IDA on Scottish clubbing, Acid Flash & Riverside

We speak to Finnish-born, Glasgow-based DJ IDA aka Ida Koskunen about the success of her Acid Flash club nights, ahead of her appearance at Electric Frog & Pressure Riverside Festival in May

Feature by Claire Francis | 27 Apr 2018
  • IDA

Having launched in 2015, IDA’s Acid Flash nights have become one of the most exciting fixtures on Aberdeen’s club circuit. IDA, aka Ida Koskunen, grew up on the outskirts of Helsinki, but it was a student exchange trip to the Granite City that set her on the path to becoming one of the most exciting emerging talents in Scotland today.

”While doing an undergraduate degree in Sweden, I spent six months on an exchange programme in Aberdeen,” she explains. “When I got back to Sweden, that’s when I started thinking ‘I really need to get my own decks.’ I didn’t concentrate on uni at all, I just played and played and tried to look for music,” she laughs.

Koskunen had always had a passion for music. She explains that she has been playing piano from a young age and that as a teenager she “had these little tapes and I would record all the good songs that came on the radio.” Then, when she was “about sixteen or seventeen,” Koskunen “started writing this music blog and making playlists of music that I really liked. I had actually quite a big following, so then people started saying that these were really good songs and that I should start playing these sort of songs [at clubs and parties] as well. That triggered it, and I thought I should give it a try.”

Fast forward a few years, and Koskunen made the decision to return to Aberdeen – “I even took my decks with me, I took them in my luggage,” she laughs – where she quickly became immersed in the city’s underground party scene. Her Acid Flash nights pay homage to the iconic sound of the Roland TB-303 and her sound takes inspiration from classic Chicago house and Detroit techno. As a resident for key Aberdeen party crew Let It Bleed, Koskunen moved her Acid Flash nights to Aberdeen’s most prominent club The Tunnels and she has since booked a number of high-profile guests, including Heidi, Slam, and most recently the Greenlandic/Danish techno DJ Courtesy, who made her Aberdeen debut in February.

”There were no acid-themed nights really when I started,” explains Koskunen. “It took a while to get a little bit of a following and for people to be aware of the night. After a while I moved it to The Tunnels, where I did every second month. Now, there are a lot of big names being booked. There’s a massive difference to when I first moved here. There wasn’t anything on every single weekend, but now there might be two or more big events on every weekend. So it’s a massive change, for me at least, I’ve definitely noticed it.

”I was really into all the acid [music] when I started it – I still am, though it’s become a really massive thing again from the past, I’ve still not lost it, I’m still into it! So that’s how it started, so I’m basically playing the same kind of music that I started with. Maybe playing a bit more electronic stuff... I guess that’s the same with any musical path, you start with something and then it leads into something else.”

Having conquered Aberdeen with her squelchy, acidic, retro beats, Koskunen now also holds Acid Flash parties in Glasgow, where she is currently based while completing a Masters degree. She currently holds down a residency at La Cheetah Club, and on the strength of her Acid Flash performances has been landing bookings for some of the city’s most prominent venues and parties. As a Pressure resident, she’s played alongside Slam and a host of big-name players at the Pressure Halloween and Easter events at SWG3, and last November Koskunen supported Ukrainian DJ Nastia, who was making her Sub Club debut.

“She’s such a lovely girl. She’s really intelligent, very down to earth. In this industry, when you meet people like that, I can understand you do a lot of gigging and you’re travelling away from home every single weekend, and you get stressed and you can’t sleep... but she was just really lovely. Apparently she got pneumonia that same night as well!”

”I also played Subculture [at Sub Club] in January with Harri & Domenic, and it was such a good gig. I thought that in January it would have been not that busy or anything, but it was actually super busy. I was so shocked. It was like a dream.”

Next up, IDA will play the MasterMix stage on the Sunday of this year’s two-day Electric Frog & Pressure Riverside Festival alongside names including Fatima Yamaha, Jackmaster, Four Tet, Joy Orbison, Saoirse and Skream. “It’s not a warm up gig anymore – it really gives me the opportunity to actually play what I really want to play. I’m probably going to keep it... probably a little bit acid-housey, because it will probably be quite early. For Riverside I can imagine I’ll probably be pretty nervous, because it’s a big stage. And because it’s like daytime and people can actually see you really clearly! They can see what’s happening, sober!” she laughs.

She continues, “I think the Scottish crowds are really respectful, which is a blessing! It’s not like that everywhere. They’re so open to new stuff. If they hear something they don’t like, they don’t just leave immediately, they’re open to hearing something different, which I really appreciate.”

Looking forward, Koskunen says, “I’m more looking into booking bigger acts that help me to kind of showcase my style, and the people that I really appreciate and am into. But I want to keep [Acid Flash] so that every other night is just like a residents night, showcasing local DJs and balance this between booking bigger headline acts. I have Kim-Ann Foxman coming in June, I’m so excited!”

In October, IDA will support Detroit superstar Derrick May, one of the biggest living figures in electronic music, at his SWG3 show in Glasgow. “I’m really looking forward to that, because he’s one of my heroes,” she says. She also cites an NTS Radio mix for Courtesy as one of her career highlights to date: “That came out like last week! I booked her for Aberdeen, and then we met and she was just amazing. And then after a little while, we had been in contact for a bit, and then she just messaged me and asked if I wanted to do a mix for her show. I was like, ohhhhh, it’s the happiest day of my life!” she laughs.

IDA hasn’t ruled out productions, either. “I have loads of hardware at home waiting for me, but I rarely find the time to actually use it. But I’m definitely looking forward to having more time; I think I’m going to take a gap year after my Masters and try to concentrate on producing. I’m trying to make it happen, but like I still prefer to have a Plan B. That’s why I’m still studying, because I don’t feel confident enough investing everything in music, as much as I love it. The competition is so massive. But yeah I’m planning to work on productions, because that’s what I really want to do. I just love creating something of my own.” With Acid Flash, IDA has certainly done that already, and judging by the rapid rise of her name, we’ll wager that she won’t be needing that Plan B.

IDA plays Electric Frog & Pressure Riverside Festival, Glasgow, 27 May