Any DJ that cites having a back to back mix with Techno legend Colin Dale as a highlight of their already illustrious DJ career is a DJ after my own heart. Lee Williams is that DJ. He started mixing at the tender age of 14, falling in love with the sounds Luis Junior, Sasha, Nick Warren and Matthew Dekay. That love has grown and developed over time and now we find Lee promoting his progressive inspired sounds at his own night called Terminal in his home town of Bournemouth. As a west countryman myself, Bournemouth has been a clubbing destination for me for many years and I was saddened by the closure of nights like Slinky which brought a vibrance to the sleep south coast town. Lee aims to change all that and in the two short years Terminal has been running, names as diverse as Oliver Lieb, Nick Muir and Mark Reeve have graced the hallowed ones and twos. We have chosen Lee as a future leader because he embodies everything we believe a good promoter must be in the modern age. Passionate, knowledgeable, professional and a delight to be around. We caught up with Lee in Bournemouth to get to know him a little better…
Hi Lee, Welcome to This is Progressive. Tell us a little about how you started DJing and that fateful first gig.
Hey thanks for having me. Really good to meet up with you guys!
I first got in to DJing as a kid listening to Pete Tong on Radio 1 and watching repeats of Gatecrasher at the NEC on rapture television with a couple of school mates. This went on to me getting my first turntables and spending all my pocket money on white labels, things just grew from there I guess. My very first gig was at one of my school discos! Playing along side a couple of mates who were also well in to this new exciting music we had got in to.
As I mentioned, Bournemouth a rich clubbing history. Which nights have you most enjoyed being at as a clubber?
When I first started clubbing, for me it was all about Slinky at the Opera House. Im sure that seeing DJs like Paul Van Dyk, Fergie, Lisa Lashes definitely fuelled my hunger for DJing and electronic music. These were definitely very special times for me, aside this being at the Space closing party quite a few year back was nothing short of epic seeing John Digweed live for the first time, was something I will never forget!
How much has the scene in Bournemouth influenced you as a DJ and how does it now feel to be one of the influencers yourself?
Before I started playing out in Bournemouth, I used to go to a lot of nights at the Winchester (the venue where I now do Terminal). I would say this inspired me more than influenced me. I would say the influence in Bournemouth comes more from mates; DJs and producers I work with.
To be honest it feels great to be able to help people on the scene now as I found it very hard to get in to myself, all some people need is a break and if I can help them with that, then thats great!
Another one of your career highlights to date was to warm up for ‘The Man Like’, your hero Sasha. An honour no doubt, tell us how you got the gig and how it all went on the night.
I got the booking from another 2 promoters/ friends from Bournemouth called Arvydas and Justina who run a night called Back to House. I tell you I have never been more stressed about anything for the week leading up to the party. I was playing it over and over in my mind and then over again! hahaha
On the night it went really well. Was great to meet him, he was a really nice bloke, down to earth. And obviously he played an amazing set!
Over the last 3 years you’ve started to play in Europe. What for you was the biggest difference between the crowds?
I found that in Germany and Switzerland they like there music harder and faster, where as in Spain they are mad on their tech house. The French sound seemed to be either tough techno or on more of a deep house tip. Obviously these observations are just from my experience at the clubs/towns that I played at.
Whats in your top 10 right now and why are these records working for you?
In no particular order:-
Phon.o – Schn33
Luis Junior – Time
Dale Middleton – Ando
Mano Le Tough – Tempus
Manuel Tur – Flux
Scotty A – Sense of Ending (Navar rmx)
Beat Factory – Rising (Geist Remix)
Warm Hall – 114
Geist – Tactile Fremitus
and I’m also playing my Lucid track quite a lot at the moment
I love tracks that are dark and groovy, subtly uplifting and that have a nice momentum. Also tracks that are a bit out there/ slightly experimental and I think that all of these contain at least one of these qualities.
Any local producers or DJs you would recommend to us?
There is loads of talent in the Bournemouth music scene so this is a tough question.
