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Or:la Interview: Reinventing and reimagining

We caught up with the Liverpool-based selector to discuss the ideas behind her own clubnight, having two homes and upcoming gigs.

Becca Frankland

Date published: 4th Oct 2016

Orlagh Dooley, otherwise known by her artist moniker Or:la, is a DJ who goes above and beyond to give back to the scene she's so heavily involved with. By cracking the promotion side of things with her own clubnight in Liverpool and by working to create her own label, her creative mind has benefits for us all to reap.

Originally from Derry, Orlagh moved to Liverpool for university and well, just never fancied leaving. After falling in love with the city's nightlife and culture, it became a breeding ground for her work as a DJ as she picked up regular gigs for Baltic Triangle space 24 Kitchen Street along with a cluster of shows in Manchester. 

Her sound is hard to summarise, but when you take into consideration she's played with dons like Denis Sulta and Tama Sumo, you can start to picture the sort of warped, atmospheric house and techno cuts she includes. Listen to her THUMP mix below for a little taster.

Now with an EP on the way along with other big upcoming projects, we caught up with Orlagh ahead of her upcoming gigs to discuss her second home, her clubnight Meine Nacht and in which city she gets the best reception.

We're speaking to you ahead of RBMA's tour in Liverpool, where you'll be playing with Moodymann, Hunee and Young Marco, which is pretty mega. How did it feel to be asked to be a part of it? 

As you can imagine, when I heard about the line up I was over the moon. Moodymann has always been a big inspiration for me - I never expected to appear on a line up with him alone any time soon, never mind alongside Hunee, Young Marco and Sassy J as well.

How important do you think RBMA is to the dance music scene? 

RBMA is a massively respected institution, which encourages people to actually talk about music aside from just listening - being in attendance for the talk last year at 24 Kitchen Street with Mumdance and Francois K really cemented that for me.

For the Liverpool leg of the RBMA UK tour this year, the range of acts and genres of music involved in those four days prove just how dynamic and encompassing RBMA is. For the Club Cosmos show that I'm playing for this Saturday, it's pretty rare to get the chance to see all of these artists on the same line up, so it's going to be really special. 

You run your own night Meine Nacht in Liverpool, for readers who are unfamiliar with it, could you tell us a bit more about the concept and the vision behind it?

We started Meine Nacht because we wanted to provide something alternative for night life culture in Liverpool. We decided to do our early parties as a series of 'Unseen Places' events, where myself and Jessica (the co-founder) literally scoured the city and outskirts to find unique spaces that would never be used in this way again. We documented this via live-streaming and recording our shows which are archived on our YouTube Channel Meine Nacht Live.

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One of our most memorable parties was held in a disused supermarket outside of town where we had Liem headlining. We could have easily fitted two thousand people in the whole space but we chose a main room and two other chill out spaces within the warehouse for under 300 lucky ticket buyers - all bearing their bring your own booze bags.

Despite all this secret location talk, the actual music is never out of sight for us. We strive to always bring new and exciting talent to the city ahead of their time so that our followers can pay an average of a tenner to see these DJs in an up close and personal environment.

For certain parties we deliberately choose small spaces to create a certain atmosphere within the crowd, and the people that really want to be there for the music will stay until the very end and that's really warming to see. Moving into 2017, we have some big plans and will be holding some events in conjunction with our new label - Im Tanz Records - so it's all very exciting. 

Liverpool has been your home for a fair few years now, for anyone who was visiting for the first time, where would you tell them to visit and why?

For a night out, I would highly recommend checking out 24 Kitchen Street. I have spent a lot of time DJing there and hold a residency in the venue so I can see first hand that there's never a night that doesn't go down well. The range of bookings within the club really shows how tasteful and wide ranging the club's calendar is, there's something for everyone. 

You're originally from Derry and you've been championed by Irish institutions like AVA festival, is it nice being able to bounce between your hometown and gigs in Liverpool? Where do you get the best reception? 

I do feel like I've made a second home for myself in Liverpool, and at times it actually feels a bit more alien DJing at home than it does over here, but once everything gets going (and it doesn't take long) it's hard to beat the crowds back in Derry/Belfast. You only need to watch the AVA Boiler Room sets on YouTube to see this for yourself.

You've played for bigger club nights over the years, and you've got an event with Chibuku lined up for 15th October and two WHP events pencilled in for later this year. With clubs like fabric closing, how crucial do you think it is to have well established brands in a city? 

I think it's vital for music culture, as it reflects how hungry a city is for live music. For people that are into music, especially dance music, when they think of a city they most likely judge it's music scene. Glasgow, Manchester, Berlin, all scream out certain venues and parties which reflect the cities musically.

With certain long standing clubs in Liverpool closing/disappearing for good recently, now has never been a better time to ensure that established brands step up and keep Liverpool on the map. 

What's happening with you on the production front?

I'm really excited about the coming months as I have my first EP coming out on a label that I've followed and respected for a long time. It's a four track vinyl and digital EP but that's all I can say for now.

I have been producing music for around four years now without putting much online - I've probably been a bit too fussy about who I wanted to send my stuff to label wise. I'm not really the type of person to post loads of previews and stuff online as soon as I've finished a new track, I'd rather just let the music do the talking once it's out.

Catch Or:la at Invisible Wind Factory for RBMA's Club Cosmos on Saturday 8th October.

Find other upcoming Or:la gigs.

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