Words: Colin Brownbill
When was the last time you had a truly immersive clubbing experience? While many nights in Glasgow can be highly energised affairs, the limited licensing laws condense the action into a fast and furious four hours, and it may well be making an impact on our clubbing mentality – whether it’s peaking too early or not having enough time to truly lose yourself.
It’s something Animal Farm hope to address with their new event, Blackout. Taking place over 11 hours and two venues, this techno marathon invites people to surrender their senses, and their concept of time. Starting at 4pm this Saturday in The Glue Factory , before eventually moving to the Joytown Electric Theatre, an old snooker hall in the Chinatown area of the city, attendees will find themselves entering a timeless void, with a soundtrack provided by Animal Farm favourites and label-mates, Dax J, Abdulla Rashim, Somewhen (who plays live) and Stephanie Sykes.
“We plan on keeping things pretty pitch-black in terms of production and musical programming” says Animal Farm’s Quail. “Time and place should have no meaning once you enter the event and we intend to have things pretty intense from the beginning.” Taking inspiration from continental clubs where liberal licensing means people can enjoy dancing at pretty much anytime of day for as long as they want, Blackout is an opportunity to embrace a different style of partying and a whole new clubbing experience.
Listen to Stephanie Sykes' Blackout promo mix below and read our full interview with Quail in which we talk more about the Blackout concept, Glasgow's clubbing constrictions and the problems facing promoters. We're also giving away two tickets to Blackout at the bottom of the page, courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon:
SG: You’ve mentioned that ‘Blackout’ was born from a desire to go beyond the ‘standard clubbing formula’. What inspired you to take a risk and leave the relatively safe environment of a club?
Quail: I think the initial idea for Blackout came from my trip to ADE last year, and in particular the Verknipt Warehouse party with Slam, Kobosil, AnD, Regis and many other top acts. The production aspect was amazing and something that is on a totally different level to what happens here week in week out.
Even with their long opening hours each DJ only had 90mins – something I’ve seen people complain about here – but it still allowed each act to make an impact on a totally up-for-it crowd. Basically, the Dutch know how to do it. We’ve also never really attempted anything like this before, so we relish the challenge.
Using unique venues which are not associated with this style of event tend to intrigue people, as it’s something different. Even with the amazing clubs we have here, it’s still a fairly restricted landscape. Opening up new environments for people to experience seems to garner more attention.
SG: Blackout will take place over 11 hours in two different venues, starting with a ‘sensory, audiovisual experience’ in The Glue Factory. Can you tell us a little about the concept of Blackout and the type of experience you want to create?
Quail: As the title suggests, we plan on keeping things pretty pitch-black in terms of production and musical programming. Having an early start, we want to transfer what we do in a club environment to a venue with no natural light, allowing the clubber to immerse themselves in the experience and forget about the outside world. Time and place should have no meaning once you enter the event and we intend to have things pretty intense from the beginning.
SG: As a party and label, Animal Farm has always sought to promote forward-thinking techno and new talent; what excites you about your guests and how will they compliment the Blackout Experience?
Quail: All of the acts at Blackout have previously played for us at Animal Farm, either at the Sub Club or The Art School. They typify what we aim to showcase from our events in terms of experience and knowledge of techno. We have carefully selected the artists and have arranged the line-up in such a way that it allows them to fulfil what we expect from Blackout.
As I mentioned, we want this to have all the intensity of standard Animal Farm events, but this time from 4pm on a Saturday afternoon. Whilst it sounds like there will be no build-up as such, we believe we have crafted a flow equal to how we see the event naturally proceeding. Having seen all our guests previously, it was quite easy selecting them for Blackout; the mixture of new, underground acts and the more established names exemplifies what we have always strived to showcase at Animal Farm and now, Blackout.
SG: The second part of the night will take place at Joytown Grand Electric Theatre which is still relatively unknown and hasn’t been used for a specialised event of this calibre before. What can people expect when they walk in?
Quail: Having been an old snooker hall in the Chinatown area of the city, it’s fairly large and it’s great to see a well-kept space being revitalised for something that will benefit the city’s nightlife. It’s not exactly in the most well known part of town, but it definitely aims to change that.
