'You Become Part of a Community Brought Together for the Love of Great Music' Gottwood Festival Review
- Published on Thursday, 21 June 2018 09:38
Now in its 9th year, Gottwood Festival has become known as one of the best small festivals in the UK, with a loyal following who keep returning year upon year, for a lineup of the best in underground music and beautiful location. After hearing so many glowing reviews, I felt it was time that I had to experience it this year.
Setting off first thing in the morning on Thursday to reach the site at Holyhead in Anglesey, there was already a magic in the air. I travelled through tunnels and over bridges, passing sheep and mountains, before arriving at the campsite, overlooking calm seas on the Welsh north-west coast.
After pitching up the tent and getting to know the neighbours, who were Gottwood regulars and who soon became friends, I went to check out the arena where the stages lie. Walking into this area it was a joy to the senses. Initially walking through lush green woodland with tall trees, where the sun was breaking through, this plays host to lots of the smaller stages. Individual pieces of interesting, colourful, hand painted artwork are scattered throughout. The largest stage named ‘The Lawn’ is an open grassy area from the trees and is opposite an old manor house bathed in ivy; this is where the majority of the live acts and more chilled out sounds would feature across the weekend. In the middle of all the stages is a shimmering lake with lily pads and fountains, providing relaxing tranquility. With pure blue skies overhead it couldn’t have been more perfect and I spent some time just taking it in sat down next to the lake, I couldn’t think of anywhere more picturesque for a festival.
With the sun starting to drop behind the trees it was time to get stuck into some music. What better way to kick it off than with FUSE boss Enzo Siragusa and label stalwart Archie Hamilton. Playing on The Curve stage, a fairly large tent, the boys had got it filled from early on. Archie was first up playing some of his own signature tracks with distinctive percussion such as ‘Confusion’ on his own label Moscow. Enzo then took over, by which time the tent was bouncing. He played a festival party set laden with house and tech-house bombs including ‘What was Missing’ by Jamie Trench forthcoming on Seb Zito’s ‘Seven Dials’ label. To cap things off the pair then finished the night going b2b with some classic house tunes, smiles and hands raised all round. This was a great energetic start to proceedings.
Following a good sleep and with the sun continuing to glow, waking up on the Friday was made easy, with the prospect of plenty of sunshine vibes to come on the day. It became a ritual over the weekend to head to The Lawn first thing to recover, listening to some down-tempo, live electronica and dub/reggae. Ready to dance again after eating some delicious wood fired pizza, just one of many outstanding food stalls; it was time to head to the Trigon Stage.
Arguably one of the most impressive, the area is surrounded by walls of hay bales, with a wooden triangular tunnel structure leading it’s way to the DJ booth. Secretsundaze were playing, with music perfectly suited to the blistering skies, including the Dusky remix of ‘Do You Want Me Baby’ by Cloud 9. One thing worth mentioning here is the friendly attitude of everyone at the festival, it was easy and comfortable to strike up a conversation with everyone who I bumped into, including the bar staff and security. Due to the small capacity of 5000 you would often come across the same people you had been chatting to at the campsite on the dance floor and this added to a great feeling of unity and positivity that I haven’t really experienced at a festival before.
Special Request aka Paul Woolford continued the mood, moving things up a gear as it progressed into the evening, with music from his UK rave inspired album ‘Belief System’ including the wobbling bass and euphoria of ‘Make it Real’. For the night time hours it was all about the Hypercolour stage at the Walled Garden, another outstanding venue that is situated in the garden behind the manor house. It has a secret garden feel to it, as you pass under the old brick walls, through the low hanging plants, before reaching the stage that is sunk into the garden with a terraced grass area behind it. Kate Miller was playing here and was one of my surprise highlight sets of the weekend, a diverse blend of electronic music summed up by the classic dubstep anthem ‘Night’ by Benga & Coki. The legend that is Andrew Weatherall closed out the night, taking the crowd on a journey and telling a story through a progressive nature that only someone with such knowledge in the game can.
