Feature and interview by Jonno Coll & Hannah Bruce. Edited by Hester Cheuk.
A double celebration this Thursday at Cosmic Ballroom, with the annual Easter Thursday bash falling alongside a ten year anniversary. Jaunt celebrate a decade at the heart of Newcastle’s clubbing scene, while young upstart Backdrop continues to bring some of the most exciting performers on the circuit to our small corner of the North East. Together they have invited Munich duo The Zenker Brothers for their maiden Cosmic Ballroom appearance. We were fortunate enough to fire some questions at Jaunt duo Chris Blackhall and Chris Bookless. We asked them what we could expect from a weekend full of chocolate eggs and techno bombs. With a hectic performing schedule of their own, alongside their label, club night and podcast, there was much to discuss. Join the facebook event here.
For any of our readers who may be unfamiliar with Blackhall & Bookless and the Jaunt brand they represent, how would you describe yourselves as DJs and the concept of Jaunt as a whole?
A DJ duo who have been learning their craft and playing together since the age of 13. We are DJs first and foremost and came into production a lot later when we started DJing. We love the medium of vinyl as this is how we learnt but also use CDJS also. We play a very broad range of music and still buy across the board. We have DJed together for so long, we read each other very well. We always play b2b but buy music separately, often un knowingly end up buying the same bits, so we play in a proper bk 2 bk format, not knowing who’s going to play what next. In a more peak time slot, this is where we really pick up energy and try play records quite quickly! We like to play for as long as possible because we like to build the night like a journey going through different categories of music. The concept of Jaunt is based around the meaning of Jaunt. Constantly growing and on a journey (a pleasure trip). This one which we don’t see stopping anytime soon. The basic concept at the start was so that we could play music to our friends and invite new acts to the city which at the time we couldn’t see another promoter booking. Jaunt has always been a family vibe and many friends have been made along the way. We want to give people an experience or journey with us and we try to do this via our bookings and our the music we play, its somewhere people can get lost.
Jaunt has its roots firmly in the North East with Jaunt having hosted parties in the city since 2007. You’ve since branched out into London and later Ibiza, as well as festivals up and down the country. What’s the key to establishing yourself across different cities, countries and clubbing cultures?
I think its the way in which we approach our parties and running an event. Its well thought through between our team and we execute with the right formula. We have always brought new guests to Newcastle, we like to market the night with good design and branding and spread the vibe and atmosphere to each event. Now us hitting the 10 year mark we also have experience, not every party has been perfect so you learn from mistakes as well. Going to Ibiza in our first few seasons was key in making more connections across the UK. When we were there in 07,08,09 there was a huge workers network and we starting doing workers after parties in Savannahs backroom. These were a huge success and were some of the best parties we have done. We met other promoters and like minded people that we are still really good friends with now. Building our brand and reputation helped us travel and play in the UK and abroad and we had big crew that would usually travel with us. London was an natural move for us, quite a few of us are based there now along with many people we met in our early Ibiza days. This in turn helped us have a core crowd doing parties in London. We also feel that somehow unknowingly we have developed a vibe and atmosphere at our events which people say is different to anything else out there.
Jaunt has grown from a club night, to a podcast and finally into a record label. How important was the podcast for connecting Jaunt with people outside of Newcastle? And how do the podcast and record label complement each other?
The podcast has been running for a good 7 years now and has hundreds of thousands of subscribers on i-tunes. Back then it was a great outlet for connecting us with people from across the UK and the globe and getting Jaunt out there. At the time part of the reason for its success was because we are fast of the mark. The only real noticeable podcast were RA, Ibiza Voice, Louche and us. People used to contact us asked when the next episode was going to be released. At one time people thought Jaunt was just a podcast series and didn’t know about the parties, we used to hear back that certain episodes we’re on repeat at afterparties in cities such as Leeds and Manchester. Some artist who are now doing very well and headline numerous festivals say that they got booked many times from their Jaunt podcast as reach was so big. More recently 2 months ago my new next door neighbour who I didn’t know previously knew Jaunt from listening to the podcast whilst at uni 6 years ago. The podcast game is totally different now though as everyone has a series and it is hard to stand out. The label and podcast do have a 360 concept where we usually ask artist were into if they want to do a podcast then this usually leads on to releasing on the label. As part of the 10 years of Jaunt we are releasing a treble vinyl VA and the relationship with pretty much all but 1 artist on there started from then doing a podcast for us.
