5 minutes with…Blackhall & Bookless
Blackhall & Bookless have been a staple of the dance floors of Newcastle since they were still in high school – then establishing themselves as an alternative but authoritative voice in the North of England with their Jaunt> brand of events.
Taking themselves and their parties around the country and overseas, Blackhall & Bookless have a unique perspective as clubbers and promoters.
Ahead of their appearance at Digital to a home crowd on New Year’s Day, we took some time to reminisce on their early escapades at Shindig, the story behind Jaunt and what’s been happening for the lads around the world in 2015.
/// What was it like growing up in Newcastle? Has music always been part of your lives and how did you meet each other?
We met when we were 10 years old. Both coming from different first school but then placed in the same form class when we started middle school. It was a year later when we moved into year 6 that we found out we both had the mutual love for the dance act, Faithless. From then it moved on to buying Colloseum and Afterdark cassette tapes from a small shop in Whitley Bay called MOS music. A few years later, around year 9 when we started high school we bought our first set of Gemini Belt Drive decks and started to buy records from HMV. Shindig’s Neil Bainbridge worked there at the time and that is where we first met.
Generally growing up in Whitley bay there wasn’t that many people into the music we were into, it was quite niece really so we used to hang around with people from different age groups and schools who were into the same music. This group of people are still our best mates today.
/// Do you remember your first Shindig event?
Yes we remember it well. From the age of 15/16 we used to attend a party called Promise. This was also held at Foundation which is the same club that Shindig used to use but it was more Trance based. After a few years of attending this event and buying records we started to lean more about house and came across a label called Audiotherapy.
We then noticed that the following Saturday Shindig we holding a Audiotheraphy party with label head Dave Seaman. We were 17 at this point and went up with a few mates who looked old enough to get past the bouncers. This event was amazing and pretty much instantly moved us from being regular attendees of Promise but now more regular attendee of Shindig. We remember loosing each other most the night and recall leaving and having a few match boxes with peoples names/numbers on. Think that says it all.
/// What were the circumstances around starting Jaunt? Did you have a set plan and direction you wanted to take it, and how has it turned out?
Back then Shindig was a weekly party and we attended it easily a few times a month. We used to also regularly go to other Newcastle events called Habit and Error. Us and our mates were all over 18 at this point and we used to drag a good team of mates out to each event. Sometimes 30 to 40 of us making up a good part of the dance floor.
As we became more and more musically educated it came to the point were we had a good idea of other artist that we wanted to see and were aware that the other Newcastle promotors weren’t going to book these artists. Knowing this and also realising were were dragging mates to the other Newcastle events made us realise we could start our own party.
We had also been playing out a few other events in and around Newcastle. For example our first gig was on the tuxedo princess for Goodgreef and we played the house room, we then went on to being regulars in their house room and also playing weekly at Camp David which was across the road and pretty much an unofficial pre party for Shindig. We started Jaunt when we were 21 years old and our first event was at a small 150 capacity venue called Red Rooms with a Global Underground artist called Anil Chawla. At the start we hadn’t thought to far ahead and did not expect to be still running regular Jaunt events now (8 years later). We had a vision and have felt this is what we wanted to do, put parties on and play to people with our own signature sound and vibe.
One of the initial plans and directions of Jaunt was to book artists who had never played in Newcastle before. Not stepping on the toes of other promoters and trying to do something different. Every night had their own regular set of bookings then. We kept to this philosophy for the first 5 years of running parties, every booking was a Newcastle debut and we never repeated a booking. We still have this philosophy now but there are a few key players who we have built a good relationship with and invite back again.
/// What does Jaunt stand for? How has Shindig influenced what you do as a promoter? What’s the long term plan for the brand?
In the dictionary Jaunt stands for ‘a Journey made for pleasure’ which is what we still believe is the direction and concept of the night and what we do.
Shindig has had a big influence not only on what we do as a promoter but also in our musical tastes as well.
Shindig used to regularly book more progressive/house artist such as Danny Howells, Satoshi Tomie, Sasha, Hernan Cattaneo and Paul Woolford. Although our personal musically tastes have developed further and Shindigs bookings have as well these artists will always be some of our favourites and have a place close to our heart – it was Shindig who educated us here and presented them to us, giving us the chance to then watch them pay our home city on a regular basis. Shindig also had a broad taste within their boundaries and put different artists in different rooms and we feel this has educated us in having broad spectrum tastes as well. This also helped us on a DJ level too as it educated us how to open/close and play a different kind of set depending who we are playing to and where it is.
We believe our sound now and the sound that we like Jaunt to portray touches on the broad sounds of house and techno but also the more melodic aspects of these genres. Not only the Jaunt bookings but if you listen to our label Jaunt Records you can hear it is more techno based but still has a more deep and emotive feel or edge to it.
/// How would you compare the music scenes in the North and South? What does Newcastle do better than London?
Obviously there is a lot more going on in London. There are so many nights and there is the chance to see your favourite artists week in week out. In Newcastle we are one of the only nights booking artist we do but in London we are one of many promoters booking these artists. We find the crowd in London is more educated which means you can get more creative with your bookings, bringing in artists who wouldn’t work in Newcastle. The fact that more people know more about their music isn’t always a benefit. There are a lot more ‘chin strokers’ in London who generally don’t go for it on the dance floor as much as Newcastle, Theres nothing quite like playing to your home crowd.
/// What’s been your favourite events in 2015 whether attending, promoting or performing?
This summer we were made residents of the Zoo project Ibiza. We played 5 times this summer. Each set was different as we opened at 4pm across to closing the party. It gave us the chance to really show all sides to our sound and that we can play at any time.
Other highlights are Space Ibiza Closing and Gottwood festival. The past few years we have opened the Discoteca for Space’s closing fiesta. Its great to keep things nice and dubby and deep in there and build a vibe for the night ahead.
Gottwood festival also needs a mention. Its an ace weekend, Crowd, venue and atmosphere. Great family vibes and many of the other stage hosts involved are friends from across the country which we have made over the years so its always great to catch up. Over the years we have invited the likes of ZIP, Margaret Dygas, Ben UFO and Gerd Janson (who were playing alongside on NYD) to play our stage. Next year Virginia and DJ Deep will be joining us.
Playing all night in Berlin under Jaunt Records was also a nice experience as we feel our sound feels right there.
/// What are you most looking forward to on New Years Day at Shindig?
As already mentioned we have been going to Shindig for over 10 years and the event has a place close to our hearts so its going to be great and a real honour to be behind the decks this time instead of on the dance floor.
Its going to be great to see all our mates back home and make a day of it. Full team out for this one. We’re also looking forward to warming things up for a mate of ours and past Jaunt guests, George and Gerd.
Blackhall & Bookless play Room 2, New Years Day. Tickets Available via Resident Advisor