Dalston Superstore’s Polari-inspired Club Vada is thrilled to announce Brooklyn-based DJ, songwriter and jetsetting record producer Lauren Flax will be joining the bill for their next party! Her wild, chuggy house sets have been setting dancefloors alight from New York to London and beyond for years, with a vast range of musical inspirations colouring her own productions. Having collaborated with the likes of Sia and Romy XX as well as making her own music under the CREEP moniker with fellow electronic musician Lauren Dillard, we can’t wait to hear watch she unleashes in the lazerpit! We caught up to chat collaborations, influences and plans for this year.
Hi Lauren! We can’t wait to have you play at Club Vada! How has the first week of the new year been for you?
Actually quite amazing. Obviously last year was rough for many parts of the world and it took some time for me to be able to get back on my feet. It’s so important to be able to keep my vibration high but also to stay angry and to not normalize things. We have a long fight ahead of us the next 4 years but I feel ready stand up and fight with a clear mind.
Dillard and I started CREEP in 2009 I think? We put out or debut record in 2013 and got to tour Europe leading up to that. It was a great experience with a major learning curve for us, but it was all very exciting. Right now I’m focused on solo releases and DJing. We’ll write another record at some point, when the time feels right.
How did you two come to be working together?
We were best friends from the start. I think we both just got bored and wanted to see what we could come up with. I think we learned pretty quickly that we were on to something.
You’ve collaborated with some incredible names over the years from Kim Ann Foxman and Romy XX to Sia – who have been some of your favourite people to remix or work with?
Thats a tough one to answer! Sia was the easiest in that she came to my loft at the time and recorded all the vocals to You’ve Changed in literally 20 minutes. She also wrote the lyrics on the car ride over. She’s made of magic.
What was your favourite release of 2016?
This didn’t come out in 2016 but its my favourite discovery of an African band named Super Mama Djombo. Nissan Na Mbera is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
How do you think your upbringing in Detroit has influenced your sound?
Detroit taught me that technique and precision were major factors to being a great DJ. Plus, being surrounded by the people that created techno didn’t hurt either haha. We were all just young and obsessed kids back then, but it was special and a lot of us were able to make a career out of it.
You’ve toured really extensively across your career, what is the weirdest / best place you’ve ever played?
Honestly, I think the weirdest show we did was a daytime show at Shoreditch House. Some of the people were eating dinner and confused, but also we had 50 of our closest friends there all in black. We definitely descended on that place in full force.
How does the LGBT+ party scene in London compare to that of New York?
Honestly I don’t know any places that aren’t LGBT+ anymore and its great! I think both cities offer a great mixed crowd. Even if parties are advertised as queer nights, you’ll still get a mix. Plus everybody knows the gays throw the best parties!
Can you let us in on any plans in the pipeline for 2017?
More dance records to come. And lots of touring Europe. I’ll be based back in Berlin for the summer and am looking forward to festival season.
In five words or less, what are you planning to unleash on Club Vada?
GONNA MAKE THAT ASS CLAP.
Catch Lauren Flax at Club Vada this Saturday 21 January from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!
In a time when club spaces (and with them, overlooked communities) are disappearing before our eyes, Club Vada promoters Hannah Holland and Cathal O’brien are seeking to preserve queer culture and history, and share them with a new generation. As well as booking DJs who made their names in iconic queer parties of the past, at every party they present a special guest artist, performer or cultural figure to present their piece of LGBT history before the party kicks off. For their upcoming party, they welcome prolific videographer, film maker and archivist, Jeffrey Hinton whose work is focused on underground subcultures, spanning decades between London and New York city. We caught up with Jeffrey to chat a bit about his past work, current collaborations and plans for the future.
Hi Jeffrey! We are absolutely thrilled to have you join us for a pre-party show at Club Vada! Can you tell us a bit about your relationship to promoters Hannah Holland and Cathal?
Well that’s all a kind of club blur! But Hannah and Cathal are great energies and I love what they do, we share lots of the same interests for sure.
How did you first get started as a videographer and filmmaker?
I started recording things on a reel to reel tape recorder age eight, and wanted to mess it up, so hot wired the sound through the speaker outputs on the hifi and fed it back over records and the radio (early mixing). All ways of capturing the world fascinate me, visual and sound. Then experimenting with any tech I can get my hands on and usually doing it all wrong as I have no training but I like the fucked up bits.
How have you watched the gay scene in London change over the years?
Yes, I’ve seen lots of changes around the world but I like change! Patterns do emerge if you’ve been around a while like me.
If you could change one thing about the LGBT+ club scene, what would it be?
