Lives In Music: Hamish Cole


In this series we shine a light on the people that make the wheels turn behind the scenes in London’s music underground. From venue owners and agents, to record label managers and bouncers, we chat to these individuals about their tastes and motivations.

Hamish Cole is the booker behind Croatian festival Dimensions, previously manning the programming at London's Oval Space and the Wire in Leeds. On top of his booking responsibilities, he runs his own label Butter Side Up and can be regularly be found behind the decks with pal Toby.

We get off the bus at Clapton Church and walk to see one of the busiest people in electronic music. Hamish has a real life in music, having come down from Leeds to book for Oval Space whilst simultaneously masterminding some of the most diverse line-ups ever seen via Dimensions, not mention his own imprint Butter Side Up and the works at Wire. Hamish greets us at the door with a smile. We go upstairs. Grab a drink and settle into the chat….

Last gig you went to?

We went to see the Kenny Garrett Quintet at Ronnie Scott’s last month for some top shelf jazz. Me and my girlfriend Ash went for the first time last summer and were completely blown away – we’ll be back as soon as we can

Last DJ set that really impressed you?

XDB closing the Dome at last year’s Freerotation was the most fun I’ve had listening to a DJ in a long time. It was a while ago I know, but he just played the classiest records from start to finish, one of the most special vibes I’ve experienced – doesn’t get much better!

Last meal you really enjoyed?

The Jerk Chicken £5.50 spesh at Troy bar in Hoxton. It’s one of my fave spots in London, I’m there at least once a week as it’s the best goddam chicken you’ll eat. if you don’t know, get to know!

Toughest challenge about working in music?

It can be very hard to switch off, juggling lots of different projects at once can take its toll. Also, you can really feel the pressure as a booker sometimes – expensive fees, ambitious forecasts and lots of competition can make it a difficult job in both clubland and the festival world. Although I can’t complain as most of the time, I love what I do and am very grateful for it.

Best headline act you have seen?

Very hard question and maybe I’m biased, but Kraftwerk’s 3D Live show in The Amphitheatre at Dimensions last year was pretty up there for me

Best place to eat before you go out with friends?

Hai Café in Clapton, easily the best Vietnamese food in East London. My local hot tip!

Person that you have worked with that you found most inspiring?

The legend that is Simon Scott. Soldier of the scene in Leeds and beyond, he’s taught me a lot over the last few years. He started legendary Leeds club night’s Subdub and Exodus, local record shop Tribe Records and of course Outlook and Dimensions festivals. All of which were a huge inspiration to me over the 10 years I spent living in Leeds. He’s also got one of the most impressive record collections I’ve ever seen.

Photo credit: adam__adam__adam

Best thing about the music scene in London?

The diversity of the crowd and the selection of top parties every single weekend

Any labels that you are enjoying at the moment?

There’s so much amazing new music coming out all the time, but currently I’m really enjoying everything from labels Casa Voyager, NAFF and Slow Life. I’m lucky to have lots of very talented mates that are making some great music at the moment, shout outs to Ewie (Youandewan), Steve (Huerta), Taylor (Urulu / Liquid Earth), Gene (Gene On Earth), Neil (Junes), Christian (Christian Jay), Midge (Midge Thompson) and Dilly (DJ Pipe)

Anything exciting going on professionally at the moment?

Lots of change for me at the moment, which is exciting. I’ve recently gone freelance, where I continue to book for Dimensions Festival, run the BSU label and parties, DJ with my partner in crime Toby, while doing some external programming on the side. I am currently in the process of starting my own bookings company, which should be launched in the next couple of months. We’ve obviously had a lot of gigs cancelled, but I’m already looking forward to getting stuck into it again once this awful pandemic clears up. For now, I’m trying to use the down time to be as productive as possible – read some books, record some podcasts and learn to make some music.

Follow Hamish. Main photo credit: @adam__adam__adam