One of the figures behind acclaimed party series Butter Side Up, Hamish Cole has over the last few years been nurturing the electronic music scene in his Leeds home and, more recently, further afield thanks to his role in founding KMAH Radio. As someone who has worked quietly and passionately to promote electronic music, he has developed a deep musical knowledge that’s reflected in his DJ sets and online mixes. Before his appearance at Varkala Festival he has kindly recorded a mix and answered a few questions for us about Leeds, Butter Side Up, KMAH and more.
Catch Hamish Cole at Varkala Festival (12th-14th Aug).
You’ve become known as being associated with Leeds and London-based party Butter Side Up. How did BSU come to exist?
Hugh and I started BSU in October 2010, simply because we wanted to have somewhere to play records out to our pals. We never intended to run a proper club night with bookings like it is now, the night just grew naturally from nice organic roots.
We started off throwing small parties in little spaces, like a shisha bar in Hyde Park, Leeds called Hukaz, then we moved above a restaurant/shisha bar called Burakas. We hired a sound system and put it up in the top room above the restaurant. I remember we booked a close friend of mine, Josh (Tweek, who now runs The Ghost mobile record store in Berlin) for one of our first ever parties there, and it was definitely a night to remember. The owners were very laid back and it was BYOB, which was great for us as it was a very cheap night out for everyone. I always have great memories of these events but, unfortunately, around 6 months later the venue closed its doors without any warning.
At this point that the party started developing a small following of friends and students living around the area. We finally did one party in the basement of The Hyde Park Social in Leeds, which ended up being a big success. At this point, we felt ready to start approaching clubs with the aim of starting a more regular party in a club environment. Wire was always our favourite club in Leeds, so we were over the moon when we were given a shot on a premium Friday night at the club. We have been happily running parties there monthly ever since, and are still proud to call it our home today.
As a resident at BSU parties you’ve played before and alongside lots of big names. Are there any tips or secrets you’ve picked up for warming up a party effectively?
I don’t think I’ve picked up any tips or secrets, but over the years I’ve learnt how important it is to have a well constructed warm up at any club night. I personally absolutely buzz off warming up, almost as much as I do with a closing set because you really get to build the atmosphere in the room in your own time. Ideally three or four hours is great, so you can really take your time and play a lot of downtempo records early on.
Could you name a few particularly defining or special records associated with BSU parties over the years?
DJ Skull – ‘Graveyard Orchestra‘. This is one of my favourite peak time records. I first heard Tama Sumo play it at the final Louche at Mint Club and it blew my mind, and it hasn’t left my bag since.
The Two Armadillos – ‘Je Suis Differente‘. This record always used to be a regular in my bag for warm up sets, and it always reminds me of the early days of BSU. Always brings a smile to my face. The Nick Holder remix on the flip is super nice, too!
Sylvester – ‘Over and Over‘. This is a classic disco track that was first introduced to me by Hunee, played as the last track the first two times we had him play, so it always brings back some hazy memories. We were the first people to book Hun in the North around five years ago and have had him back every year since.
Herbert – ‘See You On Monday‘. I’ve got to thank my pal and fellow BSU ressie Ciaran for introducing me to this (plus many other amazing records). I’m a huge fan of pretty much all of Herbert’s back catalogue, but this track in particular always does the business for me.
Are there any particularly memorable sets you’ve done or places that you’ve played, either with BSU or elsewhere?
As Butter Side Up we’ve been extremely lucky over the last few years and have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places. This summer has been pretty memorable so far with highlights being Gottwood and our recent stage at Electric Elephant in Tisno, with guests Jane Fitz and Margaret Dygas. That was followed by playing together at the unofficial afters at Vortex Bar with another BSU resident, Jonny Sleight, Hugh and Ewie (aka Youandewan), which really was the icing on the cake.
One of the most memorable gigs for me personally was playing at Chalet in Berlin last summer on my birthday. I have played there a few times, however I was really nervous this time as I was playing in room 1 after Francesco Del Garda and XDB, who are two of my favourite DJs.
Josh and I played together for around four hours and it was definitely up there for me as one of the most fun times I’ve had playing out.
Since its inception, KMAH Radio has increasingly become the home of interesting and adventurous radio shows. How’s the first year been for you guys?
I’m not gonna lie, the first year was very hard. We (me, Kristan Caryl, a music writer, Mike Lawton, a web designer, Arthur Barr, a label boss, and Mike Stockell, a promoter and DJ) started the radio station with no previous experience at all, and we all learnt as we were going along. It was all very exciting, but very stressful at the same time. I don’t think we all realised what we had got ourselves into!
