Pioneering, forward-thinking and ground-breaking, FOUND is a series devoted to the vast spectrum of music genres with their roots firmly planted in bass music; from progressive dubstep, dub-techno, and UK house strands to 2-step, garage, four-to-the-floor beats and drum ’n’ bass – FOUND connects the artists, labels and promoters at the forefront of underground British dance music across 13 intricately programmed events.
The night, which takes in 13 Friday night events at Vauxhall venue Hidden, has been curated by James Benenson – the promoter behind London bass brand Urban Nerds – in collaboration with Will Paterson, one half of the team behind London’s boundary-breaking eastern electrics events. Armed with an unrivalled knowledge of British underground dance culture, James and Will have linked with more than 15 truly underground, grass-roots club promoters, and FOUND is the result. We caught up with promoter James Benenson to find out more about the thinking behind the series.
The found series launches this Friday with 13 nights of music ….what inspired the concept?
Will Paterson and I wanted to revive Hidden’s calendar and explore what’s become widely regarded as ‘UK bass’ music with a series of carefully programmed events. After months of planning this eventually manifested as FOUND and a series that draws from the house roots of Will’s Eastern Electrics, also building on the EE concept of amalgamating a group of artists, labels and promoters at the forefront of the scene but injecting the whole thing with a healthy dose of bass, picking up on the underground and more progressive sides of the sound.
What can we expect from the events?
An extremely diverse range of genres spanning leftfield dubstep and UK bass to house and at times techno, to early 2-step, garage and four-to-the-floor is on the cards, with every FOUND Friday giving its own take on the best underground British dance music has to offer. Established acts such as Dirtybird’s Justin Martin, Ben Westbeech, Appleblim and Loefah (to name a few) will join the grass-roots pioneers that are pushing boundaries in London with an increasing number of unclassifiable beats & blips that are putting the capital back on the clubbing map.
You’re based at the newly refurbished Hidden, what made you choose this venue?
Unbeknown to many, Hidden’s held its place on London’s underground club circuit for a number of years playing host to drum & bass, jungle, hard house and rave sounds at the darker end of the musical spectrum, sounds often forgotten by the masses despite the extreme influence over the more recent incarnations we’re all familiar with today.
Proud as we are to be giving these genres a home, it seemed time to bring Hidden out of the shadows and open its doors to the new wave of electronic dance. With three distinct rooms and a world-class sound system housed under a classic railway arch, the club is definitely an undiscovered gem. Despite perceptions Vauxhall sits only 15 minutes away from Shoreditch, 25 minutes from King’s Cross and a few stops from central London – making Hidden the perfect base for FOUND.
London clubbing has always been competitive, what are the most important elements for you to ensure your event stands out from the crowd?
From the get go it was extremely important to us to make sure that the series was carefully programmed. We’ve spent the best part of five months hand picking a broad range of acts that either represent or are set to represent the finest sounds out there and it was very much a team effort, working closely with the various promoters and labels on board to build line-ups with their own unique touch.
The promoters are the lifeblood of the series – each has their own take on underground music that we feel translates across the series.
We know the experience doesn’t stop at the music though and part of Hidden’s appeal is its thought-through approach to the clubber, ensuring people leave remembering the nights for the friendly crowds, good service, proper air conditioning and so on…it’s those small things that can make or break a night out and ahead of the FOUND launch we’ve worked tirelessly to make sure the stage is set for some great times at Hidden this winter!
Which act are you personally looking forward to seeing the most?
With over 150 of them on the series that’s not a fair question! There’s no doubt we’re all highly anticipating the epic 3 hour journey Justin Martin’s got in store for us on Friday, we couldn’t think of a better way to open the series. I personally have a lot of love for T. Williams’ stunning garage and house hybrid tracks that can be described as both beautiful – when at home or on the tube, only to become euphoric and energising in the club. Hence, he’s playing one of his regular, more UK house based sets at the launch on Friday but will be returning with a very special, strictly garage exploration in November for Heritage!
The series promises to represent leaders in underground British Music, why was it important to you to present home-grown artists?
Whilst the line-ups aren’t all strictly British, the sound and the ethos of the programming across the board certainly is and it’s possible to say distinctly London sounding in places. However, there’s no cultural, geographical nor in fact any patriotic reason why it’s taken shape as it has – it’s simply that we’re lucky enough to be in the midst of an era of impeccable, inspiring and world class British born underground dance music. Of course anyone in the industry is hugely proud that young British artists are flying the flag for global scenes. We’re just privileged to have so many talented DJs and producers on our doorstep – I think it was inevitable that FOUND would utilise that.
The nights focus on a sound, rather than a specific genre, are you hoping to convert the purists to a broader range of styles?
Not at all! We’re not here to preach – we’re just lucky enough to have in FOUND a vehicle that’s able to showcase a vast range of artists and genres. The beauty of a series is that people can pick and choose the events they want, where some purist, more established acts lead the way, accompanied by younger talent. Anyway, outside of the important set of loyal followers a certain sound will always pick-up, the days of the purists are long gone and now’s a time when house, bass, electro, dubstep, garage, grime and the rest are learning from each others strengths to build new styles. The clubbing landscape, particularly in London, is increasingly genreless. The result is that musically I don’t think anyone knows what’s around the corner these days and that’s not a bad thing!
We’ve lost so many good London venues over recent years, do you see this as a decline in the club scene in general, or an opportunity to re-invent what clubbing means to the capital?
There have no doubt been some sad casualties – R.I.P The End and Turnmills, both of which will always be sorely missed. That said, the handful of stalwarts aside, venues come and go, the acts shift and promoters change, just as the music changes. In this sense I think clubbing in the capital is always reinventing itself but that’s the beauty of London’s club scene. I’d like to think that when it comes down to it the two most important factors are the sound and the clubbers. It’s the clubbers who’ll dictate what sounds they want to hear and where they want to hear them. Any venue that keeps its finger on the pulse musically, looks after its punters and offers-up a good enough system has a fighting chance – three simple factors that so many spaces find surprisingly hard to get right at the same time.
Promoting can be a very political game, with many London promoters taking advantage of up and coming acts trying to get their name out there, (the whole- you can warm up for such and such if you sell 100 tickets approach), what are your views on this? Do you feel this is something young artists should be prepared to do or is it a policy you don’t agree with?
Younger artists should certainly be prepared to play cheaply, or for expenses, in much the same way an up-and-comer in the corporate world may spend a few weeks interning. With a fresher act, the harmony of the booking is that they get some well-deserved exposure and experience playing to a crowd they might otherwise have been unable to reach, whilst the promoter gets to showcase a new sound or talent. In this sense both parties are benefitting from a mutual relationship that will hopefully see the act progress and be able to work towards a decent fee in future. Once an artist has a clear ‘pull’ and becomes an asset to the show – that is people want to buy tickets to see them, it’s then only right that their fee reflects this contribution to the event.
There are some really creative ways to promote music these days, how do you keep up with the latest marketing tricks, or do you believe in good old-fashioned techniques like flyering?
Everything has it’s place but over the years certain techniques have offered a more affordable and more efficient way of reaching people, the obvious example being the online social networks. Efficiency aside, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting with people and giving them what they want, be it more information on an act, the latest mix or simple directions to a venue.
That said, there’s still a place for good old street promotion and nothing beats the word-of-mouth of trusted friends, colleagues and supporters who really get behind a show and spread the word, knowing the time and effort that’s gone into it. Really it always has and always will be about this 360 degree approach.
And finally, FOUND- can you sum it up in three words?
Electric, progressive, uncompromising.
Thanks James, we look forward to seeing you on Friday!