- Published on Friday, 06 July 2012 12:27
If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise...bounding down into a small valley surrounded by a tall and beautiful forest, you notice the welsh puddles vibrating, the bass reverberating between the trees and a kaleidoscope of colours glowing in the depth of the woods. Twangs of every genre of electronic music begin to reach your ear drums, teasing you into the darkness of the forest, becoming clearer and clearer and evolving into luscious beats as strange figures emerge from the twilight, stumbling, laughing, and dancing into the night.
This is no teddy bears picnic. This is Gottwood 2012, and it’s seriously good.
As we trudged to set up our tent in the absolutely tiny campsite in the rain and mud on Friday afternoon (the festival began Thursday evening), I wondered how many spirits had been dampened by the rumours of flying tents and floods the night before, wondering if it had been such a good idea to drive for hours to get here...but my fears were unfounded. After wondering about 20 steps from tent to forest it was quickly apparent that everyone was on a complete Friday high despite the inches of mud, all wooping and prancing beneath the tall trees. In the marquee named Summer Of the Wood, we caught rising stars The Other Tribe a six-piece group from Bristol (sound producing city of the year?) who combine British indie sounds and infectious electronic beats to produce dance-inducing vocal tracks including their summer anthem ‘Skirts’.
Delving deeper into the forest we found the Boxford Caravan stage at the heart of the festival, in a grassy courtyard surrounded by stables and some random sofas, swings and haybales, was a caravan converted into a DJ booth, where we experienced one of the best sets of the festival; Max Cooper. Really starting the night off (and for some climaxing it), Max is a man infamous for his intelligent techno . Yet with heavy influences from all areas he produced a genre-smashing live set, killer remixes interweaved with beautifully melancholic originals, and he completely entranced the large crowd gathered beneath the caravan, in fact throughout the festival I heard punters continue to sing the praises of the set. Playing tracks from his new EP 'Mechanical Concussion' which were pounding and heavy; perfect for the growing crowd, his astutely altered and steadily building festival sets are guaranteed to get the crowd sweating, and this was no exception.
We staggered off having danced perhaps a little too excitedly for the first big set of the weekend to find Tiger and Woods hiding somewhere in the woods, and where we found them proved to be the most magical stage of the festival. Under a stone archway we walked through a small passage into a walled garden, which led to awe-inspiring RFID visual dome. Not too big, very hot, and very magical, as soon as we entered we found people lying on the ground staring up at the starry night projected. This was constantly changing to stunning visuals and colours that proved a completely surreal environment, perfect for Gottwood. The set, like their brilliant 'Through The Green' album, was full of their classic disco vibes , combined with bass line tracks like ‘Just An Illusion' and the encore of fun and dreamily sampled ‘Gin Nation’, perfect for the intimate space that the duo devoured.
Back to the marquee in the woods and It was soon time for what became my absolute favourite set of the festival...Huxley. This man is at the forefront of the British electronic scene, combining his perfected house with home-grown garage, which has evolved into some kind of beautiful hybrid genre that is huge in the charts and clubs right now, and from his performance at Gottwood its clear to see why. His music and remixes are infectious and incredibly danceable with a great track selection for the festival. Highlights included his popular bass driven house tracks 'Box Clever' and the deeper and smoother 'Let it Go' which has been a favourite of 2012 so far. He also dropped Bashmore’s 'Au Seve', perhaps the festival anthem of this year, which causes a raucous in the crowd, but not as much as his frequent samples of old school garage and early rave. Mixing Liberty City’s 'If you Really Love Somebody' with 'Rhythm of the Night', the atmosphere soared sky high and culminated in a hyper young girl performing the splits on the DJ booth....make of this what you will, but it’s safe to claim that every single person in that tent was having the time of their life – Huxley included. This is the effect of a fantastic DJ, and in fact something that Gottwood seems to bring in general– it brings out the best in both artist and crowd to create an amazing electrified feeling.
