By backdrop


By Matthew Wilson

There seems to be this buzz about in Newcastle at the minute. For years the city has been regarded as a hotbed for underground dance music, with homegrown talent earning respect throughout the UK and the world. We have quite a number of great quality club nights, providing top notch raves with class bookings and always a great atmosphere. If you’ve not been for a night out here, I’d say it’s got to go on the list!

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Newcastle’s promoters and event organisers keep on pulling outstanding nights out of the bag and have a genuine passion for the scene that they’re a part of and of course, for the music. It’s culturally significant too, thanks to the inclusivity and welcoming nature of these events. People from all manner of backgrounds come together to experience one of the truest and most immersive forms of modern art there is, where all prejudices are left at the door… or perhaps it’s just to have a good dance with friends, new and old. Depends on your concept of raving!

Really flying the flag in the North East right now, for quality techno, is Backdrop… When you dig deeper into this scene, you start to come across artists who are really onto something. They’re at the cutting edge of musical experimentation and the depths to which they can take you on the dance floor, and the emotional trip that they can conjure, may well cause you to undergo a paradigm shift in your understanding of just what dance music is. Is it music? Perhaps. Though if you ask Jeff Mills, techno is a futurist statement. So draw your own conclusions… These are the artists to go and see if techno is any kind of serious hobby, and they’re the ones that Backdrop has always strived to present, for all us lucky ravers.

Next on the agenda for Backdrop (and this time in collaboration with fellow Geordie music event Jaunt) is a showcase of the formidable Munich-based record label, Ilian Tape. Soundtracking the night will be label bosses The Zenker Brothers and Ilian Tape artist Stenny (who will be playing a live set). Support comes from Newcastle duo Blackhall & Bookless (Jaunt), and from Backdrop founders and residents, Dr. Joseph and Simon. Expect much wax.

For those not in the know, the Zenker brothers (Marco and Dario) have grown their label throughout the past decade, to the point that it is now probably one of the most highly respected labels in Germany. Ilian Tape is true experimentation – the music is raw and untamed, it’s deep and it hits hard. Not to mention, the roster of artists on the label (who are all good friends) really do deliver a diverse and thoughtful selection of records.

I can remember the first time I came across the Zenkers. I was listening to a set from Maya Jane Coles, recorded at Space on one of Hawtin’s Enter nights. Then out of her typical deep tech house she dove into this driving, deep journey of a track that stopped me in my tracks. A bit of research later I discovered it was one of Marco Zenker’s tracks, ‘Let Go’, released on Harry Klein Records. After that I went digging further and discovered Marco and Dario’s collaborative works (check out Davin) as well as the wealth of other exciting material out on their label. The recent compilation album they put out, celebrating a decade of Ilian Tape, was a really cool sounding project and the end result demands to be heard! The label goes back quite a way further though, so there’s some digging to be done.

Stenny’s going to bring the goods. His productions are up there. Check out ‘P-Zone’, released on the recent compilation album. This is what I associate with the word ‘rave’ and I can see it getting played a lot. He also has a number of collaborations with Andrea, such as Ilian Tape EP ‘Vostok Smokescreen’ (one of my first Discogs purchases!) and their pivotal release ‘Raw Code’, out on British label Livity Sound, and remixed by Surgeon.

April 13th is the date, Cosmic Ballroom is the place – This will be the Thursday night that kicks off a nice big 4-day Easter Weekend! Good times… I’m well excited to see what everyone who’s playing is going to deliver and I’m certain that as always, the Backdrop crowd will show our guests just how Newcastle does parties! See you down the front.