Liverpudlian promoter Breakwave has been pushing underground parties in the city for several years now. Through Meine Nacht, Breakwave hosts events in random and unexpected locations. Meine Nacht soon gathered a loyal following through word of mouth, with little marketing and advertisement around the events. The locations would include galleries, bakeries, a factory canteen and an old police station. It brought something new to an otherwise saturated market. Meine Nacht was also used as a platform for Breakwave to book budding DJs, allowing it to be a starting point for artists to break through. Now Breakwave is ready to expand the series into a record label where she will be pushing limited edition dubplate releases with the same ethos in mind, a platform for upcoming and established artists. The first release on the Meine Nacht imprint is from Manchester-based Daniel Ruane who she connected with after he attended one of her parties. Launching the label the only way she knows how – with a fully immersive experience – the party will take place at Liverpool’s Tate Gallery as part of their Art 360 series. Incorporating VR into the party, the event will see Breakwave perform live alongside Daniel Ruane with artist Thomas Murray working on the visual installation.
Ahead of the party we caught up with Breakwave to discuss the beginnings of Meine Nacht, the decision to create a record label and the concept behind the label’s launch party.
You’re credited as an artist who changed the face of Liverpool’s clubbing landscape with your DIY party series Meine Nacht – how did the concept come about for the event?
I started the night in an effort to push my then partner’s career and other budding DJ’s who were trying to break through on the scene. The idea had to be different, as there is a lot of fierce competition in Liverpool. I researched many different concepts that would set the night apart from the rest. I really liked the idea of live-streaming. At the time, no one live-streamed events in Liverpool, I bought some cheap equipment and taught myself how to live-stream in a week. That combined with the ‘Unseen Places’ idea; a series of secret parties in unused buildings in and around Liverpool, is something that generated a niche audience and this expectation stuck with them.
Before you launched the party, what was Liverpool’s nightlife scene like?
Liverpool’s nightlife is thriving, there is a lot going on and there are new parties popping up constantly on the underground music scene. It’s really refreshing to see and it’s great that there is so much to do but not a lot of these parties stick around, competition is rife – there are only a few parties that have longevity.
I’m lucky that I’ve built such a faithful crowd who keep returning and the following continues to grow. As you know I don’t tend to use clubs but I collaborate on some events with 24 Kitchen Street where I hold a residency. It isn’t easy for me to find spaces to throw my parties; this kind of event is quite unique these days in Liverpool so it makes the audience appreciate the party more when it happens.
The way your parties take place are pretty much a nod to the old school 90s, early noughties free party scene. What do you feel are the benefits of doing minimal marketing behind the series as well as not revealing the location until the day?
It comes from my own experiences of clubbing and expectations of a good night out.
The party has grown, but the ethos remains it’s intimate and it’s an opportunity for the audience to see top DJ’s perform up-close in a unique environment, somewhere they ’ll probably never visit again, that’s what makes it unique. I want my audience to feel comfortable and for the DJ’s to really enjoy the atmosphere, that’s ultimately what it’s about. I cap the numbers in order to preserve the atmosphere; it’s laid-back because that’s what I like. I don’t announce the location until the day of the event because right from the start there’s always been more that want to come that can actually get in. People talk about their experiences and that has generated more and more interest; it’s a close-knit community of people that return to my parties so they sell out almost instantly. It’s not something that is easily replicated; I guess that’s down to the following, reputation and the awareness of the party’s ‘ethos’.
Do you feel that there’s a demand for these kinds of parties that almost feel nostalgic? Especially with the rise of old school sounds, never thought I’d hear a hardcore track on mainstream radio in my generation, but here we are!
There’s always been a presence under the radar, it’s just finding the party that’s the hard part. I suppose it’s introducing the younger generation to what can be compared to as ‘old school raves’, inspiration has to come from somewhere and looking back gives you an insight into how you want to move forward and shape your own ideas. I have noticed other producers paying homage, with Jungle, Hardcore and Trance. It’s something that’s grown in popularity over the past couple of years I think, particularly with the resurgence of these tracks in underground DJ sets.
Meine Nacht parties are never at the same venue and take place at the most random places, how do you decide what venue is suitable for the event?
Finding a venue is the hardest most stressful part of putting on a party; with experience and an idea of the numbers I now know what buildings will work and those that won’t. In the beginning, I’d hold a party in any space that an owner or landlord agreed to let me use! As the following of MN has grown, the size and suitability of the space have changed. I’ve had many sleepless nights believe me, but I’ve worked hard to build relationships in Liverpool and I can use my past successful events as a negotiating tool when trying to persuade a woman in a suit or a mechanic who owns a storage warehouse to lend me their building.
Now expanding the brand into a record label alongside the series, what inspired this decision?