Late Saturday morning I woke to the shouts of the man with a megaphone pleading for rizzlers and other sodden necessities, which was quickly answered with friendly help. So far, Gottwood’s crowds must be the friendliest I have known, perhaps it’s a combination of it being such a small festival with quite a hippy vibe, or perhaps it’s the freshness of the line up and diverse entertainment and setting - what ever it was, it worked. New friends were continuously made, people stopped for chats with one another, everyone seemed happy to help those is need whether it be a spare rizzler, sharing warm cider or carrying an extremely messy person back to their tent. I should also mention the fact that (for once!) security were absolutely lovely as were bar and festival staff.
We decided to explore our surroundings Saturday afternoon, and semi drunk frolicking in the forest ensued. Everywhere you looked there were random little tipis and huts, artwork, a tree house, make-shift tyre wings, a shisha bar, bunting and ribbons hanging from branches, bails of hail to fall into, and even a forest style sitting room complete with hammocks, 70’s style armchairs, and glowing lampshades strapped to the trees overhead. Music started at 12.30 and we were more than happy to explore whilst listening to the sounds of rising stars and those already cemented in british electronic music, the crowds had already began to gather and dance already creating a buzzing atmosphere even within the rain, mud and hangovers of the night before. People had gone to serious effort to create a unique and fun environment that fitted with the Summer of Love theme, but it was night time where the forest really shone. The ambient lighting sent huge clusters of tree’s alive with colour, while thousands of fairylights lit up pathways and beckoned people to stages.
Night time was truly magical at Gottwood and as you delved into different parts of the woods beats would ebb and fade until you found a stage filled with happy revellers, and on Saturday, the happiest of revellers could be found at Matanza’s live set in Summer of Wood tent, who epitomised the spirit of the festival, so popular in fact they played three times over the festival. Their joyous and bouncy home-made South American beats made everyone dance and smile, influenced highly by their homeland, the band from Chile include influences from across the board of musical genres including rock and folk, which lends to the bands unique sound, building to a euphoric crescendo that sent the Gottwood crowd wild.
Later Dinky received great reviews from her set in the Dome, the DJ has released on some pretty fabulous labels including Crosstown Rebels and Ostgut Ton, and her eight year residency at Panorama Bar has earnt her some serious credit – but her success is all of her own making due to her music which combines deep grooves and gorgeous melodies with quite heavy beats and funk, perfect for the personality of the dome and crowd within.
I’ve yet to mention The Stables, where we continuously stumbled in an out of. An outhouse building that included some very talented and bass driven artists, we crammed ourselves into the tiny space, which because of this had some amazing acoustics, and some amazing artists to fill it. The duo Disclosure are huge right now with their new kind of garage and bass music, and although the set wasn’t a stand out for me, they did play some anthemic old garage which the crowd loved, and their own tracks including the great Jessie Ware remix which has really proved the incredible talent of the guys.
Heading back to Summer of Wood for Ed Solo, the man really stole the show in that place playing an intense mix of everything banged together, from hip hop and reggae with his own unique take on bass driven music including the dubby anthem ‘Age of Dub’. Holding the crowd in the palm of his hand, people went completely mental.
We also caught a bit of Groj in The Stables who had to fly back to Montreal a few hours after his set, which would have been hard after seemingly having a whale of a time ensuring punters entered a dance induced trance with his beautiful live set full of minimal and hypnotising melodies that built to a sublime climax, finishing the night perfectly, although many in The Stables seemed reluctant to leave.
Sundays can be tricky at festivals, many people are hanging on by a thread, pennyless and extremely muddy – and Gottwood was no exception to this – but the festival embraced it, brought everyone together, and happily celebrated the last day of the unique event, even managing a sunshine filled afternoon. We spent it dancing to Krankbrother artist’s WildKats who with their blend of grooving house and hints of 80’s disco, splashed with some luscious baseline, ensured the crowd fought through the impending thoughts of Monday and real life. Sunlight on faces, raising their hands and hearts with woops of delight, and the sounds of squelching dancing through the mud; it was simply perfect.
