finally Andre, what is your “Coup de Coeur” of the Festival?”

AJ:            “For me it’s got to be The Bug feat. Daddy Freddy. I’ve been a Drum n’ Bass DJ and producer for many years and he has been a massive influence on me.

 

As soon as I finish with André, I’m on the run again as I’ve scheduled an interview with French producer Rone. On my way over from the Palladium concert hall, the largest capacity venue of the festival’s eight separate sites, I can’t help myself from pulling up at the Kompakt pop up store, loaded with almost every Kompakt release over the last 20 years. The place is a goldmine and I make a promise to myself to come back and dig through the crates.

I meet Rone, or Erwan Castex in the backstage area of the downstairs venue of the Usine, meandering first through graffiti covered corridors and staircases that typify this kind of European art center, which feels very much like a mansion squat in places (that’s a good thing!). Rone is one of the revelations of 2012 following the release and widespread critical acclaim of his album, Tohu Bohu, French for 'Hurly-Burly', on Agoria’s Parisian label Infiné. (catch the full interview next week on MEOKO). 

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Aside from being an excellent producer, Rone turns out to be a really sound guy. Something about producers who don’t DJ typifies them in the loveable geek mould. After a long 30 minutes spent chatting over some vodka red bulls served up by Rone himself, I return to the press area to drop my gear and on the way back manage to catch about 20 mins of LFO from the VIP balcony area. Although LFO was originally a 2 piece act consisting of Gez Farley and Mark Bell, Mark Bell is now the sole representative of this groundbreaking, pioneering act, and has since achieved notoriety as the producer behind Bjork, as well as remixing the likes of Depeche Mode and Dave Clarke. Given that LFO predates me, I am particularly excited to catch him / them live for the first time after growing up listening to them at a tender age. As I watch from afar, I see Mark with a minimalist table set up entice a curious crowd with glitchy, frantic high-octane noise. As for me, this is no doubt the first time most people here get to see first-hand what LFO is all about and the massive influence they have had upon electronic music.

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LFO’s Mark Bell

Eager to catch up with some old friends, I make my way back to L’Usine and head upstairs to the Zoo, the main club venue. This place smells like sweat, smoke and alcohol, a good combination for any club. With just the right amount of production value put into lights and visuals, the place is professional but raw – a fine balance to achieve by any means. As I arrive, house maestro Derrick Carter is playing his signature blend of Jazz infused Chicago house. The crowd in here is busy and pent up with TGIF party energy- people are dancing, chatting, and whistling as the main man DC effortlessly takes us to Ibiza and back to Chicago with another saxophone infused house track.

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Zoo Club

A glance at my phone tells me it’s just gone 2am, which means its time to go back downstairs to see Rone, a concert I have been eagerly anticipating. As I push my way into the crowd for a better position, its clear that this guy is not unheard of here- the crowd is bumper to bumper and wolf whistles are going out before he’s even come on stage. Playing on Ableton live, he starts out his set with dreamy, melancholic tracks to which the crowd sways, gradually building up and interspersing long beautiful synths with more tech-minimal, glitch wizardry. In between tracks, which last on average 12 minutes, there is rapturous applause and you get the feeling this is a really special moment for Erwan, who is humble in his appreciation as he bows and bows again before getting on with the show. He gradually builds his set up to an intense crescendo, and the crowd go wild, lost in rapture. Finally, he closes with “Bye Bye Macadam” sending shivers and goose bumps down every spine in the room.

Rone “Bye Bye Macadam”

Rone is swiftly followed by Drum N’ Bass twosome Loadstar. The contrast in energy and genre is markedly different, a smart programming move which serves to re-inject fuel into the crowd, who’ve just been lulled by the magic of Rone. Loadstar proceed to whip the crowd into a UK-style frenzy, and the smell of joints in the air is palpable. After such an intense auditory experience, I head back upstairs to the Zoo making my way past people hanging out on good vibes in every corner. I finish the night listening to Anja Schneider play some deep and reasoned afterhour’s techno, allowing people to breathe and catch up on each other’s nights. Anja’s forever big smile and infectious charisma permeates through her sound and makes this the ideal end to a great night- Thugfucker and Tale of Us’ “Morgana” is a particular highlight.

