Posts Tagged ‘Block9’

Gideön

Gideön is a man of many talents and inclinations – and a serious force to be reckoned with when it comes to throwing a party you’ll never forget! One of the creative masterminds behind arguably the best place to party at Glastonbury – Block9, he is also the owner of a record collection many of us can only dream of, and manages to find the time to manage the super-successful Downlow Radio. Between all this madness, we caught up to pick his brain ahead of this month’s Tusk


Hi Gideon! We can’t wait to have you here for Tusk. What have you been up to over the past few months?

Musically I’ve been playing out a lot… Spunking all my money on records and generally being irresponsible. I’ve be in Berlin quite a lot too. I am doing a club night out there with Yoni who runs Horse Meat Disco over there. We’ve been going out a lot, searching for venues and looking into a few sites that might work for the club.

I’ve been pouring a lot of time and energy into my weekly radio show on London’s Soho radio too. The SohoJams show has been going from strength to strength and my list of up and coming guests is pretty epic – Prosumer, Robert Owens, Bicep, Mr G, Luke Solomon etc.

My Thursday evening slot between 8-10pm is a little oasis in my crazy schedule at Block9 (The set design arts partnership I co-direct with my business partner.) The show is a time when I can do what I want, play what I want and say what I want. I cherish it, it’s sacred to me.

As the one of the masterminds behind the NYC Downlow, how have you watched it transform over the years?

Myself and Steve (my partner in Block9) created the NYC Downlow together. We have watched it grow over the past nine years into a fine thing. The set itself has evolved and become loads more elaborate. At next year’s Glastonbury we will be celebrating it’s 10th birthday and we have some MAJOR surprises up our sleeve. I take care of the music at the Downlow and it’s been amazing to watch it kinda take off. We have so many amazing DJs dying to play records with us now… It’s kind of a nightmare. We have our regular residents who are amazing DJs and then there are the super famous legends of house asking for slots too… Whats a man supposed to do?????

It seems to have been onwards and upwards for Downlow Radio ever since its inception. What’s in the pipeline for 2016?

The Downlow Radio (DLR) is about to get a complete makeover. We have been working on a super flashy new site that will play on phones, tablets and computers and will still function perfectly. The new DLR will continue to feature killer mixes – both live recordings from our venues at Glastonbury and DJ mixes from the friends and family of the NYC Downlow… Watch this space!

Can you tell us a bit about your Northern Soul night, Soulhole in Berlin?

Soulhole in Berlin is a bi-monthly night run by my partner in crime Joshua aka DJ Husband. It’s a killer little party that features homocentric soul, funk, disco and vintage gospel – kinda grown up music connoisseur tunes for the bearier boys of Berlin. It’s a really nice night. I’m just a resident there – it’s Josh’s night though!

What, to you, are some of the most exciting things happening in the London clubbing scene at the moment?

Good question… London clubbing is kinda desperate. So many venues are closing and so many of the ones that remain underachieve. I’m not really sure how to answer this question. It’s really hard to find the right tunes, the right venue and the right people all at the same time!

We have heard a lot about your incredible vinyl collection – what is the most precious record of them all?

Precious in terms of monetary value it’s gotta be Barry Whites’s first ever tune. Barry White & The Atlantics – Tracy from 1964 on Faro records.

In terms of the record that is most precious to me….there are a few. I think probably it’s gotta be one of the ultra rare gospels 7”s like I Am A Soldier by Shirley James on Gospel Express from 1978.

A favourite curveball to throw to keep people on their toes?

ZKY – Bassline tool. Great to chuck into a deep house set to noise people up a little bit!

Can you tell us in three words what you have in store for Tusk?

Deep Hard Homo

Catch Gideön alongside Terry Childs and Sean Johnston at Tusk at Dalston Superstore on Saturday 28 November from 9pm-4am.  

Alùn Davies

Art director Alùn Davies brings his unique, other-worldly vision to Dalston Superstore in our latest art exhibition DALSTON SÙPERNOVÆ. Having previously contributed to Another, British, Russian, U.S and Italian VogueGQ, and worked with musicians La Roux, Lady Gaga and Peaches; it’s fair to say his work is highly sought after. Davies’ multimedia style, hyper-colour set designs, outré vision and hands-on craftsmanship approach to art direction transforms Superstore into a new world of colourful, futuristic landscapes expressed in a multi-media environment of mural paintings, luminous neon sculpture, 3D props, film, photography and sculpted portraits.

With DALSTON SÙPERNOVÆ set to go throughout August, we caught up with Alùn to ask about his current work, exciting projects and inspirations…

Can you talk us through the various inspirations behind your new exhibition Dalston Supernovae?