A few DJs that I really rate in Bournemouth are Destin Roe, Graham Davis, Fabio Quattrocchi, Kuba Drypher, Uncle D, Roberto Gonzales and Craig Selby. They have there own unique styles and I often find myself inspired watching them. Also there are a few wicked up and comers that have really impressed me in the last year or so like Cat Farrell, Jake Ayres, Jon Sharpe and Ben Stanbury who have all played Room 2 at Terminal for a while now. They are great DJ’s and definitely worth looking out for in the future!
On the production front I would say my favourite producers would have to be Nikita Bykov (The most underrated producer I know), Paul Moore, Paul Sawyer, Chris Hare (Shamanic Technology) and Rob White (Stuff Ya Disko). All of these guys have mad skills, very original sounds and once again inspire me a lot! Ovi Valentino is also definitely one to watch out for in the future.
Lets talk about your night – Terminal. It started 2 years ago, but it wasn’t the first night you’ve promoted. Whats different about Terminal that has made it so successful?
Firstly I work with and have help and support from some amazing friends, DJ’s and also from the Terminal crew that come to all the events. We have a wicked group of people that come to and support Terminal: Genuine, up-for-it music lovers! Apart from this I would say it is down to passion and hard work, I love what I do and therefore I will work as hard as possible to make it work and progress.
Who’s been your personal favourite headliner so far?
We really have had some great headline performances in the last couple of years at Terminal but I have to say my personal favourite has been Nick Muir. The fact he plays live and manages to build his sets in such a mind-blowing way! Not to mention that the vast majority of the tracks are his or remixes that he has done. Aside from the music he is a lovely bloke too and he has gone out of way to help me with my music and Terminal.
Your last event with Destin Roe aka Rob Steven was a massive success. Proof that with a good night doesn’t always need a big name to drive it forward. What advice would you give promoters starting out?
I would say the key thing would be go in the direction that you want to go with your events, its okay to be different/ have a different concept to other promoters, follow the music that is in your heart and stick by it! Work with as many positive likeminded people as you can, build networks and meet new people. I think it is all to easy to get pidgin holed in your own town/city and never make links outside.
Terminal is at The Winchester. How did you develop the relationship with the venue you have now?
I first went to the Winchester around 6 years ago from then started going there more and more until one day a friend of mine booked to play there. After that I got to know the manager Mark Berry well and he sorted me out some more booking which led to my first residency at the venue for a night called Grand Theft Audio. Since then Mark has given me a chance to build up my own event and I thank him massively for that!
I notice many promoters these days seem to only use social media to plug their events. How else do you get the word out there and do you think spamming your event is even a good way to work?
I think it is important to work with people that are hard working and pro active, there are people that are in it for a free ride and others that will really help, inspire and add to what you are doing. I think that word of mouth is still very important in a town where word spreads fast, but most importantly for me, I think the best promotion is to consistently run a decent event keeping the music fresh and exciting.
Aside from the full time job that being a modern promoter can be, you also produce. Hows that going and when did you start the production side of things?
I first started producing around 2 years ago. I am really enjoying it, and feel this has been the crucial next step for my music. I feel very lucky to have worked with some great artists already. Having Nick Muir do a remix for me and to have recently received some decent support from some of my favourite DJs has been a big step for me.
Whats in the studio? Any favourite toys or VSTs?
My studio space is real simple to be honest but works for me. Last year a friend of mine gave me a Moog Minator for my birthday, so have been having some fun with that! I use a few VSTs such as Discovery Pro, Sylenth, Dune etc but to be honest a large amount of what I use is in house Ableton synths and effects.
As we head into the summer months, what’s cooking at Terminal HQ?
The next Terminal event is in July with a wicked local line up, and headlining is a good friend of mine who DJs and produces under the alias Dref, he is a wicked techno DJ/producer who I have been working with since we started our first party together around 4 to 5 years ago. I’m currently in the process of organising some summer headliners, undoubtedly Scotty A and Dale Middleton will be back at some point as well as a DJ called Miss Dix that I met and heard play at Pulse festival recently. Hopefully Nick Muir will be back at some point this year/ early next year and I would also love to get Luis Junior, Sahar Z and Dousk over at some point.