Unseen Places: Breakwave, Meine Nacht, And Peer-To-Peer Communication
Breakwave has never been one to shy away from the unconventional. The Liverpool based electronic producer has been running her Meine Nacht nights for the last three years in the city, choosing to abandon the tired and stale rave format for something that contains flashes of ‘golden era’ brilliance with a contemporary edge.
Meine Nacht has been referred to as a peer-to-peer network, and the aesthetic of the parties fit in with this notion. The concept is based on the idea of providing a network, a small network of people that act as a server to others by word of mouth which allows for shared access to the parties. There's a close-knit community of people that return to the events and it's these people that preserve the relaxed atmosphere of the secret parties.
“I wanted to create something a bit different, as there was a lot of the same thing going on in Liverpool,” she says. “I came up with the ‘Unseen Places’ idea, a series of secret parties in unused buildings in and around Liverpool. That expectation stuck with my audience, I never imagined that it would get to the stage it’s at today.”
Supermarkets, abandoned warehouses and art galleries have all played their part in creating a curious setting for an intelligent selection of underground names. The location of the event is announced on the day, bringing with it visions of friends dressed in bucket hats and crazy patterns huddled and listening to pirate radio, but with a current identity through the invitation of artists like Courtesy, upsammy and Call Super.
Now, as you can imagine, throwing parties in usually unused spaces in a city environment can be quite difficult. There is an abundance of licensing and permission hoops that demand to me jumped through. How does one acquire the permission to throw such unique events? There’s a sea of local council horror stores, such as the curfew on new clubs and bars in Hackney last year, that have us shaking our firsts and becoming raged with the quite graphic strangling of anything related to dance music culture. Are they a little more lenient in Liverpool?
“They’re definitely not lenient and that’s why the parties happen when they happen,” she says. “It’s about building relationships, particularly with the building owners or landlord. It’s a long drawn-out process; this kind of event is quite unique these days in Liverpool so it makes the audience appreciate the party more when it does happen. Let’s just say it’s definitely not been an easy ride!”
Today, Breakwave finds herself preparing for an installation at Tate Liverpool as she gets ready to plunge her Meine Nacht concept into record label territory. It’s a great example of how far she has come as a creative. A night which has its roots firmly embedded in free spirited rave culture now finds itself preparing to launch a showcase in one of the UK’s most respected art spaces.
“The label emphasis will be to provide a platform for upcoming producers and the door is open to established artists too,” she says, as we begin to discuss the aesthetic of the label. “The formats of the releases include a ‘Limited Edition’ run of Dubplates, all hand stamped and numbered - along with digital. I really like the idea of providing an exclusive piece, limited to a few numbers.”
“Dubplates are an essential part of music culture and the history of soundsystem music. This format has been around for a long time and as most of us know, it’s a craft; prices are higher because there’s a lot of time and effort put into cutting them with a tonne of expensive equipment. I’ve started using a guy called Henry who is one of the best in the game; I was blown away with the quality and sound when I got the reference Dub back. It’s something I really appreciate and I want to have my own little input in the culture. As a DJ it’s something that is important to me and there’s nothing better than having something that isn’t so accessible to others.”
The first release on the label will come from Daniel Ruane, an artist with previous releases on Infinite Machine, oqko and the consistently brilliant Natural Sciences. Breakwave was sent some of his music via her show on NTS and from there a sonic relationship developed quite naturally.
“I came across some of his music and his production style resonated with me as I was exploring sound design in my own productions at the time,” she explains. “I love innovative developments and 3D sound design and his work felt ‘out-worldly’, something that I could relate to. He lives in Manchester and came to one of my gigs with his girlfriend and we just clicked instantly. We are now working on a live set together, which we’ll debut at the Meine Nacht label launch party at Tate Gallery in Liverpool on 12th April. The live set will include music composition from the both of us.”
Daniel’s debut release on Meine Nacht is really quite special. It’s a frantic soundtrack to the anxious generation. Glitching madness that floats on the periphery of insanity, lairy bass pressure and difficult rhythms create a project that demands attention. It couldn’t have found a more fitting home than Meine Nacht, as Breakwave informs me of their mutual fascination with intrinsic sound design.
“There are so many capabilities and outcomes with sound design,” she says. “I became interested in sound design when I was handed some CD’s from my mum, they were bounced from reel-to-reel tapes and they had some really crazy sounds on them which I wanted to work with.”
“I’m really interested in the aspect of taking a sample and manipulating it until it just doesn’t sound like the original at all. I have come across many happy accidents by doing this; Ableton is such a great tool for this kind of thing. There are so many methods you can adopt in order to make mad glitching 3D crunching sounds. I love the unpredictable feel of tracks that encompass these methods, it’s all well and good making ‘noise’ but then you have to work on the composition and I’ve always been really drawn to off-beat rhythms, it’s challenging to mix with and as with composing, it adds another layer to your DJing with outcomes that can be different at any given time.”
Onto the launch at Tate Liverpool, and staying true to Meine Nacht’s unconventional ethos Breakwave has something special planned.
As a student the artist attended workshops at the space and was given the opportunity to run her own workshops as a Tate volunteer. This led to Breakwave involving herself in outreach work at youth centres teaching young people how to create visual media and incorporate their own visuals with music.
“This gave me an insight into what Tate is about and probably helped when I put my ideas forward for the Meine Nacht launch party,” she says. “Some of my first parties took place in really small Gallery spaces; one that sticks out is Domino Gallery, which is owned by a lovely little lady, who had an exhibition on at the time of the party. It was live streamed via the Internet port in her flat above the Gallery where she lives with her cat. There have been massive developments since then with Meine Nacht but I don’t want it to be too far away from what it was back then, so the label will help to preserve the Meine Nacht ethos. Electronic music is not just about ‘rowdy raves’ and Tate understand that, this event is opening up the medium to a wider audience.”
Working with visual artist Thomas Murray, who is responsible for the artwork on the labels debut release, the two creative’s have produced a 360 degree living world that connects the audience to the live performances.
“The main live performance will take place in a purpose-built blacked out space where Daniel and myself will perform in the middle of the room,” she discloses. “It’s a less ‘conventional’ layout and a more engaging atmosphere, the visual installation will pan around the space and it will feel like you are in a virtual world.”
It really is quite exciting to think what kind of ecosystems and environments will be explored when Daniel Ruane and Breakwave link up on April 12th. Today there is no shortage of people seeking to escape. Be it escapism through secret parties in supermarkets and rave induced comradery , or physically taking the plunge into a breathing world triggered by scattered drums and screw-face-bass, Meine Nacht are creating truly captivating ways to experience electronic music.
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Words: Andrew Moore // @agmxxre
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