One swallow doesn’t make an orgy, and one setlist doesn’t make a DJ. A single set doesn’t allow you to attract much attention, so I needed to wait until the ABBS (as it’ll be called from now) rolled around again to DJ once more. The quarterly pattern of the event wasn’t established by then, so this didn’t happen until August 2009. It was otherwise a “dead time” for scene events, with Infest on their year off due to venue refurbishment and Eurofests unreachable due to exchange rate issues (as bad as it is under Brexit now), employment uncertainty and, dare I say, not many exciting new bands coming through. But no reason not to DJ.
I’ve Got Nothing To Lose and Everything To Win
With Andy having moved on to other things, a new DJ was brought in – Robert Cowlin, later known for Terminal Gods, but now as a trad-goth DJ with a penchant for playing tunes older than he was. With that side of thing sorted, I had every other scene genre at my disposal, and indeed kicked off the day with one of NON’s more ‘ambient’ compositions, which at least set the right atmosphere. I hovered around the dark-ambient and film soundtrack era for a while before moving onto a more conventional darkwave and electro-industrial style, with my first DJ plays of Leæther Strip and Front Line Assembly being relatively unknown but personally favoured album tracks.
Later sets saw my first of many explorations into old-school EBM (not a big thing in London at the time, indeed some would say it never was), gothic metal and industrial rock. Indeed, this was the set where I really got to grips with the concept of ‘genre bridging’, picking out the interim tracks that could get me from Style A to Style B without a jarring interlude. Though in one case I have to thank an Italian musician who passed me a CD of his latest album and asked me to play a track off it. It got me from Die Krupps to Lacuna Coil perfectly. His name is Ays Kura, the band Die Kur, both of whom would go on to form a major part of the story to come.
The is also where I first came up with the idea of tag-team (aka ‘versus’) Djing at the close of the event. Robert was playing The Human League, and I though it’d really cheer up the closure and cleanup to play some ‘fun’ tunes. On this occasion, pop-styles 80s tunes were enough of a deviation from what we were playing during the day. We would push this boat out quite a bit further in later years.
Two Sounds Are Better Than One
Robert and I later assembled some music for a London Gothic Meetup anniversary event, though I don’t class it as an official set as it was pre-recorded and played at relatively low volume in a pub that wasn’t really equipped for such things. Also, I had a job interview (two, actually) the following week and hence my mind was at least partially elsewhere. This diversion was at least successful, giving me financial stability at a time when such things were by no means guaranteed for anyone.
We were back for a full DJ set at the Christmas ABBS – my first time playing the closing hour. The celebratory atmosphere encouraged me to break from the goth/darkwave/industrial boundaries, introducing some borderline-mainstream hits (Editors ‘Papillon’ and Muse ‘Uprising’) and bringing some of the 80s throwback material into the main set. I wasn’t the only scene DJ doing this, of course – scene breakthrough hits were hard to come by in the late 00s and if we had to look to the charts to find something fresh to play, so be it. In any case, it might have only been my third live DJ set, but I certainly left the day having felt like I’d ‘arrived’ if not yet ‘established’ myself. 2010 would be my chance to build on all of that.
Of course, it’s never that simple – as we’ll find in 2010.