Words: Alex Caslano
“It’s always been personal for me” says Sarra Wild, co-founder of creative collective and club night OH-141. “Seeing women or anyone out of the norm in the booth or working behind the scenes motivated me to pursue my passion and I hope to do the same for others.” Along with partner Jenny Johan Reid, the duo hope to inspire a positive change in Glasgow’s club scene, evoking a message of equality and opportunity. “One of the reasons for OH-141 starting was because Sarra and I want women in the scene to be well represented” Jenny tells us. “This is not us saying that there are not already people out there working towards better representation of women in the city; we just want to contribute to this and build upon what is already being done.”
With their inaugural party this Thursday (7th) at the Sub Club, the duo are keen to maintain focus on the quality of the night and how OH-141 is represented, with bookings and production at the top of the agenda. Inviting Berlin-based producer Avalon Emerson for her Subbie debut, as well drafting in local support from All Caps’ co-founder Ryan Martin, they’ve certainly nailed the lineup, while visual identity has also been carefully considered, starting with OH-141's distinctive poster. “The electronic music scene in Glasgow is an amazing creative outlet and it all starts with the posters” suggests Jenny. “I never thought I’d be confident enough to (use) one of my own paintings, but it really did bring something different and I’m over the moon with the feedback.”
There’s a noticeable energy about Sarra and Jenny, and it’s obvious that OH-141 is the product of passion. Having immersed themselves in club culture - whether it be with a fake ID to see Green Velvet or taking a chance and applying for an internship with Sub Club's Sub Hub - they’ve both worked hard to get to this point and amassed the experience and knowledge to realise their own ideas. They want to share that with everyone, and OH-141 is the perfect platform. “It’s a lot of work and none of it is as straightforward as it sounds in our heads, but we’ll definitely be giving it our all” says Sarra. “The road ahead is long, but we’re excited!”
Listen to mixes from both Avalon Emerson and Ryan Martin below, and read the full interview with Sarra and Jenny, in which we talk more about the issue of equality, the catalyst for OH-141 and their vision for an all-inclusive collective:
SynthGlasgow: OH-141 launches at the Sub Club this week. Can you start by telling us a little about how you both met and the catalyst for establishing the collective?
Jenny: Really it all started for me when I was an intern at Sub Hub last April. It felt like a bit of a fluke getting that internship as I was really naive to what Sub Club and the electronic music scene in Glasgow really meant to people. Very quickly though, I knew it was the industry I wanted to work in for two reasons: Firstly, I’d never felt such a sense of community and support, and secondly, it felt like an absolute creative playground that I could get my teeth into.
Sarra: I started going clubbing as soon as I found out fake ID's existed. The first party I ever went to was Green Velvet in Edinburgh's Cabaret Voltaire, and at 17 years old I knew there and then that this was something I wanted to be a part of. As soon as I was old enough to actually work in the industry, I applied for jobs. I eventually got a job working on the door for Snafu in Aberdeen (many thanks to George from Bigfoot’s Tea Party) and worked my way up from there.
I met Jenny a few years later when we were both working at T in the Park and we quickly realised we shared a lot of the same experiences as two hard working young women working in this industry. We feel we can bring something different to the scene, with new ideas and a different perspective.
SG: You talk about promoting equality with OH-141. If we reference Glasgow specifically, how do you feel equality is represented in the clubbing community?
Jenny: Equality and diversity are important in the clubbing community in Glasgow; it’s a shame that it’s something that needs to be addressed rather than promoters booking people from all walks of life being the done thing.
One of the reasons for OH-141 starting was because Sarra and I want women in the scene to be well represented, and it will always be a really important part of our booking policy. This is not us saying that there are not already people out there working towards better representation of women in the city, we just want to contribute to this and build upon what is already being done. If it was my choice this would just be something that everyone does and it wouldn’t need to be something which is highlighted, but if it opens up healthy conversation about women and minorities in electronic music then there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sarra: It’s always been personal for me. It took me a long time to convince myself that I could do this - that I was just as good or as talented as the many men I always saw running this scene. I was taught about the history of the scene from an early age and always wondered how it is that something that was started by gay and black communities who championed diversity and welcomed all is now predominantly a white male scene with no real emphasis on the original message. I want to see that change. Seeing women or anyone out of the norm in the booth or working behind the scenes motivated me to pursue my passion and I hope to do the same for others.
With OH-141 we want to create more opportunities. Give those who have never been given the chance to do what they do best just that in the Sub Club, which is hands-down a Glasgow Institution when it comes to electronic music.
SG: If we talk about the Sub Club and what it means to you, why were you keen to launch OH-141 there? How important is the venue to the night?
Jenny: Sub Club means the world to me. It’s really hard to explain how different I was before and after my internship at Sub Hub and how getting a job working for the club has had such a positive impact on my life. I’ve been given a huge amount of creative freedom and I really feel my voice is heard when in meetings no matter how big or small the issue.
It was my boss Barry Price who encouraged Sarra and I to put forward an idea for starting a night, and so when we were in the planning stage all our ideas were based around OH-141 being at Sub Club. We’ve got something to say and what better way to say it than through one of the most respected clubs in the electronic music scene?
