15 Years in the shadows: Body Hammer
A cynic could call Body Hammer the Trigger’s broom of clubnights but they’d be wrong.
In 2008 Legowelt played a vinyl and drum machine set in the short-lived and quickly forgotten Korsan Bar on Kingsland Road. The night was Body Hammer, set up by Joe Hart and Paul Purgas, it was a frenzied jack-a-thon that left a bemused look on the faces of the Turkish guys who ran the pirate-themed establishment. Like the Korsan bar, frenzies are short-lived in nature, but Body Hammer has lived long. Over the past 15 years it has occupied office blocks, warehouses, boats, arches and basements across London Playing house music to those who could be bothered to find them.
Original residents Joe and Paul were later joined by Matilda (who sacrificed her hearing for the cause), Charlie Bennet and Scott Fraser. A cynic could call Body Hammer the Trigger’s broom of clubnights but they’d be wrong. A night is defined by what’s in its DNA, its energy, its soul, its attitude, and the people that go to dance. For the past 15 years, you can always depend on Body Hammer to deliver the goods. In the lead-up to their 15th Birthday at Fold this Saturday, we talk to current residents and longest-running staff configuration Joe Hart and Scott Fraser.
How do you keep a night going for 15 years?
Joe: Not sure really, that was never part of the plan. There was never a goal to grow it to a certain point or turn it into a job or anything. There wasn’t even a plan at all, we just went about it one party at a time. There’s a timelessness to house music, so much so that 15 years can flash past. New people are always coming to the nights, that’s a massive factor in it’s longevity, there’s always fresh enthusiasm for what we do.
Scott: Community, friendship and music first and foremost, love what you play and have a spirit. Over the last 10 years we have moved away from booking guests to just being us, we’ve always felt that the resident DJ’s are the unsung heroes of clubland. It takes time to figure out what works and you don’t always get that with guests. We trust one another in the booth and that comes through every time, the crowd can feel that I think. It’s ended up with us playing 1 record each and that is a very special thing to me.
But doing anything for 15 years can only be a labour of love. Where did the love originate, enough to make you want to do a night?
Joe: All the stuff that came before, some I went to some I just love the idea of. Ron Hardy/Music Box, Sound Factory, Boccacio club, Wiggle, Haywire, Sud. Lerato’s night Sud was a massive influence, I remember going and thinking this is how a night should be.
Scott: I moved down from Glasgow 15 years ago, I’d been around Club69, The Sub Club, Soundhaus and did nights up there too. Music changed my life in Glasgow and when people have told me Body Hammer’s done that for them it’s a beautiful thing. On moving to London, I’d actually been to BH as a punter, as soon as the lift door opened I was sold. When Joe & Paul asked me join as a resident it was an honour.
You’ve always stayed on the fringes, with limited promo and social media presence. Is that by design?
Joe: It’s nice on the fringes, it’s comfortable on the fringes and it’s where all the good shit is. People don’t want to be bombarded with promo, we’re easy to find if they want to come. If you’re a DJ there seems to be this need to constantly create content, I don’t think anyone wants to watch me at home packing my record bag or cooking Bolognese.
Scott: Joe would agree neither of us are natural promoters, we are music led and really happy being on the margins. It gives us the freedom to do things our own way and work with people and venues that we care about and who share the same values as us. People know where to find us if they want to, I love seeing new people come after being told by a friend they need to check it out. You don’t need targeted Facebook ads when that’s happening.
“The fiasco surrounding our booking Uncle Dugs and the police following us across 2 boroughs trying to shut down the ‘Uncle Drugs’ rave is good for lols.”
Of the 100’s of parties you’ve done, which ones stand out?
Joe: Anything at the lift venue on Cambridge Heath Road (RIP), that place was special beyond special, hope the shitty new build flats were worth it. Closing the Saturday night at the 2016 Bloc Weekender always makes me smile, cinematic dancefloor scenes. The fiasco surrounding our booking Uncle Dugs and the police following us across 2 boroughs trying to shut down the ‘Uncle Drugs’ rave is good for lols. Another burned into the memory was opening Fold for our 10th Birthday, one for the ages that one.
Scott: The first party we did with Andrew Weatherall at Autumn Street Studios was pretty special for many reasons. He put on a house masterclass and it’s one of those ‘were you there’ moments. I actually recorded it but lost the memory stick, solidifying it as one of those ‘were you there moments’. Good times were had in the sweatbox basement below the coffee shop in Dalson. Our current venue, Spanners at Loughborough Junction has already seen some iconic Body Hammers and that’s not recency bias talking. Along with our 10th Birthday, everything else we’ve done at Fold has been incredible. They’ve always supported us and we love what they’ve built, London’s last proper club.
Body Hammer’s 15th Birthday party is on Saturday 8th July at FOLD. Follow Bodyhammer
Name some failsafe Body Hammer bangers:
Separate Minds ‘We Need Somebody’
Marcus Mixx ’The Spell’
Shakespeare’s Sister ‘Black Sky’ (Underworld Dub Part 2)
UBQ Project - When I Fell N Luv
Interceptor Ttogether’ (Murk)
Colm III ‘Take me high’ (Mansion Mix)
Model 500 - No UFO’s (Metroplex)
Tim Harper - Enter the Dragon (Relief)Scott
Funkineven & Delroy Edwards - X (Apron)
Moraes - The Cure (12” Megamix) (Hot 'N’ Spycy)
Ursula Rucker & King Britt – Circe (Rob Yancey Dub) (Guidance)
This Side Up - Trance (Tribeka)
James Pennington UR miss-press (hand delivered on moped by Marty from Rubadub version)