As part of our Access All Areas series, we caught up with London’s biggest underground event organisers, holding parties in unique and unusual locations across the Capital. Exclusive music promoters at Tobacco Dock. Refusing to be pigeonholed to one venue, or one style, LWE’s versatility is held together by operational excellence and a creative mindset.
Diversity sets them apart from the crowd, working with the world’s most influential artists and labels to cover a vast range of sounds. From House to Electronica, Bass to Techno and all of the in-betweens LWE are providing London with the music they need to hear. Working closely with Cocoon, Drumcode, Seth Troxler’s Acid Future, Dystopian, Hotflush and 2020Vision while their in house brands MIXED, Closer and the indoor festivals at Tobacco Dock go from strength to strength.
With a habit of unearthing amazing locations, transforming blank canvas spaces into clubbing meccas has become their hallmark. Slick operations, great sound, proper attention to detail, big lighting rigs and impressive special effects; have pushed them to the top of the pile as they consistently produce exceptional parties.
LWE are not only promoters though, they also produce shows for a select few brands that they feel proud to be associated to. Red Bull Music for example, with highlights including their flag ship event at Notting Hill Carnival, the Red Bull stage at Bestival in 2014 and Disclosure’s Album Launch party for Settle.
Hi guys, so tell us about LWE. How did it start, what’s the music policy how do you choose your locations?
Paul: LWE came about through a combination of luck and being in the right place at the right time. In late 2009 I was running events at the now defunct Matter and Will Harold was the head booker, when the venue went into receivership, Will and I started to plot plans for a series of warehouse parties. We started our partnership in July 2010 with a Pryda warehouse party with Eric Prydz at the then little known Great Suffolk Street. The event sold out in advance and LWE was born. Alice Favre, the third partner that completes the dynamic trio, initially worked as our production manager on the first Drumcode show and then shortly after became the third partner. From the three of us working together we are now a team of eight full time staff.
Our music policy is partly dictated by what we would want to dance to and partly by what is currently selling tickets in the ever evolving electronic music scene. LWE has always acted as a badge of quality for production and operations rather then being identified with a certain style of music, which means it gives us the flexibility with programming and move with the times.
Venues need to be interesting, different and have something special about them. This makes life difficult in many ways, specially in an overcrowded city like London, but as with when we started with Great Suffolk Street and now Tobacco Dock they make for amazing, memorable rave dens!
London has a long history of hosting parties both legal and illegal. What sets you apart from other promoters?
Paul: Well produced, well thought out, unique event experiences where we put the customers and the music first before our profit – it maybe a little cliche to say this but it’s true. We spend hours as a team looking at how each individual event works and then we spend above and beyond what other UK promoters do to make sure we deliver a smooth and enjoyable event. There have been some events where we have lost a fortune but as a customer you wouldn’t have known as we still run the events with all the bells and whistles of a profitable show.
Halloween sees you team up with Drumcode at at two locations, Tobacco Dock and Studio Spaces E1 (with Hydra). How important has it been to align your brand with other organisations to pull off really top quality nights, and in your opinion is there enough of this mutually beneficial collaboration occurring in London right now?
Paul: Collaborations between promoters used to be rare as effectively we are all competitors in a difficult market but sometimes the best events come from a wider team pooling their ideas and resources together.
Hydra puts on some of the best underground shows in London, their programming is superb and the attention to detail regarding sound and production is in line with what we expect at events… and Studio Spaces is a fantastic event space. We have also worked with SJM quite regularly as well as a few others and there will be more collaborations in 2016.
We have also noticed that London promoters are now consulting with each other a lot more than they used to. We try and share our up and coming plans with other venues and promoters to make sure that we are not treading on each others toes. That’s definitely new in promoter world, five years ago it was very competitive and there was no way you would tell another promoter what your year ahead held. We now work happily alongside most other major dance music promoters, share info and cross promote shows to help each other out.
Festival season is now over, and the clubs find themselves able to offer the audience a great night out again. Is there too much emphasis on festivals in the summer months which force clubs to shut or struggle to compete? Can there be room for both?
Paul: Summer is naturally difficult as people want to spend their time and money enjoying the great outdoors. Festival tickets are expensive, combined with potential holidays and there is little money left for people to go out clubbing. Clubbing events aren’t impossible but to do well they need to be generally combined with a day and night offering where you can hopefully enjoy the sun and then party the night away.
Are there any DJs on your wish list still? Who are they, and what makes them special?