When Saskia Wickins (the DSS curator) asked me if I would do a show I initially thought of all the projects I do for fashion and music photo shoots and video’s and I wanted to bring those fantasy worlds to DSS, once on a shoot that Saskia worked on with stylist Kim Howells I made an apocalyptic pink sand beach and under the warm photographic lights the models were transported to another world I wanted to bring this otherworldly aspect to DSS. A lot of my work is made from Object Trouvé and sustainable, so bringing lots of different elements together to make something new. It’s a futuristic vision which Most probably comes from watching too much science fiction as a child, I’ve always loved these queer other landscapes you see in films and then fashion and music embrace the fantasy elements too .

Alun Davies headpiece

Why do you think it works so well with the Superstore environment?

I think people go to clubs for new experiences, a break away from the norm of reality, I wanted to create an installation that was all encompassing for the space a total 3D world, not just a hanging picture. I wanted people to get a feeling when they were in the space, which helped on the private view by also having live artists performing characters by wearing costumes I had made that also feature in the photographs displayed.

You work in multi-media, but what is your preferred material or style to work with?

Well the reason I work in multi-media is that I can be inspired by so many things, I love colour in all varieties and use it in many ways. However directing is my favourite style of working, that way you can have a team of skilled individuals that all help to create the vision that I can see.

There’s obviously a strong relationship between fashion and music, but how do you personally link the two in your work?

Well I’m passionate about both, and for me music and pop culture, watching MTV in the ’90s is what made me start to look at fashion and costumes. All of the musicians I work with have a strong visual drive and so require clothes that can help them transform; high fashion allows them to do this. In the same way that music helps to set the mood for a fashion photo shoot it can really change the energies when you have the right balance it can be incredible.

Who are you favourite designers to work with?

Piers Atkinson (milliner) has a brilliant vision and our styles work so well together he’s an illustrator and also trained in props before becoming a designer so he has a brilliant understanding of the fantasy that can be created with sets and art direction.

Piers Atkinson's work

Aqua by Aqua are also very driven to create a visually strong world their look books will have a theme and recently we created a David Lynch atmospheric set, I’ve also done window displays for them which again embraces sets and props and generally has a very entertaining theme or narrative.

You’ve also worked with Vogue Fabrics in the past- what’s so special about that venue for you?

Vogue, in the same way as Superstore, embraces art and creativity Vogue feels intimate and experiential. It is not only a club but also studio and home to Lyall Hakaraia and so it feels very much like being part of an extended queer family. It is another part of Dalston’s queer elite with out the elitism! 

Can you tell us a bit about the work you did with them at Glastonbury Festival?

Lyall Hakaraia asked if I would co-design a Vogue Fabrics venue at Glastonbury with set designer Anna Bruder, we were to be part of the huge NYC Downlow made by the fabulous set design team Block9. It was a hidden venue and so you either found your way in because you knew someone or stumbled there by mistake. The theme was Benidorm vs Bedlam and so we split the space up one side designed by myself was a hot pink neon suntan explosion of colour the other by Anna was cold stark white tampon wall covered land of darkness. Each side had intimate performance spaces and we were the first venue to ever have sex performers Danni Daniels friend and performer was dominating in his space and Ashley Ryder (power bottom) was entertaining in his. We were the freak show of Glastonbury…. It was amazing!

You’ve worked with musicians such as Peaches and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs- who’s been the most inspirational to work with?

Well T.E.E.D. is a new collaborator but extremely experimental for a boy which is great, he embraces head pieces very well so I’m a huge fan of Orlando. Peaches however, I’ve worked on a whole stage opera as production designer and so I’ve had a lot more contact and she took me over to Berlin to design the show I was there for two months and in that time we put on a stage show that was out of this world. It got repeated again last May and there will be documentation in a film format soon. Peaches is another musician that embraces fashion, costume props to transform her and I love a transformation! 

You’re from Neath, Port Talbot- do your Welsh roots have any influence on your work?

The landscapes in Wales are incredible and that is something of a recurring theme in my work, also the Welsh love pop culture and clubs were a big part of growing up as a teenager, I met friends, lovers, muses all in these places as a teenager and a lot of them are part of my life still. 

Are there any Welsh artists or musicians you like to work with?

Perhaps if you cross bred Shirley Basey with Bonnie Tyler (from the 80’s) we would get some some laser beamed crystal encrusted operatic robot (somewhat Grace Jones esque) that would be fabulous!

What’s the craziest project you’ve worked on recently?

At Lovebox we build a VIPenis area as part of the Downlow and Vogue Fabrics, that was a black caravan with black glitter curtains all over and a giant penis riding on top. The inside was gutted out and redecorated with illustrated Penis wallpaper by Victoria Sin. That was pretty crazy!

And finally what other projects do you have coming up over the next few months?

August is the lull before the storm of fashion week so lots of planning and preparation for September. We will shoot Piers Atkinson’s look book end of August and there are more shoots with photographer Thomas Cooksey.

