Transcend HQ is a hive of activity at the moment. The place is alive with an unstoppable electricity. Behind the scenes, we are a cascading creative torrent. Buoyed by a wave of momentum after our event at Club Union in July, the ideas and plans are in full flow.
Transcend will very soon celebrate 5 years of putting on clubbing events, as well as 3 years of doing it in London - undisputedly one of the greatest cultural hotbeds in the world. In that time there's been a hell of a lot to reflect positively on. With each year that has gone by our vision for what makes a good club night has evolved and crystallised. Moving venues or even cities hasn't derailed us in growing our brand and translating it into an ever clearer reflection of us as DJs and music fans.
But in all honesty, in my years working with Transcend, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved. And what's more, the best and clearest evolution of what we do has undoubtedly occurred in the last 12 months. We are travelling faster than ever before, with greater clarity of purpose than ever before. In a sense, that's where so much of the excitement comes from.
On top of all that, it's been quite a long time since I put the now proverbial pen to paper on an article like this. It was actually before our Fourth Birthday event almost a year ago. So much has happened in that time ... and yet there is still even more to come.
The year started for us with a new project which in many ways has typified the evolving face of what we do. Shifting musical tastes within the team and experimentation as residents in warm up sets were already leading us in new directions musically.
As far back as 2015, we've incorporated more techno-orientated sounds into our events as part of the overall musical journey of the night. We've also done this as touring residents playing for other trance brands around the country, most notably for Equinox and Pulsate. But at the Fourth Birthday in November last year, we trialled a second room of out-and-out alternative sounds as a deliberate contrast to the uplifting style of the main room. This was a game-changer for us. It led to a lot of soul-searching as we moved into the Christmas period that year.
We've always strived to create a clear musical progression at our events. We always want to craft that musical journey capable of transporting our audience to other mental planes. But what if you could have two separate journeys going on at the same event - each joined up, evolving but varied in its own unique way? Having a second room as an alternative is always an attractive option for any clubber, but we wanted that alternative to be equally as reflective of who we are as Transcend has become.
We went even further than that, of course. We decided this alter ego needed its own name and face. And that's why the first half of 2017 really became all about unleashing our new brand, Dark Matter. Since its launch in January, we've pushed this as a techno, tech house and deep house brand, with the emphasis on techno, but really the genres are largely irrelevant.
In electronic music these days there's so much that we used to love about trance lurking hidden in other genres. With more melodic touches, more unique subtleties and with longer breakdowns, there's a lot of music being called techno these days that we once called progressive trance. Good dance music is all about atmosphere - the way it can fill up a room and make the myriad of emotions flow. Genre-wise, call Dark Matter what you like. This is really all about deeper, darker sounds - pounding stripped-back drums; moody rhythmic grooves, dripping with both playful malevolence and melancholic charm.
If Transcend can be seen as the full-blown euphoria and warmth of some mind-alerting religious experience, then Dark Matter is its twisted scientific sister, venturing with wonder into the vastness of the abyss.
Launching Dark Matter has had a profoundly positive impact so far. It's allowed us to even further diversify ourselves musically, making use of many more of our evolving influences. It's re-energised our residents creatively, at a time when a few of us were feeling the effects of some of the trance scene's torpid stagnation and separation into templated BPM troupes - something I've discussed in a few of my previous articles. And it's allowed us to appeal to different crowds with the same ethos and philosophy. There are clear links between the two brands and the two can be as joined up or as separate as we want them to be. That in itself is very exciting.
First of all Dark Matter went solo. Returning to Club Union in Vauxhall, we hosted two single room events in January and May to jump start the brand and these were incredibly well received, by both the Transcend crowd and the club's regulars.
With Dark Matter occupying our efforts in the first half of 2017, we did go 8 months without a Transcend. Even for us, that's a long time. Had we jumped aboard the techno bandwagon and rode off into the moonlight? Far from it...
Our event in July was, when it did finally arrive, without question, well worth that wait. It was our perfect storm - the right headliners, reflecting the musical values we have always pushed with Transcend, the return of a second room and, of course, not forgetting, the introduction of Dark Matter alongside its trance sibling for the very first time, providing that alternative journey.
As anticipated, Airwave took Transcend on an expansive 3 hour journey, building from progressive into both psy-trance and classic trance. Showing a bravery and versatility that very few DJs in the current scene have, he even blew minds by dropping The Prodigy - No Good (Start The Dance) amongst the trance records. Taking over, Robert Nickson delivered one of the most energetic, euphoria-laden sets we've ever witnessed - akin to the modern melodic masterclass that Dan Stone had delivered at Transcend in the April of 2016. Certainly, one of the most crowd pleasing sets in our 5 year history. The room was packed, the atmosphere everything we've come to expect from a Transcend. In many respects, it was the greatest Transcend to date, eclipsing both the energy of The Sound Of Ibiza in Bristol and the musical 'purity' of The Thrillseekers at Plan B.