Stop complaining too much or being inward thinking and get on with action (despite the obvious issues). Mind you that applies to everything. I like people to get more active and visually out there rather than behind a computer (like I’m feeling right now!!)
You collaborated a few years ago with the V&A for their Club to Catwalk exhibition; can you tell us a bit about that project?
That came a bit out of the blue as I went in for a meeting and thought I was just advising them but then they said, “We’re building you a room and want you to fill it with your films and music!” So I did!
As an observer of subcultures and the queer underground, where do you see things developing in the next few years?
We live in such media saturation all regurgitating questions till we’re numb!
The world has shifted a lot but still fails to resolve most old issues. The big rise in controlling right wing powers directly affect us all and especially any queer underground. But I see lots of cracks are appearing and that’s always been a good time for underground activity!
2016 has been one hell of a year in terms of losing some amazing counter-cultural icons. Among all this loss, what has been a highlight for you?
I’m pretty amazed I’m still on the planet!
Who have been some of the most inspiring people you have collaborated with?
That is a never-ending list all for different reasons. I’m so lucky to know and work with amazing people – it’s why I love being alive.
Do you have any exciting projects in the works that you can let us in on?
From 28 November I have a big video installation running for two months covering the ceiling at BISTHROTHEQUE called Big Sky. It features clips and moments from my films covering three decades all wafting around a sky ambiance.
Then next year I’m working on a completely immersed sound and visual installation that I’m also designing the interior for and want to tour. Also I’m developing a play (never done that before!)
I’m very excited so look out for details.
Can you give us a sneak peek of what you have planned for Club Vada?
I’m screening my film Scratch Bowery that hasn’t been shown in this country.
It’s my homage cut up video to Leigh Bowery and the life that we shared including some of my visuals from the club Taboo. Then I’m talking to Max Allan about the visual side of queer language… well along those lines but were known to digress!!
Catch Jeffrey Hinton’s pre-club film screening & discussion with Max Allen at Club Vada from 9pm on Saturday 26 November at Dalston Superstore.
Iconic DJ, producer and true legend of the East London scene Hannah Holland has joined forces with prolific photographer, videographer and DJ Cathal O’Brien to create a new club night which is sure to send ripples through the gay clubbing scene. Having seen through thirteen years of parties together, the friends and artistic collaborators are no stranger to putting on innovative club nights, and their latest project is Club Vada. They caught up to chat about early club experiences, their history, and the inspiration for Club Vada!
Hannah: When it came to the inspiration for my own parties, the club that really blew my mind was Nag Nag Nag, at (former) The Ghetto. That’s where you would meet some very interesting club kids – I guess it was the era’s Taboo club. There was also Bodyrockers at Cynthia’s Robot Bar, with a music fusion of Detroit electro, techno, house and punk. Metalheadz at The Blue Note, was next level, pure energy and bass, with a proper mixed bag of London music lovers.
Nag Nag Nag
Cathal:I loved Nag Nag Nag and other infamous London club nights with strict door whores and strong looks – I remember you had to get past Cormac on the door in his Air force Pilot jumpsuit first – I remember thinking it was like the scene filmed at Danceteria from Desperately Seeking Susan.
Hannah:Boys AND girls mixed, with a common motive for the music, the vibe and the people. It was very creative. One thing that I find sad now is many gay clubs are 90% men, obviously there’s a desire/need for that in gay clubland, but Dalston Superstore is a great space for both to unite. Thats definitely something that’s always been very important to me – at clubs I’ve been involved in, people come from all different walks of life and genders, with the right attitude.
Cathal:Characters you mention like Steve Strange, Leigh Bowery, Jeffery Hinton, Marilyn, Princess Julia showed us it is possible to have this life, to have a story, to have a community to contribute to and maintain. And they look great! This amazing history needs to be fostered – there are stories that need to be passed down and heard! I think that’s something we both want to facilitate right?
Hannah: Absolutely. They are important moments in underground London, and I love the fact that it’s a talented artist like yourself recording, often it’s only the press version that gets told.
Cathal: My heroes are artists who also ran there own club spaces and were involved with nightlife, Basquiat with his band Gray at Area, John Sex, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring at Club 57 – all peddling their own flyers and fanzines, transforming the spaces, getting their work seen immediately by an audience. I’ve really enjoyed pulling the artwork together for Club Vada. – its a no brainer to run a night where you have your work/ films playing on the walls, branding the night, designing flyers – its all curation to me. Hannah, what made you start doing parties ?
