FUTURE LEADER #6 – RICKY MEAKIN

Ricky Meakin may not be a name that a lot of you have heard of but trust me when I say, “this guy has been very busy over the past few years”. Ricky is currently based in Budapest, Hungary and was the man behind the well known Lovebug project which saw parties pass through cities such as Liverpool, London, Nottingham, Leeds and Marbella. Lovebug hosted major artists like MYNC Yousef, Project, Darious Syrossian, Funk Junkie and even Brandon Block before Ricky’s departure form the project in 2012. This time way paved the way for Ricky to begin a new project named DeepInvasion in 2013 which saw the night host 5 nights in Ibiza, an intimate party in Shoreditch, London, his home town – Derby and recently in Budapest.

Not only has Ricky been busy on the DJ and Promoting circuit, he has been working on his own productions with a 3 Track EP which is very close to becoming the final product. With over two decades of entertaining crowds with his dark, deep, percussion based tribal House and the ability to mix Balearic house and chill out it is not hard to see why Ricky is making waves in the dance music scene.

We caught up with Ricky in Budapest to chat about his music industry past, his move into production, his DeepInvasion night in Ibiza and another new venture at PRLMNT in Budapest.

Hi Ricky and thank you for taking the time to me today. Let’s begin by talking about your current location. You are currently based in Budapest, Hungary. What made you move to Budapest and how do you find living in such a beautiful city?

Hi Ian, thats no problem its an absolute pleasure so thank you for taking time to do this. Re Budapest I shouldn’t really be here now, as it happened by pure fate. I was out in Dubai on a residency but due to miscommunications with the agency i was with i had to leave without a single say in the matter. An old friend of mine was running a few venues out here in Budapest and for around a year he was asking me to come out on many occasions but it wasn’t the right time so when i left Dubai it was either go back to the UK to kill some time before my Ibiza residency starts or take a risk and fly to Budapest, so here i am.

I have always wanted to visit Budapest and I’m really happy to be here, its a beautiful city with some really cool things going on musically, the people are so friendly here and i guarantee if you come her you will make new friends for life. Its easy to live here, the transportation system is great, going out and accommodation is super cheap, and they have great weather.

Do you find that living in such a city has helped inspire you music in any way?

Absolutely, I’m really impressed with the underground side of the music here, they really are on point when it comes to getting down in the clubs. The DJs here play a varied forward thinking type of sound which is good for me as i feel my sound is fitting in well here.

When growing up did you have a big musical background? What made you want to get into the music industry?

From the age as far back as i can remember, my mum’s ex boyfriend was in a band where they would play all these rock songs such as “Stevie Nicks” – “Edge Of Seventeen (Amazing record i might add) Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder etc. I would just sit in my room trying to play computer games but my attention was obviously focused on their music hearing them practice most nights of the week. My uncle also was a full time DJ and i have very clear memories of him packing up all his records ready for his Saturday night show when i used to stay over at my Dads.

Who have been some of your biggest musical influences over the years?

Brandon Block had played a huge part in my involvement of crossing over from playing at my local commercial club even though I’d still play a more accessible house sound. Wwe used to travel down to Progress which was, at that time probably the biggest house party in UK, with all the best global Dj’s playing in my home town. Brandon would be playing this dark rolling groovy tribal sound that just rumbled through the club, some how i managed to get behind the decks with him, he would just sway around mixing this music playing with the kill switches and i asked what they did, and he was like try it! so I’m there, kind of playing a part in mixing with Brandon Block haha! Crazy at the time for 16 year old (not many people know that). His presence and personality won me over more so than his music. Little did i know that later on he would play for me on a number of occasions.

From then i discovered the likes of Steve Lawler, Sasha, John Digweed, Danny Howells, Darren Emerson and was hooked on the Global Underground releases. Musically they were it and still are to this day. I’m huge fan of Lawler’s Viva label and his lights out project, he defines the drums!

Visting the incredible We Love Sundays party at Space was a huge eye opener for me, from the moment i discovered and heard about the party i couldn’t help but be hooked on Darren Hughes work at both Cream and We Love. I think i read every article ever written on him :) this in itself gave me so much drive and he is a huge inspiration to me!

Actually to my amazement, which leaves me completely speechless, i was out with some hungarian DJ friends just the other night and bumped into some big cool geezer at the bar, so as you do, I get chatting and turns out to be James Todd. For those that don’t know who he is go to Wikipedia! It was quite a nice moment for me and now who knows what’s coming up…. Life has such a strange way of pulling and pushing you towards what ever!

I have had the pleasure to book and warm up for Yousef at my parties. He is such a super nice genuine guy and we chat now and then if i want to ask him anything, new music or guest list haha. Musically behind the decks he is phenomenal and his productions are on point every time.