Small means beautiful really fits the bill for this boutique electronic festival, combining the setting of a fantastical acid trip fairytale and the best of underground electronica, talented pioneering producers, and heavyweight masters of the current dance music landscape. But as we know many festivals can have beautiful settings and a fantastic line up, but what sets Gottwood apart is the people and the incredible atmosphere they create; the vibes from this independent and unique event are unparalleled to any festival I have yet to attend. In the festival guide the curators invited us to “be ready to embrace a weekend of the weird, wonderful and most importantly, colourful...Festivals will change for the better when we all elect to take part, to take responsibility – if we all come together”; and this is exactly what Gottwood was all about, highlighting the type of other-worldly home we would all be part of for the weekend to come, and what a weekend was in store for each of us, coming together to lose track of every day life and reality; becoming part of something truly special.
Words and Pictures by Rosa Devlin Holmes.
- Published on Thursday, 28 June 2012 15:29
There aren’t too many nights brave enough to plump for only one act and then have them play for eight hours straight. And in turn, there are few acts that could hold it together and hold it tight for such an extended period of time. Lucky for us then that the coupling between showcase clubnight ‘A Night With’ and Bostonian duo Soul Clap was a perfect match.
Having recently released their album, E-Funk, Soul Clap, aka Eli and Charlie, are no stranger to London shows, having just played Plan B in Brixton alongside Wolf + Lamb cohorts No Regular Play, a private party in Shoreditch House, not to mention their upcoming night this weekend YoYoYo ‘90s Rave Edition with living legends Robert Owens, Doc Martin and The Martinez Brothers.
It would’ve been easy to assume that with this many recent dates in the capital, interest might have waned, but the lengthy (and quite frankly exciteable) queue outside Kensal Green’s Loft Studios in deepest darkest northwest London put paid to any notions of A Night With Soul Clap being anything less than a summer sweat-fest.
That is not to say the Loft Studios is a grotty venue. Far from it. It is in fact a beautiful loft space with a large smoking terrace. So it boggles the mind how quickly sweat developed and why the two girls dancing at the front to the sounds of R Kelly thought it was acceptable to whip their long hair back and forth in the faces of the people crammed in behind them.
It’s not too charitable to suggest they were simply lost in the music to give any regard for anyone else’s personal space, as Soul Clap’s expert mix of classic disco (hello Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real!) with more modern electro soul such as recent track Falling Out by Body Language, is most certainly geared towards getting the girls dancing. Which, as every good DJ knows, is a top trick to getting your party pumping.
When it comes down to it a night as long as this one is best remembered in the lovely little moments that Soul Clap themselves created: Charlie waving a desk lamp in the air to the beat of some slow and cheesy r’n’b, Eli telling someone in the crowd that this is best night they’ve had in ages, both of them dancing in the DJ booth and having a very obviously swell time, and in what has to amount to the weirdest merch ever, handing out branded nail files, further underlining the lengths the boys go to keep girls at their gigs happy.
In a city like London where clubbers become jaded from too much choice and the knowledge that most DJs will return eventually, it can be hard to set your night apart from the multitude of others. You either have to pull out all the stops in terms of ridiculous jam-packed line-ups or develop a keen reputation of weirdness and eccentricity to appeal to the more selective patrons. However, A Night With has eschewed all that for quality programming. The thought behind this particular showcase was stunning simple: Soul Clap. And only Soul Clap. For eight hours straight. How many promoters would have the guts to do that and make it work?
