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Boundless: United Futures Of Trance and Oliver Leighs
Reported by Fi
Submitted 09-11-05 23:41
Recently an entry in the “What’s On?” section of HarderFaster caught my eye. It was an advert for Boundless: United Futures Of Trance and having heard what a triumph the launch night had been back in March 2005, I decided to buttonhole Jurrane and Custard aka Paul Mayes, the promoters, on a damp, cold November evening. For good measure, we persuaded Kiwi trancemeister Oliver Leighs to come along before he departs our UK shores for good, mere hours after playing his final London set for Boundless.
Why another trance night in London and why at The Soundshaft?
Jurrane — Well, for me, I think there’s a certain personal heritage; I had my ‘clubbing epiphany’ if you like (we’ve all had at least one) at The Soundshaft and it holds a lot of good memories. I used to go to a night called Plasma there, and Paul (Custard) and I actually met at a Knowwhere back in the days. We wanted to recreate that same intimate atmosphere of a really uplifting night, and one of the nicest things we heard from people who came to the first party was that it reminded them of those good old days at the Soundshaft!
Paul Mayes — The Soundshaft has been a platform for a lot of small promotions who have gone on to much bigger things as well, so yeah, it’s definitely a good venue to showcase new talent and offer exposure. We initially started talking about this on the train one morning on the way to a crack-on; actually I think it was after a Knowwhere event as well!
Your first event was in March 2005 which got amazing reviews. Why have you waited so long before putting on your next event?
Paul Mayes — Well, I got married recently so obviously that was a bit more important.
Jurrane — We see Boundless as only being a semi-regular party anyway as we want to keep it fairly sporadic so it remains special, both for us as promoters and our partygoers. Secondly, we wanted to wait a little while over the traditionally quiet summer period so we could put even more time and effort into planning the next party. Hopefully, if you come to see us on Nov 25th, you’ll agree it’s paid off!
Are you going to increase the frequency of your events next year to monthly, or will you stick to a few a year?
Jurrane — We want to stick to three or four events a year so that it doesn’t become ‘just another night’. We want people to actively look forward to it, and keep it special so that it doesn’t become a night where people say “Oh, we can go to next month’s event instead”.
Paul Mayes — Absolutely. There’s also the fact that there is lot of time involved in arranging an event, as anyone will tell you, and I think if we were doing it month after month we’d become a bit jaded and lose the enthusiasm that made us start the night in the first place.
Let’s talk about your music and DJ policies: you’re both very keen on the promotion offering exposure for new DJs. Are you going to have a specific ratio of new vs. established DJs and what sort of sound is the night going to offer?
Jurrane — One of the most exciting things is discovering DJs you haven’t heard before and we want to broaden people’s horizons. There are so many good DJs from outside of London and the UK, and the London scene can be quite closed in that regard. We do want to bring those relatively unknown names in. We’re not going to stick to a specific ratio of DJs though. It’s exciting for us that DJs who have played at our event have, on the strength of that, gone on to other things; for example, Alan Banks who did the warm-up set at our first event is going to have a great 2006.
Paul Mayes — Anyone can give us a demo and we will listen to it, we promise. We booked both Alan Banks and Mat Lock on the strength of their demos.
Jurrane — We also have a (we think) unique policy in that we state on our flyers and adverts that any DJ coming to the event who brings us a demo will get in for a reduced price. We had so many demos from our first night that we’re still wading through them — although we’re nearly done now — but we have actually listened to every single one.
Paul Mayes — In terms of the music policy, I’d say that we go for up uplifting, melodic trance and a bit of bounce.
If money was no object, which DJ would you book, and which venue would you hold your party at? (It’s at this point that all three pairs of eyes start gleaming!)
Oliver Leighs — It would have to be Code in Birmingham (it’s now been converted to ‘Air’)with Armin van Buuren and Above and Beyond.
Paul Mayes — I think I’d hold a “Big Weekender” style event with Paul van Dyk headlining, then slot an unknown DJ from our box of demos in between everyone of them.
