London has been a major electronic dance music hub since the rave boom of the late '80s. And when it comes to London house and techno parties with an authentic underground ethos, the name Secretsundaze reigns supreme.
Launched by DJ-producers Giles Smith and James Priestly, the party has been going strong for 12 years and garnered a loyal following across the Atlantic. The brand has even evolved into a record label, bringing forward-thinking producers like Brawther, Ethyl & Flori, and Two Armadillos into the fold.
Crossfade: How did Secretsundaze first come about? What was the concept when you first launched and how has it evolved over the years?
Giles Smith: In some ways it was quite accidental, the Sunday daytime thing, in that the venue we first really wanted to use for our first season of parties in 2002 was only available on Sundays and we were originally envisioning a Friday or Saturday nighttime party, and that kinda forced us to think about Sundays. The daytime idea evolved from there.
We have always had an element of the outdoors and open air, but we also utilize venues with natural daylight, with skylights, windows, etc. It has occasionally been referred to as an afterparty by a few misinformed journalists, but I have to stress it's not an afterparty -- we start at 2 p.m. as opposed to 8 a.m. and most people come fresh.
Initially, it was very word of mouth and we didn't really promote it particularly heavily. It was very different to anything that was around at the time, conceptually and musically. The concept has not changed that much. We do the summer parties once a month, between May and September but now do incorporate New Year's, Easter and Halloween -- so 9 parties a year. The party did really explode in the second year. I guess we have been travelling internationally since about 2005 -- so 7 years now. It's now developed into a record label and booking agency.
Is there an ethos or mission statement behind the the parties and the music programming? What sort of sound defines Secretsundaze?
I wouldn't say so really, but of course with it being the daytime, the music always retains an element of soul. And we do love classic house and techno from Detroit, Chicago and New York, from pioneers like Larry Heard, Ron Trent, and co.
However, we have quite broad taste, and this year for example, we have had Joy Orbison and Braiden playing, who are more associated with the "bass" sound. We also love techno and have had the likes of Rolando playing and are really into some of the stuff on Clone from Dexter to Untold so its pretty broad but definitely traceable to the roots of house and techno.
So what have been some of the personal highlights of Secretsundaze over the years for you? Any special moments, parties and DJ sets?
Without being blasé, after running the party for 11 years now -- 2013 will be our 12th anniversary -- there have been so many, it's really hard to pull specific parties out. But I guess a few might be the early days in the loft of 93 Feet East, to the huge terrace on the roof of Canvass in Kings Cross that would hold over 3000 people, to the totally illegal vibes of the Poet's beer garden. A roof party for only 300 people with Ricardo Villalobos, and parties at the Blue Marlin in Ibiza long before it became the flashy ostentatious place that it is now. More recently, our 10th birthday last year with Moodymann was totally off the hook, and I have to say the vibe that I witnessed that day was the best I had seen in London or pretty much anywhere for a long time.
What does the future have in store for Secretsundaze? Where do you plan to take the events, label and your own DJ career in the near future?
Well, to keep doing what we are doing really. We have never been about the latest fad or fashion, but just quality timeless music, yet still open-minded and forward-thinking. We want to really push and develop the roster of young talent we have with artists like Ethyl, Flori, Wbeeza, Brawther.
Secretsundaze have dates forthcoming in Croatia, New York, Italy, Paris, Ibiza, Barcelona, and I have a whole host of gigs under my own name in Japan, Berlin. I have also just started doing Two Armadillos live (my project with Martin Dawson). We have been releasing music together since 2006, so it's about time that we started performing together! We had the debut set on the main floor of Watergate in Berlin before the States. And also have forthcoming dates in Ibiza for Zoo Project, and the Secretsundaze closing party alongside Martyn in September.
Giles Smith and James Priestly. Saturday, July 21. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.
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