Pressure's Tenth Birthday
November 28 marks the tenth birthday of Pressure, one of Scotland’s longest running club nights. After a decade of filling the Arches with all manner of noise the night shows no sign of slowing down and to celebrate, Slam DJs Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle have created an exciting line-up for their next outing. Boys Noize, Carl Craig, DJ Yoda, Damian Lazarus, Dusty Kid, Radio Slave, David Holmes and Jesse Rose are all set to make an appearance at the event which will run until the liver-crippling time of 5am. The Skinny caught up with Slam to discuss Pressure, Return to Mono and all things Soma related.
Did you ever think Pressure would last this long?
We had been doing Fridays in the smaller front room of the Arches every week for six years as ‘Slam at the Arches’. They never had an alcohol licence in the back before and we had the idea of doing a night where we could have two rooms open and cater for our tastes in house music as well as techno. It was a great incentive to move to the bigger monthly night, the venue is so versatile that we were able to do busy nights with 900 or 2000 people depending on the time of year and the line-up.
After ten years at the reins of Pressure, is there anything you would do differently?
We wouldn’t change it, no way. We’ve always just booked DJs we liked and tried to maintain the balance between big names with the new and varied talent, experimenting where possible. So you have guys like Marco Passarani, Jesse Rose, Radio Slave, Paco Osuna or Len Faki alongside headliners like Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin or Laurent Garnier. It’s been nice to be able to put on Ricardo Villalobos one month then Felix da Housecat and Vitalic the next without the crowd being too snobby about it. A lot of these guys go around the world and Glasgow is up there with their best gigs of the year thanks to the crowd. The night’s been strong all the way through the past ten years and the policy of mixing up the bigger names we like with more experimental or up and coming acts works. We’ve also had the same light and sound guys working at Pressure the whole ten years too, we have a great set up in the Arches for Pressure.
Which nights at Pressure stand out in particular?
Too many to mention! Laurent Garnier’s had a saxophone player on stage with him one night and his face when playing The Man With The Red Face is a great memory. He went bright red but it he was also ecstatic and humbled by the audience reaction. Other nights that stand out include Vitalic playing La Rock live for the first time and the crowd reaction when we played Azure at our last birthday.
Do you find that hosting the Slam tent at T in the Park allows you to experiment with different line-ups that you perhaps couldn't do at Pressure?
Certainly we don’t just book Pressure type acts and DJs for the Slam Tent, obviously there is scope to get bigger names in that might not play the Arches. But the kind of guys that appear at major dance festivals these days have played Pressure. Acts like Underworld and the Chemical Brothers have played, in fact Tom and Ed appeared at the very first Pressure. Underworld and Daft Punk both closed two of our ‘Slam at the Arches’ nights before Pressure began. We are even more open minded booking the Slam Tent than we are in the Arches, this year we had Aphex Twin at one end of the spectrum and Justice and Erol Alkan at the other.
How did the creation of Soma come about? What motivated you both to create your own label?
We wanted to put some records out without dealing with any of the majors. There weren’t any indies at the time and we had been brought up through punk with the DIY ethic firmly instilled, so it seemed the natural progression. We had been doing the acid house club nights a few big all nighters and a few away gigs at the Hacienda so we used our small network of contacts and our common sense to press and sell 1000 12 inches and the rest is history.
How does Pressure differ to Return to Mono?
We had ten years out of the Sub Club but it was always one of our spiritual homes, we cut our teeth there and even before we were DJs we partied there. When our mates ended up owning the place it was only a matter of time before we did something so now Return to Mono is monthly and over four years old. Although we haven’t celebrated any birthdays for this, what with Pressure and Soma and the Slam Tent we already have more birthdays than the Queen. At the Sub Club we play more house and deeper stuff, music we can play in the early sets at Pressure but not towards the end of a night in the Arches when things go up a gear and we play more techno. Also, we only ever have one guest at Return to Mono and it’s quite often a live set, so we get to play for longer. It’s a more back to basics night for us and we love it.
What does the future hold for Slam, Soma and Pressure?
We are making new music, working with new artists and long term associates of Soma. Selling music is hard with everything a click away for free but we are trying new things all the time and working as hard as ever. We just started a new label called Paragraph, the first single City Destroyer is on Beatport (an online music download site specialising in dance music), the Soma site and Rub a Dub are distributing the vinyl worldwide for us. It’s going to be all Slam stuff but more the kind of music we make to play in our live and DJ sets and more experimental than the music we release as Slam on Soma. For Pressure there is a long list of people we are planning to bring next year, some who have rocked it before and as ever some new names, we don’t ever plan too far ahead though.