Percolate presents Hercules and Love Affair / A teenage dream come true

Let’s talk about Hercules and Love Affair. Again.

Not long after penning an article about them back in January, they came bursting back into my consciousness with a brand new single, and a tour with a UK date. Needless to say, I snapped up a ticket.

Percolate hosted the band and showcased them at Village Underground in London on 26th May.

This date is now poignant, as the Manchester attack took place just days before the gig. Understandably, it shook the world and affected most of the UK’s nightlife that weekend. However, Percolate, Hercules and Love Affair and Village Underground reacted brilliantly and honoured the victims with a minute of silence, yet continued to stick two fabulous fingers up to any hate by following it with a minute of noise. ‘We will not be silenced’.

The night is almost upon us….
In memory of the awful events in Manchester this week there will be a moment of reflection before midnight and then a moment to show that we will not be silenced.
It is important that we celebrate their lives, our freedom and most of all that we will not descend into hate despite the appalling actions of a tiny minority.

With the Manchester events having a knock-on effect on me, I was slightly apprehensive about the night, admittedly. But the minute of noise that took place soon after I entered the club was exactly the reassurance I needed.  The whole room erupted into whoops, cheers and roars, which was nothing short of infectious and the energy that emerged was incredible, shattering any negative thoughts in an instant. There’s a childlike sense of defiance felt when letting go and making noise uncontrollably, which I imagine is exactly how the organisers intended for us to feel.

Beyond this bravery, building up to the event I felt a mixture of nostalgia, excitement and curiosity. I really had no idea what kind of atmosphere it would be, not knowing whether to expect a ‘gig’ or a disco mayhem from the live act. However, on the night I donned my best Studio 54 worthy gear, just in case.

Luckily my outfit choice was entirely appropriate, as what followed was a funked-up, freaked-out, feel-good soiree – trashy, brash, undoubtedly fun future-disco at its finest. It seamlessly showcased Andy Butler’s talents as he performed much of the HALA repertoire, old and new, live, with two wonderful singers Rouge Mary and Gustaph up front.

The entire show was fantastic, with the crowd soon losing any inhibitions and dancing carelessly, but of course, hero song ‘blind’ was a standout moment. Looking around at the diverse crowd, featuring souls from all scenes, demographics, or however else people are categorised, and there was nothing short of pure joy imprinted across numerous faces. Including mine. There’s something special about hearing that song you hold special to you, which has stood the test of time and become a dancefloor classic, played live by those that created it. And judging by the reactions, seeing the significance it plays in other people’s lives too.

There are no videos from this night, but here they are performing Blind at another gig, around the same time 🙂

Hercules and Love Affair have a new album ‘Omnion’ out in September, so I imagine there will be plenty of opportunity to catch them live. Just do it X

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Gottwood review 2017 – ‘the extended set’

By the time I’ve got round writing this everyone’s social feed is more Glasto or Garden than Gottwood, but it’s never too late to reminisce on time spent in those wonderful Welsh woods. 

I was pleased to document this year’s Gottwood experience on Skiddle, and you can read the review here. However, if that post is the main event then count this post as the ‘encore’, if you will.

Anyone else who has also been to this sacred festival will understand the difficulty faced when squeezing tales of those four days into an attention-span friendly word count. So, internet, prepare for my additional ramblings.

 

They stuck to their word.

I first went to Gottwood around five years ago and have been a regular ever since. In that time, the festival has understandably expanded. While the gradually growing size of the campsite was noticeable in previous years – last year/the years before especially it seemed to double in capacity – this time we spotted the owners had kept their promise of keeping it as it was, with remarkable results.

Part of Gottwood’s charm is how at ease you feel when wandering around the woods, encouraging you to explore and follow your ears. While I long to experience what Glasto could hold, the thought of bleary-eyed wanderings leaving me miles away from familiar faces and/or a tent continues to concern me. At Gottwood, you’re safe in the knowledge that all adventures, stumbles and falls will lead to familiarity within about 30 minutes.

 

Everyone’s outfits and attitudes continue to impress me.

Bravo 🙂 A true release from reality, fuelled by love, colour, glitter and absurdity.

 

Politics were in the air.

Gottwood’s gates opened on election day and while the jury is out for many on how political dance music actually is, there’s no denying that the millennial generation of festivalgoers cared about this election.  A lot.

Nestled deep in a forest, in an ethereal, secluded landscape, communication with the outside world is difficult when at the festival. But thanks to the odd bar of reception and  a chatty crowd, the words ‘hung parliament’ and opinion about it were heard throughout the field.

 

Gottwood should be praised for bringing together the nation’s local crews.