For more information on Alùn Davies visit www.alun-davies.com

The NYC Downlow At Lovebox

With Lovebox galloping ever closer, we thought it high time to catch up with the people behind the area housing our friends Horse Meat Disco at the festival, the NYC Downlow. Gideon Berger and Steve Gallagher, with their joint background in art direction and set building, are also the brains behind Glastonbury’s hedonistic after-hours playground, Block9. This year their efforts are solely focused on Victoria Park as Pilton lays low for 2012, meaning we can expect bigger and better and more flamboyant goings on with Glasgow’s notorious Optimo, Tim Sweeney of celebrated New York radio show Beats In Space and the legendary Andrew Weatherall joining the HMD boys in everyone’s favourite decaying New York tenement block transported to Hackney…

You both run Block9 at Glastonbury Festival, how did it come about and what was the motivation behind it?

Gideon: Block9 is the name of the set design partnership founded by Steve and me in 2007. We specialize in radical set and environment design. We’re based in East London and we design and produce artworks, installations and live events as well as television, film and stage sets. Before inheriting our own field at Glastonbury we had been doing a lot of festival work around the globe both as Block9 and solo in Japan (Fuji Rock), US (Burning Man) and Europe.

Steve: We created The NYC Downlow for Glastonbury 2007 as an answer to a gaping hole in the British festival scene. It’s a film-set replica of a ruined NYC tenement where the murky homo fantasies of The Downlow crew fuse to resurrect New York’s golden age. The exposed first floor apartment is an outdoor music and performance stage, playing host to the UK’s finest alternative cabaret stars. Having purchased a false moustache from the ‘Porn Kiosk’ (with proceeds going to charity) you make your way down a seedy back alley into a vintage New York gay club.

NYC Downlow At Glastonbury

Did you both think it would become such a talking point and that you’d create this super-popular gay club in the middle of a field in the West Country?

Gideon and Steve: When the NYC Downlow first started it was kinda cobbled together… there were over 50 of us who were there in the mud. We had an inkling that it would really kick off, though we weren’t expecting that on the opening night we would have an instant queue of 300 people waiting to get in! In retrospect looking at the star-studded list of Downlow crew, performers and DJ’s present that first year, it is hardly surprising that it was so popular. Jonny Woo, Jon Sizzle, 9bob Rob, Jim Stanton, Le Gateaux Chocolat, Placid, Luke Howard, James Hillard, Suppository Spelling, Dr Noki, Severino, Foolish Felix… an amazing line up.

How did you guys become involved with Lovebox and what is it about the Sunday that makes it so special?

Gideon and Steve: Jim and James from Horse Meat had done a disco venue at Lovebox in 2006, which was the year before we built the NYC Downlow for Glastonbury. We all had a fucking ball that first year and the boys were keen to bring NYC Downlow to Lovebox as the spiritual home of Horse Meat Disco. They hooked us up with Tim, Jules and Rob from Lovebox and the rest is history. In answer to the “What makes Sunday so special?” question…. well it’s the fact that Sunday is all about the HOMO. And the NYC Downlow is built entirely around the HOMO… from the music, to the set and lighting design…come check it out and you will see.

NYC Downlow At Lovebox

Tell us a bit about what people can expect from NYC Downlow this year and what kind of effort goes in to building the area…

Gideon: The NYC Downlow takes a huge amount of effort to put together really. Shipping containers, cranes, telehandlers, scaffolders, thousands of self-adhesive moustaches, a New York taxicabs, trannies, booze, flashy lights, vintage gay porn, you know…that kinda thing! Stir it all together in Victoria Park, add the finest vintage disco and house and a little sunshine and hey presto – you’ve got yourself The NYC Downlow.

Steve: The Downlow this year features HORSE MEAT DISCO, ANDREW WEATHERALL, OPTIMO, TIM SWEENEY and some killer drag. This year we also have some seriously hot go-go boys too…watch out!

NYC Downlow Lovebox

Was the www.thedownlowradio.com born out of a love of DJIng or just a natural progression from the festival work?

Gideon: www.thedownlowradio.com came about really because of two things. The first was that the NYC Downlow became so successful that people really wanted access to our DJ’s and music throughout the year. Through the NYC Dowlow festival venue we had built a network of underground homo DJ’s from all around the globe who were super keen to get involved. Our regular contributors include some giants like Horse Meat Disco, Greg Wilson, Danielli Baldelli, Hannah Holland, Digs and Whoosh, Joshua Iz and a huge amount of other DJ’s specializing in funk, soul, disco vintage house and reggae! I was regularly making mix tapes and CD’s for friends and I kinda thought that maybe hosting them online somewhere might be a good idea too. The success of Block9’s NYC Downlow plus my relatively large output of mixes kinda just added up to the radio. We had no idea it would become a HUGE thing. Thousands of people around the world listen to us every month. It’s the sound of the homo-funk-soul underground!

Steve: We help fund the radio by selling NYC Downlow merchandise from our online shop

NYC Downlow Vest

The NYC Downlow will be at Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park on Sunday 17th June with Horse Meat Disco, Andrew Weatherall, Tim Sweeney and Optimo. For tickets and further info visit: lovebox.net 

Photo credits: Darrell Berry // NYC Downlow