Sarra: Where do I start…I love the place; it’s hands down my favourite club that I’ve been to in the UK. I’ve experienced some of my favourite nights out and met a lot of my good friends there.
To be hosting a night at Sub Club and working as closely as we have with their staff – Ricky, Barry, Kieran, Lisa and co – on what is essentially our dream has been really humbling. They’ve given us this opportunity which is essentially why we started OH-141 - to create that exact same opportunity for others, and we’ll always be grateful for that.
Photography: Sean Bell
SG: Berlin-based producer Avalon Emerson is your first headliner, what interested you in her?
Jenny: It was Sarra who introduced me to Avalon’s music and I will be forever grateful. It’s amazing to see a young woman doing her creative thing whilst still working in coding. I’ve always been really interested in how things work as well as needing to have a creative outlet, so when I knew what Avalon was all about and really loved her music, it felt like it was meant to be!
Sarra: I spend most of my free time listening to mixes and radio shows, and came across Avalon’s Beats in Space radio mix when it first came out. When we decided to launch OH-141 she was the first DJ/ producer I thought of and knew Jenny would dig what she’s about too. We want to work with people whose music we love but also who inspire us as individuals, and Avalon Emerson is exactly that.
SG: You also have All Caps’ Ryan Martin joining you; what do you admire about him as a DJ and why did you want to get him on board for the launch night?
Jenny: Local boy wonder! Ryan is one of the most respected young DJs in the city and has an extensive music knowledge that I’ve only tapped into slightly in conversation. His track selection is amazing and I’ve never not enjoyed his sets. Booked!
Sarra: He’s a don! Not the most talkative person you’ll ever meet, but very much about his music and I love that. He is also someone I respect: He co-runs All Caps, one of my favourite labels with some of the sickest releases and a huge inspiration to us in terms of their party policy and bookings.
He’s also heavily involved with Rubadub and the Glasgow scene in general, not to mention he’s a great DJ who has yet to fail to make me dance. If you haven’t checked out his recent Boiler Room set then definitely do that.
SG: You’ve highlighted the importance of club design and lighting in the past. Do you think promoters invest enough into the visual side of parties in Glasgow? And how will OH-141 be represented visually?
Jenny: Last Halloween I got talking to my now mentor, Shaun Murphy, about how only a small amount of club nights in Glasgow are really putting any effort into the production of their night. Optimo and Freaky Freaky are two notable nights who create a vibe through their look; others are dabbling in it, but we want it to be one of the focal points of OH-141. It feels like there is a real opportunity just now to play around with lights and the decor of the club which is really exciting!
The electronic music scene in Glasgow is an amazing creative outlet and it all starts with the posters. It’s your first point of contact with your audience and after making posters for Subbie for just under a year, I’ve really analysed what I feel makes a good club poster. Optimo and Vitamins are a huge inspiration to me in this, and I will forever be using them as a reference point.
I never thought I’d be confident enough to put one of my own paintings on the poster (for OH-141), but it really did bring something different and I’m over the moon with the feedback.
Sarra: Like Jenny said, it’s a really important aspect of any night and our first point of contact with the people we want to reach. This is completely Jenny’s domain with her background in graphic design, and she’s nailed it even if I do say so myself.
Optimo and Freaky Freaky are definitely a huge inspiration to us when it comes to design and club production, but I need to mention Bigfoot’s Tea Party and The Art School when it comes to their graphics and emphasis on nailing their production on the night too. If we can be even half as effective as they have been with their approach to both, I’ll consider it a job well done.
SG: There’s already a great buzz about OH-141 and the motivation behind it. Looking to the future, what have you got planned in the way of events, who can we expect to see on your lineups and how can people get involved?
Jenny: We’re obviously still in the very early stages of finding our feet and voice. The talk surrounding the night has been really overwhelming and has inspired us to try different things. Something that is super important to us is creating a sense of community, so if you have any ideas please feel free to message OH-141 or either of us to have a chat!
Sarra: We have a lot of ideas and like Jenny said, we’re still trying to figure out how to make them a reality as it’s early days yet. We’re in talks with other promoters in the city about other parties and bookings we can work on together and plan on hosting production and radio workshops to hopefully inspire even more people from different backgrounds to want to do this too. It’s a lot of work and none of it is as straightforward as it sounds in our heads, but we’ll definitely be giving it our all to bring our ideas to life and we want to work with as many up and coming creatives as possible in the process. The road ahead is long but we’re excited!
Finally, we just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s reached out to us, all the help we’ve received from Sub Club and those involved in the scene from Glasgow and beyond. Your support and words of encouragement don’t go unnoticed. Avalon Emerson and Ryan Martin will be playing at our first night this Thursday at Sub Club and we could not be more excited. We hope to see you there!
OH-141 launches at the Sub Club this Thursday (7th) with Avalon Emerson and Ryan Martin. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor, while tickets on the door are £7 or £6 with student ID. OH-141 have a forthcoming show on Subcity Radio – check their profile page for more info.