Paul: Roman Flügel and Nastia have been the list of favourite artists to play one of our shows for a long time, hopefully we can rectify that in the not too distant future. Roman because he is an awesome DJ and producer, his album ‘Happiness is Happening’ is probably played at least once a week in the office. And Nastia because we have watched her career since 2011 when we met her in Poland. She is an amazing DJ as well as an amazing character. Her career should keep on climbing, and she has longevity in her.
The UK has a proud tradition for underground dance music. Who were your heroes growing up and how did they influence your decision to go into the world of club promotion?
Paul: My first taste of clubbing started in 1995 when i first went to Club UK, nervous and scared of what i would find but excited to explore the music I was hearing on pirate radio. From the first time I went I loved it, thought it was an incredible environment, after which i discovered Trade at Turnmills and various other London events which led to me launching my first event in 2004 with the oddly named Party Proactive at the Purple Turtle in Camden.
Alice: My first time out in a proper club was the closing party of the Manor in Bournemouth in 1999, I will never forget the floor bouncing up and down on the 1st floor as 800 people raved to Andy C. From there I went out to nights in Bournemouth like Maison and Slinky at The Opera House. Bournemouth is now barren of decent electronic music events, which is weird seeing as we are probably at a time when dance music is at its biggest and record numbers go to Ibiza to dance the night away to big name DJs. Those nights at The Opera House were amazing, I went raving there for 6 months solidly and then decided to apply for a job there as I just couldn’t get enough. I worked there for 7 years til moving to London.
Will: My first proper night out to a ‘real’ night club was the bomb in Nottingham. My house mate at the time took me to see Tim Deluxe and I had a pretty good time, I went back the following week and it was Tyrant night. Craig Richards and Lee Burridge played together and I can just remember thinking ‘this is like music from outer space, where do you find, let alone buy music like that?’, it totally changed my direction in life and, whilst I have never been DJ, I started buying and searching for music every day. I spent so much time at The Bomb I ended up getting a job there and then a year or so in I found myself booking the venue. It was pretty surreal but amazing.
The glamour and appeal of promoting has long been a draw for those who think it’s a quick way of making a lot of money quickly. However the reality is much different. Were there times in the last few years where you’ve though of quitting and getting an office job instead?
Paul: Hahaha is what i have to say to that! Promoting is hard and has so many high and lows. There have been plenty of times over the years were we have collectively been worried, lost money and had to work our way back. Everytime it goes wrong you need to accept it’s part of the risk and either give up or work out what went wrong and keep going. We met a man the other day who told us all “If you want to make big money, run a company that does something that the rest of the world sees as ‘uncool’. If you do something trendy then you will never end up being rich”. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule but it’s a good rule to follow.
Promoting events has changed dramatically with the upturn in social media usage. Now promoters spam your Facebook wall and twitter feeds with information for upcoming shows. Do you feel it happens too much and actually has the reverse effect on people when they get spammed? How do you use online promotion effectively?
Paul: Social media is an amazing tool to connect with your audience in ways that were never previously possible but as Facebook etc has become central to how we communicate what we push out as messaging has had to evolve. For us it’s about creating engaging content that is interesting for people to read, listen to and look at. We have a new website launching soon which is based around the look, listen, read ethos – somewhere to house all of the content we create.
A lot of promoters I know have a certain ritual on the day of a show to make sure it goes well. Do you have any rituals or things you must do on the day of your events?
Check the ticket count!! Haha. Um, no, maybe we should have one, is that where we’re going wrong?
Let’s finish with a cool tour story. Something incredible thats happened in the last year?
We’ve been hard at work looking for new spaces and I think we maybe found the best one yet… touch wood!
LWE NYD 2016 presents: Dream Don’t Sleep at Tobacco Dock London with Maceo Plex, Âme, Anja Schneider + more
16 frames of images per second creates a moving image, there are 16 bars in a lot of your favourite songs, 16 mm film in your movies and 16bit created the most iconic video game characters. The number 16 is surrounded by creativity, symbolising great change and evolution. Energised by the number, we’re going to make LWE NYD 2016 the best one yet.
The century comes of age hitting the sweet-sixteenth year, so those New Year’s resolutions can wait a little longer. Bringing futuristic production that’s built on inspirations of the past, we’ve selected a line-up that is built around a similar ethos.
Following on from the hype of 2014 & 2015 we’re expecting LWE NYD 2016 to hit a new level for LWE!
Maceo Plex and his Dream Don’t Sleep concept will takeover The Great Gallery with very special guests Âme bringing their remarkable live showcase. We welcome back LWE favourite Anja Schneider who has been our Tobacco Dock resident this year to play an extended set in the car park, no doubt she will create many more of the magic moments that we have come to expect.
For more info, line up and tickets visit http://londonwarehouseevents.co.uk/lwe-nyd-2016/