We carry the momentum of that into our next event on the 21st of October, when we return with the same two room, multi-genre formula but with a very fresh looking extended set. To celebrate our birthday, this time we welcome Jorn Van Deynhoven for a 3 hour set, his first set of this length in the UK.
Jorn is a man who has become known for turning big trance records into even bigger euphoric anthems. His remix discography is vast and memorable, including remixes of Armin Van Buuren's Not Giving Up On Love, Dash Berlin's Never Cry Again, Svenson & Gielen's Twisted, Craig Connelly's Black Hole and, of course, RAMsterdam - to name but a few. Also regularly releasing on Armin Van Buuren's A State Of Trance label since 2010, his rasping, symphonic style has become instantly recognisable through solo releases like Cheeky, Headliner, Superfly and New Horizons. In 2017, Jorn has once again been true to form on both fronts - remixing The Space Brothers classic, Shine, and making huge waves with his latest euphoric production, Rising High.
Joining Jorn, we welcome two legends of the London trance scene who also make their debuts with us. Andres Sanchez has become a real rising star in recent years, with releases on trance's biggest uplifting imprints such as Extrema Global, Grotesque, FSOE and Subculture. His sound is big, uplifting and perfect for the Transcend dancefloor. Also making his debut, we're excited to be joined by Mark Landragin, legendary resident and one of the main men behind the undisputed trance phenomenon that is, Trance Sanctuary.
And, of course, there is a stellar roster of DJs in our Dark Matter hosted second room, including residents, old friends and some big debuts that we are really excited about.
2017's end-of-year calendar is bursting at the seams. Of course, many trance fans will be well aware of the plethora of options open to them across Europe on and around the 21st of October. There are some huge events around - stiff competition at home and abroad. But we would urge anyone who supports our values and ethos, anyone who appreciates intimate parties with a personal touch, anyone based in London or the south of the UK - to join us for our Fifth Birthday and make it yet another unforgettable chapter in our story.
We're not about enormous commercial venues with enough production and lighting to be seen from space. We're not about 10 'superstars' playing the same one hour of their hits they played at another event 2 months ago. We're not about 20 ticket types with VIPs areas, queue jumps and a free foot massage every hour on the hour. We do not have an entourage; we do not have any confectionery products to fling at you from the DJ booth. Oh, no!
We're about carefully programmed line ups. We're about varied, interesting musical journeys. Above all, we're about music and, we will stay true to that going into 2018.
And it just so happens that we aren't the only promoter in London championing intimate trance events with a personal touch. We're also not the only promoter celebrating turning 5 years old. Reality, who in recent times have had big successes hosting a room residency at the world famous Ministry Of Sound, are also holding a birthday event on the 21st of October, a day party running from 3pm at The Bedford in Balham. They have a huge line up of DJing talent featuring names such as Omar Sherif, Ali Wilson, Chris North, Dan Ascherl (who headlined for us in the March of 2013), Nick The Kid, Will Renville, Tony Hollingsworth (who played a slamming set for Transcend when we hosted Dan Stone back in April 2016), and the main man behind Reality, JD Love.
We've teamed up as official pre-party / after party partners and we've put together a special ticket deal for those wanting to attend both events. If you've purchased a ticket for Reality, speak to JD Love about the promotional code for our discounted Transcend tickets. You can find Reality tickets via the following link: skiddle.com/e/13016633
Between Transcend, Dark Matter and Reality, there'll be a solid 16 hours of the finest clubbing on offer anywhere in the country. South London is the place to be on the 21st of October!
And the best thing is - all I've written here so far doesn't even cover everything there is to be excited about. There is yet more.
Finding a regular home in Vauxhall's Club Union - where we have held five of our last six events - has given us the platform to start looking much further ahead with our planning. Like a lot of the bigger promoters in our scene, we are now thinking over a year ahead to get the dates and artists that work for both you and us. We're already looking to build on this year's successes by doing more events and doing them better than ever.
Even though the success of Dark Matter channelled a lot of our energies earlier this year, it was still a significant frustration for us that we weren't able to put on a Transcend in the first half of 2017. Traditionally, we like to put on an event around April time each year - The Thrillseekers in 2015 and Dan Stone in 2016 being two of our best. Next year we'll be putting things right by bringing you plenty of Transcend in the first months of the year, with two dates currently being worked on, and there will be more to follow.
We're in the very advanced stages of shaping over first event of 2018, with a huge headliner already agreed. We're hopeful of having that ready to announce at our Fifth Birthday and we should have more dates to confirm for your diaries in the coming weeks as well.
Keep them peeled, folks. We're just getting started. See you on a dancefloor soon!
Transcend presents The Fifth Birthday
with Jorn Van Deynhoven and Dark Matter in Room 2
Main Room: Transcend
Jorn Van Deynhoven (3 Hour Set)
Room 2: Dark Matter
Tickets are no longer available for this event