Aidan Doherty gives an insight into running the hugely successful Warm Up events and discusses the upcoming Warm Up Festival

Warm Up is a London based community that is bringing some of the finest underground parties to the South of England whilst showing off some of the most forward-thinking artists. If you are not aware of what the Warm Up family has brought to the electronic music world then I would take a look at the Facebook and Instagram pages and get yourself down to their upcoming events… they even have a festival planned for 2020 which we will go into more detail about later, with lineup news landing this week on the website.

I was fortunate to grab some time with Aidan Doherty who is not always an easy man to pin down due to his party planning so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. When I spoke with Aidan he had just been wandering around Trent Park and finished off the day with a pint at The Cat & Mutton on Broadway Market. He did go on to add that these were not his “regular weekday movements…”

I asked Aidan to talk me through his history in the dance music world… What was it that got him hooked? “I would say it was the feelings of pure happiness and euphoria that I first experienced through trance music, specifically hearing Armin Van Buuren at God’s Kitchen in Birmingham 15 years ago. Damn, bloody hell I’m getting old. I was big into indie music back then, but the goosebumps and emotional release that dance music gave me had me hooked. Moving to London in 2005 then cemented the bond, specifically hearing James Holden play at The End night club.”

Moving onto the Warm Up events and today’s world, I asked Aidan to talk a little about Warm Up for those who do not know about his events… If people haven’t I am pretty sure they have been living under a rock! Anyway, Aidan answered… “If you’re new to Warm Up, one thing that you will feel when you come is an instant sense of community, it’s like being greeted by family.

“Warm Up has a very welcoming party atmosphere, you will definitely make new friends. The music is generally deep, soulful, groovy, melodic, dark at times, progressive and driving.”

Aidan continued… “At Warm Up we like to tell stories through the music we play, our aim is to take people on positive emotional journeys while they connect with both the DJ and fellow dancers on the floor. We are very much about the DJ and crowd connection.” Aidan went on to speak about how the idea of Warm Up first came about… “It was driven by my urge to play the music I loved to more than just my housemates in our kitchen. In 2013 there were no other promoters in London representing the more melodic and emotive shades of house and techno that I connected with. I felt there needed to be a platform for this type of dance music to be heard so I set out to try and make that happen. It’s amazing to see how much this genre has grown in popularity in London and to think we have played a part in that somehow is rewarding. We seem to have inspired a lot of people to make the same journey we did and create their own parties, which is also really nice.”

The Warm Up family have brought back that 90s rave feel to their parties. I asked Aidan if this was the intention? “From the very beginning, my intention for Warm Up has always been about delivering memorable musical experiences that provoke positive emotions within one’s self. It’s also about bringing together like-minded humans in a space that is judgment free and void of social hierarchies like VIP culture etc. Nothing has changed, we still and always will stay true to these values.”

Now for any of you out there that have run parties you will understand it can be beyond stressful, and often lead to very little reward financially. I asked Aidan what have been some of his biggest obsticles over the years with Warm Up parties? “Well, as some may or may not know the Warm Up brand exists in two parts. WUITW & Warm Up. WUITW (Warm Up In The Woods), which is our underground version of Warm Up, was started by myself and fellow London promoter Steffan back in 2015. I won’t go into too much detail but let’s just say we face many obstacles running these events. Doing underground events comes with risks but between us, we have developed an effective system and have an amazing team who work together to make sure all the parts of the machine work perfectly. One of the main obstacles in running club shows in London is the ever-growing amount of promoters on the scene. I find myself having to book in my venues almost a year in advance nowadays, plus there are now a lot of promoters doing similar things, so it does feel saturated at times. Another major obstacle is the never-ending battle between promoter and agent, and the negotiation of fair artist fees.”

Over the years the Warm Up team have, no doubt, learned many lessons. I asked Aidan, what advice would he give to other people starting out on this journey? “I’ve learnt that jumping from venue to venue isn’t helpful. If possible, try and find a venue that works for you and stick with it. Build a relationship with the manager, make it your home. Luckily we’ve been able to do that with The Steelyard and Mick’s Garage. Also, from what I have observed, a lot of ravers in London are seeking out community-focused parties that have been built on residents instead of being drawn in by that “big line up”. Keep things small and in-house, nurture residents and book local, upcoming talent. Be patient and let your party grow at a pace that works for you.”