- Published on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 14:32
Le Kiff EP
LA VIE EN ROSE
The Le Kiff EP, the fifth instalment in Terence:Terry's emerging La Vie en Rose imprint, arrives courtesy of Remi Mazet, an up-and-coming young Frenchman raised on the vibrant sounds of East London's bustling and burgeoning party scene. With a release on Jamie Jones and Lee Foss's Hot Waves already firmly under his belt, this 3-track affair, incidentally Remi's first as a solo artist, was packed full of promise.
Indeed, it did not disappoint. Moving away from the tougher, techier stylings of their last outing (LVR04 Rafael Murillo Feat. Jaw – Background EP), the Le Kiff EP has both eyes very much trained on the impending, Ibiza-centric summer months. Indeed, the title track is most easily described as a warm, contemporary slice of disco-tinged house. However, that's not to say that it belongs alongside the countless, faceless others residing under the now somewhat clichéd 'disco-house' umbrella. On the contrary, Le Kiff has been beautifully and diligently put together, with each of the track's individual components working in smooth, subtle harmony to give it that rare, very natural feel. At 117 bpm it's slow; perfect for those beach-bound sunset, or sunrise, sets. On the remix, Remi's compatriot Boris Horel injects some bounce and bite into the original, managing to maintain the record's unique, cohesive groove whilst upping the tempo several, considerable notches. If Remi's prototype was all about the pre and after parties, this is definite dance-floor material. Mr Matlar, Remi's partner on last winter's Hot Waves collaboration, returns to the foray on Are You There. While packing arguably the punchiest bassline of the three, it restrains itself from becoming a solely peak time number. Instead, layered over the track's heavy-duty framework is a light, dreamy guitar lick, leaving it to nestle comfortably in-between both of the A side cuts as the perfect transitional link.
In a scene over-saturated to the point of ridicule, those tracks that belong to a certain 'sound', whilst remaining wholly original and exciting, are increasingly harder to find. At first, the Le Kiff EP might not appear to be doing all that much differently, and yet with time, the release's true potential and delicate artistry shine through. Remi Mazet is a producer who has clearly honed and understands his craft. La Vie en Rose have done well, not only to realise his talent, but to time the release of this EP so that it makes what will undoubtedly be some serious waves on the white isle this summer.
words: Carlos Hawthorn
- Published on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:14
It’s testament to how integrated WetYourSelf! is into the framework of the London club scene that in just five years it’s become one of the capital’s most successful and well-known nights. Few invest as much thought and care into developing their brand as the WYS! promoters/resident DJS Peter, Jacob and Cormac. From their meticulously programmed line-ups to their bank holiday specials with live animations projected onto the walls of Farringdon super-club Fabric, to their instantly recognisable flyers featuring the work of their resident illustrator Martin Wollerstam; you’d be hard-pressed to find a dedicated London clubber who didn’t have a clue what happens in the wee hours of Sunday in the labyrinthine London club.
The vast majority of people, with their Monday to Friday/9-5 lifestyles don’t often have the opportunity to experience WetYourSelf!, so, come a bank holiday weekend, the boys bring out the big guns and it does tend to pack out. With June being treated to an extra special double Jubilee bank holiday, who better to headline than Danish electronic star Trentemøller, a man whose style ranges from techno to progressive house to minimal; a subtle but heady mix suitable for both WYS! veterans and virgins.
Room 2 was given over to rising star night Tief, darling of Corsica Studios and ally of award-winning night Trouble Vision where they had semi-regular guest KRL of Wolf Music and an unfortunate flight-mishap cancellation from headliner KiNK. Luckily London based Wbeeza stepped up to the plate at the last minute but there were more than a few sad faces that weren’t pacified in the knowledge it couldn’t be helped.
Despite Room 3 playing host to Rekids Luke Solomon, and Wbeeza standing in for Room 2’s headlining slot, Trentemøller was always going to be the biggest draw of the night. The man knows exactly what he’s doing and perfectly walked that fine line of a solid danceable set with maintaining coherency between the residents serious style and tone with their typical dark undercurrent. It was exactly what you’d expect and no less disappointing for it.