Jurrane — I’d want it to be somewhere like Republic in Sheffield used to be back in 1999/2000 and I think I’d hold a Clubbers’ Wish-list Poll and let them choose.
What would you like to achieve with Boundless?
Jurrane — It would be good to have it as a long-term event and look back in five years and know that we achieved something worthwhile. Our first event was very much a case of “see what happens” and certainly this second one has increased exponentially. Neither of us wants it to get too big and feel that we’d ‘sold out’.
Paul Mayes — I think the key is that we have to keep enjoying what we’re doing. If it ever got to the point where it was a chore then I’d stop immediately.
What annoys you most about the scene and promoting?
Jurrane — I see the trance scene as relatively stable but what annoys me is the host of people outside of the scene who proclaim it dead year after year. If you look at something like the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll, half of those DJs are trance DJs and yet the genre is hardly covered in the magazine itself. The big music chains are the same: part of their market is basically saying that trance is the most popular dance music genre out there, but it’s almost impossible to buy any decent tracks from them.
Paul Mayes — Yeah, you get a token article every now and then but it’s almost as though their perception is still stuck back in 2002 with Ian van Dahl and ‘Castles In The Sky’.
Oliver Leighs — There has to be an element of realism about it all but it seems to get outweighed by commercial interests a lot of the time. Also, the amount of time you have to spend in public, talking to promoters and being seen at various events in order to gain their attention, as opposed to them listening to demos that they’ve been sent. Obviously that’s not all promoters — two of my best London gigs were booked solely on the strength of my demos; in fact Twisted Mick gave me my first big break.
Jurrane — Sure, there has to be a commercial aspect to it all but it annoys me that a lot of talent is passed by.
Oliver Leighs — Booking too many DJs in a night in one-hour back to back slots is another irritation. You can’t get a proper flow to the evening and sets aren’t built up if you’ve only got half an hour each.
Paul Mayes — Absolutely. Booking loads of DJs can work in hard house and hardcore events but not in Trance.
Give me a bit of background about yourselves and your influences.
Jurrane — I’m a classically trained musician. I started piano at the age of four and went all the way to Academy level; actually, it was a choice between that or ballet, so I like to think I made the right choice. I hated it as a child but I remember my parents saying “You’ll thank us for this one day” and the first time I ever played out, I did thank them for their foresight. I was actually into hip-hop initially but got bored with it and back in 1997 a friend lent me a Northern Exposure CD with Sasha and Digweed, and that got me hooked. I started producing music with Dan Stopani, one of the co-founders of Magic Bean Records, along with Jurrane, Sly One and Tequila, and ended up teaching myself how to DJ so that I could produce better. My first gig was at a pub in Greenwich and I was absolutely bloody awful! My influences and inspirations are probably my friends who DJ, rather than specific big names, although I will say that Ian Betts and Sly One have definitely had an effect on me.
Paul Mayes — I started out as a drummer in a punk band called The Custard. The line-up changed so many times and I was the only constant element in it so I ended up being known as “Custard”. The name eventually changed to Lemonade Hand Grenade when we started playing indie-rock and then later I played for LowGold in 99. Mid nineties I started going to Turnmills and hearing acts like Jon Carter and the Chemical Brothers and, around the same time, my sister and her boyfriend used to do the laser for certain parties and I thought “This is easy” (not!) and decided I’d get into music production. It was a similar situation to Jurrane in that I wanted to learn how to DJ to improve my production and, as it was, I actually played my first gig on New Year’s Eve 2001 because we were having a party and all my mates played house. I had to rush out and buy decks ten days beforehand. I was pretty rubbish too. One of my biggest influences is probably my mate, Momo, even though he’s a French House DJ.
Oliver Leighs — I started playing in New Zealand and played just about everything from techno through to house. I used to play really long sets at these nights, and I also hosted a radio show on Firm Fm www.firmfm.co.nz for three years. I actually met Steve Hill when I was at university — he was my marketing tutor. I ran into him months later and we started discussing DJing etc. He’s been a huge influence and inspiration to me, both when we were in Wellington and when I came over here. Ian Betts has helped me tremendously in terms of getting myself organised and increasing my profile. In terms of musical style, Armin van Buuren has been my major influence.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?