Whether you come from Leeds or London, there exists a particular dance music scene in every UK city, and a night that epitomises it. Gottwood is something of a pilgrimage for party organisers across the UK – the real guys and gals who work endlessly to craft the weekends that we often take for granted. Every year it seamlessly invites these crews to join the big-booking names in the forest, and it works perfectly.

I managed to catch Butterside Up as the Leeds based party took over for the Walled Garden for the Thursday night. Here, Francesco Del Garda kicked things with a groove fiasco off from behind the owl-painted caravan booth – once a stage in its own right in the early Gottwood days. Sonja Moonear followed, getting our feet moving in ways that only she can.

Friday took me to the Trigon, with London’s Half Baked taking care of the daytime while Nottingham’s Wigflex crew took over by night.

Feet firmly planted in the geometric arena, the transition from rolling-yet-raw hypnotic beats to the unmistakable melodic hailstorm that each respective night brought to the stage was perfect. Wigflex residents Metaphi and Hizatron, as well as its ringleader Lukas Wigflex, followed on from the sounds of Sam Bangura, Robin Ordell and Hold Youth, introducing the crowd to the sonic madness of the infamous midlands event. Choosing Extrawelt (live set) and DJ Tennis to headline the stage, it was a match made in flex-fuelled heaven.

Finally, the draw of the legendary Back to Basics was too much to resist for a majority of Saturday evening. It always offers a highlight for me with its bouncy mixture of future classics and acid house masterpieces, packed with attitude and making feet move. Taking over Ricky’s Disco, Dave Beer, Tristan Da Cunha, Ralph Lawson and Denney proved why its currently celebrating its 25th anniversary – with no sign of stopping.

 

Butterside Up, Jaunt, Banoffee Pies, Half Baked, Wigflex, Louche, Magic Door and more – hats off to you.

 

Ricky’s Disco was much easier on the mind than the laser dome

Gottwood isn’t short of visual delights. The first year I went, I was gobsmacked by the dreamy projection dome that made up one of the tents.

But the past year or two, it transformed into a darker, smaller affair, with the ethereal visuals replaced by relentless red lasers cutting through the stage. These lasers providing the only light from within this devilish dome. Some relished in this assault on the senses – it was impressive, certainly, and the perfect environment for particularly warped out sets – but for more delicate folk like me, I’d missed out on quite a few acts thanks to the claustrophobia that resulted.

Maybe they just decided to switch things up again, or perhaps I wasn’t the only person whose fear of the dome proved too much to handle. Either way, its replacement Ricky’s Disco was a fun new stage to explore in 2017.

 

The Moog Clinic was ace.

Ruffy’s Lab, hosted by the underground hero Ruff Dug is packed with fun activities and quality acts – if you’re ever at a loose end of where to go, a visit here will always result in smiles. A Moog Clinic was on offer here on Saturday. Representatives of the techno-toybox powerhouse set up various kit, and invited passers by to have a go.

Throughout the mushed-up marmalade of drum machines, synth notes and all manner of sounds, every now and then those playing the Moog gear would get into each other’s groove and perform jams in genres that could not be defined, much to the enjoyment of onlookers.

I returned on at least two occasions, proving to be a welcome rest from fist pumping, yet still offering tasty beats.

 

need to learn that ‘teacup’ record Margaret Dygas played

This year, my Sunday evening began over the lake and by the Curve Stage, where Subb-ann was leading the way for the Birmingham One Records crew. But over the water Louche, another favourite party posse from Leeds, was seizing the Trigon stage, resulting in regular trips across the bridge numerous times through the night. Bouncing from Josh Tweek to Subb-ann, from Nicolas Lutz and back to XDB, with Red Axes playing live on the lawn in the distance, I settled in the Trigon for a long session of Margaret Dygas.

Zip was due to follow on from her yet the rumours that circulated that day proved to be true, with no sign of the master. Yet Margaret gracefully continued for a superb extended set.

A standout tune was a hypnotic track she played, featuring that Bruce Lee sample! After posting it on the IOM group, it seems I’m not the only one dying to know what it was however, it remains one of those stellar, mystery tracks for now. Maybe it’s better off that way 🙂

Hail Queen Hito

A few years ago I wrote a post explaining why I love Maya Jane Coles for Skiddle’s ‘DJ Love’ series, and I had lots of fun doing it. Now, the time has come to share my feelings about another incredible talent. Namley, Hito ❤

A few years ago I wrote a post explaining why I love Maya Jane Coles for Skiddle’s ‘DJ Love’ series, and I had lots of fun doing it. Now, the time has come to share my feelings about another incredible talent. Namley, Hito

I first discovered this lady after spending a summer in Ibiza in 2013. Although the island was filled with a plethora of nights to choose from, Richie Hawtin’s Enter party became a regular event for myself and many more of the ‘locals’. Those that headed to Space early doors, around 9pm, could gain entry to Space for around €10. The exact price is blurry in my mind, but it was a fraction of the cost of a standard ticket, offering exceedingly good value for money both in terms of time (the club staying open for at least 12 hours) and talent.