“Try your hardest to focus on your own journey and not let the success of other people affect you. It can consume you when you are constantly looking sideways comparing your self to others, I sadly know this from personal experience. You have to remember that everyone else is at different stages in their own journey, keep your eyes forward and focused on the path in front of you.”

Some very wise words from Aidan, and certainly words we could all do with listening to from time to time. It can be hard to not compare these days with Social Media, as it appears that is all it does. Remember your journey may take longer but it may not necessarily be a less productive journey!

As mentioned earlier, Warm Up announced the news of their first festival which will run in August 2020. I asked Aidan, what made him want to venture into the world of festivals, and was he mad? “Well yes, I am definitely mad, I can’t deny that! I’ve always known there would be something new and exciting on the horizon for Warm Up in terms of growth and expansion sooner or later, but what that was I really didn’t know. I like to let things develop naturally and at their own pace. I believe opportunities will present themselves as and when the universe intends them to. If you keep focused on what you do and continue sending out positive energy into the world through your creative visions, doors will eventually open. By building good networks and connections I ended up meeting the right people at the right time and the festival very quickly became a reality. I’ve realised that opportunities can appear out of nowhere, a casual chat while drinking rum out of a coconut shell on a beach in Panama could result in you starting a festival… and in my case, that’s exactly what happened!”

I thought I would a be a little cheeky and get some information from Aidan in regards to the lineup but he was not for sharing and the news will be landing this week. What he did say was… “The line up will be dropping very soon. I’ve been working on it for months, it’s definitely been challenging to say the least, and that’s purely because there are so many incredible artists out there to choose from, making decisions is tough. What’s important to me is how the music flows and evolves seamlessly throughout the day into the night. I’ve been very meticulous about set times and who plays when so that I can curate a story that builds naturally. I’m really happy with the final program and very excited to reveal it soon.”

“You simply won’t find a festival line up like this anywhere in the UK. I’ve also booked quite a few names who haven’t yet played in the UK, which is exciting.”

As I am sure many of you are aware that are reading this interview, Aidan could simply not run any of these events without a strong team behind him. I asked Aidan to tell me a little about the team that works alongside him to bring Warm Up to the masses… “From a musical perspective the Warm Up collective consists of myself, Jorge Martins and Gus Emmett. Jorge and Gus became residents back in 2014 and since then we have formed a brother-like bond. They are both incredible, they play a massive role in the promotion, the building of the community, and of course the high standards of music we deliver at Warm Up. There is also Amy Moffat who has been responsible for our entire visual branding since day one, she designed our now iconic logo and is also one of the Warm Up Festival Directors alongside myself and Chris Williams. As I mentioned previously, myself and Steffan both work together to deliver our monthly WUITW raves alongside a huge team of amazing people. We also have our in house photographer Jake Davis who has been shooting Warm Up for many years now, his role is really important in our promotion and documentation. There are loads more people who also contribute, we are blessed to have such a fantastic team of individuals who all play crucial roles.”

Finally, before I left Aidan to carry on with his day I asked him if there was anything he would like to add… and he did… “I would just like to say how thankful I am to all the people in my life who support me and Warm Up. I feel very lucky to know such loyal and special humans. I would also like to thank every single person who has come to Warm Up over the years and helped it grow, without them we simply don’t have a party. You guys are amazing. Finally, if you are coming to Warm Up Festival 2020 please grab a ticket sooner rather than later. For us, this festival is all about bringing people together in a beautiful location to celebrate the music we love, community, and connection. Buying your tickets now really helps take some of the strain off us so we can focus our energy on other important things beyond ticket selling promo. We are pouring every ounce of our love and energy into this project and can’t wait to enjoy three days in the forest with our community!”

I would like to thank Aidan for his time on this interview, I understand he is a very busy man. From me, and all the Decoded Team we would like to wish Warm Up all the best for 2020 and we are already looking forward to the festival in August!

You can purchase Warm Up Festival tickets here

Photography by Jake Davis


Ian French
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.