Paul Mayes — If you’d asked me this five years ago, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. I love what I’m doing now, I’m really happy with what I’m achieving personally as a DJ and as a producer, and I like to think that I’m going to be just as happy with it all in another five years. I play out for Planet Angel on a regular basis, as well as gigs at Vaccine and Trancendance and various others.
Jurrane — Like every up-and-coming DJ, I’d love to increase my profile but I’m realistic about its long-term possibilities. So few people make it to genuine A-list status and I’m lucky in that I have a very stable job that pays well to fall back on. I’d be thrilled to produce and DJ full time but I’m going to keep my ambitions in check. Basically, I just set myself decent, achievable goals each year, hope to meet them, and then see how things go from there. This year’s going to end well though: on December 3rd, I’m doing a 2-hour warm-up set for K90’s live show at the Fridge!
Funniest DJing moment?
Oliver Leighs — It would be back in Wellington at Club Tatou when I was playing a seven or eight hour set. I was in a raised DJ booth that was accessed through the kitchen and my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was in the booth with me. I spotted an ex-girlfriend in the crowd and she somehow managed to make her way past security, through the kitchen and up into the booth, whereupon a full-on catfight ensued. My girlfriend, not being one to be outdone, fought back and it ended up with the bouncers having to separate them and throw them out of the club. I couldn’t do anything about it because I was in the middle of a mix; I just had to watch it out of the corner of my eye and hope they didn’t knock the record.
Paul Mayes — I can’t top that! You had women fighting over you! I got flashed at Planet Angel once and, yes, it was by a woman… (it’s at this point that Jurrane interjects to let me know that no-one else except Paul saw this). OK, actually, my funniest moment is probably at a beach party down in Newhaven and the ancient generator that I’d lugged down decided to give up the ghost. There were quite a lot of hippy types at the party, with their drums etc, and at one point I nipped up to the car to get a new spark plug or something. When I came back, the hippies had surrounded the generator and laid their hands on it, chanting. I asked them what was going on and they said they were “Healing the generator”!
Jurrane — It would be the Twisted trance room earlier this year: I have a tendency to get a little carried away when I’m really enjoying a set and I apparently start pogo-ing up and down. My ankle gave way and I disappeared from behind the decks!
Ollie, let’s talk about you — you’re leaving very soon. Where are you off to and why?
Oliver Leighs — We’re going to move to Sydney, stopping off back home in New Zealand first. There are a couple of reasons: I’ve been here for five years and I always said I’d probably go home after that time frame. Also, my wife’s been quite ill for the last year and we’ll be closer to our families back there.
How have you enjoyed DJing in the UK and what do you think you’ve achieved while you’ve been here?
Oliver Leighs — I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve had the opportunity to get into lots of things from a production point of view, which I wouldn’t necessarily have done back in Wellington. Certainly back then, people had very pigeonholed ideas of what they expected from you. I’ve been able to concentrate more on my true style and musical love, which is trance.
You’re very quiet and rather self-effacing, and you don’t “do” the club scene as such. Technically, you’re definitely amongst the best DJs I’ve heard and whilst you’ve played out regularly for most of the really big nights here, your name isn’t perhaps as well-recognised by the general public as it should be, in my opinion. Are you disappointed with any aspects of the UK scene ?
Oliver Leighs — I think the nature of the London scene is that you do need to be out there, at events and talking to people all the time, and I have chosen over the past few years to focus my time in the studio rather than in clubs. I’ve also made it a policy of mine that I don’t DJ for free, as I was brought up to believe that your time is valuable and if you do something, you should do it well and be recognised for it so I’ve turned down a lot of free gigs based on that.
Any regrets or things that you would have done differently?
