- Zilka Grogan
A chat with Volte-Face
For London-based Volte-Face, the recent announcement of fabric’s closure (and subsequent reopening) hit close to home. An established figure in the city’s electronic music scene, he has both co-promoted parties at the club and played there regularly over the past decade. Yet at a time when some are predicting the demise of the city’s nightlife, he remains optimistic about the future of clubbing in the UK capital.
We recently sat down with Volte-Face to discuss his views on fabric’s closure, his current projects and collaborations, and what we can expect from his headline set at Patterns of Perception on March 10.
What’s 2017 got in store for you? What are you working on at the moment?
More of the same really. I’ve just put out the first BleeD release of the year, by Phil Moffa, who’s somebody I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. I’m putting the finishing touches to my next BleeD EP, gearing up for the festival I co-organise, Field Day (which is headlined by Aphex Twin this year), and also looking forward to working out some Rote shows with Daniel Avery later in the year. I’ve also been meditating daily, and have finally stopped biting my nails habitually.
You’re based in London, which was hit pretty hard by the announcement of fabric’s closure last year. Now they’re back in business and you’re returning to play in April – how do you feel about heading back there?
I’ve been playing semi-regularly at fabric since 2006, so it was certainly a shock to hear of the closure. People underestimate the effect that a venue like fabric has on the entire ecosystem of clubbing in London. In my view, there are very few venues on the planet as well run and conscientious as fabric, so it would have been nonsensical to close it on grounds of health and safety. I can’t wait to play there again.
A lot of the media coverage last year focused on what fabric’s closure meant for the future of London’s nightlife more broadly. What does fabric’s return mean for the city’s electronic scene? Is it now back to business as usual or has the damage been done?
I think there will be positives that come out of the situation. Fabric has had the chance to reflect and regroup, and others in clubland have had the opportunity to work with artists who might not have been so easy to book in the past, and potentially consolidate some new following as a result.
Clubs are always coming and going in London, but I don’t think the volume of people going out and enjoying quality nightlife varies a great deal. We’re pretty committed ravers over here!
What might the implications be for a city like Berlin, where clubbing culture is so unregulated compared to London? Do you see the city as eventually heading in the same direction as London?
I do marvel at how permissive the Berlin club environment can be in comparison to London, but it seems that the authorities recognise that this is a cultural differential which should be cherished and protected, rather than systematically undermined in the manner that the British police went for fabric, with the dubiously titled ‘Operation Lenor’.
You’ve recently played a lot with Berlin-based artist Blind Observatory, both on the same bill and b2b. How is this a good musical fit? And more generally, how do you approach your b2b sets?
He’s somebody that I happened to catch at Berghain a few years back, and have since been following religiously. I invited him to play back to back with me at the last Plex/BleeD event in London, and we’ve become friends since, playing a second b2b recently at Fade Blank in Amsterdam. We cross over a fair bit, especially when it comes to the more ‘romantic’, trance-infused side of techno and electro. It feels like something new, rather than a compromise, when we play together, which is surely a good sign.
What’s coming up for BleeD Music this year? Any particular releases you’d like to mention? What direction are you taking for the label? It’s a blank canvas, and occasionally a slashed canvas too. I’m working on it! One of my favourite new artists is working on a remix for me as we speak, which I am eagerly awaiting.
You’ve previously run your own club nights through BleeD. In your experience, what’s the recipe for the perfect party? What’s needed in terms of the crowd, music, sound system, etc?
I had five good years promoting parties under that name, although the sound I was pushing was generally more abstract and experimental than what I have been releasing on the label so far. For me, what’s needed is some kind of tension in the curation. I never saw a reason why an ambient artist, let’s say Bee Mask, couldn’t play in the small hours at a ‘club’ night, alongside more traditional ‘techno’ artists. Some memorable moments include Oneohtrix Point Never playing alongside Oni Ayhun and Veronica Vasicka at my first ever club night, Daniel Bell playing krautrock peak-time at a Downwards x Diagonal party, British Murder Boys playing a secret set in a 250 capacity room at a Blackest Ever Black party alongside Raime, and Morphosis playing b2b with Ben UFO for eight hours at Corsica Studios.
What can we expect from your set at Patterns of Perception? Is there anything you will do differently from your usual sets to cater for the venue and the crowd? Although it does tend to derail my life a little, I try to treat each show as a unique event, and put a lot of preparation in. Having seen OHM in action at your last party, I feel like I can treat it like a house party set, of sorts. Nice and varied, deep and full of surprises. That’s the plan at least.
Volte-Face plays at Patterns of Perception at OHM Berlin on March 10