awake all hours | interview
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Awake All Hours is a fortnightly podcast that spreads itself around all corners of the electronic music scene. Its attitude towards the music it shares, and the landscape of the genre is an integrated one; music is unextractable from time, place and person, and all deserve a dedicated slice of discussion. The show begins with a roundup of news and new releases in the genre, and then branches into a more in-depth discussion of each host’s selected tracks for the week. Each track chosen then serves as the material for a mix that’s created and released alongside the main show. There is a completeness to this structure, something pleasingly intuitive about the beats of discovery it hits and the order in which it hits them. Though its hosts are eager to acknowledge the debt AAH owes to shows like The Riot Act and That’s Not Metal, it seems to occupy its own slim but necessary niche, in that it advocates at every turn for protecting and giving back to the scene it loves. The boys spend a great deal of time mining for smaller name releases to feature, tracks that might otherwise slip through the cracks, and they make sure to buy any music they mention on the show. They clearly want any discussions they have to serve the dual purpose of signposting artists and venues; and are constantly shouting out names and places they think deserve attention. It was not surprising then, to learn the catalyst for the show’s inception was something endangering; the sudden closure of the nightclub Griessmuehle in Berlin. Ali: Essentially the club was on a desirable site, property developers swooped in, and the club shut within a matter of days, without really being given a chance to fight its corner.
It was a massive surprise for somewhere like Berlin, a place that holds its clubs in extremely high regard, and I think it sets a dangerous precedent. These places are important to so many people, safe places of expression and enjoyment, and they should be preserved. Will: I don’t think clubs are really considered as being of the same value culturally as other art venues. Particularly in the UK, clubs seem to be regarded a bit more like a danger or a threat. I think sometimes there are groups that seem poised to jump on the ‘dangerous club’, or at least to look for ways to stack the odds against them a little. Ali: A few months ago, there was a council meeting to decide the verdict of Lakota in Bristol; over eight thousand people signed a petition arguing for its significance, and it was just completely disregarded, it wasn’t even brought up at the meeting. So, it seems like there is some kind of bias.
There is no doubt that dance venues will suffer the most under new cautions, being non-essential and an incubus for viral spread. I was curious as to what shape community action might now take, and if and how these venues might reinvent themselves to stay alive. Ali: In this particular climate, it is a lot harder for clubs, but I think the community that rallies behind them is strong. So, when shit hits the fan like it has now, the surge to save these places is immense. Everybody seems to go, okay we’ve got to dig our heels in now, give a bit of cash here and there and tune into live streams. It’s tricky, but these places are responding resourcefully at a time when their future is deeply uncertain.
The main thing I’ve seen is live streams. For example, the club Fold do a weekly Sunday daytime streaming session called UnFOLD, which takes place in the club itself. The DJ booth comes to the centre of the room and it's a focus on London based local talent. And what’s interesting is that already you're seeing a lot of unfamiliar names on those lists, there might be one or two names you recognise but the onus is very much on young local talent. Even when things do begin to re-open, I think we're likely to see bills that are not international headliner heavy because of the difficulties in travel. There was a brilliant interview with the London club The Cause, and they were talking about how they expect to see an emphasis on UK talent which I think will be really exciting. The great thing about having a relatively unknown local DJ is that people will have less cemented expectations of them, which frees up space for them to push the envelope. When you go and see a big name like Helena Hauff or Objekt, you know kind of what you’re going to get. They might push the envelope and experiment, but they’ll do so within fixed parameters, because people have certain expectations of them. What’s interesting about this predicted shift away from big name DJ’s is that it mirrors the hosts’ shared tendency to lampshade relatively underground releases rather than higher profile ones. Though they make sure to cover everything, Awake All Hours dedicates much of its time to discussing new works from artists that the boys themselves might not be all that familiar with. I wondered if shifting the focus away from household names had changed the listening experience for them much. Will: Yeah, seeking out new, more left field releases has added a layer of excitement, one of discovery, and that discovery process often breeds enjoyment in and of itself. It’s also made me want to review things in a more thoughtful way. There doesn’t seem much point in featuring a release that isn’t hugely significant in the grand scheme of things and just saying why we don’t like it. Ali: Yeah, I think it's important to take the time to dig deeper into the artists and the labels and to kind of get the context too.
