With their 3rd Birthday party on the horizon, it seemed as suitable time as ever to catch up with the Percolate crew, who’ve become infamous around the capital for curating impressive line-ups in unique spaces. We got the chance to sit down with co-founder Simon Denby at their My Love is Underground 5th Birthday party at Village Underground last Friday, taking stock of the last three years and chatting about their nomadic club policy and brand philosophy.
The indelible mark of a Percolate night is a denial of convention. This comes across most explicitly in their policy of having no predetermined location for their parties. As Simon explained, the idea here is that in matching specific line–ups with a space that’ll compliment the sound, you’re able to create a more holistic atmosphere then if the sum parts of the night had been lumped together impetuously.
Speaking to Simon, it becomes apparent that he is a promoter concerned with a lot more than just keeping things in the green. High production values are of paramount importance to the team, who ensure their booths are equipped with the finest rotary setups and, when possible, include art installations, as seen at their Summer Solstice celebrations at Shapes back in June. The clearest indication of Percolate’s desire to be more than a cash cow however, is the simple fact that their line–ups could fill London’s bigger spaces with ease. Such is the dedication to longevity and artistic aspiration that these mouth-watering assemblages of talent are kept as intimate as feasible.
It was also interesting to learn that Simon’s mum was the first manager of Turnmills and helped John Newman convert it from a former stables/gin distillery warehouse into a wine bar and restaurant that held gay nights on weekends. From this it evolved into the influential club that became the first venue in the UK to acquire a 24-hour license and was a pivotal environment in which US house & techno began to form part of the UK underground scene. Given that music was such a seminal part of Simon’s upbringing, it is easy to understand his desire to establish what has become one of London’s leading parties.
For anyone who’s still unsure of Percolates prowess though, take a quick look at their archive of previous parties. Chez Damier, Metro Area, Bonobo and Soundstream have all graced their decks and it’s not just the UK where they’ve applied their astute philosophy. 2015 saw Percolate launch the first of several Amsterdam events and also host a boat and afterparty for Stop Making Sense, headlined by Martyn and Anthony Naples. There’s no sign of them slowing down either, with their Halloween bash welcoming Moodymann, Christopher Rau, Space Dimension Controller and a Lobster Theremin to Studio 338. Then in December they’re off to conquer the Alpes with a special B2B from Jackmaster & Axel Boman on a mountaintop terrace at Rise Festival.
Back to the present though, enter My Love Is Underground who, more so than most, epitomise the values central to Percolate. Celebrating the Parisian labels fifth Birthday in a venue befitting their names was head honcho Jeremy Underground, alongside compatriot Brawther, Leeds’ Tristan De Cunha and SE62 of the Ukraine with an all-night b2b2b2b affair. Right from the get-go, you sensed their connection, both as DJs, and as friends. Building from a steady base of early US house they occasionally gave a sliver of acid and slice of techno but maintained the vibe that MLIU is famous for. It’s also testament to their prowess as avid diggers that the IDs were few and far between. The energy was palpable throughout though with the crowd clearly in awe of what they were witnessing.
One of the most memorable moments came when ‘Sueno Latino‘ expertly lead the way for ‘The Fuck Off Track‘ to bang in hard. It’s also telling of the love for MLIU output that the other biggest reaction came as the groans from SE62’s very own ‘True Force‘ whipped the crowd into a frenzy. As the night flowed we were treated to a master class in b2b mixing. The machine-like sounds of Night Owl’s Kraftwerk remix made an opportune outing alongside Andronicus – ‘Make You Whole’, whose unmistakable keys laid over that driving bass encapsulated everything that MLIU has become world renowned for.
It was also fitting to see Jeremy take the time out to occasionally view the evening from the crowd’s perspective, soaking it all up from the edge of proceedings. An onlooker enjoying the fruits of five year’s labour, he was able to witness his friends lose themselves in the music he’s worked so hard to bring to the fore. But, in this moment, it also became abundantly clear why the Percolate crew go above and beyond what might be considered the promoter norm. It’s not just an insatiable passion for excellent music, or a keen eye for production values, but also a realisation that the simple way to endure our turbulent London nightlife scene is to keep throwing extraordinary parties in spaces to match. Prioritise this, and the rest falls naturally into place.
Photo credit: Daddy’s Got Sweets