Oliver Leighs — I regret not having played a main room set at Brixton Academy because I always wanted to do that. I’ve achieved pretty much everything else I wanted to do in London, playing main room sets at The Gallery and The Fridge, and for big nights like Heat, Twisted, Frantic, Knowwhere, Tasty, and Peach. Probably, if I had my time over again, I’d definitely concentrate more on production from the outset because nowadays that leads to play-outs. The software and technology that’s available these days, compared to five years ago, means that young guys can produce really good stuff at home and get it out there, and they get booked on the strength of that.
What can we expect from your final set at Boundless?
Oliver Leighs — Historically in London, I’ve mainly played warm-up sets and whilst I do love doing them, there are times when you get a bit despondent that there aren’t more people to hear you. I do think that every up and coming DJ should learn how to play proper warm-ups as it teaches you your craft, rather than banging it out early in the evening. I’m really looking forward to playing a peak time set at Boundless after Bettsy because it’s an opportunity to play tunes that I wouldn’t normally play earlier.
You’ve got a couple of gigs lined up already when you stop off in NZ (headlining Twisted @ the Stage in Wellington with Steve Hill on 17th December, for example). What are your plans after that; are you going to carry on DJing or concentrate more on production?
Oliver Leighs — I’m definitely going to carry on producing, as well as playing out in Sydney and Australasia. Steve Hill and I have got a few things in the pipeline so… watch this space. Ian Betts and I are going to have a stab at online production too under our Ayana guise, as we’re now both using the same platform (Logic 7 on Macs),so that should be fun (albeit challenging).
You and Ian Betts formed the production duo Ayana and released a tune called ‘Shimmer’ on Ian’s label, Six:Thirty Records. Before its release, it was played out by some massive names, such as Armin, Menno de Jong, Paul Moelands, Solarstone, Mark Sherry etc. and then it went straight into the DMC World Trance Chart at number 22 in June. You must have been really pleased with that.
Oliver Leighs — Yeah, that was fantastic. Ian and I actually wrote a tune the year before called ‘Galaxy Nine’ first but it was never released. With ’Shimmer’, I gave Armin van Buuren a CDR copy at Turnmills and he played it on his radio show (A State of Trance) and it took off from there. Ian and I have been working on the follow-up Ayana track named ’Minimum Detail’ and that’s going to be finished the weekend before Boundless.
Ooooh, who gets to play it at Boundless though, you or Ian?
Oliver Leighs — It’ll be played twice.
What else is coming up?
Oliver Leighs — I’m in the middle of a remix of the new Static Blue tune ‘Under The Sun’ and that’ll be released on Six:Thirty Digital, and I’ve just finished a cover version of a track which is named ‘All My Life’, which has been receiving some good airplay in the UK.
Is it true that all NZ DJs have to own a sleeveless t-shirt and play out wearing it?
Oliver Leighs — NO! Never! I can categorically say I have never played out wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, unlike one Mr Brain.
OK, guys, if you had to pick three all-time favourite tunes, what would they be?
Jurrane — Can we have four? (OK, four then…)
DJ Kim — ‘Get Ready To Explode’ (Alphazone Remix)
Merge — ‘Armageddon’
Mauro Picotto — ‘Lizard’ (R.A.F. by Picotto remix)
O’Callaghan & Kearney — ‘Restricted Motion’
Push — ‘The Legacy’
Pulsar — ‘Cloud Walking’ (Beatpusher remix)
Skip Raiders — ‘Another Day’ (Perfecto Trance mix)
Quivver — ‘Twist & Shout’
ORN — ‘Snow’
Push — ‘Strange World’
Whiteroom — ‘Whiteroom’
Current favourites in the record bag?
Paul Mayes: ‘Shuffle Royale’ (Alpahazone mix) and Urban Lea — ‘Threshold’
Oliver Leighs: Coast to Coast — ‘Home’ (John O’Callaghan mix) and DJ Precision vs. Terry Bones — ‘Another Situation’ (original mix)
Jurrane: Mas & Vin — ‘Outbreak’ and John O Callaghan — ‘Chameleon’ (Red mix)
Jurrane — Discover
Oliver Leighs — Six:Thirty Digital (Ian, I’ll have that tenner now, thanks)
Paul Mayes — Vandit
Jurrane — Sly One, K.A.R.L, Greg Downey, John O Callaghan and Brian Kearney
Oliver Leighs — John O Callaghan, Andy Moore, Martin Roth, Alex M.O.R.P.H
Paul Mayes — Sly One, Ian Betts.
You nip down to the chippy — Haddock or Cod?
Jurrane — Cod, but if I were feeling guilty, it would be haddock.
Paul Mayes — Haddock, definitely, cod’s being fished to extinction.
Oliver Leighs — If it’s British then neither, because it’s all manky. It gets pre-cooked and then sits in the warmer for two hours. (Sadly, I have to agree with Ollie here: The best fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life was in Akaroa, New Zealand — Fi)
Cats or dogs?
All — CATS!! What wonderful boys they all are!
(Ollie and Anya fostered 42 cats during their stay here in the UK).
Jurrane: www.Jurrane.com & Jurrane's HF profile
Paul Mayes aka Custard: Custard's HF profile
Oliver Leighs: www.oliverleighs.com & Ollie's HF profile
Boundless: United Futures Of Trance
Friday 25th November
The Soundshaft [map]
22:00 - 06.00
£10 standard price - £6 if you'd like to bring us your trance demo!
On the door only
Here’s what they said about our first night!
“Boundless was absolutely brilliant! Loved every minute, music was spot on, the best night for music I've ever been to in fact.”
“Just wanted to say what a superb night Boundless was last night. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.”
“Top night guys - thank you very much. A brilliant start for a new night.”
“Congratulations are due to everyone behind Boundless for an utterly blinding launch party!”
“Let's hope Boundless is here to stay - for anybody who didn't go first time round, it comes highly recommended.”
“The future looks bright for Boundless and deservedly so.”
“As trance nights go, it's got to be one of the best out there.”
After the success of our launch party in March, Boundless is back with a bang on Friday 25th November! For those of you who missed us the first time round, Boundless is a new party dedicated to bringing you the finest emerging talent on the trance scene. We firmly believe that in addition to the usual A-list names, there’s an abundance of amazing DJs playing the most fantastic music and we’re here to showcase them in the intimate, friendly atmosphere that only a venue like the Soundshaft can offer.
Although it’s been a wait since our first party, the lineup for our second event more than makes up for it. Headlining the night is London’s favourite trance son and-soon-to-be-superstar Ian Betts, making his return to the Soundshaft for the first time since those amazing nights at Knowwhere. Fresh from show-stealing appearances at Amnesia, Dance Valley and Heat, Ian’s performance at Boundless will be one you won’t want to miss!
Boundless is also very privileged to have Oliver Leighs playing for us as his final ever UK gig. Oliver departs back to his native New Zealand the following day and we’re extremely honoured to have one of London’s most popular and endearing trance DJs play his farewell set for us at the Soundshaft. As a DJ who has brought so much pleasure to trance clubs across London, Boundless feels it’s our duty to give Oliver the send-off he unquestionably deserves.
Supporting these two headliners on the night will be Boundless residents Jurrane and Custard, as well as rising star DJ Mat Lock, who’ll be bringing his own superb take on melodic trance to the proceedings. Also making a very welcome return appearance will be the famous Boundless laser, responsible for transforming the Soundshaft into the visual treat it was back on the 25th March!
Plus, if you're a trance DJ, Boundless wants to hear from you! We're actively seeking DJs for future parties because it's our personal mission to promote the best up-and-coming talent on the trance scene. Bring your demo along (or send it to us prior to the event) and you'll be entitled to a reduced entry price of £6. We have more parties planned for 2006 so you could be joining us in the lineup for future events!
As if all that wasn’t enough, we’re offering a free Boundless Residents CD to the first 50 people through the door. So come and spend the night of Nov 25th with us and enjoy a great night of trance!
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.