In the clubbing world, heading out at 9pm is incredibly early however, after downing a bottle of 20 cent water outside the club to ensure you stayed hydrated inside (with each minute bottle of water costing at least €5?!) , this great deal offered by Enter meant that I experienced many incredible warm up sets on a weekly basis. In fact, some of those sets have gone down in history of my favourite musical experiences to date, enabling many artist’s to push their musical boundaries with sometimes unexpected but incredible results.

The warm up at Enter was as carefully planned by Hawtin as the rest of his impeccably curated event and was its own party in itself. When arriving to Space so early you were only let into the SAKE bar room, with the rest of the club shut off until around 12. Not an overly large space, it was still light inside and was an excellent way to begin proceedings. Often, you’d see Richie running around amongst the crowd sipping his own-brand rice wine…I’m pretty sure we spotted Marco Carola mingling at the SAKE bar once too. While this occurred, the audience was left totally controlled by whoever graced the decks.

This space, in my eyes, IS the domain of Hito. While guest DJs would often be invited to play here, there weren’t many weeks when this vinyl queen didn’t take over – either during the warm up period, or owning the stage for the rest of the evening. More often than not, Bella Sarris would also be there, marking the start of a long career for both of them.

With her kimonoed silhouette instantly recognisable Hito’s captivating aesthetic is like no other, yet it is her ability to select that won me over. An avid record collector and sonic searcher, this love of music saw her relocate from Japan to Berlin in the late 90’s, honing the sophisticated taste and diverse collection that we hear in her sets today, and will continue to for many more years to come.

The internet can be a harsh place, and when finding videos to use in this post it became noticeable that many ‘trolls’ would comment on her mixing ability. This is news to me, and throughout that entire Ibiza season there was not one moment during her sets where the flow was interrupted – Hito has an underlying ability to choose the perfect tunes for every moment, causing bodies and minds to get lost in the hard-hitting techno groove. The debate between mixing vs. tune selection will surely go on for eternity however, on a dance floor environment, I know which one matters the most to me…

A quote from Hito in her Vinyl Factory interview couldn’t say it better:

I like the touch-y feeling, you know? I can control it directly…I think it’s good for people to see needle skipping or vibrating. This is humanity: mistakes are human. But how you solve it is more important. I used to be very ashamed about my mistakes but now I think it’s about how you recreate from these points. That’s more important than 100% technically mixing.

 

Regardless of what these commenters may say, long-time Berlin buddy, professional collaborator and techno-mad innovator, Mr.Hawtin chose her to join a long list of esteemed ambassadors for his Model 1 / PLAY differently mixer, testament to her credentials.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to see Hito play since my Ibiza days, although she still remains one of my go-to DJs for when I’m in need of some mix based up lifting. But now, as her career has well and truly taken off, I can’t wait to stand in front of her booth once more to listen to her sounds, four years on.

 

 

Project / Spinning through the year

Project is turning one this Saturday. Joe Kelly reflected on the past 12 months, offering up some tracks to summarise each night because really, nothing says it better than music.

Project is turning one this Saturday, and its calling in Frits Wentink & Jon K to help it celebrate. Learn more about the party here.

In club night terms, turning one is a pretty big deal, especially when it keeps on getting stronger with every ‘do. In order to get to know project better Joe Kelly, one half of Project alongside Kristen Morrow, reflected on the past 12 months, spinning through the year by offering up some tracks to summarise each night because  really, nothing says it better than music.

If you’ve been going to Project from the start, take a trip down memory lane and if not, get to know. Take it away Joe:

Night 1 : Project presents chaos in the CBD:

Chaos In The CBD – Midnight in Peckham

This song came on close to the end of Chaos in the CBD’s set and topped a great first night for us. A warm groovy deep house track which was what got me into these guys, real crowd pleaser!

 

Night 2: A night with O’flynn & Izem:

O’Flynn – Tyrion

Enormous track that I had head the previous summer, again another one that got me listening to O’Flynn. I would say this was probably one of my favourite moments at project. It was the last track O’Flynn played and the remaining heads were all bunched up in front of the decks bouncing in sync, it picked the energy levels in the room back up and rounded off a very fun night!