Weaving recognisable tracks from the past 18 months such as Subb-an’s remix of Lana Del Rey with Eats Everything’s The Size with more underground pulsating tunes such as Stay by Turbo Recording’s Borderline ensured the dance floor remained packed throughout his set. It was good to note that the Dane was not above dropping a note of fun into proceedings as Donna Summer’s I Feel Love also gracing the sound system.
Accompanying Room 1’s sonic adventure was live animations and visuals from Prickimage teaming up with the WYS resident illustrator creating unusual creatures and environments projected onto the walls, adding to the precisely constructed ambience.
Ambience was something that was sadly a bit lacking in Room 2. And that was a real shame, as anyone who’s been to Tief will tell you repeatedly, it is truly a great night full of friendly people who just want to dance. It just didn’t seem to survive its transplantation across the river. Word had it that closer act KRL hit his stride after an hour or so and things really kicked off, but anyone poking their head in at 4am would have been a bit disheartened, especially if they’d previously heard one of this superlative mixes.
Back in the main room WYS! resident Peter Pixzel had the tough task of taking over from Trentemøller but by continuing in the same vein with tracks from previous WYS! guest Martin Dawson (Maceo Plex’s remix of Think About It) and forthcoming guest Chaim (the deliriously trippy Robots On Meth) he took the crowd by the hand and led them happily along their dark electronic journey within the cavernous confines of Fabric.
WetYourSelf! is one of those nights its all too easy to see through to the morning end. As the dawn-mimicking lights came up at 8:30am, those that had danced their way through Cormac and Jacob’s back-to-back closing set cheered rapturously and called for the music’s continuation to no avail, trudging reluctantly out into the bright overcast London Monday morning. You can be sure that anyone who entered the doors new to the night left a convert.
WetYourSelf! runs every Sunday night at Fabric nightclub
- Published on Friday, 04 May 2012 14:19
For quite some time now, Kevin Griffiths has been filling venues to the brim, with eager House Music enthusiasts. Over the last 10 years, his Issst parties have taken in globetrotters, like Tiefschwarz and Simian Mobile Disco, who came down to play in the underground playground, that Kevin and Bobby Mutraporn created, for London’s sheer delight.
In 2006, Kevin took a side step into label management. He set up his Tsuba imprint, a label that focuses on outings to the Deeper side, of the House Music genre. Releases such as Moodymanc’s “Black Paint” and Ethyl & Huxley’s “Reflections”, have rightfully pushed Tsuba, to the Beatport top tens. Meanwhile, leading Deep House DJs, such as Jimpster and Deetron, consistently show tastemaker support.
But having spread the Tsuba vibe across the digital world, Kevin has been keen to reinstate it’s physical foothold in 2012. So in February, he launched the first in a series of Tsuba label parties, at secret locations, in East London. Fast forward to May and we’re now looking forward, to seeing the label boss play alongside, Huxley and Steffi.
If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past 12 months, then you’ll know that Huxley is the man, currently riding the Deep House zeitgeist, with top releases like ’Shower Scene’ and‘Let It Go’. Live, he is known for tight mixing and seamless blends. Next up, Kevin Griffiths is guaranteed to draw on those infamous A&R skills, to pick out tasty Tsuba cuts. And last, but by no means least, Ostgut Ton’s Steffi, will step up to deliver her infinitely deep, hypnotic grooves, that propel punters to jack into an abstract world, of twisted synth licks.
The trio will no doubt hype up the crowd, into a 4/4 frenzy. Revellers can also look forward to an enthusiastic atmosphere, populated by clued up clubbers, if previous Tsuba events, are anything to go by.
Throwing parties at secret locations, may not jettison club nights into the warm light of mystique, in the same way that it has done previously. But something about the raw edge of it, is still irresistible and where better to get your head nod on, than at a Tsuba showcase. This night is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the month. Not to be missed.
By Carlos Martín