Gateway To Zen: The ‘Line Out’ Mix
Gateway to Zen is a party that’s been focused on building a loyal following of willing dancers and then pounding them with techno on a regular basis. They’ve had some great guests over the past year or so, including Oxyd, Leah Floyeurs and Ben UFO to name but a few, but they’ve also had a healthy focus on their residents; Nick Craddock, Diskomo Oblast, Tom Whatmore and Charlie Leahy. They’re going from strength to strength at the moment, with a Corsica Studios takeover planned for the 22nd April, so it seemed like the perfect time to have a chat with Mr Craddock to find out what makes the party tick. They’ve also provided our latest Line Out mix, a three-hour recording of the residents live from Bloc. Listen and read the interview below:
So this mix is the Gateway To Zen residents all mucking in at the final Bloc festival. Tell me about the vibe that night; what was the room like, what about the system, what was the reaction from the crowd? It was a late one – was everyone pretty lean by that point?
Well, it was a very late one – we had the final 7-10am slot after the opening night, and ours was the only room that was open at that point so there was a long queue outside. I think the room held about 700 but they'd capped it some way before that, but it was fairly big. The booth was quite high on a stage so we had a great view of the crowd. It was definitely a case of 'focus on the fist-pumpers', because it did look a bit like a George A. Romero film out there, but it was great to see mates and GTZ regulars in and amongst.
We had three hours between the four of us and had decided against a four-way B2B because I thought it could get really messy, so we did 45 mins each which actually worked out pretty well. I played first and, I'll be honest, there was a bit of a sense of 'do these people really want pacy techno at this hour', but, y'know – wheat from the chaff, as they say!
With the recording, it's a pretty warts-and-all representation of what went down that morning, but it's a fun listen.
Bloc – 2016
Tell me the story of G2Z thus far? You guys haven’t been going long but you seem to have a really nice following and a healthy focus on your residents as well as bringing in names.
The tale is that we're four mates who wanted to play out some techno together and put on the kind of party that we wanted to attend ourselves, but weren't really finding in London at that time, and I'd say it's been pretty successful on that basis. It definitely started to take on its own life pretty quickly once we got going, but we try and stay true to the original idea. And, yes, we've been very lucky that we've had a great following since the first one. We're very appreciative of that. It goes without saying that your party's nothing without the nice people who come to it.
The residents focus seems pretty simple to me, but I think it's often overlooked: with resident DJs, you can really forge a musical identity for your night. Much better than you can with guests, in fact. It's important to build a relationship with your crowd and cultivate regulars, and if you book a lot of guests you can be more likely to end up with a transient crowd that just goes where the names are. It shouldn't be a secret that you can have a wicked party without a name DJ.
You generally flit between Canavan’s and Rye Wax. It’s quite strange for a night to have two homes rather than either one solid base or constantly roam from venue to venue. How do you think that changes the dynamic of the night?
We actually stopped using Canavan's last year. Originally we did bounce back and forth between there and Rye Wax. We were getting 400+ people at Canavan's, whereas Rye Wax is 120 capacity, and it was cool to alternate between the two scales. We've kept working with Rye Wax because we can do really nice intimate parties there, the sound's decent, and they're great people to deal with, but it was our intention to keep doing larger things as well – it's just a different kind of buzz, really. It just happens to have worked out that our larger things have been a bit more roaming in the last 6 months, with things like Bloc and the Make Me team-up at Corsica, and now our one room thing there.
So you’re gearing up for your takeover of Corsica Studios. When taking your night to a larger venue one might expect for you guys to think to get in a “big name” and play it safe.
Given what I said above, that wouldn't really be representative of where we're coming from with the night. It would be a shame to bottle it and do something predictable. It's more of a risk this way, but I think we can present something really good which is true to what we want to do with Gateway To Zen, and hopefully people will be feeling that. Because we're not coming at this with a 'success at any cost' mentality or with a particular desire to grow it as big as possible, we don't really feel the need to bend too much. The opportunity came along to do a party in one of our favourite spaces in London and we were especially into the idea of doing it as a one-room thing because it'll bring a different intensity to it. I think it'll work. Props to Adrian at Corsica for trusting us to try it out.
What records are you going to be packing for that room that may not necessarily go down in Rye Wax or Canavan’s?
To be honest we haven't really held back at the previous venues, so I don't know if we'll be thinking like that, though things will definitely be sounding their very best on that rig. Maybe the biggest difference is that we've had to finish earlier at the other venues. I think I'll be doing the closing slot at Corsica so it'll be fun to play to that time and vibe. It'll be nice to ease it down for the last couple of hours.
Are there any records that you always bring with you but never quite find the right moment to drop?
For me it'd probably be something really deep. I like it when you can take it right down but you really need the crowd to stick with you and it doesn't always work that way. Often I'll start moving in that direction but you get the sense that you're losing people a bit. We'll see how that works in the final slot.
Have you ever had a record skip due to cat hair? Any hints/tips for cat owning DJs?
Haha. No skips, to date, though cat hairs are always present. My cat-owning DJ tips would probably be to protect your record sleeves from feline claws, if at all possible. I'm still working on it. My Tibby's a terror.
Best DJing experience ever?
Village Underground B2B2B with Tama Bufo (Tama Sumo and Ben UFO).
Worst DJing experience ever? Please don’t spare the gory details.
Sochi, Russia, early 2000s. Someone threw a bottle at my head for playing 'Acid Eiffel', I didn't get paid and was marooned in a grotty hotel for a few days with a load of scabby cats. I also got very drunk on Russian vodka and fell down some stairs into a big puddle in front of a load of girls.
Gee Two Zee or Gee Two Zed?
Neither actually! Gee Tee Zee.
Follow gateway to Zen on Facebook HERE.