INTERVIEW: Shindig | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Running for well over twenty years, Shindig is Newcastle’s longest-running club night, dedicated to house and dance music. On New Year’s Day, they’re hosting a special all-night party at the city’s Digital venue – a slight change of scene from their usual location at Warehouse34 in Hoults Yard – and are welcoming top DJs MK and Kevin Saunderson to celebrate the beginning of 2015.

2015 is shaping up to be a big year for the event, as the people behind the events continue to put on their legendary club nights as well as preparing for their festival in May.

Ahead of the New Year’s Day celebrations, I caught up with Neil Bainbridge to ask him about the 1st January bash, May’s festival and future plans.

MK is headlining your new year’s bash at digital this year; what do you think we can expect from his set?

Energy. Over the past two years he’s dropped some huge remixes of artists such as, Sam Smith and London Grammar so I don’t think an MK set is an MK set without a flurry of MK remixes all with his distinctive house style. This one sold out in record time, so I’ve no doubt the excitement will make for a great show to start the year.

You’ve also managed to get Kevin Saunderson to play at your new year’s bash – how easy is it to get these top DJs in on a regular basis to play your events?

Thankfully we have a great relationship and level of trust that’s been built up over the last two decades, so artists know that we’ll always go above and beyond to ensure the event is the best it possibly can be, from production to hospitality. If they enjoy themselves, it usually ends in them very keen to come back.

The New Year’s party is being held at Digital, but you’re usually based in Hoults Yard. Has this change in venue affected planning in any way? How will it be different to a night in Hoults Yard?

That’s right, the majority of our events since 2011 have been at Hoults Yard within Warehouse34, yet were operated with a conscious nomadic feel; contributed to by the fact our shows are essentially pop-up events where everything from toilets, marquees, bars, fridges and security to staging sound and lighting is all brought in for one night only, all to disappear pretty much immediately afterwards. So, from an operational point of view, things will be very different (allowing most of our technical staff to have a much needed night off!)

We wanted to focus on promotion of the NYD event and as such it sold out weeks ago in record time… Digital, being a purpose-built club, was ideal to host a multiple room event and is without a doubt Newcastle’s best venue for certain artists to perform. Last time MK played for us was our Festival and before that in the warehouse, so it just felt right on many levels to return to Digital. The huge demand needed extra capacity we just couldn’t fulfill at Warehouse34. We won’t be running regular events at Digital but expect a handful of special one off shows.


artists know that we’ll always go above and beyond to ensure the event is the best it possibly can be, from production to hospitality

Speaking of Hoults Yard, how is it hosting a regular club night outside of the city centre? It’s a great venue but has it ever been problematic being a bit away from the centre of the city, even in the early days?

It does indeed; it’s a big team effort with planning literally spanning sound techs to medics. For us its about balancing that high level of production and sound inside a raw warehouse building.

We don’t have the comfort zone of a purpose built venue or club, so any infrastructure you’d expect from a club night needs to be brought in and added to the raw empty warehouse space. Facilities wise that’s bars, toilets, security, even medics.

You’re absolutely right; the out of town location on one hand allows the benefits of a destination venue, hidden away and yet to be discovered but our main focus needs to be on accessibility and dispersal at the end of the night. We have a dedicated taxi rank set up right outside the warehouse for this reason, all marshaled to try and ensure everyone gets home safely. The early days forced a lot of long term planning on us, we had to make a lot of amendments to the warehouse; we know we wanted to make use of the space for a series of events so walls were knocked down, fire alarms added, CCTV installed. Of course it’s all challenging when we don’t even own the warehouse and essentially rent it for one or two days at a time. The flexibility of such a space definitely comes with its challenges.

Can you tell me a bit about the festival in May? Have you got anyone special booked? How are you planning to make this year special?

We’ll be returning to Spillers Wharf across the 2nd and 3rd May to host XXIII, our 23rd Anniversary Festival. Building upon this May’s event, the first to be held on the Spillers site which saw 7000 people and over 15 artists including Sven Vath, Loco Dice, Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82, The Martinez Brothers, play, we have decided to incorporate a second day into the programming. The offering is very much the same: a huge host of incredible DJs from across the world, combined with some of the regions finest residents. The BYDAY event will take place over the Bank Holiday Weekend attracting a combined capacity of 15,000 and also include two additional BYNIGHT club events Warehouse34.

Sadly we’re a couple of weeks away from being able to announce headliners and our full lineup but were really excited. It’s massive and when you look at it across the two days there’s definitely a lot of choice; something very important to us if were to scale things up like this. We’re busy making quite a few additions and changes to the site, adding an extra stage and generally building on everything we learnt this year. The slightly out of center Spillers site behaved very well for us and, given its location to Hoults Yard, its ideal.

Shindig has been going for over 20 years now, so have you noticed any changes over the years? Maybe in music styles or audiences?

Music styles changes regularly as do audiences and generations; I think that I can speak firmly on behalf of my business partner Scott whom founded Shindig in 1992 that Shindig has always aimed to stay clear of trends yet accommodate the wide spectrum of electronic music in the House and Techno worlds. Personally, I wouldn’t want a club full of 19 year olds and neither would I want one full of 45 year olds. On a music style tip, it’s really nice to see some of the late 90s to early 2000s soulful influences from the US back in house music.

What are the plans for Shindig this year aside from the festival and the New Year’s party? What have you got in store for us?

Our SHINW34/ series will remain intact but we’ll be producing a lot more shows during 2015 around the city, including more within our /LTD series (350 capacity in small spaces, which allows us to support new exciting talent early on).

Shindig’s New Year’s Day event featuring MK and Kevin Saunderson takes place at Digital, Newcastle on Thursday 1st January.

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