Moving onto to your promotion based background. What made you start the project Lovebug and how did the name come about?

Me and my former Dj partner friend (Miller) decided the only way we could ever get the gigs and shows we wanted to do was to start and create our own parties, so i talked him into taking an evening course (6 Months) in Manchester at SSR. The actual course was the Technics DJ Academy but we didn’t go for that as we had already been playing records for 10 years. However they had some amazing lectures on scratch techniques. Half way through the course we started 2 parties one on a Sunday and one concept for the weekend. Sundefunk was so much fun to play to a bar of around 100 people and if i remember we guested Neil Navara, which at the time was big thing as he resident for Miss Moneypennys. From the Sunday parties we would plan and plot main night Lovebug but decided to launch it in Marbella, so of we went and 7 years years later i created a piece of house music history with some amazing parties and some of the worlds best DJs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you come across when promoting your nights around the UK and Europe?

When i moved to central London around 2 and half years ago it was clear i was super excited about taking the project there but little did i know i would literally have to start again from the bottom. I think i knew like one person, Tony Haze, who i met in Space about 5 years ago and we did a few parties, but I’m honestly going to say it just didn’t quite cut it. What is it they say, all good things come to an end and it was hard decision to make, as i put my whole life in to that project but one door closed for another one to open. Promoting the party in say Leeds or Liverpool wasn’t so bad as we had quite a lot of residents dotted around the Midlands so we all came together to help out and make it work. The Back To Basics back room hosting was quite a highlight for me as i always dreamed of playing there one day

In 2013 your DeepInvasion party hosted 5 events in Ibiza that were very well received and I hear your night has been invited back to Ibiza for a full season. Can you tell us more about your event and how it started?

Yes it really was touch and go as to whether or not the night was going to actually even happen out in Ibiza last year. I had played a fair few times at Viva over the years of visiting Ibiza. Nathan wanted it in originally bi weekly which i was all for and super happy about but i got an amazing opportunity to buy a house in the UK so we spent many days and weeks negotiating if i could just take the night monthly in the end he agreed, or gave in haha. It actually worked really well as we did have 5 amazing parties and has definitely inspired me to hope to get it in every week this year which is a good way to go. There are many places and venues for nights in Ibiza but my plan is to stay at a smaller level and build something really consistently cool out of it, and next year who knows.

Can you tell us about some of the residents and guests you have booked to play at DeepInvasion in Ibiza this year?

Sure, I’ll be completely honest here i made the mistake last year of getting as many guests on to play as possible and making them residents. Half of them never even bothered to show up which is slightly rude! This year i have changed my approach, I’m strictly only working with 4 residents who are based on the island and who are all making music. I’m really happy with the residents and we are all so hyped about playing and developing the weekly party. Manel Boix, Josh Haiez, Glaziier and Aja Ireland you can check them out in your own time but I’m sure you will be hearing about them over the summer. Guests wise we have some really cool surprises, one of which is featuring in the Emerging Ibiza party at Ushuaia. His music is so consistent so i guarantee you next year they will break through. He will play at our 1st Birthday party on Tuesday June 6th

As well as DeepInvasion in Ibiza I believe you are also due to start a new project at a venue called PRLMNT in Budapest. Can you tell us about this project and what you have planned?

This is Budapest’s new club. It used to be the old Circo (i think thats what is was called) and I can tell you this is going to be the place to be. It is beautifully styled in an old heritage building that boosts many rooms and a brand new state of the art Void soundsystem in the theatre where i’m told the roof slides open! The guys behind it are super nice and if you think of Global Underground and its success you know its on for huge things as the creator is behind it. We or i have the privilege of playing 2 shows there in between Ibiza, London and Liverpool, one on the 10th May and a special launch party that I’m involved in with for a friend on the 7th June. I cannot wait to play there!

Moving away from the events and promotional side of things. I believe you are currently working on some tracks that you hope to get released. Can you tell us about what you are working on?

Its clear I’m a DJ first and a promoter second! Producing is something I’m really interested in but the promoting just takes over, which is a shame as I’m convinced if i can get my sound out things will only get better. I have just finished a track i started called “Sinbad”, that me and a friend collaborated on. It’s not signed yet but its good to finally have something finished, you can really hear our different styles in there, it’s a mixture of underground organ tech house with an accessible feel to it. Im also working on re edit of “Last Night A DJ”by In Deep. It is just something for fun that sounds really cool and it could work well in a set.