The guys behind the venue aren’t new to the game and have some great ideas already for the place; we’re thrilled to be a part of the venue’s foray into the scene. Without giving too much away, it personally feels like a real seedy, underground joint from Glasgow’s past; still quite raw, but ultimately suits what we are looking for perfectly. There are remnants of the original space for some nostalgia and additional adornments inspired from the Orient. We’re also bringing in extra sound in the shape of a rather large VOID PA, so we should be shaking the place to its foundations for sure.
SG: 11 hours is a long time to be raving; what’s your advice for people who intend to go the distance and how will you be catering for those who need to refuel or have some time out?
Quail: I think the main thing here is to emphasise the fact that people do have 11 hours in which to enjoy themselves. Therefore, it’s not about going headfirst from 4pm. We in Glasgow are too used to having to cram a night into 4 hours, and that can often lead to over-doing it before you’ve even left the house. With Blackout, we aim to change the clubbing mentality a little to perhaps mirror that of the continent, where having more time equates to spreading the party out a little and focusing more on the music and experience rather than getting into a stupor and forgetting you were even out.
Alongside the main programming of the event we will have a specially designed chill-out room just off the main space, plenty of seating in the bar area and food provided by SMOAK throughout the day. If I could offer any more advice it’s that people should be looking after each other and making sure that they, their friends and importantly, fellow attendees can enjoy Blackout and party the way we know how to in Glasgow.
SG: In the twelve years you’ve been promoting events in Glasgow, club promotion and DJ culture in general has changed remarkably. Do you think promoters should be taking more risks and what do you identify as the negative aspects of club promotion in 2017?
Quail: I think promoters take risks every time they put an event on these days. With us, most of the acts we deal with are EU based and therefore work in Euros. With the exchange rate being what it is, gone are the times when we would get a good deal on fees etc. DJ fees tend to go up every year and unfortunately agents don’t take into consideration the state of affairs here at the moment when it comes to making deals.
I think promoters should take risks where necessary, without putting themselves into a tight situation. I imagine a lot of promoters are working things from their own pockets via student loans or day job wages. That was certainly the case with us in the beginning and it definitely took a few years off my life worrying about events! It should be fun to do things like this rather than a burden, financially or otherwise.
SG: Glasgow’s relatively short club hours are a constant conversation piece when discussing the city’s nightlife. Do you think split events like Blackout, which start early, are a viable way to get around license limitations and do you think there is an appetite for longer club events?
Quail: I hope so. We can’t seem to get any leeway when it comes to partying past 3am – legal or otherwise these days – so I think split/longer events are definitely a way to get around the restrictive licensing.
I do remember, however, when Pressure at The Arches had the occasional 5am close - by about 04.15 there were very little people left. I guess the lure of the ‘afters’ is too great for some or the fact that folk were too hammered to last that long was the issue, who knows. I certainly think there is a need for a change in mentality of clubbers here and maybe events like Blackout or others like it are the way to help bring about that change.
SG: Finally, you’ve also been busy away from the clubs recently, with releases from Ancestor and Kaiser on the Animal Farm label. Who else has caught your attention and what other releases can we look forward to over 2017?
Quail: Yeah, we’ve had a great start to the year with these releases with some great support on both. Certainly lots more to come from some established names and the usual up and comers we’re keen to promote. In particular, I’m looking forward to a debut on the label from Koichi, a Belfast based artist whose tracks have a mixture of Function and Abdulla Rashim to him.
Stephanie Sykes & Echoplex both appear this year, as well as Glasgow kings, Slam on remix duties for one of the up and coming names. Edinburgh’s Patrick Walker will also be releasing 2 EPs with us – furious Regis/Surgeon-esque tracks from him. A good few others are also lined-up but I don’t want to give it all away! We’re definitely still a work in progress on the AFR front, but it’s certainly picking up the pace this year.
Quail & Turtle: Animal Farm Residents
COMPETITION: To win two tickets to Black Out courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the choice beer of the event, simply head over to the SynthGlasgow Facebook and like and comment ‘Black Out’ on the pinned post at the top of the page relating to this feature. We’ll select one winner at random by 2pm on Friday afternoon and notify them by replying to their entry. Please note that once we pass on the winner's name to the event organisers, we then pass on responsibility for entry.
Animal Farm present Black Out at The Glue Factory and Joytown Grand Electric Theatre this Saturday (25th) with Dax J, Abdulla Rashim, Somewhen (live) and Stephanie Sykes. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor priced at £25/20/15 (excl fees).