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Anja Schneider closing Friday night in Zoo club

I make it back to the festival site late Saturday afternoon in time to catch a showing of  “Real Scenes: Detroit” in the Sputnik cinema, again housed within the Usine building complex. Detroit’s influence on electronic music is often referred to in the past tense, but this short documentary shows us that despite the bust of the auto industry and economy, Detroit will continue to be an influence on electronic music for years to come with old hands like Kyle Hall passing on their knowledge and skills to a new generation of beatmakers, including 14-year-old Reuel Walker (you heard it here first!).

With a bit more time to kill before the night’s action begins, I head over to the centre of contemporary art and check out some of the expositions, workshops and conferences going on there as part of the festival. This area doubles up as the festival chill out area, a nice touch given what’s on offer for those with sore legs and tired ears. I’m particularly drawn to the art installation of teamlab (Tokyo), an interactive walk-through structure supporting a collection of helium-inflated balloons that react to actions provoked by the public. Other attractions include ‘Feel the Food’ an experimental sensorial experience mixing sight, sound and taste and an exhibition put on by students of the Haute Ecole D’art & Design entitled “Sound experimentations, hallucinated landscapes & sharing the atmosphere”.

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Interactive art installation by teamlab (Tokyo)

Later on, with not much more of real interest to me on the programme I head to the large venue Palladium to catch a bit of Erol and Tiga. A guilty pleasure perhaps, but both of these know how to make people dance and Erol is particularly bumping, playing classic electro and tech house backed by visuals which would make a blind man have an epileptic fit. Elsewhere, Jon Convex (half of duo Instra:mental), Shackleton and Mala in Cuba are playing, these acts among other lesser known ones in the genre - an indication of the high level of appreciation for Reggae-Dub in this part of the world and again the diversity of the programming to cater to a unique, international crowd of all ages and backgrounds. At one point I am intent on going to see Theo Parrish who’s playing a six-hour set but it’s a bit of a walk to the venue and security tell me I cant get back in to the main area if I go. As it turns out, Theo Parrish’s set was fraught with sound problems and the feedback I received was disappointing, a real shame for a guy of his stature. I end the night back in trusty Zoo, with Geneva local Dachshund playing a blinding minimal-tech set. The vibe is positive and groovy, best summed up by the 2012 anthem “Future” by Kevin Saunderson / Inner City  (Kenny Larkin Tension Mix) which gets dropped at some point to the general merriment of everyone present. Dachshund epitomises the kind of burgeoning Swiss underground talent who are well respected on the continent but have yet to feature prominently in the UK.

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* (Dachshund featured for MEOKO back in September 2012- if you haven’t already heard the mix, give it a listen here- you won’t be disappointed! Click above.)


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Dachshund (left) and Erol doing their thing

By the time Sunday rolls around, I’m feeling the effects of three nights on the go, including an official after-party hosted by up and coming Swiss techno label Wasserflasche. Nonetheless, I make it back to the festival site for one last hurrah. On this final night the festival is scaled down to just the two venues inside L’Usine. I catch Quenum first, a legendary Swiss DJ who has a CV that reads like a book. Along with Luciano (also Swiss), who founded Cadenza Records and has released over 60 records over a long career spanning back to the 80’s and is also behind one of the most seminal techno tracks ever in “Orange Mistake”. 

Luciano & Quenum “Orange Mistake”

Next up I catch Australian Berlin resident Deepchild, who plays a dark and quirky techno set, the kind you would expect from a guy who plays regularly in Berghain and Tresor. DJ Sneak follows, driving the room with his gangsta take-no-prisoners attitude and slamming house, marked by his signature sound of tight snares and high hats. He moves back and forth through genres including tech house, ghetto tech and techno and at one point he drops Shadow Child’s “23” as the crowd continuously go mental. You can tell there is real appreciation for Sneak and he seems to be enjoying the real, raw and unpolished atmosphere of the club, taking several videos on his phone and hanging about after his set on stage as Swiss house maestros Round Table Knights take over until close.

