WORDS: Alex Caslano
Celebrated, respected and popular as ever, the 20th anniversary of Glasgow’s most revered Saturday night, Subculture, is big news. Apart from the obvious accolade of being quite possibly the longest running house night in the world, the two men who run it are getting the recognition they deserve, not only as faithful, long-serving residents, but as two of dance music’s finest DJs. We’re of course referring to James Harrigan and Domenic Cappello aka Harri & Dom, and over the last twenty years they’ve dedicated themselves to the Sub Club’s world renowned dancefloor, creating an institution in the process.
Born from the dying embers of a collaborative event called Atlantis with Stuart MacMillan of Slam, Harri took it upon himself to carry the night forward as a simple Saturday party which later became Subculture with the arrival of Domenic. In the time since its launch in April 1994, the duo have welcomed the absolute cream of DJ and artistry talent, welcoming everyone from Jeff Mills to Jackmaster. But what has made the night so incendiary is their intuitive connection with the floor; playing the same club every week on the same night for twenty years…well, you can easily appreciate the relationship they must have with it.
But while twenty years is of course a hugely important milestone and certainly reflects their dedication, it’s this ideal that they're only as good as their last gig which keeps them on top. It would be so simple to rely on past success or slip into routine, but with a keen ear for aspiring talent and a seemingly endless passion for playing records, Subculture continues to push forward.
Check out nearly 8 hours worth of Subculture mixes below, including Domenic’s ’20 Yr Mix’, their set from Boiler Room’s Sub Club special and a recent podcast for DJ Mag:
We also had an opportunity to catch up with Harri before DJ Harvey takes to the booth this Saturday. As well as talking Subculture, we also chatted about his new project with The Revenge and how it feels playing alongside his son, Jasper:
SG: We think it’s pretty much been confirmed that Subculture is the longest running weekly house night in the world now, which is of course an incredible title to have; does it feel like you’ve been going for two decades?
Harri: It feels pretty weird when it's put like that, but absolutely normal on a week to week basis. It certainly doesn't feel like 20 years.
SG: Unfortunately we were unable to make it down to the resident’s party last month but we saw your comments afterwards online and it sounded like a classic night; can you sum up some of the emotions you were feeling? Any old faces turn up which you’d not seen in years?
Harri: There are always a few older faces that appear from time to time. I felt an overwhelming relief when it was over and a bit nervous before we kicked off, but thoroughly enjoyed the vibe and the madness as it was happening.
SG: We’d suggest that your longevity is partly attributed to staying on the button when it comes to fresh talent while obviously reflecting the past; are there any new acts which have really impressed you when they’ve played Subculture recently?
Harri: Off the top of my head...Mano le Tough, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Ten Walls, Bicep guys, plus lots of local talent - Basement Avenue Basement Jams, Rory and Jube from Thunder Disco Club, Brian and Esa from Highlife, Ali Ooft, Graeme Clarke (The Revenge) and Craig Smith from Instruments of Rapture...not forgetting Jackmaster and my boy Jasper James.
SG: Subculture has always been popular among Glasgow’s passionate punters, but it seems like there’s been a wider interest in what you’re doing recently with the likes of Boiler Room, Red Bull Revolutions and various festivals. Although you’re celebrating twenty years does it in some respects feel like a new, exciting chapter is just beginning?
Harri: Yes, in some ways it does, but we have both firmly believed we are only as good as our last gig. We have had several new exciting chapters in the last 20 years.
SG: There’s been a lot of focus returning to the value of the resident DJ with Mixmag recently commissioning a full feature written by Tim Sheridan in which you’re credited; is there a feeling that ‘guest culture’ is starting to lose appeal? Do you think there’s more desire now for that ‘all night long’ experience?
Harri: I have got no idea if this is the case. I imagine the media is always looking for new angles, and perhaps this is the case at present. I do think that there will always be room for guests, as long as you are giving people something fresh.
SG: When it comes to the music you play at Subculture and your relationship with the dancefloor, do you find yourself hearing music or picking out records during the week and thinking ‘that will go down a treat at 2am’? Is there an instinctive element to what you play?
Harri: That is precisely the case, combined with an instinctive knack of what might work, depending on time of night, the number of people in, the music played before you go on, and who is playing after you.
SG: We’ve been listening to the Burnt Island Casuals stuff you’ve been making with The Revenge and it’s safe to say we’re getting pretty excited. How did the collaboration come about and can you tell us a bit about the concept behind the project?
Harri: Oooh....blushing ;-) Graeme and myself have been collaborating on tracks for about ten years. We were introduced by a mutual friend years ago. The concept behind the new EP was to just jam stuff live with friends (Bill Docherty & Esa Mervin Granger) and then edit the jams down to arranged tracks. We wanted to do things with different feels and tempos rather than just straight ahead house tracks. Our new EP was completed about 2 years ago and should hopefully be in a shop near you by the end of May...so no rush.
SG: You mentioned your son Jasper who is also starting to pick up some really positive attention at the moment; have you had the opportunity to play out any of his tunes? It must be a great feeling seeing him playing alongside you!
Harri: Yes, Jasper is doing pretty well at the moment. I have played several of his tunes out and got great reactions. We have also collaborated on stuff which we have still to finish. Esa and I have just done a remix for a new project that he has done for Optimo’s label, also out around the end of May. We have been playing together at home since his mid teens, so it is really great to get to play alongside him in clubs and at festivals etc.
SG: DJ Harvey will be making his first Sub Club appearance in over ten years at Subculture this Saturday; can you tell us a little about his influence and what it means to have him play with you?
Harri: Harvey has played at the Sub Club before, but not on our night...I thought he was great. I would be lying to say that Harvey has had any direct influence on me; his influence has been more on introducing a new audience to the rich heritage of dance music. I'm really looking forward to playing with him, but I get a sense most folks will be there to hear Harvey!
SG: Finally, it’s a bit of a cliché but we couldn’t resist asking - if you had to choose one memorable moment from the last twenty years of Subculture, a moment which embodies the very essence of the night, what would it be and why?
Harri: I get asked this all the time, and my mind goes blank. Ask me at 4.00 o'clock on a Sunday morning and I have got lots of answers. Although the 20th birthday night was pretty much music that has been played and inspired us over the past years, the crowd pretty much embodied the essence of what Subculture is about.
DJ Harvey plays alongside Harri & Domenic this Saturday as part of Subculture’s 20th anniversary. Tickets are £30 advance (last release) from Resident Advisor. Check out the full listings for May here.