 

Night 3: Project presents Anthony Naples:

Powder – Afrogran

I have been a big fan of Anthony’s productions for a long time and after seeing him in Porto last summer along with very brief chat we arranged a date for him to come visit Notts! He was awesome and probably the most technical DJ we have had! The most memorable track for me that night was Afrogran by a new producer/DJ called Powder, I was hooked to it and ended up asking Naples for the track that night!.

 

Night 4: A night with Florist + Lukas Wigflex:

H.O.M – two days with Inor

This was wasn’t our busiest night with a lot of other events going on that night but musically it was probably one of our best. We brought in Canadian producer/DJ Florist to share some of the Canadian Riviera rhythms and Nottingham Bosman Lukas Wigflex. I wanted them to do a b2b session for this event even though they usually play very different stuff and it ended up being epic, Lukas certainly brought out Florist’s inner demon. This tack was one that Florist played not long after the B2b had begun.

 

Night 5: DJ Fett Burger + LNS:

Osunlade – Mommas Groove

Our favourite night to date! Fett burger is one of my favourite DJs out there at the minute and it was a genuine pleasure to see him do his ting in Nottingham. Both Fett and LNS slayed the decks and kept people dancing right until the lights were turned on. So many amazing tracks that night but I have a soft spot for Osunlade, and I took time out to have a groove to it.

Night 6: …

Join Project this Saturday at the Irish Centre. Find out more online.

Hercules and my love affair

I’d like to wax lyrical about a group who I wish would come back and make my ears happy once more. After hearing Blind by Hercules and Love Affair pop on my iPod, I was instantly reminded of how fantastic Andy Butler and his rotating disco supergroup are.

Largely, my original joy and soft-spot for HALA probably stems from nostalgia. The video for its anthem, Blind featuring goddess Jamie Winstone first made its appearance in 2008 – around the time when Skins was the Bible, Hot Chip introduced us 15 year olds to a life beyond indie guitars and CSS rocked fabulous sequin catuits long before stores like Topshop sold them. This was when I was discovering music, style and life on my own terms. And Mr Butler and his nu-disco crew was there to provide the soundtrack, every step of the way.

The band’s first self-titled album still sounds as great today as it did almost 10 years ago. Not surprising when you consider the talent behind it. Andy Butler’s skills and powerful vision is something that continues to ring true in 2017, both inspired and fascinated by disco and nightlife culture’s ability to offer a complete sense of freedom. Something which perhaps my youthful self also related to, forming my bond with the band. (while researching this post I’ve seen that the band in fact released another album in 2014 which I look forward to listening to – but for the purpose of this post, lets focus on its stunning debut)

HALA prides itself on its rotating lineup of band members but just as everyone has their favourite Blue Peter cast that just IS Blue Peter in their mind, the team responsible for the first album will define this group for me. The rich, emotive vocals from Anhoni are simply mesmerising and one of the first factors that made me fall in love with the group. They take each HALA track to new, hypnotic places, making the whole album even more magical to my ears, giving it a distinctive edge. Nomi Ruz is every inch the powerful disco diva I wish I could be, owning the live performances  alongside Kim Ann Foxman – both incredible, talented ladies who are still rocking it now!

Nine years later, I can also fully appreciate the band and Andy Butler’s vision in its entirety. A quick peek at its Wiki page gives insight into the entire concept, as well as Andy’s deep-rooted passion for tunes.

‘Butler decided to do so under the name of Hercules and Love Affair because it reflected his interest in Greco-Roman mythology; it referenced Hercules and his “love affair” with Hylas. According to Butler, “[Hercules] stayed on the island, looking for his boyfriend. I just thought this was super-beautiful: the strongest man on earth looking for his lost love, at his most vulnerable. Strong men can have strong feelings. And they can experience those feelings and experience pain and express pain — and be gay.” ‘

“‘Blind’ was about growing up a gay kid, my immediate family and social group rejecting me, and asking why I was born into this situation. But knowing that as soon as I could escape, I would, and that I would find freedom and solace. As an adult, however, I found a life full of excess and other wounded people and confusion. Thus, I felt blind.”

Butler, 2008[7]

(text taken from the Hercules and Love Affair Wikipedia page. View it here.)

Ultimately, Hercules and Love Affair is a band that is a true product of passion, not simply just making tunes to make you dance, but making a freedom statement in bold, colourful, hip-swinging ways.

I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing Hercules and Love Affair once, when I was under 18 at a free festival in Newcastle. How I’d love to see them again, now that I’m older.