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DJ Sneak- The Original House Gangsta’

Unable to move my legs to the jackin’ beat anymore, I head downstairs just as Peaches and a posse of scantily clad female dancers wearing devil-goat masks and covered in fake blood are finishing up terrorizing an audience with some kind of transgressive/S&M show backed by her trademark electroclash-punk head banging sound.  Swiss act Luluxpo follow playing slow deep, hypnotic Peyote-Techno similar to Rebolledo and Matias Aguayo, and like with Peaches, the emphasis is on the show as an enchanting Burlesque dancer takes to the stage to tease the audience with intense sexual energy. It’s an intelligent programming decision and the ideal end to the festival, as the focus on the performance element in both these shows allows listeners to rest tired ears and legs and watch the theatrical displays on offer.

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Luluxpo feat. Emma Mylan (Burlesque dancer)

CONCLUSION

It’s hard to sum up Electron in one word. I guess for anyone who’s been there, its most similar in its DNA to Sonar by day, with a diverse array of cultural and artistic offerings to be enjoyed, from an eclectic musical programming to dance performances, art expositions, cinema screenings, conferences, workshops and more. In all areas of the festival, one can feel the omnipresent influence of extremely well heeled programmers of art school backgrounds who appreciate a range of genres and offer up a fine selection in order to not only please audiences with well loved acts but also to make them discover and appreciate new music and art that they might not have otherwise been exposed to. Perhaps most striking is that as Geneva does not feature prominently on typical clubbing calendars, unlike say its bigger regional brothers Amsterdam, Barcelona or Berlin, Electron promoters are free from Internet buzz hype, the need to appear outwardly ‘cool’ or to meet pre-defined rave culture stereotypes. The result is a friendly, convivial festival that celebrates art and culture in all its forms and an embracing, appreciative crowd is of all ages and backgrounds.

Meoko highlights: Rone, Dachshund, Quenum, Dj Sneak, Deepchild, Kompakt Pop Up Store, Art exhibitions

Special Thanks to Danièle McClellan, André Joye and Erwan Castex

Meoko Horizons is next reporting from Timewarp, Mannheim, (April 6th)

 
 
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MEOKO Presents HiddenTreasures - Introducing Me & Yu

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MEOKO has been digging deep to bring you the best in up and coming brands and designers for the coolest unique creations out there. Each brand representing positivity, creativity and a fun and friendly vibe, to tie in with what we stand for here at MEOKO. Over the coming weeks we’ll be presenting some our favourites, as well as some fresh undiscovered talents for you to feast your eyes over.

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Picture credits: Me & Yu

Our forth Hidden treasure seeking quest has taken us up North to Manchester to seek out a small fashion label with lots of creativity, specialising in hand-made and hand-printed streetwear for girls and guys. We give you - Me & Yu.

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Me & Yu create garments that boast bold statement slogans with cool illustrations and humorous quotes that are extremely unique. Me & Yu started in 2004 with the aim to create original, creative and affordable hand printed t-shirts - 'clothes made with love that people love to wear'. You will find quality, art  and aestetics at the heart of every collection, with the brand designs inspired by animals, imaginary worlds, symbolism and inspiring quotes.

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Picture credits: Me & Yu

The brand itself is run by Angie & Gordon who also use their own unique style to hand draw every print using a combination of bold text, illustrative sketches and quirky graphics.  They create designs that they would like to wear themselves, keeping them as cool and creative as possible with an aim to stay away from mass-market appeal.

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Handprinted unisex t-shirts and sweatshirts form the core range for Me & Yu, complimented by a limited edition handmade collection, and a range of accessories including beanie hats, bobble hats, pendants and sunglasses - all produced keeping in mind their original ethos of affordable hand crafted, creative fashion.

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What MEOKO love about the brand is that everything is unique, creative and affordable with Tshirt prices starting at just £15. Me & Yu have offered up a great prize for our MEOKO readers - If you would like to be in with the chance of winning 5 T-shirts & a Sweatshirt of your choice from Me & Yu simply email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with 'Me & Yu' in the title. 

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If you want to get your hands on your own Me & Yu garms, you can purchase online www.meandyu.com

Like Me & Yu on Facebook

Follow Me & Yu on Twitter

You can also find Me & Yu on instagram just search 'meandyu'

 

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MEOKO Presents Hidden Treasures - Introducing Puckoo Couture

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MEOKO has been digging deep to bring you the best in up and coming brands and designers for the coolest unique creations out there. Each brand representing positivity, creativity and a fun and friendly vibe, to tie in with what we stand for here at MEOKO. Over the coming weeks we’ll be presenting some our favourites, as well as some fresh undiscovered talents for you to feast your eyes over.

