The promoters' promoter – a club culture guide
Tips on the top nights that Glasgow and Edinburgh’s club scenes have to offer from the ones who know best
Russ McMahon, Frogbeats
About Frogbeats: Frogbeats started out in 2011 to fill a gap in jungle and drum 'n' bass culture in Glasgow. After doing events at Sub Club for a couple of years, they evolved into an open house for creative ideas, involving a multifaceted team of artists, designers, musicians and writers, and revolving everything that they do around underground music and culture.
Russ' picks: “Anything involving North Fire Sound. Ben Parkinson, who runs that, has been at the centre of the festival scene ever since I met him some years ago. He's just moved up to Edinburgh where he’s putting on Dub & Grub days at The Pitt. He does a lot with Maxiroots, Samson Sounds, Mungo's Hi Fi and Mighty Oak Soundsystem, and he's creating a big hub for dub, reggae and soundsystem culture based in Edinburgh. In terms of his style it's a positive, upbeat, warming music very much related to reggae, afrobeat and funk.”
Chris Astrojazz, Samedia Shebeen
About Samedia Shebeen: Samedia Shebeen is a travelling venue that mixes immersive stage and décor design with modern global club music, with a focus on Africa, Latin America and the Middle East – think kuduro, tropical bass, baile funk, GQOM, dancehall, as well as classic afrobeat, salsa and cumbia sounds. Their second Fiesta Do Samedia is this October, which features live acts including Nihiloxica from Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Chris' recommendations: “For me, a good promoter is someone who transforms the context of the music and in the process spreads the message and gives a great experience, not just presenting particularly ‘hot’ artists in a bog-standard club environment that could be in any city. Old hands Optimo still lead the game in Glasgow, I think, with their one-off curated nights, and are probably the guys I respect most for setting the scene. In Edinburgh, Nightvision have done an amazing job in building a huge following for electronic music, and their Terminal V events are totally off the scale, up there with anything else on the planet in terms of vision and bookings.”
Hannah Currie & Aileen Lynn, MILK
About MILK: MILK began in Bath Street at Flat 0/1, where crowds would cram in on a Wednesday night for free cookies and complete chaos as bands bent all the rules in the book. Playing host to everything from hip hop to heavy metal, the early years of MILK passed by in a blur of White Russians, Mad Dog and a whole lot of fun. Its 90s/00s Never Been Kissed nights at Rum Shack and Pop Punk Karaoke nights at Cathouse have become sold out staples of the Glasgow club scene.
MILK's tips: “We love what Push It (Stereo, Glasgow) and Pretty Ugly (The Admiral Bar, Glasgow) do – just all-out fun, run by legends, and we've been lucky enough to DJ both. Memories are hazy, vibes are great.”
Matt Belcher, Lionoil
About Lionoil: Lionoil Industries started back in 2014 to put out the music of a group of DJ and producer pals who were making great tunes centred mainly around Sneaky Pete's. Since then, they've put out eight records from local artists and thrown regular parties, mostly in Sneaks but also in the Bongo Club, Mash House and elsewhere, always putting the local acts on the same level as any touring guests and playing long sets, usually B2B.
Matt's picks: “My favourite club night right now is Heaters, every Wednesday at Sneaky Pete's. It has a super broad music policy with an ethos to platform up-and-coming DJs as well as really big names (guests this year include Leon Vynehall, Avalon Emerson and Project Pablo). Sneaky Pete's is a very special place. It’s a tiny wee box where everyone's on the same level as some of the world's best DJs and local legends. It's the jewel in the crown of Edinburgh's vibrant and all-too-often undersung music scene. So many long lasting friendships have been forged there and countless careers inspired – it's the place for music lovers in this city for sure.”
About SKOOP: SKOOP is an Edinburgh-based label championing experimental hip-hop and lo-fi culture. Their regular haunts include The Mash House, Henry's Cellar Bar and the Wee Red Bar, where they play a range of electronic and rap music including grime, trap, dubstep, drum 'n’ bass, hip hop, and dancehall. Since their arrival on the scene two years ago, they’ve put out a host of genre-spanning releases and hosted events further afield in Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, London, and Amsterdam.
SKOOP's selections: “Our notable mentions go to nights like RAREWAVE in Edinburgh – who do ridiculous parties with full-on fast-paced skelpers and some of the finest in hardcore, donk, jungle and gabber – and to Skillis, who runs Headset and SSL. He’s definitely one of Edinburgh’s hardest working promoters and booking some great acts. Shout out to the Glasgow cats too – HNDPCKD are a sick collective who do some real smooth classic jazzy hip-hop sessions with live producers.”