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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – 2012

January 2012 was quoted in a VNV Nation song (‘Honour’) and sure enough when the date arrived, they undertook a mini-tour to mark the fact. The London gig was stuffed into the tight confines of The Purple Turtle pub, a show so packed that the guest list had to be turned away. Schadenfreude for me, as to this day I’ve never felt I’ve truly been accepted as a DJ by the scene shot callers who inhabit such lists.

But within a week, I’d be taking a substantial step up myself. The VNV song involved wasn’t the one with the dateline actually in it, but it was off the same album, and this isn’t their story anyway (though I hope Ronan writes such a thing one day).

I Have No Doubt From What I’ve Seen, I Have Never Wanted More

Ah, Reptile January 2012. This time the CD players were fully functional, and I had some better ideas as to what to play. I put on ‘Set Me Free’ by In Strict Confidence, and…..nothing but a crushing noise. If ever I needed a real-life demo of what the ‘loudness war’ had done to hurt music, shoving this through a club PA was all the proof I needed. Die Krupps didn’t get anyone on the dancefloor either, so I pulled out Das Ich’s ‘Destiallat’. Briefly considered the original, but given the empty dancefloor, went for the VNV remix. And suddenly everyone rushed through from the bar.

“Christfuck” by Wumpscut kept them, as did (amazingly) “God Wrote” by Project Pitchfork, the dynamics of this late 90s coming over as strong as the more recent “Set Me Free” was weak. But it was the second set I’ll always remember. Oxyacetelyne, the Re:Boot live mix of Front 242’s “Happiness”, and then, sensing a kind of “Full Tilt Revival” theme, “Cowgirl” by Underworld, actually mangaing to mix the two quite tight given we were in the pre-sync era. Old-school VNV and Apop, both rarely aired the club at the time but no-one was unhappy to hear them, and the live 101 version of “Everything Counts” to finish. Nowadays, it might read like a standard issue alt-scene setlist, but it’s one of those “you had to be there!” moments.

Now things really took off, but don’t believe it was an easy ride, because it wasn’t. My next set was a band support slot in the Interpid’s Fox’s old location under Centre Point. Support DJ for MaxDmyz and Die Kur shouldn’t have been a problem, but that didn’t account for a venue with the most awkwardly located DJ booths ever, and the most aggressive venue manager and security guard I’d had the misfortune to deal with. I regret the loss of the venue in any form, but alas I cannot say that extends to some of the individuals who worked there. It left a sour taste following what should have been a simple Saturday night of live music.

Insane With Faith, I Took The Driving Front Seat

The next event also had some bitterness surrounding it, but at least this one had a happy ending. Neo-Noir was a promising alt-scene event that I’d attended several times, but finally I got a chance to DJ it. Only one of the ex-organisers tried to cancel it the night before. Messages and Facebook posts were exchanged and it went ahead after much confusion, with me getting extra DJ time into the bargain (never a problem) – the packed dancefloor towards the end was proof that whilst spite can be a powerful force, it rarely wins out in the end.

A return to the Underworld next – Dark 7 2012 featured another seven bands, with Paresis replacing K-Nitrate at the last moment (no-one told me until AFTER I’d played the intro DJ set), and Deviant UK headlining – so a chance to play some Numan and Pitchfork then! I’d also adopted the habit of working in bands from the 2011 Underworld events into my set – V2A, Method Cell and Dreams Divide were all now part of my repertoire.

Two more live music supports in May. The aforementioned Dreams Divide were back in London, headlining this time at Elektrowerkz, thus giving me my first DJ shot at this legendary/notorious (delete according to allegiance) venue. Then there was another mixed-genre line-up at the Boston Music Rooms. And it was here that I added another string to my bow. I decided to start playing classic rock. Old-school metal. Blues riff withs amps up to 11. I did say that nothing in my collection was off-limits, and I just had to wait for the right moment to put each genre into practice.

Afraid of a Ruthless New Age While Their Future Screams Unknown

It was around this time that I acquired a laptop good enough to DJ with. I’d stuck out with CD-Rs longer than most, but it was time to make the switch. A remarkably unspectacular Currys PC World discount later, and the acquisition of the Mixxx DJ software and a USB console and I was set. Not the most glamorous setup, but it served me well for years to come. The kit was debuted at a low-pressure event – System:FX were headlining a 4-band lineup at Elektrowerkz and no-one minded the occasional drop-out as I tried to get the settings right. As with all my computers, their network name is taken from an album from the year the technology dates from, and in this instance, the first track played was the title track from the album in question – Kirlian Camera’s “Nightglory”.

Mid 2012 was also when one of the adversaries enter the story. It wasn’t a person, a club or a venue but a music genre. Dubstep. Before the electro-musicologists wade in, I’m not talking about the original, English underground style from the 00s. I’m talking about the bass-drop heavy, stuck-CD impersonation popularised by the like of Skrillex in the early 10s – most of the human race outside elitist dance music circles regard this as ‘dubstep’ now, just like everyone calls St Stephens Tower (or is it the Elizabeth Tower) “Big Ben”, even though Ben is just the name of the biggest bell. So everytime I use the term “dubstep” from here, assume I mean the stuff we were all forced to listen to for a couple of years. Yes, forced.

Because unlike most extreme music genres (usually ones ending in ‘core”), who keep themselves to themselves in specialist events, dubstep invaded the music scene like an invasive knotweed, winding it’s way into countless genres. Watching the band She Wants Revenge live (not practitioners of the style in any way), the support DJ on stage (On STAGE? FFS!) was playing a dubstep set that would have resembled a malfunctioning CD player had it not been obvious that he was playing from laptop.

And it came into play again at my next set – it had been arranged for me to play the Die Kur support slot at Voodoo Rock – the monthly metal-fest at Elektrowerkz (there they are again!). One of the organisers was complaining that my music “wasn’t suitable for this floor”. I’d supported Die Kur often enough now to know what to play before their sets, so what was the problem? It only became clear afterwards. The established DJ was playing dubstep remixes of Rammstein, Rob Zombie and the like. These bands might remix well in the right hands, but this was nowt more than crow-barring in the latest music fad. And the drunken, rowdy crowd went for it. Add a hefty does of irresponsible behaviour and I soon realised the current metal scene was not for me.

Next up was a go at the short lived ‘Y34R Z3R0’ Nine Inch Nails tribute night. I’d attended the first running, and suggested to the promoter that I had a good idea for the first hour (mainly – play the album tracks too slow for regular club play). That was enough to get me on at the second event – alas we were competing with a Numan night and a scene-focused 80s event at the same time and attendance wasn’t what it could have been. Still, the final 40 minute set (should have been an hour!) dispensed with the ambient stuff and I just nailed in the hits one after the other, which seemed to work.

This Is The Lonesome Death Of A Goth DJ

Dubstep reared it’s ugly head again at August’s hot and sweaty ABBS. Scott wasn’t playing this one, but both the guest DJs thought bass drops were appropriate accompaniment for Sunday afternoon shopping. I went in the other direction, with an extended-length opening of minimal-melodic-synthy-stuff (just right for a summer morning) and then a more club-friendly industrial/darkwave set later – after a run of ‘variant’ sets, it was essentially a chance to get back to my core styles.

But another variation was only a few hours away. Renaissance 2012 was taking place downstairs in the Boston Music Rooms, and I was Djing that one, too. DJ Vade Retro (Reptile’s founder) was here to help this time, though in the division of labour stakes, I happily took all the genre option bands (everyone always let me be Jordan Reyne’s support for some reason). Laptop began to play up in the heat, but we made it though and my longest-ever day of Djing was done. A couple of years later and the idea of a Sunday double-header wouldn’t seem so unusual.

But the events kept coming. Neo-Noir made a comeback in it’s original home of the London Stone (a venue which has since been transformed – minus the scary pub decor and under the name “The Cannick Taps”). This event had a super-sized DJ lineup. In the short time allotted to me, I decided to act on a rather vociferous Facebook war over the previous week about ‘Ibiza’ music being played at scene events. By playing some Ibiza music. If Faithless “God Is A DJ” counts. And then some futurepop. In case THAT counted!

Cybersonik festival was back in 2012, too – this time in Elektrowerkz. Another lengthy band support slot ensued, but with a hidden bonus. Gigs at Elektrowerkz on Saturdays don’t generally chuck out after the last band – instead the show simply evolves into a Slimelight. In this case, Slimelight’s 25th anniversary. It had been made clear to me earlier in the day that I was ‘only’ Djing Cybersonik, and ‘not’ Slimelight. But no DJ was booked on the top floor until 12:30am. And Cybersonik ended around 11:45pm.

With no-one stopping me, I carried on Djing after the bands were done. And what does one do with the top floor of Elektrowerkz with no stated remit? Rhythmic Noise, that’s what! Mak actually verbally approved me to do this, and my first Slimelight set was in the bag in the last style anyone would have expected me to play. But, as previously stated, nothing was off-limits and I was actively seeking any opportunity to get in the styles of marginal interest. Sometimes you just have to jump on these things when the chance arises.

There were also a few sets back at the Elixir Bar. The first was a video launch for the bands X-KiN and Non-Bio, both friends of mine, with an open remit afterparty set essentially going from harsh EBM to alt-rock. The second was Nightrain, an attempt to start a new classic rock night. I’d volunteered on the back of one of my DJ support slots earlier in the year. Some hasty research, including consulting some old friends of mine back in Essex and trawling the rock compilations in HMV (who were playing fuckin’ DUBSTEP when I was in there, proof that there was no escape at the time), and I got enough material together.

The event was enjoyable enough, but not exceptionally well attended, playing to a too-competitive market, and hence it ended up as a one-off. A few of the bands I missed on that evening got squeezed into a Halloween band-support slot I played for Bleak in Whitechapel, my first set in my native East London but otherwise quite not-really-my-kind-of-thing in terms of audience, though even here I believe I acquitted myself.

Time Was The Force, Brought Me Back On Course

Neo-Noir was still going. The November event had a 80s/90s theme, which was no problem for me – an early set of industrial from Neubauten to Thrill Kill Kult and a second set resembling turn-of-the-millenium Slimelight. December saw them join up with the other two London Stone based scene clubs (Y34R Z3R0 and Electric Dreams). Nine DJs were billed, but pre-Christmas illness and commitments meant only six played. My own 90s industrial set didn’t really work, so I ended up playing things like Echo & The Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes to keep people dancing.

There was one more ABBS in December. We turned up to find the venue was still being cleared up from a club the previous night (yep, it was a dubstep night). Once we’d finally got going, I once again found myself playing the trad-goth. Turned out I owned more of it that expected and thus was able to able to mostly avoid the bleedin’ obvious. Which left just one final set – Reptile, New Years Eve. It was my first chance to DJ the busiest clubbing night of the year in any location, and it was back in the club where my 2012 DJ adventure kicked off back in January. It couldn’t have been better placed. Only downside was having to switch back to CDs due to a lack of space for multiple laptops.

Now fully validated in playing the tracks that Full Tilt used to and Slimelight had largely forgotten, I nailed in the 11pm-11:30pm set. Pitchfork, VNV, Covenant, Front 242 before giving Arif the segue back to 80s classics that would see out the last thirty minutes of the year. The place was rammed, so the people in attendance probably couldn’t have left the dancefloor if they wanted to, but we certainly kept them moving. Two more slots were played in the early hours of 2013, one mainly-industrial, the other a twenty-minute burst of 80s classics when the crowd was thinning, but it was Mission Accomplished.

Indeed, 2012 was a case of Mission Accomplished all round. Twenty DJ sets played, the first year since 2008 without a house move and at the halfway point, a relationship began which remains strong to this day – but I won’t be writing about that here, nor will I any in future memoir. Question was – where to from here? It turned out I didn’t actually have an answer to that.

Onto 2013….

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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – 2011

The start of 2011 was a very busy period that left little time or capacity left for Djing. I did get a chance to assist tech writer KG Orphanidies with a trial run of some entry level Digital DJ kit (a sign of things to come) at a relatively sedate Sunday afternoon event, but that was merely a warm-up to what should have been my breakthrough set. Club Reptile were calling. Established in 2008, they had succeeded where many had failed in establishing a formula for a cross-genre alternative night. I’d been attending for a couple of years, and finally my DJ activity had caught their attention.

Meine Freunde, Tanz mit mir

The event fell around my birthday weekend, which should have made things even more special, but I’ve never had much luck (and more recently, enthusiasm) dragging out large groups of people to mark the passing of another year. More of a concern was that one of the club’s CD players was malfunctioning. I was still playing the things in 2011 and not-being-able-to-mix would be a significant issue.

In the end, we wired an iPod Classic into the left side of the PA and this Heath Robinson solution saw me through. And this remains the only use of an Apple-branded device in any Terminates Here DJ set, ever. Whilst the Classic was the only high-capacity MP3 player available at the time, I’ve never cared much for the ‘Apple way of doing things’.

My setlist selections that night were, in the circumstances, a “play it safe” affair. Darkwave and EBM standards made up the bulk of my set – I eventually played Project Pitchfork’s “Timekiller” as a birthday present to myself (I’d never heard said band played in there), enjoyed my birthday cake straight after, but there was no real feeling of having taken a “big step forward” in a DJ sense. The post-club mood was debates about whether to ‘go onto Slimelight’ – I wasn’t interested and hence the night just fizzled out.

One more set remained before an enforced break. The Dark 7 festival took place at the Camden Underworld – my friends in System:FX were headlining, the band Machine Rox were organising, and I’d also got to know the band Global Citizen quite well by then, so it wasn’t like my first attempt as ‘Band support DJ’ (at least under the Terminates Here name) was to be among strangers. Luckily, preparing for such things is pretty easy these days – listen to a stream of each band you don’t know and pick out four potential songs to play before each (you’ll usually only get two or three in).

I did get one of the strangest requests ever – System:FX wanted the old Inkpots track ‘I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire’ played before they came on. We were both fans of the game ‘Fallout 3’ and if you’ve played it too, that one will make sense to you. Perhaps more prophetically, I also played a track by Cubanate offshoot ‘Be My Enemy’ before they came on. Steve and Deb from FX would join the live line-up of this band a year later. The two projects aren’t that dissimilar so it all makes sense.

Now You’re One Of Us

However, these two relatively high-profile sets didn’t trigger anything. I soon got occupied with the process of buying a flat in the midst of the credit crunch and then filling it up with all the things that turn it into a home, so hunting down DJ sets proactively was a low priority for a while. I got back into the swing of things at the August ABBS, having had a pre-move sale at the spring event in lieu of actually Djing. Highlights here was opening with a 13-minute track (Fly and Collision of Comas Sola by TanDream, if you must know), and my first real old-school EBM set later in the day. Two more habits formed.

But things were finally moving again. A few days later, a few messages were exchanged, and I was support DJ at a four-band line-up at the Boston Music Rooms (underneath The Dome) headlined by New Zealander Jordan Reyne. Among the support bands were MaxDmyz (back as their support DJ after a full decade!) and Die Kur, Ays Kura’s band, who have a significant role to play in this story from here. Add Ventenner, and it was a varied billing that played to the strengths of my increasingly diverse style.

A couple more live support slots came in October. The first was a return to the Camden Underworld for Cybersonik, the follow-up to Dark 7 earlier in the year, calling upon various brands of EBM and electro-industrial throughout the day. A style that needs relatively precise mixing, yet with the event running late and no time to soundcheck the DJ booth, I didn’t discover until we’d opened and everyone was pouring in to catch Dreams Divide that the faders in the booth were broken. Ended up spending the whole day mixing by tweaking the AUX knobs. Not elegant, but by now I was used to substandard kit. It’s par for the course in our scene.

But Now You’re Worried That I Just Might Win

And then came Renaissance….The set I played for the Jordan Reyne gig a few month back clearly triggered something. A number of the bands returned the same venue play this eight-hour festival on the eve of Halloween, and the promoter NMTCG (Ays Kura – pulling double-duty as promoter and frontman of the headline act!) invited me back to DJ. I accepted without really considering what I was going to play, and researching the line-up gave me few clues about what direction to take. Every band seemed to have it’s own style. It was at this point that I decided that nothing in my collection was off-limits, and hence I came well-equipped for whatever the day may have thrown at me.

The early bands and link-ups went well, but things got interesting when I got talking to Anton, lead singer of Bleak. He requested “something relevant before we come on, like some blues”. Now, whilst all contemporary rock music is essentially blues-derived, my collection didn’t quite extend to the style in it’s purest form. So some lateral thinking was needed. What is blues, really? Miserable old men, right? Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. What can I say but “it worked”! I’ve been friends with Anton ever since.

Each band called upon a different aspect of my collection. Somehow I had them all covered. There was one moment when someone came up to me and begged me to play The Clash. Even though I’d played them earlier on and was now in the midst of my ‘metal set’ leading into old friends MaxDmyz. I’d then sussed out that the person doing the begging was actual from the band setting up at the time, and they’d come all the way from Spain. A compromise was reached and we went for The Sex Pistols instead.

A couple of the days after this set, I reflected on the extent of what’s I’d played. I looked at my ripped-to-MP3 collection in Winamp (remember that?) and wrote down the name of every artist I hadn’t yet played in a set, but had at least 20 songs by (thus excluding any artist where I’d bought one album and wished for no more). It covered 6 pages of an A5 notebook. The mission was on – could I play all of these bands in a set at some point? Because I didn’t see any point in repeating myself every time.

2011’s Djing ended at the ABBS once again. Opened up with the longest track I ever managed to play (Synphära by Klaus Schulze) but otherwise the day was only notable for me DJ wise for me playing more trad-goth than ever before, with Miss Jade back covering industrial this time. But arrangements had already been made for a set that would finally kick me up to the next level. Reptile wanted me back.  In 2012….

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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – 2010

2010 had a surprisingly sedate opening, only woken up by a stag party (OK, ‘Gentleman’s Tour of Historic Public Houses’) at the end of January. Up until that point, I had no inkling it would be the most eventful year of my life so far. But then absolutely everything took off. Including the Djing. Finally I was ready to graduate from the ABBS and get some live sets in elsewhere. And that stag party was the precursor to one of them.

It Was Me, Waiting For Me, Hoping For Something More

A couple of weeks later and I was Djing at the wedding party, alongside Cowlin and scene veteran Martin Oldgoth. Being the token ‘not goth’ DJ essentially meant one darkwave set, one EBM set and one metal set. It all went down quite well until someone came up to me in the middle of SOAD’s “Chop Suey” and asks “Can you play MORE Crüxshadows please?” (having long since delivered the full length version of “Winterborn”).

My response was something like “Sorry, there’s no way I can fit that into what I’m doing right now”. This comment got passed on and mangled by the increasingly drunken attendees into “he told her to fuck off”. No long term ramifications, but it proves how utterly thankless the job of Djing can be sometimes, and how unfeasible some people’s expectations can be. At least the newlyweds were grateful.

As for my own ‘love life’, well, I won’t cover those details here, but it was around this time that I found myself in one of those ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ relationships that ultimately, well, wasn’t. Somewhere amidst the confusion, I found myself back at the Dome Djing at the March ABBS, this time alongside DJ Scott McMahon. We didn’t know it at the time, but this would be a DJ partnership that would last right through to the present day. For now though, I got my first go at Djing ‘proper goth’ (as some like to call it) on a ‘if I don’t, no-one will’ basis.

The events between this and my next “live set” four months later would be worth a chapter of their own if this was a conventional autobiography. But it isn’t, and even if it was, it’s not a story I really feel like telling in full, now or in the future. The only DJ Terminates Here action during this period was a pre-recorded hour of music for a Mittelalter night held at the Zeitgeist pub in Vauxhall. A good attendance for a style only of marginal interest in the UK, but how much of that was down to the popularity of the venue at the time, and how much of it was down to the music?

Never Say Never ‘Cause I’ll Do It Again

I returned to real Djing in July with a one-time ‘Sunday Afternoon’ event in the London Stone pub. I’d arranged to start relatively late, due to having moved house the previous day and also due to my plan to watch the British Grand Prix at the Haymarket Sports Bar first. And mid-race I get a phone call, barely audible amongst the background noise. Turns out that as the venue was opening especially for us, it was locked up until the scheduled start time, with the DJ kit not wired in. Why they rang me, when I was obviously distracted and over a mile away, is a mystery.

Still, I set off the moment Red Bull’s ‘Number 2 Driver’ had received his congratulatory face-full of chessboard. Two buses and thirty minutes and I was there. The event itself went quite well, despite the delayed start. The gothic-themed pub quiz was fun, whilst Scott, Robert, myself and guest DJX (from Tanz Macabre) covered all bases music-wise. I had a lot of fun with my final set in particular, ending with covers of the Pac-Man theme and Popcorn.

It was at this point that I caught the attention of another promoter (who, given the following paragraphs, is best left unnamed here), who ran a Depeche Mode night (‘Black Celebration’ the too-obvious name) at the Elixir bar, and was on the lookout for new DJs. I gave a verbal agreement there and then, before returning my far-too-exciting life away from the DJ booth. Which I’m not writing about, see?

Whatever You’ve Planned For Me – I’m Not The One

I was originally due to play said Mode night in September but my debut was brought forward by a month due to a lack of other available and willing DJs. That should have been a warning. The August event actually went quite well, though. With little guidance from the promoter (who was outside smoking most of the time), my early set combined early Mode material with various minimal synth and old-school EBM tracks, with a second set later packing in most of the hits. Bit surprised that Yazoo cleared the floor, given it was Vince in his immediate post-Mode phase, but felt like a good event, let down only by the fact that my partner at the time (and Mode fanatic) was visiting family in Germany and couldn’t attend.

I wasn’t too worried as we’d get to right that wrong a month later. Sure enough, we had a bigger crowd next time out, with Electric Dreams veteran Paul Alan joining me in the DJ booth. With both of us on hand, we shouldn’t have needed any assistance. But the promoter had other ideas – when not outside getting her nicotine fix, she was switching DJs, letting her friends play sets, taking over the booth whenever she pleased and taking over the music policy as it suited her, acting like it was her own private party (it wasn’t). Having got a 101-style singalong going to “Everything Counts”, I was aghast when she insisted playing her boyfriend’s sub-Rammstein-style metal band, not only clearing the floor but leaving me at least two mixes away from playing any more Mode.

The only upside to this was that I used Skinny Puppy’s ‘Smothered Hope’ as one of my ‘rescue tracks’, finally getting this critical band into a Terminates Here set. It was on the night bus home that I began to think that there must be quite a few other bands I’d never played in a DJ set but should do at some point, and doodled a list in a notebook that would later chart the course of my Djing directions (plural intended) from here. As for the event and the promoter, I never heard from either again, and I hope it doesn’t jeopardise my commitment to the health of scene events if I said “Good Riddance” in this case.

And I’m Not From Heaven Sent – I’m Not Holy Just Like You

Unfortunately, 2010 was all downhill from here. An increasingly busy time in the day job, second breakup of the year and I was just too emotionally exhausted to feel anything any more. A four DJ line-up at the October ABBS (with Ashleigh, aka “Miss Jade” joining Scott Robert and myself) made my life easy that day. Other than making my attempt to support local acts by getting System:FX into my ‘industrial’ set, I pretty much sleepwalked this one.

A second running of the pre-recorded ‘Mittelalter’ night in late October saw an expanded “pre-J” lineup, with me now able to focus on my speciality of synth-enhanced medieval (yes, that is a thing), but ultimately we focused too much on the technicalities of assembling the sets and not enough in making the event go with a bang. The night itself was well-attended and well-received, but some of the venue staff didn’t want us there and that was the end of that.

By the time of the December ABBS, I was ready just to wind down to Christmas. Fate decreed that such a luxury would not be afforded at this time, with family members stranded overseas due to heavy snow and a major project starting up at work, but the DJ set here was quite a lot of fun, with Scott now established as ‘regular’ and James Black of ‘Black n Beard’ radio as today’s guest. I didn’t really get into the Christmas spirit as much as I could have done, but my closing-hour synthpop set was sufficiently rollicking to bring my DJ year to a close.

Onto 2011….

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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – 2009

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.

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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – 2008

The story of my first DJ set under the Terminates Here game actually dates back to December 2006, when an event called the Alternative Bring’n’Buy Sale was born in the function room of The Blue Posts pub. I got talking to the organiser Steph, suggesting that “a bit of music” would help add a bit of atmosphere. Sure enough, the next couple of events saw us move to venues with PA systems and veteran scene DJ Andy Ravensable was called in to provide the music.

I was a stallholder at the summer 2008 event, and observed that it did seem a little unfair that he was covering six hours on his own, missing out on both the commercial and social opportunities the event provided. Talking to Steph in the Reptile club (plenty more on them later), I offered to share the Djing with him. Despite not having played for six years, we quickly agreed to share the set on an ‘alternating hours’ pattern and I was at the races.

Don’t Be a Plague, a Spell to Kill, You Should be Grateful

I’d run off some CD-Rs and practised in software the previous week, laptop Djing still a few years away. Only to arrive at the venue to find the whole DJ booth not-wired-together. Took about half an hour to connect it all up and find someone to turn the PA system on. Little did I know at the time that this would become something of a trend….another lesson being “Learn where all the wires go and never expect everything to be wired in perfectly on arrival.”

Anyway, once the assembled in the Tufnell Park Dome had the early morning delight of Laibach’s version of ‘Mama Leone’ to enjoy in the later stages of setup, I found myself with a DJ booth, lots of music, and a low-pressure environment to find my way around the kit again after six years off. No pressure to fill a dancefloor, indeed at 11am one shouldn’t be thinking about that kind of thing anyway.

As for what I did play, it largely reflected my tastes of the time, for the most part taking the form of a WGT line-up distilled into setlist form. One side-effect of this was that I didn’t play an English-language song until I was half-an-hour into the set. There was a brief salute to the ‘mittelalter’ sound I’d discovered during my six-year Djing lay-off (someone even thanked me for playing ‘Vollmond’), tracks by both Solar Fake and Zeraphine (a Sven Friedrich double!) and a couple by Diary of Dreams, always a favourite and a frequent appearance in Terminates Here sets from now.

I went home from this event happy with the day’s work, hoping that I might get a few more chances to do something similar. As it happened, the results weren’t immediate, but the first seed was planted at least.

Onto 2009….

Intro / The EOL-Era / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / The Last Word / The Facts / The Credits

10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – The EOL-Era

My Djing didn’t begin under the Terminates Here name. I’d also managed a little bit under my former name ‘Jonny EOL’. All but one of these sets took place at Imperial College, where I studied (yes, really) for three years, though the Djing chances only came along towards the end of my time there.

It was only in my second year that we got our out rock’n’metal night ‘Whiplash’, and the Djing here was handled solely by our college radio DJ Steve (not a Steve any of you know now). No bad thing at the time – he really had a grip on the metal sound of the late 90s. Pity he didn’t care for Rammstein, but you can’t have everything.

But In His Voice I Heard Decay

But eventually a chance would come for the rest of us. Our Whiplash event chose to upgrade to a live band event called ‘sICk night in’, people were invited from other Uni Unions from around London, and there were DJ slots between each band to fill. My own patronage of events like Full Tilt and various shorter-lived nights had given me access to various industrial and darkwave themed tunes that no-one else had in the days when file-sharing was only just starting up. And hence a set was secured….but first a little practice.

We had secured the used of the Back Room in our college bar the night before the big event to get used to mixers, PA systems and CD-Js, and hence my first tentative sets were delivered – three tracks to get used to the buttons and faders. Then a couple of skater-types had their practice session, and decided “We don’t like what anyone else is playing, so we’ll shut ourselves in the booth and refuse to come out”.

Typical of the IC attitude as a whole, where the ‘I’m better than you’ mindset ruled with toxic prevalence. I hadn’t really gotten to grips with the kit by now, so eventually we coaxed them out and I played a couple more tunes, just so I could work out what a crossfader was for, and that was it. Off to Full Tilt. The place I discovered many of the things I was actually playing at the time.

On the night itself, I got my chance to DJ to a crowd for the first time. On a sprung wooden floor, with DJ kit set up on a trestle table (and no light source), the CD players were prone to skipping and one gave up entirely on my third song. So two attempts in and still no chance to work up some set time. But a first lesson in learning about navigating sub-standard equipment. Many more would follow.

I made it back to the Back Room a few months later – a digital hardcore/breakbeat DJ wanted an opening slot filling with a different (but distantly related) style and he brought me in. Oddly, this was my only experience of Djing off vinyl, ever – the format was seriously out-of-fashion at the time amongst all but scratch-style DJs, so I could pick it up cheaply on a student budget – there was no ‘state of the ark’ retro-chic motivation here. Still had a limited setlist and not much ‘feel’ for how tracks go together, but at least it was my first go at playing a set uninterrupted.

What Will Become? What Will We Be?

I left Imperial College a month later, but but I remained on-call for the next year or so as their industrial/darkwave DJ, having built my social life around the style since departure. I returned five times in total, slowly expanding my range. By my third attempt, I was including things like PAL and local bands Killing Miranda and MaxDmyz. Which turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, as MaxDmyz themselves were booked to play the next ‘live bands’ event, taking place a week from the end of the academic year and chance to let hair of various lengths down.

I was back as DJ, this time to play support slot to the headline band. Unfortunately, the event was running severely over time due to the fact we’d “borrowed” our live room from another student society and they were playing control freaks. Add this to strict curfew limits and we only to play a couple of songs each. Another sad but true lesson – Steer clear of running events where the venue staff show any kind of reluctance over having you there.

We both returned in November, the event was moved to the ground floor club room – an area over which the organisers had total control on the night. It took place during a difficult time in my life (out of work with few prospects despite my academic achievements) but it was a chance to catch up with old friends and even make some new ones. Including Pete Valente, MaxDmyz lead singer and only constant member. The first of many people I regard as allies to the Terminates Here cause, a full seven years before I began my mission in earnest.

After this, my social life moved more towards the London goth & related club scene. Most of the key DJ slots were filled by an established core of DJs, but I did manage to get my foot in the door of one of the many short-lived “Thursday nights at Gossips” events – Metal Box.

I Think We Made It Better

This was an era when our scene could still call upon students and other people not against clubbing on a work night, but by the time I made it, it was a dying trend. Within a few years, no-one was running scene-oriented club nights on anything other than a Friday or Saturday, and only Slimelight were able to do so on a weekly rather than monthly basis. I played a couple of 45 minute sets to a small assortment of scene faithful and random drunks, trying to work requests for ‘old-school Metallica’ and The Sex Pistols into what was supposed to be a goth/industrial set.

I might have actually got said bands into a set that otherwise comprises of Rammstein/Apop style material, but the writing was on the wall. The Metal Box night was gone within a few months, Gossips itself would be gone soon after, and I returned to focusing on my EOL-Audio website, reviews, band profiles and genre definitions all broadly related to “the scene”. I made tentative enquiries into Djing elsewhere, but most promoters pretended not to hear, or made loose agreements never followed up.

In many respect, I wasn’t ready. The scene was at its most political in the mid-00s, and I never had the skills nor contacts to manoeuvre my way through all that shit. Watching a member of venue staff playing a major scene club with a carrier bag full of CD-Rs, barely able to string together two tracks in the same style, was beyond the pale however. The individual was popular enough to avoid en masse criticism, which was a lesson that having friends in the right places was more important than any knowledge or ability, at least when getting started. As for EOL-Audio, it was going nowhere and I closed it early in 2007.

After a year-and-a-half essentially ‘out’ of the scene barring the occasional gig attendance, I began rebuilding my online profile in mid-2008 under the new title of ‘Terminates Here’. It was a term I’d originally developed an obsession with when I lived at the end of the Piccadilly line for a couple of years – that automated recording was the voice that welcomed me home each night. I used it as part of an April Fools joke, titled my new website under the name and originally was going to a form a band with said moniker. But when my first DJ chance in six years emerged, Terminates Here instead became my DJ name and now the main story begins – in 2008.

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10 Years of DJ Terminates Here – The Intro

I’ve been writing ever since I was literate. Even when I was a kid, my mum would spot me scribbling inside an exercise book and say “Are you writing your memoirs?”. At the time, I wasn’t, but now I am. It’s actually the second volume I’ve written. The first was “Too Loud In ‘Ere”, my memories of 20 years of watching live music. But that story was a man-in-the-crowd perspective. It wasn’t strictly ‘my’ story, rather my view of someone else’s story. My epic-length festival write-ups, available to Facebook friends only as Notes, said more of my personal experiences, but I was still writing as an audience member.

Still, that and a rather lengthy blog relating to my day job sparked something inside of me. Long-form writing was my thing after all, and in an era when most people have the attention span of a Tweet when browsing online, or constantly re-used the same passages of text via syndication, I though it was time to revive it as a regular activity. I began with my series of “Listener’s Guide”, a step-by-step walkthrough the careers of various bands that I felt worthy of more attention than the regular music biographers would give them. These will still be written as and when I get round to them

But I took a break from those when my 10th anniversary as a DJ approached. I’d briefly mentioned the idea of doing a DJ memoir after I released my live music piece, but didn’t really get down to it until recently. Was there a story to tell? It’s not like I’ve got Wikipedia notability criteria. But then I realised that it’s all about spinning a tale, not about the worldwide significance of events. Picking out the key moments, and explaining why they mattered. There are people who have questioned my motivation for Djing with no hope of financial gain – it’s time to answer those questions – and then some.

In writing this story, I have chosen not to personally identify anyone who has had a negative impact on this story. I hope it does not ruin the impact of the piece – I simply have no wish to raise old arguments once more. However, I doubt any of those people will even discover that this story even exists. This story is for those of you have been part of the journey, and for those of who followed said journey from afar. They are people who click ‘Like’ on my DJ activity on Facebook despite never having visited of my sets, either due to geographical separation or just due to being into different things these days.

Every set I’ve played is mentioned at least in passing, though obviously I’ve picked out keynote sets to describe in more detail. Some of the events I played were a story in their own right, but I’ve told as much of the tale as I believe is worth telling. There are aspects of mixing technicalities and PA setup that I’ve skipped as they won’t be of interest to anyone but other DJs and sound engineers, but I’ve covered included enough details to make it count where it matters. Every story has it’s friends and foes, and a malfunctioning soundsystem is as much a problem as DJ politics or non-existent crowds!

So, let’s get on with it then….first my EOL-Era.

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From Tufnell to Treffen – 10 Years of DJ Terminates Here

I celebrated 10 years of DJ Terminates Here a few weeks ago.  The actual event didn’t come together until late in the day, but one thing I have been working on for some time is a a complete start-to-end story of the adventure that took me this far.  And here is is – a long read, so it’s in PDF form.

From Tufnell to Treffen PDF

If you want to read this story in inline blog format, start here.

Infest – A Personal Retrospective

This is an article I wrote on Facebook shortly after Infest 2018.  It’s been slight tweaked for website purposes, but is essentially a retrospective to mark the 20th anniversary of the event (even if I didn’t go to all of them).  It was updated in 2024 to account for more recent visits to the festival, including the venue change.

The Early 00s – Running on Empty

I first became aware of the event’s existence in 2000, but having just left uni and on a temp workers income, attendance was impossible. Similarly, in 2001 I’d hit the end of a short-term contract, not knowing where my next pay packet was coming from, so no chance there either. 2002, finally with a low-paid but secure post, and I was on my way. I’d already managed my first M’era Luna a few weeks prior, so this should have been a piece of cake in comparison, right?

Had to cut a few corners to get there though. I bought the festival ticket and train ticket for £40 all-in from someone who had to withdraw with a month to go. It was too late to get into the halls but I found a single room at the Westleigh for not-much-money – all the doubles had gone but in those days I travelled alone. Pity about the train – turned out the person I bought the ticket off was a smoker, so my seat reservation was in the smoking carriage. Yes, they still had those back then. And I never liked cigarette smoke, ever.

And the festival itself? Band-wise it was unusually familiar to me – I think Flag Promotions helped with the lineup as it featured bands like Mesh, Synthetic, Greenhaus and the like – all familiar to me from shows ‘down south’. Biggest discoveries? Rhythmic noise. I’d flirted with the style but now fully got into it. And elsewhere there was retro-synth act Welle:Erdball – incredibly, despite my since-regular patronage of scene festivals in Germany, this would be the one and only time I’d see them. Also, the aftershow DJing was ‘my kind of thing’, lasting to the end on all but one night.

Such a pity that the events wasn’t particularly social. I only knew a few groups of people back then, many people seems to have an agenda and quite a few individuals were quite spiky when spoken to. I felt like I was expected to read minds most of the time. And there was nothing much going on outside of the music. No-one I knew fancied going off-site to eat, even if catering ran seriously short of options towards the end. Generally, I felt  “B-Listed” the whole time. I did make some new friends along the way, but once I’d exhausted the markets (remember Grave News? Music Non-Stop?), I was staring into a pint glass between the bands (45 minute gaps then) more than I would have liked.

I still returned in 2003, again only knowing a few people there. Trains were afflicted by engineering works, so I took a coach, but I couldn’t find a way of booking a route that avoided Leeds – where ‘another’ festival takes place and swamps whatever public transportation one uses to get out of West Yorkshire. As for accommodation, In halls this time, though travelling solo meant I ended up in the company of people who, whilst pleasant enough, were there for totally different reasons – stallholders with no interest in the music and people there for the breakbeat/drum’n’noise bits of the lineup.

Indeed, it was safe to say that 2003’s event didn’t have the hit-rate of previous year in terms of my own tastes. VNV Nation should have been a safe headliner, but I’d seen their Futureperfect-era set enough times by then, and they didn’t even fill their allotted time. Still, people did seem friendlier this year, though this might have been down to personal change – I’d established the Autism-Spectrum thing in the intervening year and was starting to find my way socially. Back then I tried to hide it to the unknowing – now I tend to ‘ride the wave’. Incredible how many future friends were there but not-yet-met, but that was to come.

2005 and 2008 – Because I Needed That

I didn’t go in 2004, the lineup either ‘seen elsewhere in past year’ (Spetsnaz, Converter, A23, Suicide Commando) or not of interest at the time – in retrospect, a mistake. I later really got into Lights of Euphoria and it took a tram-dash at WGT 2015 to see them. Proyecto Mirage and Ah Cama-Sotz would also later be of interest, but as of yet – never bagged live.

But then my first truly great Infest – 2005. Sick of being a lone wanderer, I attached myself to a collective from Reading, meaning I finally had meaningful company in halls and a lift to Bradford, even if it did involve getting to Reading at 6:30am Friday. But there was something deeper at play. I was in the middle of a major rework of my EOL-Audio site (remember that?) and I was getting severely bogged down. I needed an escape, a release. And Infest was what I needed. I got my first taste of the legendary Bradford curry on the first night and from there I was set.

To this day, the lineup that year remains a blur. I know Covenant gave us advance hearing of ‘Ritual Noise’ and ’20Hz’ and Blutengel flopped having arrived three years after their period of popularity in the UK. But it was the first time Infest felt like an experience in it’s own right rather than three extended-length gigs with an attached market. I finally ‘got it’. Only downside was a couple of people I knew mysteriously held AAA passes despite not being performers or crew – friends in high places seemed to be enough. As one busting a gut on EOL-Audio, a service to the scene as it was, it felt like a slight at my efforts that who you knew counted more than what you did sometimes. Oh, and getting a lift back to Reading meant catching ‘that’ festival crowd again!

2006 was skipped – I went to several other events that year and the money wasn’t there. In terms of seeing the Infest lineup, I settled for FLA and Stromkern in London the day after and a Frozen Plasma/Reaper double bill at Slimelight later in the year.  2007 was skipped primarily for personal reasons – I’d quit EOL-Audio and retreated to the outer fringes of the scene by this point and didn’t feel that well disposed to a VNV/Apop dual headliner, nor scene events as a whole. The occasional gig, sure, but once WGT was done, no more festivals.

I was tempted back in 2008 by the booking of Front 242. Add a host of other personal favourites – Tyske Ludder, And One, Heimataerde and even Infest’s first ever Peter Spilles appearance (testing the water with Santa Hates You before committing the Pitches), and it was a must-attend once more. By now, I’d arranged a lift from my native East London – much easier! And once again, Infest’s component parts were great, but it amounted to more than the sum of those once it got under way.  And like 2005, it was a boost during a difficult time personally – the break-up the previous month was thankfully as undramatic as it could have been but it still left me in need of a lift.

It was indeed the end of an era. The last old-layout Infest, but for me, it was my last ‘offline’ Infest.  Not yet owning a smartphone, I was buying newspapers and tuning into FM radio to get various sports results during downtime.  It was also the last time I’d stay in halls (ended up in a ‘dead zone’ when I needed a party) and the last time I couldn’t find anyone to have a curry with – the hotel dwellers had a free-meal-deal and everyone else had already hit the booze by the time I was ready to eat. There was also a slightly sour note at the end – talk of it not being the expected sell-out and rumours the event wouldn’t take place in 2009 were starting to circulate. But between all this, the actual festival was fun, fun, fun, all the away from start to finish!

The rumours were true, though – the venue rebuild made it impossible to run the event the following year. I’ve always maintained that if a year off was necessary, 2009 was the right one for it to fall on. The recession had led to many people being short on money, there was a real drop-off in scene talent coming through and the weak pound (almost as bad as it is now) would have made hiring a lineup of European scene megastars prohibitively expensive (most scene bands charge in Euros). During the lay-off, I’d taken up DJing, but more on that later.

The Early 2010s – New Layout, New Bands, Old Habits

The festival was back in 2010, and during one of the high points of a highly eventful year for me personally. The appearance of the Jury’s Inn Hotel near the festival site provided a usefully-located accommodation. I’d recently secured a promotion at work so had more budget to work with, and whilst many remained loyal to halls, I preferred a bit more luxury. Hotel breakfast was still way overpriced, ended up eating stale croissants in my room. The threat of an EDL march kept most away from the city centre, so hunting for a fry-up didn’t seem wise.

The venue was only just ready in time – signposting the new route to the venue wasn’t fully in place and catering was an afterthought, two food vans providing the only solid sustenance (remember – city centre was full of nasty people). So most either ate at hotels or elected for a liquid diet for the duration. And despite all this, it was still a great festival musically, with Rotersand’s 90 minute epic on Saturday night reminding everyone how good they can be. Project Pitchfork finally made it too – I wasn’t the only one who’d waited AGES for this.

2011, and for the third time in four Infests, I was in a poor state. This time, the purchase and furnishing of a flat had taken almost everything out of me – I’d actually bought my Infest ticket not knowing if I could attend. I’d fought off a cold just in time to make it, but I was nowhere near my best. Decided to let go the whole time and fix my life on return.

And the plan worked brilliantly. Using vitamin pills to avoid having to worry about diet (also got a deal on hotel breakfast – bad for the body, good for the soul), plenty of bands of interest (possibly overdosing on harsh EBM but otherwise on the money), and that amazing final few hours on Sunday. A trip-out experience to on the last day, retreating to the then-new karaoke in the Escape bar to do my best possible Sham 69 impersonation, then back to a ‘greatest hits’ VNV Nation set. I really needed that.

Happier times in 2012, my first Infest attended with a partner (adventures always mean more when they’re shared), even if I was partially booked in before we’d met! Back to travelling by train, my chosen method from here on. Still in the Jury’s Inn, but now with breakfast in the Titus Salt pub. Three old school EBM bands on the bill. Tenek and System:FX giving some real hope for UK bands. I had a double shot at the karaoke, too – still sticking to ‘London accent songs’, of course. So apart from some awkward building works on site and some unpredictable weather, this was was a thumbs-up-all-the-way Infest.

But we still didn’t go in 2013. By now, the spectre of Alt-Fest had appeared. The advance booking of both bands and tickets had let to much money and much talent being ‘tied up’ until August 2014. Infest still put together a line-up, but it lacked any real must-see content (Click Click the only regret at not seeing – and Da Octopusss were a definite reason to NOT go). We’d instead attend a couple of Belgian festivals, including BIMFest, then held in one room in an otherwise-deserted complex in the outskirts of Antwerp. Fantastic line-up, but soulless in terms of atmosphere. They’d later move somewhere with more character, but this was at least a reminder that Infest had a unique ‘flavour’ that transcended a simple list of bands.

What happened next could have been a terminal blow for the event and the UK scene. Infest 2014 was nearly a non-event, deciding to go ahead only due to the audiences appeals that they really wanted it to happen. Alt-Fest crashed and burned (not repeating that story, this isn’t about them). Infest, still limited in who they could book, then lost three bands from the original line-up, including the headliner (Project Pitchfork), replacing them with VNV Nation, now way past their best. The acrimony of Alt-Fest had largely subsided in conversation by the time Infest came around, but there was still an awkward feeling.

Me personally? I’d spend the recent years trying to establish DJ Terminates Here, though late 2013 and early 2014 proved to be difficult times on that front (few people wanted an electronic DJ that wouldn’t touch dubstep then). Encouraged by others, I thought an Infest set would be a perfect chance to show what I could do. But I was invisible. I tried to drum up some business at the festival itself but went largely unheard.

As for the bands, it was a case of many interesting projects, but no one moment of “WOW – THAT WAS AMAZING”.  Worse, later revelations revealed a couple of the acts who played turned out to be fronted by the kind people we’d rather not have involved with our scene, but we weren’t to know at the time. After several good-but-not-great shows, I remember when Ashbury Heights played – I was thinking “this is my last chance to get blown away”. In the event, the poor sound quality ruined their set and for the first time since 2003, I walked away from an Infest not feeling fully satisfied.

Also, I totally fucked up my voice trying to sing Leftfield/Lydon’s “Open Up” at the karaoke.

The Rest of the 2010s – Back on Track

I thought I’d have another shot at getting a DJ slot in 2015, deciding this time to wait until I’d established my own event so I’d be taken seriously. “Tragedy >For Us<” indeed worked, but too late to get on the bill here. Still, with Project Pitchfork making up for lost ground and plenty of interest further down, the lineup looked promising. Having established the two “not of interest” bands were on early Friday evening, we’d even avoided taking a day off work and came up Friday evening, determined to spend as little time in Bradford as possible. Sadly by now, everyone had discovered the useful location of Jury’s Inn and it sold out fast, so we had to stay at the Great Victoria, further away but full of old-world charm. And old-world plumbing.

For the first half of the weekend, I felt like I had ‘unfinished business’ from the previous year. Cocksure were good on day 1, but I really needed that one mega-show by any band. Fresh from my annual Bradford curry, we wandered in to see a previously unknown project “CHANT”. The furious drumming, the US-industrial rock styling, the turn of phrase – it all clicked perfectly. It was everything I’d been waiting for. Almost in tears at the end, like a weight had been lifted that I’d carried for a year – the rest of the weekend flew past. Mechanical Cabaret, BhamBhamHara, a couple more goes at the karaoke and the year-overdue Project Pitchfork finale.

And finally, in 2016, DJ Terminates Here was on the bill. Announced just before the late May Bank Holiday, it was proper celebration time. To the point where I threw caution to the wind and bought First Class train tickets! Fate played into my hands further – the one band on the bill I didn’t care for – Atari Teenage Riot – played Saturday night, at exactly the time I was meant to be getting ready to DJ anyway, so I had plausible deniability in paying them any attention at all! And the set itself, whilst limited by PA volume, was a tour de force through all my tracks of choice, with the “Nova Cokey” at the end sticking long in memory.

There was a celebratory air about the last day. The bands were good even when the descriptions said “not for me”, and I even got rid of my remaining 2014 ghosts by singing “Open Up” in the karaoke, and making a much better job of it. It reached a peak when Leæther Strip (who’d also waited some time to get a slot here) came on stage. Claus Larsen knows how to egg the crowd on, and the set itself was pure intensity from EBM’s Big Man. Mission complete.

Onto 2017. We’d now settled on the direct Grand Central train both ways – fast to Doncaster then SLOW through Yorkshire. Bradford unfortunately had a customer service bypass this year. The bar staff at the venue took ages to get up to speed, the hotel (the Not-Hilton this time) seemed more interested in an NA conference going on and couldn’t even set a breakfast table right, and even our old curry favourite The International had lost the plot, serving up all the curry and no cutlery! Being hassled in the street on the way to the venue didn’t help much either. In a wider sense, the sad loss of event compere Tails earlier in the year was a big hit to all involved. He was part of the distinctive atmosphere of the event, a part of Infest’s charm.

Luckily, the festival music was as good as ever – Riotmiloo, Empathy Test, Wulfband the best of the new names, Die Krupps finally appearing, the long awaited (for me) iVardensphere and a finale of Revolting Cocks. We’d already seen the show at WGT earlier in the year, but we were well up for a second helping. Proper industrial was back, and it sat just fine amongst the newer styles – some people were critical of this direction in subsequent discussions, suggesting technically-good but hitherto-unknown names for future headliners, but they missed the point. Got to sell tickets, and big names from the past draw the masses. Save “technically good” for the beard-stroking single-genre fests elsewhere.

2018 saw the event reach it’s 20th anniversary.  In not the best state of health and in quite a distant hotel, my energy levels weren’t exactly what they needed to be for a 4-day weekend, and more of my scarce energy supplies were worked off on day trips to nearby towns on the ‘extra Friday daytime’.  By the time of Cubanate’s show, I was a wreck that could barely walk.

A trip to the Bowling event the next day (arranged at the last moment) restored morale and also provided an energy boost, though, and by Saturday evening I was going crazy on the bouncy castle provided on site.  Oh, yes, and I also saw some bands.  Two amazing shows at each end of the weekend – Peter Hook on Thursday and Elegant Machinery on Sunday, plenty of other good performances and enough curry-break moments and so I still got my weekend to remember.

A month or so later and I finally nailed down the health problems that had interfered with my enjoyment.  As for Infest 2019 – we already knew Nitzer Ebb were headlining before the 2018 event had even ended, but when the rest of the line-up appeared, it went from being a ‘must go’ to a ‘couldn’t live with myself if missed it’.    And this time the festival not only delivered at every point, but I was in the perfect state to enjoy it.

The extra day was a one-off thing, but Flag Promotions stepped in and put on a Thursday night gig with Das Ich headlining – those two German devils casting the spell that lured us to Bradford a night early.  Light Asylum was the highlight of the first night of the event proper, a rare case of a black female artist appearing in a high-profile scene festival slot like this.  Saturday saw Witch of the Vale make their first major mark on the scene, whilst old favourites Dive and She Wants Revenge saw the day out in style.

And then the last day – it couldn’t stop delivering.   Whilst Ded.Pixel’s opening set was sadly a high point for a project that would collapse a few years later, the back end of the day delivered Future Lied To Us in all it’s wave-you-hand-in-the-air-glory, then OHM/electronic for a bit of classic Vancouver industrial.  Kaelan Mikla was the out-of-nowhere surprise from Iceland, and of course Nitzer Ebb saw things over the line with all the body beats you could want.  We didn’t stick around for the DJ/live hybrid ‘late shows’ and didn’t need to, but I gather the club-hours crowd really got into Zardonic.

More to the point, it was an Infest where everyone present seems to really ‘get’ what the event was about and got caught up in the delirious joy of the whole affair.   There was no “it was nice to see you but I didn’t care for the bands” this time, no real complaints about the billing barring a few needless purity tests.  For me, 2019 was a largely uneventful year barring a change of job.  Infest was the one over-riding memory.

The 2020s – Stay-In, Back-In and Out Again

For a brief moment in early 2020, it looked like the impossible would be possible – an Infest even better than 2019.  The initial announcements were a case of what-might-have-been – organisations continued briefly even once COVID took off, but soon realised it wasn’t going to happen, so we never got the billing with Project Pitchfork, Kite, ZyniC and several other acts I really wanted to see.  To make matters worse, 2020 was the last year before the end of the Brexit transitional arrangements – when everything reopened, booking EU bands was going to become harder.   Not impossible, mind.

We weren’t quite in full lockdown by the time the Infest weekend came around but gigs hadn’t found any method of legitimately occurring beyond some token acoustic strumming outdoors, permitted by the government as a mere box-tick in the live music category.   Face it – “Unplugged” and Infest’s musical remit don’t go together.  An online event with interviews and DJ sets was cobbled together for the weekend called Stay-Infest, but I have to confess I payed it and other similar events little attention, finding the forced-positivity vibe of Corona-compromise socials difficult to handle.   If I couldn’t enjoy it properly, I gave it a miss.

Infest 2021 occurred about a month after the COVID restrictions were dropped.   Too late to run a full event, but a limited-attendance one-day event was run and streamed to those who couldn’t make it – including us.  Might have been fully vaccinated, but a year and a half out of the loop alongside various mental health issues meant an event like this wasn’t an option to attend in person, preferring to wait until it could be enjoyed without limitations.  Still ended Saturday night dancing in front of the TV to Portion Control, which was the nearest we got to a live show that year and the “block” against streamed live events from the previous year was sort-of resolved.

Things were sort of back-to-normal in 2022.  Infest was back to it’s old format, with our two-year old rollover tickets still valid.  The line-up offered a couple of the acts from the original 2020 bill plus an interesting selection of new bookings and the play-it-safe selection of Suicide Commando as the Euro-scene ‘name’.   We should have got Rein as the ‘next big thing’ but post-Brexit visa issues got in the way with a few weeks to go and she couldn’t make it.  Empathy Test gamely stepped up as substitute, but a bit of the magic was gone.

My own encounter with COVID was early in August and whilst I was testing negative well before Infest, I hadn’t fully recovered energy-wise.   Thankfully, I’d previously agreed to swap my 2020 tickets for stallholder passes and sell off some unwanted CDs, which despite some cynical comments about the death of physical media, went surprisingly well – hard to believe two decades after first attending, I’d be the last CD seller remaining.  It also meant I got to spend most of the event sitting down, but still found time to see some bands, including first chances at seeing Klack, Caustic (Matt Fanale doing double-duty) and the oft-requested Glass Apple Bonzai.

Still got the impression something was wrong.  The following years dates weren’t announced at the end like they normally were and there was sometimes the feeling that the venue hadn’t staffed and organised it’s bar properly, as if their heart wasn’t in it.  It wasn’t – Bradford Uni had decided they’d no longer be hosting events like this, and Infest was in search of a new home.   Part of me wished they’d found a new city as I never got to like Bradford barring the festival and the curries, but it was revealed a few months later that they were indeed staying in the area.

But no more traipsing up the hill to the uni, no more hiding out at Goth Summer Camp.  It was time to take over the town centre – St. Georges Hall giving us a theatre-level venue in easy reach of several someway affordable hotels, the student halls having priced themselves at ‘go away’ rates.  The late announcement of the line-up unfortunately meant I’d be re-watching some of my Wave-Gotik-Treffen list (usually plan one around the other to avoid duplicates), but hey, they were good shows.  I’m not in the habit of watching the same bands multiple times in the same timespan but sometimes it’s the best option available.

With it came Beborn Beton, which for me was a 21-year gap since I’d seen them last.  Parade Ground finally made it to the UK, having been previously booked at the abortive Alt-Fest but nowhere since.  Thorofon hastily putting on a show to compensate for the flight-cancelled Xotox, and ZyniC getting a late boost to headline status.  Test Dept., a band I’d always though should play an Infest, served as headliner – though their show was one I was already familiar with, being the only band I’ve seen three times since lockdown ended!

At time of writing, Infest 2024’s line-up is still emerging, and they’re still finding new talent and unearthing bands that otherwise wouldn’t get to play the UK.  And Rein – this time…..keep an eye out for announcements.  I’ve still got a few unscratched itches in the live bands area, maybe they’re coming to Bradford this year.  Maybe you’ll be there too?

Ten Albums – Ten Days

There was this recent trend on Facebook to post Ten Albums across Ten Days.  Some versions involved just posting the cover, others involved writing.  Me being me, I did the written version.  It’s been a while since I posted anything here, so I thought I’d take the content and turn it into an article here, editing only for the occasional typo and to reflect the changed medium.  Note that this isn’t strictly my ‘all time top 10 albums’, certainly not on a pure musical/production level.  It’s just the 10 albums about which I thought I could spin the best tale. Continue reading