2022 is shaping up to be a big year for Slam and SOMA Records.
Glasgow’s legendary DJs have a busy schedule. Next month they will return to the ‘rave cavern’ that is The Slam Tent, at Hopetoun House on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Soon after, in early summer, they will be overseeing what is sure to be another smash edition of the Riverside Festival on the banks of the Clyde.
And, of course, the next 12 months will be a bit busier than the last two years. The nightlife industry was obviously hit hard during the pandemic, forcing DJs to temporarily hang up their headphones while clubs were closed.
Luckily duo Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle are now back in the SWG3 and Sub Club booth, performing at their iconic Pressure and Return To Mono parties.
Shortly before festival season is in full swing, we caught up with Stuart, Orde and Dave Clarke, who co-founded the world-renowned label SOMA – which introduced the world to a little-known French electronic duo – to talk about the greatest Glasgow clubs. , their memories of the much-missed Arches, what they thought of the Daft Punk split, and their hopes for 2022.
In addition, we also had the chance to ask some of your questions to the trio.
How have you found the last two years and how does it feel to have people back on the dance floor?
Stuart: “I think it’s allowed us to regroup, restructure and think about what we’re doing and come back stronger.
Dave: “A lot of people have talked about ‘let’s strengthen the local scene, let’s forget about booking international guest artists, let’s grow the local scene, let’s recognize it, let’s give people doing their own thing an opportunity to play on some of the biggest stages that we do”. We’ve stuck with it since we came back.
“For example, there was a girl called DJ Farnaz at Sub Club alongside Slam last weekend. We had a Halloween party at SWG3 where every artist, whether it’s Optimo or the folks at Shoot Your Shot or the pressure room techies they all lived within 10 miles of the room which hadn’t happened in a long time on this scale We sold 2,000 tickets for what was great to see.
“We want to make sure that promoting local talent is not just a flash in the pan and we continue to do so.”
The Riverside returns for another three-day festival in June. Could you have foreseen that it would become so big?
Dave: “It’s so well located, it’s in the heart of the city, people can get there by just using public transport.
“When we first did it, we thought ‘they’re letting us have this big party in the middle of town!’
“I guess we’re part of Glasgow culture just because it’s techno, house music, it’s as big as Celtic Connections, ballet or opera.
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“Every year we’ve done that, we’ve invested more in international artists, but recently we’ve invested heavily in the local scene with our satellite scene, trying to cover different bases in Glasgow.
“It’s become a real part of the fabric of the city and we were happy to bring it back this summer.”
How much have you missed playing at Sub Club during the pandemic – and what makes the club so iconic?
Dave: “The Sub Club is a special place. Even before the house scene, it was a blues club. It’s always been a basement with a good atmosphere for music.
“They have a great sound system, great people working there.”
Stuart: “The room has a special vibe and always has. You have to go downstairs to get in and there’s just this stuff that’s really hard to articulate.
Orde: “It’s like a plan for an underground club.”
What is your best memory playing there?
Dave: “In 1990 Glasgow was the European City of Culture and we had the 5am license. It was a different city because it was also at the start of this new scene where people went maybe to Ibiza or to Germany and thought ‘how come, we close at 3 in the morning? Why can’t we spend a few more hours on this dance floor?’. The freedom that gave people.
Orde: “I remember one night in particular when I released one of our singles, Positive Education – which went around the world – the very first physical chance to play it. It was built for the ‘space.
“Just seeing that instant reaction in Sub Club is definitely one of my most lasting memories of that place.”
Do you miss the Arches? And to what extent has SWG3 filled that void in Glasgow?
Dave: “The Arches was a time and a place in history and it was great for the city, but into that void came SWG3. For the type of party we want to do, it’s the perfect venue and sometimes even better than The Arches.”
Orde: “The reason we’re still excited after a while is probably that we’re always looking forward, never looking back.”
Dave: “SWG3 went from a room with 600 people to a new room with 1,000 people, and then when the galvanizing people moved out, they took over that warehouse space, soundproofed it, put a system in there sound system and now it’s a big hall of 1,300 people where you can go dancing to techno.
“It’s a great cultural space where they always try something different, whether it’s with food and restaurants, they grow food in the back, do the body heat thing and try to go neutral carbon.”
What is your favorite room to play?
Stuart: “In Glasgow – the Sub Club and internationally, Berghain.
Orde: “The Arches and SWG3. To be honest, it’s hard to pin them down to one venue, as they all had their signature nights.”
What’s the best night you’ve ever played?
Orde: “The penultimate night of The Tramway Rave in 1989, the first rave in Scotland. Or maybe Slam in the Park?
Dave: “The pressure at SWG3, when the Galvanisers first opened. It was like a modern industrial techno room had been brought to Glasgow and just been dumped there in the West End .”
Stuart: “It was an amazing night because some people didn’t show up, so we had a three or four hour set, which was amazing!”
If you could play with another artist, who would it be?
Stuart: “I’ll say Jeff Mills because he’s a lifelong hero.”
Which track do you think is typically Slam?
Stuart: “I’m not saying positive parenting…although it probably is. I always listen to it.
“The Positive Education track came together in about half an hour, but we spent weeks perfecting it, meticulously getting levels and laying it out. When I listen to it, in terms of production, I I don’t hear anything that I would change. There aren’t many tracks that I talk about like this.
Orde: “Every six months or so you hear someone playing Positive Eduction in a mix, it keeps coming back to you.”
Dave: “That sound works in a club today for a crowd that maybe wasn’t even born when it was created.”
Who is the best up-and-coming artist to watch right now?
Orde: “That’s an impossible question to answer! There are so many talented people coming up through the ranks in Glasgow. We’re very lucky in that regard, Glasgow is really a positive city.
Dave: “There are girls who do very well with techno like Farnaz, LISALÖÖF, Neoma and Kairogen.
Orde: “Every now and then a new school comes along and Glasgow never fails to produce new talent, artists of all kinds. It’s a bustling city.”
Did you know that Daft Punk was going to split up?
Stuart: “The answer is no. It was a total surprise. It’s not like I was on the phone with Daft Punk every weekend, so I had no idea they were going to break up.
Dave: “I met Thomas a few years ago in Paris and they had no pressure to make a record, but they were still going to the studio together. I always thought they would come out with something else. So yes, it was a total surprise and I don’t know any of the details.
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“But I know they’ve been making music together in the years since the previous album – who knows what happened to that or what will happen. They’re always full of surprises, aren’t they? I’m sure we’ll hear something new from them.”
What are your hopes for 2022?
Dave: “Soma Records is really pushing ahead with a lot of new stuff, always thinking about the future and never the past and Slam dutifully listens to the thousands of tracks that come in and make sure we get the wheat from the chaff and that we get the good ones out there.
“We have to mention Ukraine. Slam were supposed to play there in April at Nektoh, one of the most amazing and open-minded places you can go. We were all going to go there. Four weeks ago , Ukrainians would have said ‘where are you going tonight?’, now they are in an air-raid shelter, friends and family are dying.
“I guess for 2022 we hope things can change so much that we can actually go out there and pick up the pieces.
“Last Friday the guest we had, Stef Mendesidis, is actually from Kyiv. He went to Poland and this was one of his first gigs since. We donated all proceeds to the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.
“So for 2022, we want world peace instead of world war.”