As one of the Liverpool’s most celebrated club nights turns five this weekend, Getintothis‘ Martin Guttridge-Hewitt gets personal with the event mastermind.
Great things often come from humble beginnings. This is particularly true when a student blog goes on to become one of the most respected club nights in one of England’s foremost musical cities.
Such is the back story to Abandon Silence. The Liverpool party celebrates no less than five years of hard work and even harder hedonism with a bash at its spiritual home of The Kazimier this Saturday, April 25, bringing none other than Floating Points and Max Graef along for the ride – names we can now add to a list that includes the likes of Four Tet, Ben UFO, Blawan, Julio Bashmore, Pariah, Joy Orbison and James Blake.
In the words of one particular British producer “you’ve come a long way, baby”. Hence the reason we called Andrew Hill, the mastermind behind this Merseyside institution, to discuss the after dark state of play in our home town, his favourite memories from the last half decade, and whether or not we have enough good venues to satisfy the ever-growing demand for electronic-leaning events in this corner of the country.
This is what he had to say.
Getintothis: Hi Andrew, hope all’s well. So you’ve made it to five years old, or at least Abandon Silence has. How did the whole thing begin?
AH: It started out as a blog I was running, called Abandon Silence, whilst studying journalism at John Moores. I did an interview with a then-unknown DJ called Rich Furness, who told me that a lot of the people we were writing about – James Blake, Mount Kimbie – weren’t getting booked in Liverpool. That’s kind of where the idea was born and it has been snowballing since then.
Getintothis: Do you think the city has changed much, club-wise, in that time?
AH: No, I don’t necessarily think it has changed, apart from the music. When we first started out everything was about dubstep. You can see from our early line ups that the nights were heavier, 140BPM stuff. Now it has changed to become a lot more groove-based, which I personally prefer.
House and techno nights seem to be popping up every week now, they really are the most popular sounds at the moment. In terms of the parties themselves, I’d say change has always been prompted by the venues. The prominence of The Kazimier, The Masque. A lot of people didn’t realise it at the time, but when The Masque closed down it made a big difference.
Getintothis: Is there a shortage of good party spaces in Liverpool at the moment then?
AH: No, I think the supply meets the demand for now, but there’s going to be a rather large hole when The Kazimier closes. It’s the one venue in Liverpool that has its own unique vibe. It’s hard to put it into words what it means to us – it has been our home for three years now, and we have parties that nearly sell out before the line up is announced just because people know it will be good in there.
The Baltic Triangle has been a godsend, though. We’re in a much better place than we were even two years ago. Not only has The Kazimier gone from being pretty much only live music and bands to a regular club venue, places in The Baltic like Haus, 24 Kitchen Street and Constellations have opened and are attracting new promoters. A lot of them are independents, so the owners are coming from a promoter background, so it’s a lot different to working with a massive company that has a venue in every major city.
24 Kitchen Street is a great example. The guy who runs it used to put nights on in Liverpool, and so understands how things should work from that perspective. You can just go down and have a chat with him to discuss ideas, it’s a world away from sending an email or leaving a phone message and waiting a week for an answer even to the most simple question. It makes things much easier- especially for promoters that are just starting out.
Getintothis: It sounds like there’s a good community spirit then?
AH: Yeah, at the moment it seems like most of the people involved are sound guys- nice people. Communication makes all the difference. People often ask me about club politics, but all that can be avoided if you just talk to each other. I mean, there have been some daft situations with people throwing hissy fits or whatever, but that’s usually sorted out if you speak first hand.
In Liverpool at the minute there are a lot of good creative people doing great things, and not too many parties clashing, so there is a bit of a community spirit about it all. When you get to the larger scale events, though, things can get a bit more heated. That’s nothing to do with the people, but when you get to those sized events people are spending the equivalent to a BMW, so naturally it gets taken more seriously. It becomes their livelihood. I pay the rent with my nights so if one goes wrong I’m going to struggle, so as you can imagine, the massive events involve a massive amount of money.
Getintothis: Finally, and apologies for the big ask- is there one particular Abandon Silence party that has stood out for you more than others?
AH: It is hard to say, but maybe Four Tet in terms of bookings. It’s amazing to think that before that night a couple of years ago he hadn’t played in Liverpool in around a decade. It just popped up – You Have Mail From Kieran Hebden.
At first I thought it was just someone with the same name as him, but it turned out that Blawan had played here and put in a good word for us, telling Four Tet he should play. So he got in touch, and basically said ‘I want to play, can we make it work’. There are maybe five times that has happened in five years – a DJ approaching us to book them. It’s hard to think of anyone who has the same level of respect and admiration for their back catalogue, so to have him play a small 200 capacity venue with low ceilings was incredible.
Probably the most fun I’ve had at a party, though, was more recently. We had Jeremy Underground Paris and Motor City Drum Ensemble, and it was amazing. Jeremy Underground Paris told us afterwards it was his favourite UK party ever, and Motor City Drum Ensemble said The Kazimier was the best British venue he had played at. Often when you’re putting on club nights there are a million things that can and do go wrong. That night was one of those rare occasions when everything just came together.
Abandon Silence will celebrate its fifth birthday with a day and night party on Saturday 25 April 2015.
Kazimier Gardens, 2pm-9pm: Max Graef, Abandon Silence Residents – £3 OTD before 4PM, £5 thereafter
The Kazimier and Rat Alley, 10pm-4am: Floating Points (4hrs), Max Graef, Andrew Hill, Harry Sheehan, Horza, Owain Gwyn, Rich Furness – SOLD OUT