"We never take our audience for granted": Now Wave Talk to Skiddle

Skiddle caught up with Wes and Jon, also known as exciting Manchester promoters Now Wave, to discuss upcoming gigs, the advantages of keeping up form behind the decks, and meddling with nature itself.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 5th Oct 2011

Two things that have become a more frequent sight around Manchester these past few years – abandoned apartment constructions and concentric circles. Whilst these both sound exciting as eachother, let’s focus on the latter. 

The omnipresent circles in question are the trademark design of Now Wave, two men behind a raft of some of the most exciting and imaginative gigs Manchester has ever seen, and who have still found time to cement their reputation as DJs du jour with their own weekly clubnight and Warehouse Project residencies.

Skiddle caught up with ‘the lads’ in their new office at Islington Mill, which is baking hot in the strange spell of an Indian Summer, and lacking a fridge, to discuss upcoming gigs, the advantages of keeping up form behind the decks and meddling with nature itself.

It’s been a big year for Now Wave, what have the highlights of the year been for you two?

Jon: They’re always changing which is a good thing. At the moment; it’s Death Grips at Islington Mill last week, which was mad. Also, Deerhunter at Sound Control, which felt like a really special gig.

Wes: I really enjoyed Timbre Timbre at the Deaf Institute, as that was better than I’d expected which is always a nice surprise. Mount Kimbie at the same venue was fantastic.

You had your own tent at Parklife Festival this year, how was that?

Jon: It was really interesting, we had two days this year, and we attempted to make the first day more electronic. I felt that worked better out of the two, as it’s obviously a more dance oriented festival, and we had a load of interesting stuff on like Jamie XX, Mount Kimbie and Hercules And Love Affair.

Wes: But on the second day we had Metronomy, who were amazing, that really felt like a crowning moment for them.

Jon: And Darwin Deez, he was great, that was perfect for the festival.

The next few months are extremely busy times for you guys, with the sheer number of gigs on. What are you personally particularly looking forward to?

Wes: Craft Spells at Islington Mill, who are on a label called Captured Tracks, which is a label I really love. Real Estate too, at the same venue.

Jon: We’ve got a very cool Halloween show, which is Fucked Up playing at Sound Control. It’s going to involve a fancy dress competition which will be judged by the band, which is pretty exciting. On the more electronic side, we’ve got both The Field and Walls on at The Deaf Institute this November. They’re both on Kompakt Recordings, so they compliment eachother really well. We’re collaborating on a night with Clique, which is Aeroplane, who is bringing out a new mix CD. That’s an exclusive for you!

Wes: As well as that, we’re putting a run of cool shows at The Ritz, which has recently been refurbished. We’ve got Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, The Lemonheads, Thurston Moore… that’s us essentially just trying to work with our heroes. Damon Albarn and Thom Yorke are next on the list…

You’ve just created your own mascot, a zebra. Tell me about that? Why a zebra, and what’s his name?

Wes: Yes, we do have a zebra, his name is Wesley Stripes.

Is that not a slightly narcissistic move, Wesley?

Wes: I didn’t name it! It won out in a Facebook poll! I preferred Neigh Z, or Zebra Harry. It won out 14 to 1. Michael Stripe didn’t even get one vote. The idea is that a zebra is famously stripey, whereas our logo is famously concentric, so we thought we’d change that.

Does that not give you the feeling you’re simply messing with nature?

Wes: Perhaps I consider myself above nature?

And to prove you’re above nature, you’ve redesigned the zebra and named it after yourself?

Wes: I’m not sure how good this is going to look in print.

Jon: Well, we also have a booklet coming out later this month; keep your eyes peeled for that.

Despite being above nature, you still run a weekly club night at The Deaf Institute, from 11PM every Wednesday, which is totally free. In relation to booking bands and artists, does maintaining a position behind the decks seem beneficial to that?

Wes: Totally, seeing what goes down well on the dancefloor, and what people request, gives us a good idea of what to book.

Jon: We want to book stuff we really love, and love to play out. We’re not doing anything for the sake of it.

Over the past few years you’ve begun to utilise some new, leftfield venues in the city. Which are your favourites?

Wes: Central Methodist Church, on Oldham Street, which I think is excellent. It’s a very unique mix of seating and standing, and it sounds very good.

Jon: In Salford, we’ve begun to use St. Phillip’s Church a lot. It makes any gig really special, by virtue of being so unique. There’s also cheap, home brewed beer.

Wes: We’ve got a few in mind for there, and we’re always on the look out for exciting new spaces. We never take our audience for granted.

You’ve put on a wide range of artists now, who are your personal favourites to work with?

Jon: Spectrals are really great guys, no bullshit whatsoever, lovely people.

Wes: Errors are great guys, we bonded after they got locked inside The Deaf Institute. The XX are nice. We’ve met lots of nice people.

People are regularly barking on in the press, often from outside of Manchester, about the ‘scene’. Is there a scene in Manchester, and do we even need one?

Jon: I suppose by definition there is, but it’s not a scene in the traditional sense. There’s just a really good group of local established and upcoming artists – Delphic, Young British Artists, Everything Everything, Ghost Outfit, D/R/U/G/S, Airship – all those sort of lot, they don’t make the same kind of music but there’s an open minded solidarity between them. Which is a really good thing.

Wes: There’s no need to discuss whether or not we’ve moved on from The Stone Roses or whatever, because we clearly have. There’s also a really healthy scene of local promoters. There’s us, but then there’s wotgodforgot, Hey! Manchester, Underachievers – we’re competing against eachother, but we’ve all got our own niche here, and we’re working together.

Jon: There are a lot of local promoters we’ve got a lot of respect for, which is very healthy.

Where’s next for Now Wave, and what are your ambitions for the next year?

Jon: We’ve no massive ambitions, things just come in and they develop from there. We didn’t plan, for example, to do as many gigs as we are for the remainder of the year, it’s just the way it’s transpired.

Wes: We want to put on exciting gigs. Putting on Girls in support of Stephen Malkmus is a good example of that. We really enjoy curating line-ups, and a 3-band bill is our norm, but there are always people we want to put on. We love sorting that stuff out.

Jon: We often want to put too much on; we have to stop ourselves from putting on five or six band lineups. But we’re not like national promoters who dial in the day before and want a local support band for the headliners last minute.

What are your personal favourite albums of the year?

Wes: Pure X, they’re definitely up there. It’s from last year, but Crooks and Lovers by Mount Kimbie has really grown on me, I’ve listened to that lots. Julianna Barwick’s new album, and both Maria Minerva albums. Holy Other’s EP is brilliant, as far as Manchester acts are concerned.

Jon: I love the Shabazz Palace album, that came out of nowhere for me, and it’s great. SBTRKT’s album is great, as is James Blake. Jamie XX and Gil Scot Heron. Bon Iver.

What are your favourite remixes of the year?

Wes: Omar Souleyman’s Bjork remixes are pretty nuts. Nite Jewel’s remix of Odessa by Caribou is excellent.

Jon: The Modeselektor remix of Radiohead is absolutely massive; I’m going to play that at Warehouse Project at some point.

Interview: John Thorp

See all upcoming Now Wave gigs and buy tickets here 

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