Sonic Sanctuary 001: Gazette, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

“Colectiva Gazette -a curated club, a cosy record store and coffeehouse, a talented group of DJs and a conscious community of music and art enthusiasts”

“Gazette is the place where you can enjoy the freshest sounds coming out of the underground electronic music scene. When it opened its doors in 2006 it was the city’s first and only underground club and it was established as a platform for free artistic expression while providing the public with an alternative experience. It was always about inspiration and interaction. A variety of artists formed here and continued to develop their activity. This interaction and open dialogue between the club, the artist and the public created an active cultural environment.

Today, after more than a decade, the club is still running under the same philosophy, a true creative melting pot. It is the kind of place where experimentalism and free expression are encouraged. The club and visiting artist relationship is more of a collaboration than a basic gig. ” (colectivagazette.com).

Article by Dr. Joseph (Backdrop/Skew-Whiff) & Traian Vila (Gazette). Dr. Joseph is due to play Gazette on Saturday November 18th 2017. From all of us at Backdrop, thank you Traian & the Gazette crew for your time and inspiration.


“For the first time ever we had missed our flight so caught a later one to an airport a couple of hours outside Cluj in deepest darkest Transylvania. We were picked up and made the journey through the fittingly Stoker-esque fog to an unassuming car park with a vantage point over the city. We followed the familiar throb of a kick drum, carrying our record bags over a muddy patch of grass frozen solid towards a masonry hut from an equally distant past.

The heat hit you before even getting to the door as we pushed past the few dancers taking respite outside. Inside the girls seemed to take centre stage on the dancefloor, with the boys in full support on the periphery. Everyone moving.  The residents FLVN and Dannilov were deftly laying down the soundtrack and we had a few minutes to take off our coats and see to the first of dozens of shots of Jameson’s we were to be plied with.

We were straight in and pushed harder and harder over the three or four hours (I forget) that we played. A simple quadrilateral room with a vaulted ceiling, the decks against the long wall and the bar to one side. It felt intense and I think our record choice tried to match the urgency of the situation. Honestly one of the few times where every element seemed to come together, from the system to the crowd, the hosts and the vibe in the room – a real highlight.” – Ethyl (Secretsundaze/E&F Records)


 

Who is the main or founding crew behind Gazette? And which of you do we owe the biggest thanks for it being the “creative melting pot” it is today?

We owe it to everyone that put passion into the local underground culture which helped Gazette to become a true underground music spot. Each crew member deserves special thanks.

There’s a lot of energy spent to put everything in place in order to reach the destination… which is of course a musical journey every Friday and Saturday. There’s also joy, friends and a lot of fun.

 

Meet the team

Dannilov (Resident DJ, Club Manager)

also the club’s manager who drives it with full passion

Darai Lama (Resident DJ, Founder)

Also the guy who started this 11 years ago and was able to move forward in spite all the difficulties

LVNF (Resident DJ)

Tight Cheri (Resident DJ)

Reco, Mitza & Laur (Behind the Bar)

Mihai (Behind the Door)

Lucian (Behind the Door)

For how long has Gazette been open?Was it always planned that it would be a source for electronic music?

11 years already. It started as a bar actually but gradually it gathered people interested in electronic music. We’ve been running into another 2 different locations until we ended up in this beautiful place which is perfect for our musical mindset.

The previous spot is actually our daily hangout place, it’s called Colectiva Gazette, a recordstore & coffeehouse also ran by our crew.

Colectiva Gazette also refers to our entire group of dj residents, we’re planning to become a label at some point.

 

One important aspect of a club is the initial impression on entry. Be it the thunderous & somewhat scary tunnel in Tresor or friendly bar-style entrance of Sneaky Petes (Edinburgh). Could you tell us a bit about the layout and how it feels walking into Gazette for the first time? It used to be a former weapons storage room, right?

Yeah, it was a weapons room part of a fort construction made by Austrian empire in 1718. It gives you the feeling of a little stone house hidden behind trees, up on the hill. Unless you know it’s there it can be difficult to spot. However, when you go inside you discover a spacious room with round ceiling that makes the sound perfect.

The thick fortress walls are in good shape and keep us friends with our neighbors. The view over the city from the outside terrace is spectacular and that’s the thing you first see when walking to the club…and the little house. I’m pretty sure we all have this great picture in our minds… and the sunrise.

What is the club capacity? What sort of sound system does it use?

Around 120 people, it’s small and cosy. We use a DbTechnologies sound system which is very well integrated with the space itself.

 

 

You have a tightly knit group of top quality resident DJs : dannilov, seme, lucu chen, saboar, flvn, pavlov, tight cherry, darai lama. We know from personal reports and from their mixes online, these are as talented as many of your touring DJ guests from afar. With Romania being such a hotbed for electronic music talent, you must be overrun with local & young DJs wanting to play out at your venue. How have you gone about selecting these residents over the years?

Yes, we’ve got a pretty intense crew of residents, it kind of came naturally. Each of them flows into a different space of good underground electronic music. I guess, people gathered because they felt they could better express themselves in this whole community and also be inspired at the same time. Romania is a hotspot for electronic music currently and yes a lot of new talents are popping up. Everyone is welcome as long as his/hers musical journey and passion fits into our idea.

What is it you look for in an opening set at your parties?

Definitely a set that slowly starts to move the crowd, prepare everyone for the main act and of course for after… we all love the after.

