This weekend sees Below celebrate seven years of underground daytime parties in Birmingham, with a huge street party at The Rainbow in association with Cocoon.
We caught up with Below founder, One Records head and DJ/producer Adam Shelton to talk seven years of Below, the revival of Birmingham's club scene, and summer plans.
So it's been 7 years of your underground daytime party in Birmingham. What does it feel like?
It feels pretty good to be honest. When you start a party you never think seven years into the future and where you will be and what can happen in that time. A lot has happened and now I feel we are at a really strong point so yes, it feels good.
How have your events developed over the past 7 years?
We have gone up and down numbers wise, anything from 150 people to 1500 people and back again depending on the party, the line up, the venue. We have moved venues a lot to keep the interest, more so in our first four years, we do the odd party outside of The Rainbow but that is very much our home. We still have he same ethos we did when we started: to have fun.
What have been your highlights?
For me there has been so many special parties, I would say the three stand out highlights for me were the parties in the drained pool at the Custard Factory, our August Bank Holiday Party 2010 in The Rainbow with Argy, Vincenzo and Berkson & What, and then our early warehouse parties in Hockley.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming event and the artists playing?
We have our 7th birthday coming up this weekend, where we will be hosting a Cocoon event on the street outside The Rainbow with myself, Dj W!ld, Raresh, Dinky and Sascha Dive playing, and then running at the same time, as one big combined event, we will have The Rainbow on with a massive line-up. A few DJs to mention from that line-up are Bloody Mary, Subb-an, Jordan peak and Alex Arnout - so this will be a great way to see in our seventh birthday.
Birmingham is your home and there have been some historic events with The Custard Factory and even with you guys at The Rainbow, but would it be fair to say that the city has lacked a little over the recent few years compared to other cities in the UK?
I think that is totally fair to say, yes. Birmingham had a great scene and OK, there has been people that have carried on doing cool parties and events consistently but to be honest more out of the city - more so in Moseley with The Bulls Head and The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath. I think places that were good ten to fifteen years ago just faded out. Birmingham has always had a good after party scene but for Friday and Saturday nights compared to the likes of Leeds, Manchester, obviously London, it was behind. Over the last year it really feels like there is more coming to the city and more parties popping up as well as venues, so good times ahead.
Would you say the scene is back at full strength now?
For the scene to be back in full strength I would love to see a few places back open and firing. Que club for one… The Custard Factory could be doing more as it is such a cool spot, but then again those venues maybe have had their place in time and made their mark. I am maybe talking from a memories point of view when I think of Birmingham firing. Let the new places do the talking.
You have also been a personal trip - especially over the past couple of years - with One Records doing some other great events. What can you tell us about that experience?
Doing the label is a constant learning curve and is not easy. It may seem easy to some people, but a lot of hard work and thought has to go into making the right moves that mean you can function as a business, have fun and enjoy what you do, and stay true to what you believe in. I moved to Berlin to further the label. I love Berlin but it was not right for me to live there, I missed Birmingham and a lot of other things, also when you take yourself away from normality in terms of a regular income and job to do something like this you are entering a very up and down world. It's good at the moment but the same as anybody in any job, you have to perform to be more successful.
Playing places like Fabric and Harry Klein clubs respectfully must boost the moral of your label One Records, knowing there is acknowledgment at the highest level?
Yes for sure, it is great to do label nights at what is classed as the best club in the city, or country, so you go there wanting to perform and make a good impression.
Looking in the long run of Below, how would you like to further the journey and experience in the next few years?
I would love to have Below carry on for years. The scene now is getting bigger and bigger with house crossing over into lots of different genres. I would like to carry booking the high caliber artists we do and still keep on pushing the new fresh talent, especially people from Birmingham and The Midlands. Doing the amount of parties we do, six to seven per year suits myself and Lee as we are both busy with lots of different things, so I don’t propose to do any more parties - but the ones we do ongoing I want to be of the highest standard.
Finally, where can we see you in the summer? Do Below have any other events lined up?
I have lots lined up for the summer. I will be at sonar in Barcelona, Hideout in Croatia, Secret Garden Pestival in Cambridge , and more. In terms of Below parties we have after the birthday on the 3rd of June, we have July 1st, August Bank Holiday and Halloween, so nice gaps between each party where people can look forward to the parties. I know I will be.
I would just like to say with our birthday coming up, thanks to everybody that has supported us over the last seven years and made the parties mean so much to us. Hopefully we can have another seven years.
Below 7th Birthday and Cocoon in the Street, Sun June 3rd, Rainbow Warehouse Birmingham, £20
Tickets are no longer available for this event
You can find these artists/djs playing at the following events: