Our friend James Baillie is known around these parts for his work programming Lovebox's fantastic Sunday lineup - but he also has a serious acid house pedigree stretching back to his seminal club night Venus and beyond. He spoke to Superstore's Dan Beaumont about formative years at the frontline of house culture and his plans for this years Lovebox Sunday…
Your club Venus has passed into acid house legend... what prompted you to start it?
I was doing clubs nights and acid house warehouse parties and other clubs before Venus. My first ever club night venture was back in 1985. Venus started in 1990 when the owners of the venue, which was then called The Club, approached me. The crowd then was footballers and I suppose WAGs. The owners had been following what I'd been doing around Nottingham so approached me to change the venue. I came up with the name Venus and got a load of my friends in to help put my stamp on the venue. It already had a good sound system that had been installed by Ian Levine (legendary Northern Soul DJ and Hi-NRG pioneer).
Its success didn't happen over night - it took a few months to get it where I wanted it to be. The turning point was when I started to invite other club brands to do nights at Venus. These use to come on a Friday… Charlie Chester’s Flying, Justin Robertson’s Most Excellent, Steve Proctor’s Better Days, Sean MacCluskey's Love Ranch, Dave Manders’ & Rosko’s Kinky Disco and the deep house pioneers DIY (who you had play at the DSS a few weeks back!) We were one of the only venues Danny Rampling put on a Shoom and I think Patrick Lilley's High On Hope with Giles Peterson and Norman Jay.
One weekend I brought over from NYC the club night Jackie 60. People use to travel from far and wide. It was the club that help kick start the whole DJ culture as we know it today. It came at just the right time. The whole rave scene had gone lowest common denominator, seedy and overrun with gangsters. And I sat there thinking "Is that it?"
But when Venus came along it was just perfect. It was the place that bridged the gap between the north, south divide and brought the whole Balearic network together.
Who were your favourite DJs who have played there?
Andrew Weatherall, Slam, Angel Morales, Laurent Garnier, Danny Rampling, Bobby Konders, Todd Terry and one of my residents Paul Wain who was an outstanding DJ. He was spotted by Andrew Weatherall when he sent a chart into Boys Own. There was so many great DJ's that graced the decks at Venus. I also use to book in some excellent live acts… Ten City, Saint Ettiene, The Grid, Flowered Up, A Man Called Adam… I could mention tonnes!
What was the thinking behind Lovebox's Out and Out Fierce Sunday?
A heart attack after putting together Cable club which gave me some time to have a re-think on my future. Going to Lovebox Sunday 2009 and thinking Sunday could work as a gay/gay friendly day. I sold the concept/idea into the Mama group and they let me go away and develop the idea further. I did a lot of research and chatting to close friends who all said it was a no brainer… I can remember you, Dan, saying "Bastard, why didn't I think of this?!" I wanted Sunday to be a celebration of everything gay and so far removed to what London Gay Pride was offering.
What is your ultimate Lovebox Sunday lineup (feel free to include deceased legends!)
The late Donna Summer, David Bowie, Bjork, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Fever Ray, Caribou, Yello, Giorgio Moroder, Pet Shop Boys. David Mancuso presents The Loft, House of Ladosha, DJ Harvey, Green Velvet… There's a load of acts I would like to add in but it would only be me and a few friends that would turn up to see them!
You consume more music than anyone I know! Any hot tips for new bands?
There's a lot of great new bands around at the moment, here's a few… Churches, Night Angles, Warm Digits, Gold & Youth, Opossom, Stealing Sheep.
Current favourite dance labels?
Wurst, Permanent Vacation, In Plain Sight, Snuff Trax.
What bands/DJs will you be checking out at this Lovebox?
I don't really get to see much as I'm usually back stage or running around all over the place. I will try and catch a bit of Niki And The Dove, Azari & III, Tim Sweeney, Optimo and Andrew Weatherall in the NYC Downlow and hopefully experience the whole disco explosion with Chic, Chaka Khan and finish off with Miss Grace Jones.