For instance, the new Hodge album, Shadows in Blue, I had a few reservations about, but I also really applauded the fact that he took on the album format, because that’s not easy at all. So even if we’re reviewing something that isn’t perfect there’s never not something that’s worth spending time talking about. George: It also makes you so aware of the sheer volume of new music that’s being released every week. And because we only get to pick three releases each, there’s so much we have to forgo. You could make an entire other podcast from all the music we want to talk about that doesn’t make it into the final show. I’ve had to become a lot more methodical about tracking what I listen to as well; and making sure I cast my net a lot wider in terms of the forums that I’m checking on a regular basis. I asked if taking a more active and purposed attitude to listening to electronic music had made them want to dabble in mixing themselves, or to get involved in the production side of things. Will: Certainly, I’m just a listener for now, but the more we do this podcast and the bigger the collection of music I have grows, the more tempted I am to give it a go. George: Yeah, I’ve gotten way more into it, with mixing and with producing as well. I got Ableton the other week and that is such a wormhole, I love it. I feel like you can spend hours on there just learning the ropes, and even if you don’t have a finished product by the end, you’ll still feel like you’ve learnt something. And I think it helps you to understand the processes that go into making the music that you love, and that’s a really satisfying thing. And obviously I do the mix to go along with the podcast, where we feature all of the tracks we discuss. So, it’s really cool, to have that extra thing to pour all the hours of listening into, and it forces you out of only thinking about the music in a critical way. The mixes feel like a particularly neat add-on to the main show. They’re crafted with an awareness of how and where electronic music is often discovered, as part of a set rather than in isolation. And they meet the listener where their curiosity would naturally lead; from hearing about a new release to seeking it out for themselves. Ali: It’s been really cool to have someone of George’s capability and quality mixing and being able to do that as another bit of content, bringing another dimension of experience to the audience. That has been something that I was so stoked to actually materialise, because I think they tend to go hand in hand, listening to electronic music, going clubbing and consuming free mixes, then going home and then trying it for yourself. Whatever music we cover in the show, we buy it and we use it in the mix. And we link all of the music in the description, so if you dig the music, then you can buy the tracks as well. So hopefully by creating this third aspect, we’re sort of completing the arc, and creating this nice little feedback loop that will keep the cycle running.
As we say in the interview, our clubs are precious. They are safe places of expression and enjoyment for many, and an opportunity for artists to connect meaningfully with their audience. Since this interview was recorded, things have steadily become much, much tougher for UK music venues. Government support has been exhausted, and hundreds of grassroots venues are at risk of being permanently closed.
It falls to local communities to step in and help them; and if we do not, there is no doubt that they will disappear. Below are links to ways of preventing this from happening. If these places are important to you too, and if you are in a position to do so, please consider donating. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savethecause?fbclid=IwAR1oEWup19xkb5l1s1WDm Us4VYYrmw3_Xer3O37-RqcIcbFCVzp3-Xnqvqg https://saveourvenues.co.uk/?fbclid=IwAR0GjCXQDodejLxnbeGi8l_lom87QbkdxRZo z0YTwcgWLKY0MxBD31VbCJg#/ Awake All Hours is available to stream on Spotify and Soundcloud and Apple Music. Most recent episode: https://soundcloud.com/awk-all-hrs/aah-podcast-006-queen-of-darkness Episode Mix: https://soundcloud.com/awk-all-hrs/aah-mix-series-006 Buy the music featured on Awake All Hours: https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fbuymusic.club%2Flist%2Fawakea llhours-aah-bandcamp-day-picks-0307%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1zeIfNKzept- 2w3yToVFBCX5leOGx1EUvYeZILN9qb9XG6ZE32jUo_vjY&h=AT329kl_ggTS- VU0izidJrdjl4n67sOUR5Vc8Ih3qboOLV- XUeUSE1p5uF2aPTFrWIIb1vPG_IBNTIpA7dEbbHl7WXebD2XlW_VGqC1haqBJ- WdiWj3GWFPGTIbBSDC-Ljp-v4g6gXo