Saturday fast came round and the daytime hours were again spent with some down time in the open areas of the festival. Some amazing live music featured on The Lawn all weekend such as the stripped back meditative rhythms from the Cuban Iranian group Ariwo and uplifting worldly inspired melodies of Africane 808. This was the perfect tonic after a night of heavy raving. The night held some of the most anticipated sets of the weekend with Half Baked in Ricky’s Disco, featuring Zip and Margaret Dygas headlining and playing for a combined 7 hours. Ricky’s Disco was a great tent and felt like one of the most intimate, spherical in shape, with a large disco ball and hanging flowers. The vibe inside was probably the standout of the weekend for Margaret Dygas. She played an awe inspiring set, with long flowing mixes and plenty of unknown and unreleased grooves. A discerning crowd of Perlon and Half Baked supporters loving every moment, particularly big receptions came when she dropped the timeless classic acid tinged beat of ‘The Sun Can’t Compare by Larry Heard, the vocals on everyone’s lips. Zip continued the raucous atmosphere with music like ‘I Have You On My Sound’ by Son of Sound & Jus Ed, a peak time Underground Quality US house stomper. Cheers, whistles and hugs between friends and strangers could be seen and heard all around the tent for the duration. There was even time to catch the final hour of Ben UFO who was constructing a mix at Trigon of music without the borders usually put up by genres.
At many festivals I have been to Sunday can often feel like a downer as people are tired and ready to go home, but this was not the case at Gottwood. With radiant skies still overhead reflecting on the lake, it was easy to get out of bed to grab a Bloody Mary and get back to a spot on the lawn, where Craig Richards was playing the first of two sets, a special dub and reggae set. Wearing a trademark patterned shirt, he demonstrated the diversity of his record collection, pulling out 7 inches like ‘I Man Can’t Live Like this’ by Barry Brown. A pure Sunday afternoon ambience was being created, almost as if you were on a beach, as I sipped a drink with my toes in the lake to cool off. It felt like a real honour to be part of such a special event and it was great to see the owner of the Gottwood site, an older gentleman, walking around the site and enjoying seeing people appreciate the natural charm of the landscape around them. In the afternoon I caught City Fly Records over on the other side of the lake at the open Cpt. Cabeza stage. A label based in my hometown city of Leicester, they played a great disco and house set that even got what looked like the youngest member of the crowd, a small young boy (not sure how he passed the challenge 25 policy!) dancing.
On the final evening I was spoilt for choice with One Records at Ricky’s Disco, Butterside Up at Trigon and The Nothing Special at the Walled Garden. Fortunately due to the long set times, another great feature of the festival, I managed to catch a bit of everything. One Records had John Dimas, Voigtmann and label owners Adam Shelton b2b Subb-an playing their brand of always high quality house and techno, aimed squarely at the dance floor and with rolling beats aplenty. Over at the Trigon it was a slightly different affair to the daytime flavours, as Nicolas Lutz went b2b with Binh. Another highlight of the weekend, the pair made their way through a devastating set of some of their cosmic electro, spacey house and garage tinged minimal tracks on vinyl, from their respective My Own Jupiter and Time Passages labels. This included the forthcoming ‘Tschuss’ by Draculas Lutz & Omar. The Trigon at its best underneath the dark red lasers and smoke cannons, with the crowd going for it and using every single last drop of resource in their limbs. The anthemic reach for the sky ‘Atmosphere’ by Luca Lozano came out the stacks and provided another boost. Sonja Moonear maintained the high intensity, producing another all vinyl masterclass of house and techno.
To close out the weekend it only felt right to catch the end of Craig Richards hosting The Nothing Special all night at The Walled Garden. A far cry from his earlier set, this time he was in the midst of a high octane mix of techno and electro. A DJ that is arguably one of the most experienced in underground music, with his long running residency at fabriclondon, where he has played before so many names. He crafts together mixes that include multiple genres and records that you may never have stumbled upon before.
