Ahead of their 2016 premiere, DISCOSÓDOMA sat down with their first guest of 2016, the Glasgow-based Huntleys + Palmers of the highly esteemed namesake label and excellently curated event series. They caught up to chat about the future, music and of course love!
Can you explain where the Huntleys + Palmers name comes from?
When I was looking into starting parties back in 2007, a name was the last thing I thought about. As the first one was getting closer, I read about the 50th anniversary of the Wolfenden Report, which famously decriminalised homosexuality. It explained that during the trial the court used the code names ‘Huntleys’ and ‘Palmers’ for homosexuals and prostitutes – to spare the blushes of the prim and proper administrators who were working on the case. So at the time, I liked the slightly sleazy connotations and went with that. What I didn’t realise until much later, is the code names came from the name of a popular biscuit brand at the time – they still exist now and I think many just assume I like biscuits!
You have built your reputation on a strong editorial focus on new sounds and emerging artists. How do you cut through the noise to discover new talent?
I’ve been obsessed with discovering new music for as long as I can remember, right back to taping radio shows in high school. I guess over time I’ve managed to refine what excites me in an artist / track and I know what I don’t like almost straight away. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple way to cut through the noise, I still have to check everything to discover the nuggets.
What are the processes separating Huntleys + Palmers and Highlife? How do you select what goes where?
Good question! This requires a bit of backstory – the Highlife parties were started as a side project to H+P, which would specialise in music from around the world. A year into running Highlife parties, we started the H+P label and then subsequently needed to start a sub-label to focus on edits, which is where the Highlife label was born. So both labels are intertwined, but there’s some nuances in there – Highlife has an international, dancefloor friendly sound / feel, whereas H+P is a bit more all encompassing. An easy way to categorise is between who would play at a Highlife party and who would play at a H+P one.
Have you already started seeing the emerging sounds for 2016?
This isn’t something I pay too much attention to nowadays, although I have a feeling it will be a good year for a bunch of artists connected to the label..
In the meantime, I’ve got a full schedule of music to release that’s getting me really excited, so enough to focus on.
Glasgow, London, Berlin. Your current operations see you working in all three cities, with Glasgow being now your main residence. When did you decide to make the move and how this change has affected your work?
I’ve been back in Glasgow for about 18 months now. Despite living in other places over the years, I always had something or other going on in the city, so from that point of view, not much has changed. It’s great to be back though and nice to be involved in a community where people are looking out for each other.
Last year we saw the closure of the Arches in Glasgow gaining a great momentum in the news. How did the city react to this? In London lately, we see parties happening again in offbeat locations, from detached warehouses to temporary disco basements. Is there something similar happening up north?
There was a big outcry at the time of The Arches closing, but I’m not sure what effect it’s had on the city as a whole – there’s still a bunch of great venues of all sizes in the city and the recent expansion of SWG3 pretty much fills the void of The Arches. Likewise with offbeat party scene, it’s not something that’s really existed in the same way it does in London, probably connected to licensing / council.
If you could snap a moment from your ideal party, what would this portray?
Highlife just played at Optimo’s legendary NYE party in Glasgow which was a pretty big deal for me personally and a bunch of close friends came out. The further I’ve been involved in music, the less I see of them in that sort of environment, so that was really special and I was buzzing for ages afterwards. So I guess a mix of old and new friends would be a big factor.
Are there any exciting future projects for Huntleys + Palmers you could share with us?
Yeah, always! There’s a lot of great music on the way from Lena Willikens, CAIN, Auntie Flo, Wrong Steps and a bunch of new faces to introduce.
What shall we expect from your set at DISCOSODOMA?
It should be all over the place – in the best possible way. Brand new music alongside some older stuff I’ve dug out from the back of my brain. I’m really excited to play at Superstore! It was one of the first places I hung out in when I first moved to London, so looking forward to being back.
Can you tell us a bit about your mix?
I think we can all agree that Valentines Day is a lot of shite. It can’t be denied that there is a great deal of music made about love, heartbreak and the rest. Consider this a selection of my favourite songs from around the world, which happen to feature or relate to love. So you can play it all year round – no matter your relationship status!
Catch Huntleys + Palmers at Discosodoma | The Lovers at Dalston Superstore on Saturday 13 February from 9pm-5am.