Straits Times LIFE!, Apr 28, 2005
From PopTart to Subvert, hip clubbing nights started by independent promoters have been winning converts all over town. JILL ALPHONSO reports.
IF YOU had stepped into Phuture on a particular Saturday night three months ago, you might have thought you had gone to the wrong nightspot. Instead of the usual bass-heavy hip-hop or nu-beats blasting from thespeakers at this Zouk venue, classic hits from the likes of 1980s electro bands Joy Division and New Order ruled.
Spinning for a 400-strong crowd was DJ Adrian Wee. The 30-year-old is the mastermind behind PopTart, one of the newest success stories of independent clubbing nights. Started last October, PopTart is usually held monthly at a small club called Home at Riverwalk Galleria. The Phuture gig was PopTart's first foray into a big-name club. That's just one example of how independent events, among them Sonar and Subversive, are spicing up the clubbing scene even as big clubs like Zouk hold sway. Industry sources say such events gained momentum here five years ago, with around six such nights running here in Singapore. These nights are not rare as clubbing scenes grow, and are in fact common in cities like London or New York.
Here, they are often run by DJs holding day jobs that have little to do withthe nights they throw. They want to share their passion for specific music, andare not out to make a quick buck. Events are held at small clubs like Cocco Latte and Home, which can take upto 300 patrons. Marketing is done via flyers, mass e-mails, website postingsand word of mouth.
'PopTart started because my friends and I wanted a place to hang out andlisten to the music we like,' says Wee. 'We were hoping to attract others with similar interests and build acommunity,' adds the man who holds a residency at Attica in Clarke Quay and isa former DJ of The Liquid Room.
He is not alone. Guerilla, a five-year-old drum 'n' bass consortium, wasstarted by best friends Jonathan Nah Eng Kiat, 32, and Ashidiq Ghazali, 30. Going by their DJ names of Kiat and Ash, both are art directors atadvertising agencies by day. They met at underground club events 13 years agohere and began organising one-off nights in dark, dingy venues like thenow-defunct Insomnia. Now, they hold events every two months (see other story) and are one of themost recognised names in the local DJ scene. 'I think people are sick of the corporatisation of clubbing,' says Kiat.'They come to smaller indie nights to look for something different, toexperience the music without all the fluff.' Though Guerilla has had the support of big-name clubs like Zouk and Rouge,which have played host to give customers an occasional new experience, it iscurrently looking for a smaller venue to hold its next event.
Elsewhere, Sonar and Subversive are other nights which have popped up onclubbers' radar over the past few years. Adding to the mix is a new night,Singapore Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), which held its first night last week atCocco Latte. Although indie operators are reluctant to talk about money matters, sources say they usually bankroll the events from their own pockets and nights can cost as little as $200 to throw.
But if an international DJ isinvolved, costs can reach $5,000, like in the case of Subvert, which brought inTony Colman of British drum 'n' bass duo London Elektricity last December. For the most part, organisers are said to break even at least. They charge anywhere between $5 and $20, and usually draw up to 400 patrons. PopTart, for example, began to take off in December last year.
By January, Wee and company were making a small profit. 'We're not running out and buying new mobile phones every week, but sometimes we do make a little bit,' he says with a laugh. He and his crew are able to 'maybe buy dinner with it' is all he will let on about the takings. Musician Yeow Tan, 38, of Chemistry Team, which organises the monthly Sonar,says it is not about making money, adding that it is more often than not abreak-even story with these indie nights.
So are they a threat to the big boys? Most organisers see their events ascomplementing what's offered at more established clubs. Zouk's marketing manager Tracy Phillips sees value in the fact that such indie nights show Singaporeans that local DJs are just as good, if not better,than international ones. Zouk has hosted PopTart, Subvert and Guerilla in the past three months. 'The local collectives have gotten savvier and more professional. That's great for the scene because there's more variety,' she says.
Clubbers agree. Mr Dustin Lau, 26, a film editor who frequents both Zouk aswell as indie nights, says: 'If you go often enough, you'll get to know theregulars, which breeds a sense of familiarity. That's a nice change from themore distant and impersonal atmosphere in a bigger club.' And you don't have to worry about being underdressed.
Says Mr Dan Camoens,26, a supervisor at a hotel: 'At smaller events, you can hang out with your friends in bermudas and a T-shirt, and no one's going to judge you for it.'
STILL don't know where to go? Here's Life's hit list.