Also painting abstract art outside of DJing (some may be fascinated by his label artwork) his expression through music is always mesmerising to watch and the tent was a carnival of warm emotion as a chant of DJ Otzi’s ‘Hey Baby’ rang out on top of the serious music, bringing a smile to Craig’s face. As the last track was played and I made my way back to the campsite, I was immediately thinking of when this enchanting, all-encompassing musical and arts experience could be absorbed in again. My mind was on Houghton, Gottwood’s sister festival, curated by Craig himself and where many of the people I had spoken to over the weekend would be heading to next. Four days had taken place where we were blessed with outstanding weather, an extraordinary location and you become part of a community brought together for the love of great music, the Gottwood family as it is described. You return with new friends, inspirations, favourite artists and a yearning to taste what is a truly unique environment once again.
Words by Tom Warner
Pictures by Here & Now
- Published on Thursday, 03 May 2018 10:34
Hot on the heels of his appearance at Eagervision on May 11th, Javier Carballo flies back to the Canaries to celebrate the 11th anniversary of his and partner-in-crime Berna’s Underyourseat party. The party’s a staple of the island’s nightlife, and going stronger than ever with the recent launch of the in-house label to celebrate the 10-years mark. The first EP was provided by Javier himself with Lowwaxx, and encompassed the broad range of the party, with four enchanting groovers of dub and minimal allegiances.
At such a good time for Underyourseat, no doubt Javier and Berna will be in the mood to celebrate. Both are proponents of a stream-lined and hypnotic sound, that carries the crowd seamlessly into the night up to those wee hours of the morning — sunglasses on, head-bobbing to the tunneling grooves til the sun is well up. There’s probably no better way to enjoy it than catching them in their home turf. After 11 years of inviting over the best names in minimal, from Onur Özer to Cabanne and Raresh, there’s a reason they’re now the ones headlining events across Europe.
For this special occasion, they’ve invited a good friend of ours, who we interviewed back in December: Traumer. Since he steered his alias into a more micro/minimal direction, here at MEOKO we can’t get enough of the Frenchman’s drum-heavy rollers. And in that regard, we’ve been treated: even more productive than usual, Romain is already four releases in since the beginning of the year, including one on his ever-special GETTRAUM label. A very special guest for a very special occasion.
So there you go: on May 12th, it’s in the Canaries that the good things are, so it seems. you can already book your tickets here. See you there at the front-left speakers — after-party on the beach.
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin
- Published on Thursday, 19 April 2018 20:02
It is that time. Yet again, another masterful release is on its way from genius Romanian producer, Ada Kaleh. ‘Nedeslusit in Amurg’ is the seventh release on his up close and personal outlet named after himself, Ada Kaleh Romania. A vinyl only label, with a desire to enforce the full package with each release. From the sound, down to the artwork, simultaneously aligned with the stories behind them. For this release artist Anca Buzilan has made her mark with two detailed images, one on each side of the sleeve telling the tales of the music.
Taking up the whole of the ‘Sunside’ is ‘Nedeslusit in Amurg’ inspired by the whirling dance of the Sufi Dervishes. A physical form of meditation, an aspect that reflects within the sound with hypnotic loops and choppy vocals. After several days trapesing the desert, the sun begins to set (amurg; in Romanian) and the dervishes gaze in to the distance to find an image of a woman holding a blue pot of water. Flickering in and out of focus, a ‘Nedeslusit’ (Mirage). All senses vanish and the Dervishes’ are lost amongst the whirling dance, in ‘Amurg’ they remain. The image accompanying this side shows the dervishes stranded in the desert as they realise the mirage.