I wanted to delve further into the electronic music industry, to progress and work with like-minded artists. I’m always looking for ways to develop, it’s an opportunity for me to support more artists and it’s opening doors already. I want the label to be as successful as the party, but ultimately the music will do the talking and hopefully, it will reach out to a wider audience.
When some artists launch a label they decide to use it as an opportunity to release their own music first and foremost, why have you decided to launch with someone else’s music? How does Daniel Ruane fit the concept for Meine Nacht and why is he the best artist to kick things off with?
The label emphasis will be to provide a platform for upcoming producers and the door is open to established artists too. I get sent a lot of music, particularly through my NTS show. With Daniel, I came across some of his music and his production style resonated with me as I was exploring sound design in my own productions at the time. I love innovative developments and 3D sound design and his work felt ‘out-worldly’, something that I could relate to and wanted to purvey through my label. He lives in Manchester and came to one of my gigs with his girlfriend and we just clicked instantly. We are now working on a live set together, which we’ll debut at the Meine Nacht label launch party at Tate Gallery in Liverpool on 12th April. The live set will include music composition from both of us. There’s no rush for my music to be released on the label but I’ll get there eventually.
Why have you decided to run each release as limited edition dubplates? What do you feel this adds to the release?
I really like the idea of providing an exclusive piece, limited to a few numbers. It’s the focal point of all releases on Meine Nacht. Dubplates are an essential part of music culture and the history of sound system music. This format has been around for a long time and as most of us know, it’s a craft, prices are higher because there’s a lot of time and effort put into cutting them with a tonne of expensive equipment. I’ve started using a guy called Henry who is one of the best in the game; I was blown away with the quality and sound when I got the reference Dub back. It’s something I really appreciate and I want to have my own little input in the culture, keeping things alive and helping to support local artists like Daniel. As a DJ it’s something that is important to me and there’s nothing better than having something that isn’t so accessible to others’. In a way, it fits in with the aesthetic of my party too.
How will the visuals and artwork play a part in the label? Will they follow a specific theme?
As well as the music, the artwork is very important to me; I wouldn’t say it will follow a ‘set theme’ as it’s good to work on a variety of ideas. I think you have to be open-minded when it comes to the creative part, at the moment we are focusing on sculpture-like artwork, the visual art offers us the chance to expand on ideas.
With the label launch party happening at Liverpool’s Tate Gallery, the event is going to be a 360 degrees audio reactive/interactive VR experience in collaboration with a local artist. Why have you decided to make this an immersive experience? Do you feel that the landscape of the industry is changing in a way that listeners are longing for a different experience to the one a normal club performance offers them?
It’s something that I have put a lot of thought into and I’ve done a lot of research for the label launch. I wanted the audience to be able to connect to the music on more than one level, to be truly immersed in the live performances. The main live performance will take place in a purpose-built blacked out space where Daniel and myself will perform in the middle of the room – it’s a less ‘conventional’ layout and a more engaging atmosphere, the visual installation will pan around the space and it will feel like you are in a virtual world. There’s a lot of interest in alternative club experiences and mixed media performance. There are thousands of artists who send proposals to Tate so I feel very lucky to be selected to curate a mixed media and music installation at their first ‘Late at Tate’ attempt in Liverpool.
Some of my first parties took place in really small Gallery spaces; one that sticks out is Domino Gallery, which is owned by a lovely little lady, who had an exhibition on at the time of the party. It was live streamed via the Internet port in her flat above the Gallery where she lives with her cat. There have been massive developments since then with Meine Nacht but I don’t want it to be too far away from what it was back then, so the label will help to preserve the Meine Nacht ethos and will offer all kinds of different ‘events’. Electronic music is not just about ‘rowdy raves’ and Tate understand that this event is opening up the medium to a wider audience.
Can you tell us anything about the artist you’ll be collaborating with for the party?
At the moment I am working with a visual artist called Thomas Murray who is responsible for the artwork on the first release, he approached me a while back to collaborate on a visual installation that would take place at a Meine Nacht event. The label launch event was the perfect opportunity for us to put ideas together and work towards a goal. He’s from Liverpool too; it’s great to have so many creatives involved in the process of developing the party. I had a set idea on how I wanted things to look and he has been really easy to work within the sense that he gets my vision and has the ability to make that vision come to life. He produces some great 3D surrealist art and cinema 4D renders, he will perform live on the night using Resolume.
What kind of world can guests expect to be taken into when they enter this experience?
The ‘world’ is not limited to a 2-dimensional space, the 360 degrees aspect ensures that there is no frame, which in essence, immerses the viewer into the scene. We want the audience to get an instant connection when entering the space, there is one doorway to enter/exit and the aim is to connect the visual installation with sound performance and our audience, demonstrated through it’s interactive and audio reactivity. The debut 360 degrees VR video has been an ambitious project for us to work on, both Thomas and I believe that it is ‘virtual entertainment’ that bridges the gap between reality and fiction.