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Picture credit: Kevin Voller

For our third instalment of our Hidden treasures series we've decided to head slightly further afield than East London. This time our treasure seeking skills have taken us to the creative hub of Bristol where one can find some cool, kooky, stylish creations by independent fashion label that is Puckoo Couture.

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Founder and designer Dionne Thomas has been designing and sewing from a young age and after her fashion schooling in Bristol was inspired to start her own brand in 2010. Her inspiration comes from everything around her past, present, future, film, art, music, colour and costume. This collective inspiration has led to some truely imaginative garments as you can see for yourself. As Dionne states 'Fashion should be fun not a chore, if it is you aint doing it right!'

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Picture credit:Kevin Voller

Stripey, metalic, tribal, floral, whatever your style Puckoo will help you don you body in stylish panelled leggings, catsuits, bodysuits, swimsuits, reconstructed t-shirts and hoodies.  Puckoo Couture consists of a number of ranges 'Streetwear' a more basic and afforadble range, 'fiesta dress' suitable for parties and festivals & Puckoo really let go of their creative inhibitions in their Couture range where there are no limitations. The designer runs free with creative ideas, fabrics, textures and styles. Many Items in the couture range also feature collaborations with other artists - fabric designers TAPT, fabric weaver Emma Fallon and illustrator Victoria Topping. They are currently launching a new SS13 Couture collection entittled "SUMMER IN L.A. 2019 and a swimear collection just in time for this years Ibiza Season!


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Although Puckoo Couture are based in Bristol you can purchase online from their website (www.puckoo.com) and they can also be found at Up market on Sundays in Bricklane (do check for updates on their facebook page as to when to find them there next). Puckoo Courture will also be appearing as part of House of Boo-Dior at Love Saves the Day festival in Bristol as well as at Eastern Electrics & Glastonbury festival this year. From 15th-24th March you can also find them in London at Boxpark Shoreditch as part of the Secret Emporium pop up shop which also features our other hidden treasures Fuddhoods & Only Child London.  They are hosting a launch night event with music & drinks this Friday 15th for anyone who fancies poping down - Click here for event details.

 
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Picture Credit:Kevin Voller

 

If you fancy getting your hands on your own Puckoo couture garms then why not give our MEOKO competition a go and you could be in with a chance of winning a £150 voucher *Valid on Streetwear & Fiesta dress range. Simply email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with 'Puckoo me up' in the title. Winners will be announced via our Facebook page in late april. 

 

Visit the Puckoo Couture website
Like Puckoo Couture on Facebook
Follow Puckoo Couture on Twitter
Join the Secret Emporium event on Facebook

 

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Dance Floor Warriors

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Steve Lawler has been a party bringer, thrower and haver since the tender age of 16. He has got crowds moving all over the world - whether it be the illigal raves under the M42 motorway where it all began, his midweek sessions in his hometown of Birmingham, at the legendary, now defunct, The End in London or in various locations on the White Isle such as Mambo, Amnesia, and Sankeys where he began his Viva Warriors residency last year. This year, the Warrior journey kicked off in London at Fire on March 2nd, where the dancefloor warriors were out in force for one hell of a party.

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On entering the club, the energy was immediately noticeable - and highly contagious. I decided to arrive early thinking it would be busy and boy, did I make the right choice looking at the large queue already forming outside. To start the night off, Julian Perez was on the decks in Room 1 and at this point in the night there was still quite a bit of dance floor to be seen although the place was filling up rapidly. Meanwhile in Room 2, female duo Anek had the whole dancefloor moving and 'cutting shapes' with their bouncy, vocal house sounds easing everyone into the night. Tracks like Applebottom' 'All night' made the place go crazy!

 

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Just before midnight, I returned to Room 1 to try and save a good dancing spot for the Martinez Brothers with the club getting increasingly full at this point (you could definitely tell it was a sell out event!). Having not seen the Martinez Brothers play out before, I was keen to see the masters at work and when the brotherly duo stepped behind the decks sandwiched between a wall of bright L.E.D lights, the excitement from the rest of the crowd was obvious. Seeing just the shadowy outline of the guys standing there you knew the Brothers we're about to go in and the atmosphere was amplified by the futuristic lazers and smoke machine filling the room. 