Dealing with close to 100 show hosts, a complex schedule of streaming, 12 hours a day of live and pre recorded shows all means we can never switch off and it pretty much took over our lives from day one. What a lot of people don’t realise is that we all work full time jobs whilst also juggling KMAH.
Luckily, we now have a lovely set of studio interns that help cover our live shows, social media and help with uploading live shows to our Soundcloud. We are so thankful for the team that we have in place now as it has really helped us to have more time to spend on managing the station properly and pushing it forward in the right direction.
What have been some of your favourite individual shows so far?
BeatPete – the Berlin based king of hip-hop instrumentals.
Bill Brewster’s Disco Jungle – does what it says on the tin.
The Choon Room – Josh and Ewie’s classy club selections.
Retrospect with Gip Dammone – a Leeds restaurant owner and life long jazz, soul and funk collector.
Have You Heard This? – co-founder Kristan’s show, an always homely selection of non club sounds
Outlaws Yacht Club – a top Leeds bar with a rotating crew of hosts who do tropical, balearic, disco and cosmic oddities with real style
What’s your vision for it over the coming years and where you see it developing?
There is no grand plan other than to keep repping Leeds, the North and a select few other great music collectors, DJ and wax obsessives from round the world. There will be more of our own live events (the first one with Amp Fiddler was off the hook) and stage hosts/ live streams at places like Dimensions and a few others that we can’t talk about just yet.
Now for some Leeds-focussed questions…where’s your favourite place to buy records in town?
I mainly buy all my records online on Discogs and use Juno for new stuff. However I have heard that there is an exciting new record shop opening called The Doghouse. It’s under construction as we speak and the brains behind it is J-Cub from The 212 Bar and Cafe (he also has a show with us), which is easily one of the best bars in town and one of my favourite hang outs in Leeds.
What are some of your favourite parties outside BSU?
It may sound clichéd, but my favourite place in the world to party is at Panoramabar in Berlin. Namely Get Perlonized is my chosen night at the club. For me, nothing beats it musically, and the vibe is out of this world. I try and get myself out to Berlin at least once a year, as I absolutely adore the place.
Barbarellas in Tisno, Croatia, is one of my favourite open-air clubs in the world. I have been going to Tisno for the past three years and every year I get reminded why I keep coming back. When the sun comes up in the early hours, it doesn’t really get much better than that. The place has got a real magical feel about it.
What new / young talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
TMS – I may be biased as he is one of my best mates, but the guy is making some absolutely amazing tracks and has been for years. He’s ALWAYS making beats and is sitting on a huge pile of unreleased tracks. He’s also a great DJ and a regular guest at our BSU parties.
Christian Jay – A local on the Bristol scene, however he recently made the move to Berlin. Christian starting sending me his tunes last year and every time I listen to his stuff I’m blown away by how good they are. He’s churning out a lot of high quality tunes and personally I feel he deserves a lot more recognition. Get to know!
You’ve now put on a few Butter Side Up parties in London. Would you ever consider permanently moving it down South or will its spiritual home always be in Leeds?
For now, I’m really enjoying doing parties in both Leeds and London. Leeds is our main home where we run our regular monthly events at Wire and we try and do London events around 3-4 times a year. It took us a good few years to get a solid following in Leeds and we are now in a very good place so we have no plans to move permanently from Leeds just yet.
We are really happy to now be running regular parties in London at The Pickle Factory. It’s a very special space with immaculate sound in an intimate surrounding. It was just the kind of space we were looking for, so we couldn’t be happier to now call it our London home. Got to give a shout out to Tom, Toby and the team who are doing great things with the club and are always a pleasure to work with.
I am really enjoying doing parties in London because it feels so fresh again. Everything from the club, crowd and vibe, it’s all very refreshing.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
I recorded the mix in the KMAH studio on a sunny Saturday afternoon and locked myself in there with a crate of ales until it was finished. It’s a selection of some of my favourite records that I’ve picked up over the past few months. A mixture of house, techno, garage, electro and everything in between.
What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for?
Next up gig wise, I’m looking forward to playing at Varkala Festival in August together with my brothers Mike Stockell and TMS. Line up and venue are looking spot on, so buzzing for that one. Then to finish off the summer, I’m heading to the brand new Obonjan Island in Croatia where I am very lucky to be a resident. We are also doing a party on the island with our pals Louche on 21st August with guest Youandewan joining Josh, Hugh and me for the festivities. From Obonjan, we are heading to Pula for Dimensions Festival, where KMAH are hosting the beach stage with a live stream on the Thursday daytime. We have Jeremy Underground and many more joining us, so it should be a good’un!
Finally we are celebrating Butter Side Up’s 6th Birthday on October 14th and we have a very special guest joining us for an extended set. I can’t say too much more for now, but it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed!