Interview: secretsundaze

There has always been an underrated science behind curating a decent Sunday party.
Firstly, irrespective of the day it’s being held on, the city of choice may not look too kindly on parties at all, which usually correlates with the local licensing & venue laws. Even if you have found the perfect venue, their license may not be suitable for your needs, thus you run the risk of having a party shut down before it reaches its climax. As obvious as it sounds, deciding on a venue that reflects your party’s core values is of the utmost importance, however it is often overlooked. Poor sound quality, disproportionate capacity, furniture layout, drink prices, among other things all need to be considered otherwise your utopian crowd may not attend. Finally the delicate amalgamation of the brand’s aesthetic & choice of music must fit the time of the event. 

To most, all of these points are obvious & on paper it doesn’t seem all too complicated to put together a party with good music & great atmosphere. Yet it is a rarity these days for a promoter to successfully executes the aforementioned criteria over a long period of time. Combine that with financial pressure & the potential resistance from a venue or community, for Secretsundaze to not only make it past ten years (fifteen years in 2016), but to have created something genuine which rarely veers away from its origins is extremely special. Ahead of their “10 years in Barcelona” party we asked the guys to give us some insight on the initial stages of building Secretsundaze, how they managed to keep afloat during difficult times, along with upcoming releases.

Music trends aside, has there been any noticeable changes to London’s party culture on Sunday?
In the early noughties Sunday partying was a phenomenon and you would see huge groups of club kids roaming around shoreditch looking for the next party and it felt like people really did live for the weekend. Our generation were extremely hedonistic and were out all weekend for days. Young people now still enjoy themselves but it definitely feels like Friday and Saturday are very much the more popular nights again. There are a few promoters that are still successful with well attended events but from our own experiences and also looking at the number of Sunday promoters that have dropped off the radar its definitely not the strongest moment for sunday parties.

You’ve mentioned you inspected 50-plus locations before settling on 93 Feet East as your initial venue back in 2002. Does London still offer a variety of venues for promoters to host parties, or are clubs considered a high-rise financial investment?
London does offer lots of spaces to do events – if you include warehouse type venues, multi purpose venues and purpose built clubs but in terms of say medium sized, 500 capacity, purpose built clubs with great sound there are very few options. In Europe you have the likes of Robert Johnson or Bob Beaman. London has nothing to compare to these at all in our opinion. It used to be the The Key and the only club I can think of in London that comes close is possibly BLOC now but nothing really on the level of the clubs mentioned above. Potential club / venue owners are without doubt put off at the big risk of opening a club in an increasingly gentrified East London. People do seem to be opening these multi purpose venues that could be art galleries cum restaurants cum clubs as that spreads the risk but these places are never going to have the best set ups and sound is often weak.

Coming up to your fifteen year anniversary, how do you stay focused on keeping the core values of SS from the beginning alive & genuine?
We have never compromised musically and we spend a great deal of time curating and also programing running orders on individual line ups. Making sure guests compliment each other is very important to us. We still seem to take more risks than many promoters bringing over new talent from around the world. There are many house / techno artists that have had their UK or at least London debut at secretsundaze.
Finally we like to think that with us as residents that gives a solid rockbed and core signature sound.

Samuel Muir has been the rock for your brand’s aesthetic, are you both heavily involved with the design process as well?
Yes Sam is a fantastic designer and has been with us since the 2nd year so pretty much our whole existence. When we first met him with a view to doing our design it turned out that he had been coming to the parties all throughout the first year. This of course helped to win us over. We are heavily involved in the design in the sense that he normally comes up with 3 or 4 routes for each season and we select one and then work on honing individual designs for each event. There is sometimes a bit of back and forth and tweaking of things but generally Sam knows our tastes and nails it pretty quickly.

Ten years in Barcelona is shaping up to be a phenomenal event, take us through the initial stages of taking SS from London across to Europe, where was the first party abroad?
We have been doing parties abroad for many years although we don’t remember the first one. Our party during Sonar was an early one. It was initially with a little help from our friends / contacts abroad as is often the case but now the demand and interest is there and we get approached to do secretsundaze parties across the world as they have heard our mixes, been to the parties or bought our records.

In regards to the label, what’s your ethos behind the release schedule & choosing artists?
There isn’t a great science to it. Schedule wise our philosophy so far has been to release music as and when we have stuff we love as opposed to having to pump music out to just fill a release schedule. We have on the whole been working with artists that we have close ties to, perhaps through our agency TSA artists but not exclusively so.

What can you tell us about the latest release SS016 with DJ Qu?
Well we have known Qu for 5 year or so first playing together on a boat party in NYC and then going on to invite him to play at secretsundaze parties in Barcelona, Berlin and of course a fair few times in London. We admire Qu very much not only for the dark, moody stuff that he produces but also his tastes in music as a DJ. He’s really into the more soulful stuff that we love from Blaze to Ron Trent so I guess we feel akin. He has a strong culture as a DJ. Getting him to do a record was the next step and it came together fairly quickly.

In an interview with Inverted Audio back in 2013, there was talk of starting sister label ‘SZE’. Was it down to timing or your incredibly busy schedules that the first release only occurred last month?
Yep pretty much that we were just very busy.

Was there any particular motivation behind choosing BLM as the first artist for SZE?
BLM sent us some stuff some time ago for consideration and it didn’t fit with secretsundaze but we liked it. We signed this off for the label long before we were ready so it was simply the first thing that we signed. It wasn’t pre conceived it just happened organically.

Are you able to tell us who you have in mind for future releases?
We’re afraid not for now.

Where can people experience secretsundaze parties over the next few months?
Our next London party is on Easter Thursday at The Laundry with Qu, Mosca and Virginia so gearing up for that. Have the 2 big bank holidays in London on May 4th with the likes of Sterac, Fred P, Joey Anderson, Pev b2b Kowton and then the 24th May with Martyn, Delano Smith and Jeremy Underground. Then we have tour dates over the next months. This weekend we’ll be in Rome, Easter weekend we hit Brighton, Tresor in Berlin and also one of our favourite clubs Robert Johnson in Offenbach. Some UK gigs in the likes of Southampton, Newcastle and Belfast before going to the states for gigs in NYC, DC and Miami.Of course then we have our big party in Barcelona during Sonar on Sunday 21st June.

More Info:
4th May: Sterac, Fred P, Joey Anderson, Pev b2b Kowton
24th May: Martyn, Delano Smith & Jeremy Underground.
Tresor & Robert Johnson
Other dates

What records haven’t left your bag(s) recently?

DJ Qu – SS1 (secretsundaze)
Phrased – Come With Me (L.B. Produce)
Endian – Finish Me (forthcoming secretsundaze)
Untitled – Nitejams – (Nitejams)
Delano Smith – A Tale of Two Cities (Efdemin remix) (White)
Lawrence – Sapphire (Underground Quality)

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