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The duo took the crowd on a proper journey, kicking off with soulful, pumping house, which then progressed into Latino-inspired sounds, getting a little deeper around 1am and  finishing up with more minimal and futuristic tracks to bring the set to a close. A notable banger that got everyone's fists pumping was CrossNineTroll's recent anthem 'Wanna say'...

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Next up to the decks was the main warrior himself, Steve Lawler, which ensured the main room was now filled completely to the brim. He started his set in true Lawler style, with a dark and eerie build up whilst bright white lazers circled the room.

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As soon as the first track dropped the room was filled with 'ooohs', 'ahhhs', whistles and 'oi's'. Steve kept to his dark house vibes, taking it into some darker techno sounds, before changing it up into slightly more bouncy and melodic house when he dropped Eats Everything's Chicken Tits Refix of Chicken Lips' 'He Not In' which sent the crowds fists up into the air yet again.

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Steve brought his set to a close by dropping his new track forthcoming on Viva Music, 'Avaida (The organ track)' which he named after his daughter to be, after comparing the process of creating it to making a baby, as it's taken him 9 months to make! 
 
 

During the course of the night I did need to make a few trips to the bar (as one does) so found myself in and out of Room 3, hosted by the One More boys with Antonio De Angelis, Outart and Arnaud le Texier providing the sounds. Throughout the night there was always a great buzz in Room 3 - with the club being so busy, it was mainly filled with people seeking a slightly less hectic time or recharging their techno arms ready to hit the main room once again after a quick refuel. One of the beauties I remember walking into whilst refueling with a Vodka and Coke, and which seemed to be going down a treat with the crowd was 'Mr Jack' by Luna City Express. 

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At 4:30 it was time to venture back into Room 2 to check out Darius Syrossian, another main player at Steve's warrior events, who was keeping the energy high with some classic house tracks including Waifs & Strays 'I Saw Yo Girl (Full Acid Vox Mix)'. 

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I've got to hand it to Steve and his Warriors he does put on one hell of a party. The quality of music was top notch and the energy from the dance floor warriors lasted right through the night. To get an insider's perspective, we caught up with Steve to see what he had to say about the event; "Great to see all the Warriors out in action, Sorry to those that couldn't get in, rest assured we will get a bigger venue next time. Big Thanks to Fire, all the artists that came and partied with us and most of all our Warriors...we love you".

The Warriors journey is now in full swing and you can catch them this weekend at The Warehouse in Coventary or in Miami hosting their own beach party 22nd March at the Shelbourne as part of the Miami Winter Music Conference. Viva Warriors will be returning to the while isle this season to host their residency at Sankey's Ibiza this time on a Sunday.You can also catch Lawler and his Warrior crew at Vertigo Festval in Italy this August. We can't wait for the summer season excitement to begin!  

Like Steve Lawler on Facebook

Like Viva Music on Facebook

Like Fire on Facebook

Like Sankeys Ibiza on Facebook

Like Vertigo Festival on Facebook

Event reviewed by Helayna Kohlinsky 

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Rework preview w/ Kozo (Arpiar) and Rico Casazza live

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It’s with pleasure that MEOKO announce the arrival of what promises to be another great series of events into our booming London scene. Rework are taking over Dukes House in East London, putting its bespoke Function system through its paces…

With their sights firmly set on high quality output, Rework’s policy of underground house and techno see them fly Arpiar’s Kozo into town for their first event on 15th March. Kozo’s stock has flourished with the strength of the sounds coming from Romania over the last few years. A key player in the Bucharest scene, Kozo has also had success from his own Understand imprint which he has been running with Praslea.

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MEOKO favourite Rico Casazza plays alongside Kozo, representing his deep and minimalistic take on electronic music.  A fusion of futuristic funk, Rico’s sound is best described as ‘music from Mars’.  Check out his recent interview we did with Rico below which also includes a free track download…

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Rico Casazza chats to MEOKO

 

Limited tickets are still available for purchase here

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