The run up to the Zenker Brothers party this Easter Thursday has seen some classic Jaunt artworks and flyers doing the rounds. Which parties stand out as being particularly memorable? And why?
Since 2007 there are so many memorable events but club wise the ones have to be celebrating our 4th birthday with Kerri Chandler playing a 7 hour set. By the end of the night he was scratching on the decks with his shoes! We have still kept in touch with Kerri actually he’s such a great guy! Another one was our 5th Birthday with Marcel Dettmann and the legendary Circoloco event at the now closed Legends. Circoloco was something new for the city and had so much hype. Crazy queue at the door when we announced we had kept back 50 tickets to sell on the door. Other memorable event and probably the ones which stand out for the people who attended were the secret unit parties. Our final one was shut down by the police. it was in a industrial estate and we lost the key for the compound so at the end of the night you had 150 wrecked ravers on one side of the large entry gate and 3 police cars and a fire engine on the other. We couldn’t find the key though so we stood their looking at each other on different sides for 20 minutes. It didn’t go down too well. The secret loft parties with Ryan Elliott, SDC and Brawther need a mention too. Also as mentioned above, the Savannahs back room after parties where unreal as well. Would love to be go back in time for one of these.
The next iteration sees the Zenker Brothers take the reins, to celebrate ten years of Jaunt and Ilian Tape. What made them the right choice for the occasion?
Marco Zenker initially did a podcast for us back in 2011. We have always been fans and followers of Ilian Tape since it started. We first met the guys in person 2 years ago playing alongside them at Zoo project, Ibiza. Since then we have kept in touch and look forward to catching up this week. As we are both celebrating 10 years of Jaunt and Ilian Tape at the same time it all fell into place nicely when Joseph said he wanted to invite us both together to celebrate 10 years we thought it was a great fit.
You’ve grown up in Newcastle and have been a part of the city’s flourishing party scene over the years; which were your standout nights/events? Did any particular night inspire you to put on a night of your own?
When we stared Jaunt we were going to other Newcastle institutes such as Shindig, Habit and Error religiously. We had also started to DJ at Camp David all night every Saturday and after that we moved on to Cosmic Ballroom. We had a big core group of friends from the coast who came clubbing where would suggest, so this lead us to wanting to launch our own event. All the nights we went to inspire us in their own way and when we realised it wasn’t impossible to run our own, it just takes drive, common sense and vision went for it. Its an approach that we have taken with all aspects of Jaunt now.
What’s the creative process with designing the artwork and aesthetic of the brand?
Bookless is a graphic designer so has always had a strong visions on the design and creative direction of the brand Identity. The events artwork has changed quite a lot and think this has been a place to explore ideas based around the meaning of Jaunt. Bookless has also grown and developed as a designer so if you look back form the start up until now you can see thew growth of his design skills which is something quite nice to see. We have always wanted to have a strong professional brand and execute all the artwork to a high level as this is really important and we hope this has been part of the success. The approach to the design is always based around this meaning. “a short excursion or journey made for pleasure.” The events artwork we will run with a theme for the season then we will do this for the year. Designing artwork for Newcastle can be different to london so this has been thought about during the design process. London can be really out there and subtle. Newcastle need to see the big headline/artist name so we did do this for a while along with trying to keep some subtle hints towards concept and graphic. For example the triangle and arrows are used quite a lot through the artwork to represent the ideas of moving forward or a journey. There are a lot of hidden concepts within our artwork. The events artwork has been slightly different to the execution of our record label. With the events we try to export the info well so people can easily grip what we are doing. The label is more subtle but both platforms still tie in with common themes, like the triangle graphic which nods towards the arrow on the brand identity. The label we wanted to take things further and incorporate the artists featuring on the release. The B side of each release we ask one of the artists to provide the image inspired by a Jaunt of their own. This image can be taken by an artist of there choice or by them selves and they a credited on the record.
You’ve been busy building your brand name in your home city as well as recently expanding to the rather more exotic location of Ibiza – are there any other places/venues/countries that you’re keen to go with Jaunt?
As part of the 10 years celebrations we are in the middle of programming an international tour. Its really exciting for us to progress from running parties as Jaunt to now be on track to go and play at some really cool locations across the globe. Full tour details will be announced very soon!