2 others I’m working on to one is a tribal warm up number thats sound nice and another one more electronic synth based progressive sounding. I’m happy with the idea and sound but maybe i need an Engineer and commit more time to actually getting it finished, as i feel it could be a really nice EP

What has made you want to branch out into music production? Do you feel that a DJ can progress in the music industry without production skills?

i was speaking with some other producer/promoter friends and they were saying it’s like you have hit the ceiling now in terms of moving to the next level which sounds and feels to true. You quite clearly need your own sound or you will simply just not progress in this industry.

I’m taking it more seriously and studying with Point Blank in London which is really helping, but again its just finding the time and committing to it to get the end results. It’s a great school and previously had Nicole Moudaber down there so it just shows the level they at.

Can you tell us a little about what tools you are currently producing with and a little about your studio?

Logic, a few plugins and a Midi Keyboard, later i plan to turn the basement under my house into a studio, so maybe we can report back in one year.

You have DJed in many places around the globe. Can you tell me about some of your favourite gigs and why they are etched in your memory?

This is a good one! quite a few to mention but here is what comes to mind. Hush Club in Ibiza was pretty special, we made the jump from taking my previous party from a bar into the club in San Antonio. When you are in there its not like you are in San Antonio. Everyone is in there for the music! I played a 3 hour show of some deep dark warm up dubby, groovy, tribal, moving through and up onto rolling twisted tech house to to end, hi pitched progressive. The room was really feeling the sound i love to play! It was such a cool gig and busy! Never got payed though! Tut! Tut!

Warming up for Yousef in the main auditorium at Gatecrasher was extremely satisfying as well.

Is there one gig that you would like to chose to forget?

I honestly really can’t remember. Actually it was in Dubai, I’m not going to go into it though as it is quite embarrassing!

I really enjoyed you mix and I am sure that our listeners would feel the same. How did you go about the mix and what was your aim?

I stepped outside my comfort zone here so it was quite a challenge putting it together. I always like to start off really slow and build things as it progresses. I think this is the first mix i’ve ever done playing below 100 bps. The music in here isn’t new, its nice electronic chilled down beat beat moving through to more emotional hypnotic sounds and progressing up to a more a main room sound. I had to drop Sandcastles MKTV mix, it sounds so much better pitched down! Such an amazing record! I guess my aim was to show another side to me musically as opposed to the darker deeper grooving, more tribal progressive sounds that I’m known for. There is so much emotion in this mix, maybe its how I’m feeling about all kinds of crazy stuff right now!

I was really shaky about putting this mix out as it was done live in a DJ store in Budapest on Technics 1210s. At points they were even road testing big speakers in the shop so I’ve no idea how i pulled this of! I guess it shows just how completely lost you can get in the music, no matter what’s surrounding you or where you are in the world.

As a person that has had a lot of exposure to different aspects of the dance music scene across the globe can you give any hints or tips for anyone out there looking to making a living from the scene?

Absolutely its a very simple. Learn to mix on Technics 1210’s, invest your time into learning to produce your own sound and be very nice and willing to help others, and you will go far. Be prepared for a long road and i mean LONG! My legs ache haha!

Finally, is there anything you can tell us about that you have planned for 2014? Any exclusives would be welcome!!!

2014 is shaping up really nicely for me. I have some shows coming up here in Budapest and I’m over the moon to be involved with the new club PRLMNT. I will play some shows in London, my home town Derby and a debut show in Liverpool that i can’t say too much about right now. For me its quite an achievement for someone to get there purely from the back of DJing. Im super excited about my weekly residency in Ibiza and our first birthday is looking good. After the summer season i will return to London to continue my course in sound design at Point Blank and in October I’ve had some words about a festival in Bali but lets see how that pans out.

So thats it… Id just like to say thank you so much for this feature and i love what you’re doing down at This Is Progressive.

Track list

01 Fryrkat – Lulu Rouge – The Nine Muses
02 Jacqaline – Chill Mix
03 More Places – Kuntac (Ricky Meakin My Edit)
04 Life Is Life – Rodg Chill mix
05 Hyper Space – Dj Pipi, Willie Graff (Space Dub)
06 Sandcastles – MTV & MK mix
07 Fresh – Eathan Marin
08 Ripperton – Leonors Lanugo (Radio Slave mix)
09 The Shadow People – The Resident
10 J Kar – Romance Symphony
11 The Queen – Strict Border
12 Inner City – Good Life (Eric Prydz Mix)
13 Psyk – Distance
14 Wongal – Lee Burridge & Mathew Dekay
15 My Bleep – Radio Slave
16 They Are Deaf – Green Massive
17 White Line – The Glitz
18 Vamos – Darren Emmerson


About the author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and Progressive House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are fine cuisine, wine, and travel.

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