It’s very important to create a continuous musical flow, all sets must fit together. The warmup set is very important for the overall night feeling.

You have both Gazette party and also Algorithm. When booking for your parties, how do you go about deciding who to bring?

We have several parties: Gazette Prezinta, Storyboard, Algorithm, D.Tales, Apparatus. Each of them is being promoted by a different crew member. Therefore, it is quite easy to decide: everyone brings one of his favorites.

We also have some local external promoters who run regular parties @Gazette, like Tzinah Showcase and Subfeleac.

Of course Romania has become known for a very high quality of “Romanian minimal” music, with records becoming very expensive and certain DJ’s achieving huge international success. Has this international reach helped you or does it mean people are quick to categorize all electronic music in Romania as “minimal”?

True, the Romanian techno wave is important and has few excellent producers. We also have them playing at Gazette now and then. The scene itself has managed to gather a lot of fans and brought new people into the electronic sound.

It’s easier to discover Gazette this way, which offers a more varied and colorful underground sound.

I think people know what we do and don’t categorize Gazette as being a “minimal” club. It’s enough to look at the past events and realize the vast sound we are binging inside the bunker.

 

Any particular highlights from the 250+ artists you have brought?

Too many to highlight them here, it would be a very long list. Everyone is special in a way for a part of our crowd.

What are some of the craziest things that have happened at Gazette?

The club is meant to be an intimate escape so what happens on the dance floor stays there.

We run parties here in Newcastle upon Tyne. We are fortunate to have had help from others more experienced in this city, but we still find the financial balancing act a very difficult one. Recent features have touched on the difficulty of very high DJ fees being driven up by the ever growing festival trend, thus making it hard for promoters in provincial cities/countries to stay afloat. What are some of the bigger challenges you have faced at gazette and how do you not let them drag you down?

About the same challenges that you had. Gazette is more a cultural movement than a business. We always have to stay focused on the fact that we are a small place that can spot good talent in emerging artists. Yes, in order to have Gazette successfully running, there is a certain financial line we cannot cross when planning the gigs.

One of the many challenges we had was that underground movement was considered for a long time a bad thing here in Romania and it took some time for a shift in mentality to happen and started to be seen as a cultural movement.  Gazette brought together an entire community of artists from all areas and we help each other a lot, that’s how we keep this going.

Could you tell us a bit more about the community in which you live, Cluj, Romania? Are there many other venues for electronic music?

Cluj is a relatively small town (around 600k people) but vibrates of young and creative souls. The local universities gather people willing to party and to develop the whole cultural community. And it does happen, there’s a lot of people focused on creating art, involved into the town’s social actions, etc.

There are a few venues for electronic music each with its own particular scene. Also, some very good promoters. We’ve got some good electronic music festivals happening around Cluj in the summer. You won’t get bored out here but who looks for true underground electronic music Gazette is the best spot.

How receptive are the authorities to electronic music parties?

They started to be more receptive in the last years, probably because they’ve seen a lot of tourists attracted to it. I feel there’s a good communication with the local authorities right now from this standpoint.

Which clubs or parties in the rest of Romania do you admire?

Control Club, Rokolectiv, Durusa, Waha

Of course a local and regular crowd are the backbone of any strong club and party. The people who come routinely and dance from early until late. Do you have a strong family of regulars who come down?

We do have and probably we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. Our regular crowd seems to have a lot of passion for our music, you get an unique feeling when seeing everyone dancing around the decks. This is actually the essence of what we’re trying to do, have a crowd that truly enjoys the electronic music.

How easy or difficult do you find it filling your parties? Does it take lots of promotion? If so, is that mostly paper promotional materials (flyers/posters)/word of mouth/or do you do it all online?

We do the event promotion online but we do also have some merchandise like t-shirts… and stickers.

We’re trying to get people trust us when it comes to music and parties so that we wouldn’t need too much promotion. There’s too much online advertisement today and we’d like to not cross a certain limit.

What plans do you have in the near future?

Some outdoor events, a record label and whatever else our crew members are interested in.

Also, we’d like to promote more our local residents abroad. They are really talented and they deserve a higher visibility.

 

 


“It was brilliant. The Gazette guys are so friendly and the hospitality is second to none.
Due to my flight times I had to stay in Cluj-Napoca for a few days and they looked after me the whole time. Everything is so well organised and nothing is a hassle for them, I felt very welcomed there. The DJ’s who played before and after me were perfectly suited to my style so was great to listen to their sets too. The soundsystem was very loud and sounded awesome.

There was a real passion for sure.The club is an 18th-century building which was used for storing ammunition, you walk down some steps into the club and it has no windows so it has a real underground basement feel. Most of the crowd are regulars and everyone seems to know everyone so it has a really good positive vibe. Even outside the club is special. It is situated on a hillside so you can look over the city of Cluj-Napoca.

The crowd started to arrive around 00:30-1:00am and the dancefloor was packed in no time. I planned a harder than usual set to get them dancing but I realised early on this wasn’t going to be a problem, they were still dancing at 10am. After my set I went behind the club at 5:30am, sat on a bench drinking Palinka with 2 strangers and watched the sun rise over the mountains and city. I don’t know if it’s the music or the Palinka that keeps them going, but it is special.  Not many clubs have a view like that, an amazing experience I’ll never forget”  – John Shima (Boe Recordings/Emotions Electric).

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