Broadwick Live Director, Mark Newton kindly agreed to talk me through series 003 of Printworks London as they are due to embark on their 2018 program of events with the eagerly awaited opening party in partnership with The HYDRA on Saturday 3rd March. Before we talk through some of the new and exciting developments to the Printworks venue I was curious to hear what other events Broadwick Live have been responsible for programming. Mark talked me through a brief portfolio of events “Broadwick Live owns 18 festivals, including Snowbombing, Festival Number 6, Hideout, Truck and Field Day. We also deliver high profile brand events for the likes of Bacardi (we produced the Bacardi Triangle festival – a three-day event on a deserted island in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle) and Adidas Y-3 Paris Fashion Week shows”.
For all the readers and venue attendees who may not know Broadwick Live have been working with the Printworks venue from the very beginning. I had the feeling a lot of work was needed to be done before the venue could operate and it was insightful to hear some of the challenges which were ahead of the team before the opening event early 2017. Mark explains “There was an incredible amount of work that needed to take place before 2017’s launch to make the space into a large capacity, brilliant music venue. Just making it safe was a mammoth task – from installing handrails throughout to filling in a big hole that ran the whole length of the hall so that the dancefloor was level. Now we’re gearing up for the next stage, and again, there’s so much that’s been happening. We’ve got a live music space and improvements in layout and facilities. We’re absolutely committed to the venue being one of the best in the world. Electronic music will always be at our heart, but we’re also going to be a fantastic, unique home to live music, and performance culture generally”.
Their commitments further shine as we head into 2018 with announcements of exciting new developments to keep the venue on track to achieving its goals of being a world class entertainment venue. We’re all excited to hear of the improvement made to the venue for this year’s series so we quickly move on to discuss the sound and lighting which for many clubbers are paramount to maximise their experience. Mark explains “Yes, absolutely. We’re continuing to evolve the club space with developments to sound and lighting, and the newest technology on the market. The previous sound-system will be upgraded and expanded to D&B Audiotechnik J and V series PA with V-SUB and J-INFRA, including enhanced audio on the balcony level. Lighting in the electronic space has been redesigned, with huge scope for creativity. Additionally, there’s video panel installation throughout, an improved selection of LED fixtures and moving lights from Clay Paky, Robe, Martin and more, and a refreshed set of lasers, by Dragonfly Lighting. Basically, everything has been taken to the next level”
In addition to electronic music the venue now boasts a huge live music room. I was surprised to hear of other events outside of electronic music the venue had been catering for in 2017 as Mark went onto explain “Last year, although Printworks’ focus was on electronic music, we hosted quite a big range of events, and worked with some great artists and brands. We had food events and orchestras, ballet and cabaret, music video shoots and fashion shows, and album launches for the likes of Gorillaz, and everything just works so well in there. It’s that sort of variety that we want to see more of, and what we’ll be investing in, whilst never lessening our commitment to electronic music. With live music particularly, over the next couple of months we have Django Django, Tokio Myers and Pendulum performing, with a lot more to come later in the year”. Mark further went onto explain how some criticism of the layout has been addressed and what changes have been made to improve certain areas. “People can expect an improved journey through the venue. We’ve tried to make use of all venue spaces before the main music area. There are additional bars and seating and a better, wider food offering. We’re in really good shape and honestly cannot wait to open our doors again”.
The 003 series launch party is with The Hydra. I was keen to find out Mark’s opinions on how important it has been to align Printworks with other event planners and if he feels there is enough of this mutually beneficial collaboration occurring in the UK right now. “It’s really important. There are loads of great promoters in London and across the UK – and working with them will keep Printworks fresh, with a diverse calendar of events. Great electronic music is about communities, and we want to offer something to all of them”. And I couldn’t agree more with what he was saying. The conversation quickly moved onto programming line-ups for Printworks. I asked if there are any specific criteria you look at? Do they tend to come together quite easily, are there many pitfalls? Maybe artist exclusivity to other events for example? “Generally, we try to balance new talent with interesting established acts. Line-ups with lots of artists can be tricky – there’s so many moving parts, and the line-up we finish with can be very different to the one we started with. London is a minefield when it comes to exclusivity commitments, but we have good relationships with other London promoters so we can normally come to an agreement. Then there’s the logistics – getting artists across numerous shows, with delayed flights, traffic, weather and other unpredictable things to contend with”.
It’s having invaluable experience of dealing with minefields like these which sets Broadwick Live apart from other event programmers. Mark went onto explain “We know what our strengths are and what’s needed to deliver the best possible experience. We don’t always feel the need to programme everything we do – but we will select the best programmers to work with if not. We’re led by wanting to achieve the best possible events, not our egos. Which is one of the reasons we didn’t shout much about our involvement last year – we focused instead on keeping our heads down and getting stuck in. As a company, our background is in music festivals – which is quite rare and means that we are experience-focused. This, teamed with our love and knowledge of music and music events across the board, is a good combination. Personally, I’ve been programming music events and festivals for 15 years – I’ve learnt to go with my gut, that you shouldn’t always believe the hype around acts and to form your own opinion instead. Also, whilst you’ve got to love music in this industry, it’s also a mistake to be led purely by your own personal music passions”.
Promoting events has changed dramatically with the upturn in social media usage. Clubbers are constantly using their phones to record their favourite DJs/acts and uploading to their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. In a promotional sense is this good exposure in a promoter’s eyes? “Yes and no. Obviously it’s great post-event – but distracting during it, for both artists and attendees. Generally, it’s not a great thing if attendees aren’t involved in the actual moment and are more concerned about creating FOMO”. Then as you say on the turn of this it creates a detachment from the performance and potentially hinders the atmosphere. With campaigns for phones to be banned on the dancefloor and this enforcement already in place in a lot of clubs in Europe would this be something Printworks would be looking to enforce? “It’s not something we’re planning on at the moment; partly because of the sheer scale of the venue and how difficult it would be to enforce, but it’s something we’ll continue to monitor. We’re looking at the impact of big European clubs banning phones to see whether it’s a positive step forward. Basically, our aim in everything we do is to give the best possible experience to the people who are there – that will always take priority over short term promotion wins that attendee photos and their social media might bring us”. It was very encouraging to hear this from an event organisers point of view as we’ve constantly been forced opinions across social media from clubbers and DJ’s alike. In Printworks case its primarily about the customer experience.
Outside of what the venue brings to clubland it also opens itself up to other exciting events as London’s best new culture destination. This must be a huge accomplishment for you? “We want Printworks to be a venue that represents the very best of the city, for the city. As I said, we’ve had so many brilliant things happening already, and want to do more of these, across the cultural spectrum. Whether that’s classical music, family events, food festivals, cabaret or drum n’ bass, it will all be given the same amount of love and focus. We’ll also be continuing to work with brands – we’ve already seen amazing projects with Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, Nike and Mulberry, and engaging with the community to make sure it’s truly a venue for London” Mark explained.
“Printworks is like nowhere else. It’s just totally unique. We love that this incredible behemoth of a space has had life breathed into it. Our focus on quality is something that we’ll never let go of, whatever the event and whatever the audience. We won’t compromise on experience. More specifically, factors like its soundproofing allows high levels of sound, which is hard to beat. The daytime party element is obviously pretty special. And now that we’re diversifying, it makes us even stronger”. And these factors are what sets the venue apart from any other event spaces.
For full event info you can visit Printworks London online