On the ‘Moonside’ there are two interpretations of ‘Morgana Avidoma’. Morgana representing the female in the image, rolling, off the bat rhythms proving her capability to remain, whether in the distance or in front of your eyes. There is a sense of confusion, but the beat keeps coming back, two tracks that would sit well in a mix. Morgana herself features on the artwork of the ‘Moonside’
Kaleh, is known for his ability to curate atmospheres of an extraordinary variety, sometimes the subtlest of tones go such a long way due to his attention to detail. Never short of magic, with his special touch. Quality of the highest order, for listeners who will immerse themselves in minimalistic and stripped back sounds with a touch of class.
She is always there, but only for us to see.
Presale link on Decks:
Artwork by Anca Buzilan
Words by Zac Bidwell
- Published on Tuesday, 20 March 2018 08:30
We did warn you, the summer dates are coming thick and fast; and certainly packing a punch. Every June, OFF Week in Barcelona is a time for party promoters and label heads to display what they offer in off key and historical locations around the city.
This year two dates firmly allocated amongst this hectic week of music is the 13th and 14th of June, as Prague based Round Up agency and newly formed Romanian promotion team Drums join forces for two parties, taking over two separate locations for journeys in to the early hours. A combination of special guests and several artists from the Round Up agency roster.
On the Wednesday (13th June), the debut party of this original combination will take place at This Side UP, a new movement in the city created in recent times. SIT (Cristi Cons & Vlad Caia) bring their melodic hypnotic sound to the city, joined by what is set to be a spectacular journey in the form of Praslea b2b Cezar. Familiar face in Prague and Round Up representative Bruno Curtis will also play bringing fellow artists Agustin Alvarez, JADA, Dafoe and And.re along for the ride.
Cue Barcelona will play host to the second day (14th June) of festivities with more sounds of Romania from Liniar founder Arapu, and masterful mixer Priku. The raw talent that is Traumer will be blessing the surroundings with his organic and genius music. JADA and Dafoe will be rounding off what is set to be a special experience this summer.
As an official media partner of these magical events, working with Round Up Agency and Drums, you can visit our site or keep up with our socials for more information. More on times and event info is to follow, also keep an eye out for more collaborations further down the line. It’s worth it.
Words by Zac Bidwell
- Published on Tuesday, 13 March 2018 12:09
Guti. Roustam. Equals Grusti. The outcome of several years of priceless moments performing together and many late nights spent jamming in the studio; sharing their musical flavours and knowledge. Here, they deliver three personal productions accompanied by a remix from prolific producer East End Dubs. The vinyl only release comes on Tervisio, an outlet born last year as a rebellion to the conventional, bringing forward new sounds and textures with high energy.
The percussive influences of Buenos Aires meet the raw and cutting edge of Moscow, for a masterful release. An insight of the magic that happens when these two worlds combine, the years of experience between them reflect in the solidarity of their sound. A long-term friendship of two accomplished artists that have paved their own paths as solo musicians, have decided it is time to present us with their creations.
The title track aptly named ‘Re:introduction’ certainly has a healthy groove to it, a particular bouncing loop leads you in to a blissful breakdown fitting the title perfectly. Straight off the bat is the dancefloor ready remix from East End Dubs. A sound we have become accustomed too from the UK artist, distinct punching kicks and a ready to roll ethos. One for the peak time flow. Touching down on the B-side from outer space is ‘Dating a Comet’. A journey of broken rhythms, and brushing highs help to build a special atmosphere, allowing the listener to escape in the moment. Rounding things off pleasantly is ‘Rude Track’. A heads down affair begging to be played on a club system, rotating percussions coming in and out bring something unique to the track.
The Re:Introduction of two familiar names under one alias. A personal release from Grusti; a concept that Guti and Roustam have spent much time creating and built a solid friendship upon. You can sense the pride and energy within the release that they created in all corners of the world, Barcelona, Miami and Moscow.
Check out the full East End Dubs remix only here on MEOKO;
Words by Zac Bidwell