WANG is 12 years young this weekend... ahead of their rather fine bon anniversaire shindig we caught up with founders Lou & Electro Elvis on hitting their teens,
The story may have been told before... but for the R$N readers I wondered if you, Lou & Elvis mind going over some old ground for us... we'd be ever so grateful!
Lou, you were initially involved in the Drome - now SE1 - and worked for record labels in London town, Mr Electro Elvis, you were the main protagonist behind the Electrophonic parties, but what made you start WANG?
At the time we’d just moved in together and we were out partying A LOT. But there was simply a lack of parties that we really wanted to go to, in both the club and free party scenes, so we decided to put on a party ourselves, hoping to combine the best bits of both scenes. We invited all our friends, who then invited their friends, and so this crazy adventure began....
Describe your musical educations.
Lou - for me it was the early south east rave scene, then when I made the move to London at 18 I discovered the most amazing record shops who opened my mind to the world techno and electro,
Elvis - I started buying vinyl in 1992 at the age of 15, labels like basement records, production house, moving shadow, suburban base, kickin', warp, R&S etc. As well as a lot of pirate radio, I used to listen to a few radio shows on Kiss FM: Colin Dale & Colin Favor for techno, Manasseh for Dub and in-particular Coldcut’s Solid Steel, which was a big influence and exposed me to lots of new musical styles. It was the first place I heard Cybotron's Clear, which is what really sparked my interest in electro. The United System’s warehouse raves were another huge influence though more due to the vibe rather than the music played. In 2002 I made a pilgrimage to Detroit for the DEMF and made lots of links over there, which was definitely an education..
What does the word WANG mean?
It comes from the phrase to “WANG it up your head!”
I remember coming to a WANG way back when, when Mr Tom Jenkinson AKA Squarepusher was playing in the basement of The Premises way before Old St had turned into the vacuous bar-fest it is today. You could have even have described Old St as a little 'edgy' back then. How do you see the face of parties in 2011? Is it still possible to maintain the spirit of the 'party'?
The face of parties in 2011? Well we’ve always preferred faceless parties ;-) Seriously though too much press exposure too early on, before a scene has had time to cement itself, can kill a scene dead before it’s got going. We were lucky to ride the internet wave just as email became very widespread, and used it to pretty much bypass both the mainstream and specialist dance press. At the time there was far less sites such as this and so WANG grew very much by word of mouth in a very organic way, which had a really dramatic effect on the vibe of the parties.
But hell, absolutely it’s still possible to maintain the spirit, all you really need for a great party is good music, nice people and a bit of imagination!
What's been the most weird and wonderful place you've ever thrown a party?
So many it’s hard to choose, but if we were forced to pick, we’d have to say The Premises scores highly on both counts, weird and wonderful, and also the outdoors rave locations were all pretty amazing.
For the unitiated, tell us about the Fear Crew, that you collaborated with for many years?
The Fear Teachers were/are a free party collective, who Elvis put on the early Electrophonic parties alongside. I can’t really talk about the Fear Teachers without mentioning Brett Youngs (RIP). His boundless enthusiasm, energy and willingness to involve everybody in the scene was a huge inspiration. The Fear Teachers morphed into KDU / Kore Dispension Unit/ DSS / Dead Silence Syndicate and a multitude of other names, but will forever be known as "The Brockley Heathens"...
Wang has always championed, amongst many other things the Detroit Electro scene. Where do you see this scene in 2011?
Just like with Techno before it, a very small group of people in Detroit made some very obscure records which were then siezed upon by a few other people around the world (such as us here in London) and used to help spawn yet another worldwide underground music scene...
The entire electro scene (and were definitely not talking electro house here, lets make that distinction very clear) is extremely niche with small pockets of (U)nderground (R)esistance now dotted all around the globe.
For 2011 electro from Detroit, we’d have to give a big shout to our to our friend DJ Stingray and his Micron Audio label.
When WANG started, we were very lucky in that there was a big back catalog of electro records from Detroit that had never made it across the pond, and so once lines of communications were established there was a multitude of great music flowing over, which to everybody over here was brand new, but which had infact built up over quite a long period of time. Luckily by the time that it had mostly been used up, a few producers over here were inspired to take up the mantle and run with it and so the dissemination of information codes continues....
Mr Elvis, you were massively involved in early live video mixing. I didn't realise you'd even taken these visuals on tour as part of the Two Lone Swordsmen live package. VJing moved on massively in the past 10 years, where do you see it going and what inspires you that you've seen of late.
I started off using videotape, so I’ve always approached VJing much like DJing, and really enjoyed the physical aspect of performing with hardware, rather than hunched over a laptop clicking a mouse. The video mixers took an absolute hammering, with all the kit used in ways that it had never originally been designed to. So for me personally being able to control visuals with vinyl using Serato is a really big deal, and I'm currently working towards all my dj sets being sound and video but all played from 1210s. Other than that, Jay J Hammond’s JAM experiments adding video to Ableton and using Kinnect controllers blows things wide open in a totally new direction and is really inspiring to me, now if only I could get it to work on my computer ;-(
Mr Weatherall, Mr Tenniswood, DMX Crew at your 12th Birthday. It's incredible to witness the longevity of the music that you've always heralded isn't it?
We’re very lucky to have such staunch supporters of what we’ve created. By not following fashion and by sticking to what you really believe in, it’s far easier to create something that stands the test of time.
Is the Kingsize Soundsystem still kicking around - that you used to use for the early parties - or has it been consigned to the bass bin graveyard?
It’s still at the back of the lock-up, but mainly for sentimental reasons these days - any offer’s considered ;-)
Between Julian’s Profound Fairshare Unity Sound System and Steve Bedlam’s Noise Control Audio monster rigs, we’ve got much more and much better sound than we could have ever dreamed of back then!
"John Reynolds has probably played more WANGs than anybody except Elvis and Lula." Tell us about Mr Reynolds for those that don't know him.
Jonny Reynolds is a legend in his own lifetime. Purveyor of vinyl at 3 of london’s best ever record shops, Fat Cat, Atlas and Smallfish. Owner of one of the best record collections we’ve ever witnessed, with ring-bound folders of catalog numbers to prove it, I kid you not! In his tireless quest for that next elusive gem, John used to DJ at WANG all night and then head straight off to the record fair with absolutely no sleep. Thats dedication (insert Roy Castle’s trumpet here)
How do you feel about WANG almost being teenagers?
Old! But seriously, time flies when you’re having fun, and we’re still very much having fun. WANG has always had a real mix of widely differing ages, and that mix of new blood and friendly faces is now part of it's charm.
Why have you never moved to Berlin like everyone else in music has at some point in time?! What does London still hold for you that nowhere else can offer? :)
For one thing we’ve always had real day jobs to go to! I guess we’ve never really been ones to follow trends. And only London has the wonderful WANGers that make WANG so special.
Where will WANG be in another 12 years?
Only time will tell, but if we have anything to do with it (and we do) still DEFENDING THE DANCE UNDERGROUND with less of a club and more of a party!
It's difficult not to evangelise about Weatherall and his influence of late or not just of late. But I've actually had to actively stop myself from listening to too much of his stuff recently. My working day has been soundtracked pretty much by him and the gentleman that is Sean Johnston of late. It's nice to see him getting his second wave of appraisal tho via everyone and everything from 6music to RBMA. How important an impact has he had on Wang? I imagine he's appeared in many incarnations at your parties?
Well despite Elvis sharing a studio space in Shoreditch with Andrew at the time we started WANG, Andrew didn’t actually play at one of our parties until 2007, as before that time he was so intrinsically linked with Haywire. But now he’s onboard the WANG train, he’s got a one way ticket, so he’s never getting off.
I never made it to your fabric party with Abe Duque and Blake Baxter - Live in fact I've never seen 'em live. How was that?
We were really nervous about the 1st WANG at Fabric, as it’s such a mighty force in dance music. It was really important to us that the party still had the WANG vibe. We were totally blown away by all the support from our WANGers, it was so nice to see so many friendly faces. People can moan about Fabric being full of tourist’s all they like, but at that time, The End, Turnmills and Matter had all just closed, Fabric was in receivership, with rumor of it’s imminent closure flying round like wildfire, and whichever way you look at it, the London dance music scene would be far worse off without Fabric being there. It’s an amazing club space with incredible world class facilities and can be whatever people choose to make of it, so we we're honoured to be invited to do it. It's funny to think that both WANG and Fabric started within a couple of months of each other! There must have been something in the air!
Blake is a true legend and one of our all time heros, we love the tracks he and Abe make together, as they fuse old and new styles so well, so it was a dream to be able to have them perform live. The after party was also a lot of fun as we got a chance to hear them both DJ.
5 seminal tracks from WANG parties from the past 12 years:
We couldn't decide on 5 so we picked 5 each
Take a walk - Bolz Bolz
Air Frog - Bon Voyage
Once in a lifetime - Talking Heads
Radioactive Man –Ave That (from the Dive and Lie Wrecked EP)
Surgeon – La Real
The Hoax - Chase and Status (no links online, sorry!)
Final Frontier - UR
Electronic Warfare / The Illuminator - UR
Top Buzz - livin in darkness
Electro Elvis - litmus test (unreleased and not link-able, sorry)
5 monumental moments from WANG parties:
Inviting the entire club back to our house after the 1st ever WANG, as we didn’t want the party to ever stop!
Gerald playing Voodoo Ray live for the 1st time ever, to 350 people all in fancy dress on new years eve and coming out from behind the decks to dance with the crowd.
Squarepusher DJing at a free outdoor rave, where the crowd went soo nuts they almost pushed the entire wall of speakers over onto Tom.
The last ever WANG at the Premises, which had such an incredible vibe words can’t describe.
The 10th Birthday party - a real high point in warehouse raving!
5 things WANG have never done but you wished/you plan to do:
Take WANG to Berlin ;->
Take WANG to Ibiza (well it’s much sunnier than Berlin)
Take WANG (and all the WANGers) to Detroit - now that would be a party!
Understand how facebook works, we’ve still only got 233 likes http://www.facebook.com/WangingRave
Start a record label - oh we’ve just done that! ;-0
Your 5 favourite WANG flyers:
Almost all of the wang flyers were designed by Elvis and are pretty utilitarian / low budget. Photocopied pieces of paper with the necessary info, where, when and who, etc.. and almost every single one has at least 1 mistake on! In the very early days we used to post out a flyer and newsletter every month to everybody on the mailing list, but as the list got bigger this became totally impractical and we moved over to email.
A few highlights would be:
“10 Years of”
“It’s breakin on the street” Breakin records launch party with Commodore 64 advert
The first ever flyer (purely for the memories)
"WANG was initially started as a laugh and a bit of a joke." Is this still the case and is acid house still alive?
WANG will always be a laugh and Acid House Forever! Viva la revolution!
PHEW! Anything else you wanted to talk about but I haven't asked you?
Yes, we have just started a record label called WANG TRAX, with proper vinyl as well as downloads. Electro Elvis’ debut release and Radioactive Man’s Engine EP are due for release imminently, so keep your eye’s peeled....
Thank you kindly for taking the time to share your WANG lives with us.
It's been a pleasure, Elvis and Lula
Full info on WANG's 12th Birthday celebrations right here
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