Where: A monthly event held on Saturdays at Home at The River Walk Galleria, but be warned … the night sometimes changes location and date, so check back on www.poptart.planetdreamx.com for updates.
Who's behind them: DJ Adrian Wee and six others like Zaidi, Jah and Cherry who just like to rock.
Music: Classic sounds from the likes of Joy Division, Manic Street Preachers, Nine Inch Nails and New Order. The DJs also introduce the crowd to newer artists like indie disco rock bands Detroit Cobras and The Flaming Lips.
Crowd: Pool-playing sharks and booty-shaking hipsters. Go to have serious, unpretentious fun.
Where: Five parties a year, Timberlux Centre. Don't miss them. Check www.kinemat.com for details. Though the parties have been invite-only, doors open to the public in July. Check www.kinemat.com for details.
Who's behind them: The Kinemat team, a bunch of rowdy folks who run an event and graphic design company with a penchant for block parties. Music: Be prepared for anything. Themes fluctuate from house music to Latin samba to nu-jazz, but absolutely no trance. Crowd: Who isn't there? Models, magazine editors, and the very hippest party-goers in the scene have been spotted.
Where: The Singapore Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) celebrated its inaugural night last Wednesday ’1 at Cocco Latte. The crew is currently in talks to throw monthlies there. Check www.coccolatte.com for updates.
Who's behind them: Three friends inspired by the international underground scenes of San Francisco and London who want to bring their living rooms into a club setting.
Music: Eclectic … everything from 1960s lounge, to German punk, to The Muppets. Expect live performances, video and art installations for eye candy.
Crowd: Chill after-work people looking for good vibes and cold drinks. Go with a bunch of good friends to goof around and put your feet up.
Where: This monthly weekender night regularly moves venues, so be sure to get onto the mailing list (email@example.com) for regular updates. The last event was held at Mox in Tanjong Pagar.
Who's behind them: Four friends with a design company, Chemistry Team, who started throwing parties in other friends' living rooms. They moved to clubs when the neighbours complained and have never looked back since.
Music: House, house and more house from DJ Yeow, formerly of Zircon Gov. Pawn Starz. The night gives play to local DJs like Triso ‘Junior' Garcia and Godwin P as well. Crowd: Don't let the large expat crowd put you off. The music's good enough to get you out there in your dancing shoes.
Where: Monthly nights at Home at The River Walk Galleria.
Who's behind them: Subversive, made up of DJs Zul, Chuan and Vortex, don't care if you tell them drum n' bass is a dying genre. They've kept it alive in Singapore by throwing parties for six years.
Music: Hard-core drum n' bass
Crowd: Raw, pulsing, head-banging types. Those with a low tolerance for testosterone might think of staying away. Go armed with a good attitude and prepare for muscle aches the next day.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Hospitality (FRIDAY, 16 FEB 2007 HERBAL, LONDON)
Get deeper monthly at Hospitality’s Herbal stronghold, featuring all the Hospital artists on rotation as well as special surprise guests… Get close and personal as they push forward the fast soul sound on two floors, 3rd Friday of every month only at Herbal.
L Double (BBC 1xtra)
Zul (Subvert / Therapy Asia)
From: 9:00 pm
Door: £5 b4 10.30 / £8 after
10 / 14 Kingsland Road
London E2 8DA
Tel: 020 7613 4462
Fax: 020 7117 3048
Posted by Subvert HQ at 2:40 am
Monday, January 08, 2007
happy new year all! So really, we're infamous for our o.t.t ridiculous nights. Dress like a goondoo and you might get a surprise.
Suddenly we realised that having vintage sounds were the in thing - so nonsequitur and aresha decided over 70 cent teh that they're gonna churn out some ace of base, michael jackson and vanilla ice as warm up for the melt down. (ha! wasn't that a clever sentence for confusion)...
You can bring your own tune of the 90's-2000 and get it played (exceptions: if you bring vengaboys n aqua u'll get hammered) And then we continue the Atari era with invid, zul and vortex bringing you the best pre 2001 drum and bass sounds... and we're trying to create a soundboard of some ridiculous sounds from mario brothers and what have you. and if you're lucky enough, you'll get to challenge a contender to a game of atari goodness projected on the big big big screen.
For more event details, head here.LOCUS - FRI 19 Jan 2007 @ Bar Baa Black Chic
From 10pm onwards, for more details also check www.barbaablackchic.com
Posted by Subvert HQ at 8:44 am