“After a few years of being resident of the infamous TRAILER TRASH (co-promoted by Superstore owner Matt Tucker, one of the clubs that kickstarted the Shoreditch scene mid 2000s), I met Mama, and joined forces to start Batty Bass along with Alex Noble. We really went to town with our imaginations. Mama came from a punk background, Alex’s art and my eclectic music focusing on bass, we mixed live vocals (and instruments sometimes) with DJ sets, Alex’s visual universe and built a loyal following. The party lasted about seven years, outgrew its spiritual home and went into warehouses. By that time we started to move out of London and back and we called it a day. It was still some of the most amazing times I’ve had as a promoter and DJ.
Cathal:Its your Batty Bass label’s ten year anniversary – how are you celebrating it?
Hannah:Yeah, the club started in 2006 and the record label soon after, we’re releasing music again after a little break and celebrating by getting the family back together in sound – Josh Caffe, Mama, The Carry Nation, Alex Noble and more. Cathal:Wicked !
Hannah: Has your work always been inspired by people you’ve met in these places?
Cathal: I primarily make portraits, photographically and in short film – I love the challenge of getting someone down on film in a way that they want to be seen and how I see them in that moment. I really returned to this thinking with the party i run with Bica, Clam Jam. Every week I took pictures of an amazing new breed of queer women – I’m archiving it all now. I want to make a book. I don’t think its evident how important this group of women are just yet, it’s a really exciting time and I felt a responsibility to record a part of it. I’m going to be taking photographs at Club Vada as well of course! I don’t want to miss it. I wanna see strong looks!
Hannah: One of my favourite places in the early 2000s was Sundays at The George and Dragon, with Jonjo Jury on the decks. He would expertly move through the very best of queer heritage. Can’t wait to have him work his magic upstairs for Vada. Also Elles is one of my favourite East End DJs right now, she has amazing taste and a great vibe.
Cathal:I can’t wait to have that ‘Lovely Jonjo’ element upstairs for the first Vada. I’ve always loved what Jonjo plays – from when he played at Trash to when I remember him playing Saint Etienne at the pre-refurbished Red Lion pub round the back of Hoxton Square.
Your tracks have consistently sampled gay icons who all made a big difference to the nightlife of their time. You’re releasing a new track – who have you sampled this time ? Does it have a name yet ?
Hannah:My new track is called Diva Bern and samples the diva legend that is Sandra Bernhard. I know we both love a bit of Sandra, I can get lost in her interviews on youtube for hours.
Cathal: Club Vada will be our London residency for both of us – our base – you’ve been playing a lot around Europe – You played at the now legendary ongoing club space Berghain – was that a goal from when you lived out there? How did you find it ?
Hannah:It was always my greatest dream to play there. I did face up to myself years ago, when I lived there, that it was never going to happen, and I was ok with that! Then… came the phone call. Put it this way, I’ve never been so excited or nervous in my life – for a good two month lead up. Couldn’t have asked for the gig to go better. Dear friends were there, we had an opening of the shutters moment… It was very intense. I also got to play in the garden with Cormac, another East End diamond, on another occasion, that was so much fun.
Cathal:So we’ve gone all Polari with the name of the night, I’ll let you explain how that came about Hannah.
Hannah:Vada comes from the gay London slang language Polari, I first heard it in a track by the The Weebles ft. Princess Julia called Moist Womanly Needs – “Vada girl, Vada”
Cathal:When you start looking into it you realise many of the slang words have trickled down into mainstream vernacular.
Hannah:Then Lavinia Co-op introduced me to it first though a really amazing show.
Cathal: I had heard about Lavinia originally related to New York and I have many questions myself, stories I want to hear – Lavinia has given me some prose which mixes Polari and cockney slang which I will put into in the fanzine we’re making to hand out – it all relates to the talk she is giving on the night.
Hannah:Lavinia has been through seventies gay liberation and been part of the fight to make it possible to have these nights and freedoms we all enjoy today.
She was around the time that gay people had their own language, not because of shows like Ru Pauls Drag Race, but because they had to! A secret code, Polari is a fascinating underground private slang, cockney rhyming for the queens. We’re honoured to have Lavinia do her show and have a chat with Max Allen before the party kicks off! Max will then be hosting the evening, and we will be screening the short film shot by Cathal that he stars in.
Club Vada will be all about lost in the music moments, we’ve got some quality DJs lined up for the rest of the year and next. For our launch I’ll be getting into the wormholes of house techno and beyond for a 5hr set.
Catch Hannah Holland and Cathal at the debut of Club Vada on Saturday 24 September from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore! Lavinia Co-op show and panel downstairs from 9pm.