For the first instalment of our brand new mix series, we turned to our good friend Niamh who just happened to have this bonkers mix just sitting on her harddrive without a home. A key figure behind the scenes of the temporarily defunct London nightlife, Niamh has used the pandemic to create Quarantune, a blog-turned-book exploring dancefloor memories from her vast network of music industry contacts. Luckily, she's also a great DJ, so to go with her ace mix, we emailed her a few questions to see what life is currently like for her...
Describe your mix for us please? Where was it recorded and why did you put the tracks you chose in it?
I recorded this in Pirate Studios, Dublin, in October last year. I treated myself to a few sessions in Pirate so I could remember how to press a few buttons, essentially, as I hadn’t been mixing much since the pandemic began.
During those sessions, I got bored quickly. Instead of banging out the tunes and enjoying the mix like I usually would, the tracks I had — which were predominately techno — started to sound empty. The pandemic had something to do with that. But I had a heap of tunes on my USB from aaaaaages ago, the kind that I could never play out because they were almost too fast / too crusty and quite ridiculous overall. BUT they were more exciting to mix, and I was curious to see if I could flit between all these sounds and genres for my own enjoyment. I got down off my techno high horse and concluded that if I’m gonna be paying for this time in Pirate, I would have to enjoy myself to make it worthwhile.
After that, I had the mix sitting on my memory card for a while as it was supposed to go to another platform but they changed their schedule, and I just forgot about it really. When I got to Athens, I was on my own for the first time in months and feeling wild, I made quite a few edits on Ableton and got carried away, so much so that half the mix is Ableton, the other is CDJs. In the past, I would have thought ‘oh well that doesn’t count as a mix’ but I’m not gonna overthink stuff like that anymore.
There is no way I could play these tracks in a club, I’d be ejected from the premises immediately. It’s chaotic, lacks any sense and packed with caffeine — my mental health on an off day ha!
The pandemic has taken you on quite a journey- quite literally- from London, back to Dublin, and now to Athens. Can you pick a track that sums up each city for you (and why)?
Deadmau5 ft. Kaskade - I Remember
I will always love this tune and while I should probably list a UK techno, breakbeat or even dubstep track/artist that is strongly affiliated with UK dance music or London club culture, this track sums up my six years in the capital. A resounding memory; emotional, up, down, happy, sad — like the track itself! 🌚
Tin Tin Out - Strings for Yasmin
I heard this in Saoirse’s Boiler Room from February 2020, little did anyone know what was around the corner…anyway, I can tell you that I rinsed this set multiple times on LOUD during the longest days of Lockdown 0.1 in Ireland. My poor parents! Saoirse ended the set on this track; it’s a stunner.
Human Imagination - Do You Love Me?
From Cait’s B2B set 2 FA 2 FURIOUS, it’s the last tune.
When I was doing the Quarantune book orders, I must have listened to this mix maybe…15 times? When I like a mix, it’s on repeat for three or four days and then never listened to again. The mix is sublime and gave me a kick up the arse, and this track is a nice bopper. It reminds me of packing those orders, delighted with myself, followed by one or two meltdowns with the Hellenic Postal Service.
As a DJ you’ve played Fabric, Tresor and of course the legendary Jaded afters at Corsica Studios. Considering your style is certainly more of the latter end of the night’s offerings, what are your hopes for our slow return to nightlife?
I definitely have hopes for change! I will keep try keep it concise here:
I would hope for clubbing environments to be a safe and un-intimidating place — this goes for big clubs and small spaces. That’s asking a lot when I think about it but it’s one of my hopes.
If line-ups are more balanced in terms of race and gender, this can often reflect in the crowd attending the party and that can change the environment/vibe of an event for the better, as well as highlighting a diverse range of talent instead of the same faces that people have already seen play tenfold. So when I’m booking events or working with promoters again, this is how I’ll be going about it.
Because when I started out in bookings in 2017, things were different. I thought the all-white-male line-ups were the norm and how it was always going to be. I never gave it much thought, just accepted it. But I’ve learnt a lot since then by working with various people and going to events as a punter. If you’re in the position of booking artists, it’s up to you to make a change and open your ear if you want to make nightlife a more inclusive place.
The ugly side of the music industry has been revealed over the last 12 months and I think promoters and bookers are more aware of these problems, from overlooking artists to booking DJs who are known sexual abusers. I feel hope in the regard that bookers etc. won’t be following that backward route in a post-Covid time.
I also hope to find a way to run events in an eco-friendly manner (the amount of rubbish one party can accumulate!), I think this is essential to be honest.
On the fickle side of nightlife — less inflated fees and egos would be welcome. And lastly…why do artists need drinks riders? My friend Jen is an ICU nurse; sadly no one is giving her a bottle of £150 champagne after her 13-hour shift. Can we remove the concept of a drinks rider, it’s nice to be hospitable but they’re unnecessary and a potential fuel to emotions (see below).
You’re also the former booker for north London nightclub Egg! Can you please tell us one insane story (no names mentioned please) from that time. Everyone needs some juicy goss, it’s been too long without green room gossip for a lot of us.
Nothing TOO insane happened, not on the nights I worked anyway. No one missed their flight, slept in for their set, drank waaaaaay too much or appeared off their face at any point. Or did they…?
BUT there was one superstar DJ who was going 90 with the Dom Pérignon (as per rider) which seemed to heighten emotions that night. He wasn’t happy with the sound and went on a full-blown rant about how terrible it was while repeating "I AM THE HEADLINER" and telling me I "shouldn’t be working in music in the first place" and other unwarranted remarks. That was insane because he was making all sorts of presumptions about me, the club and the tech team while hoofing back champagne like there was no tomorrow, so it was hard for me to take this person seriously considering his ‘status’.
There were other moments at 7am when the DJ who played the warm-up set that night would not get out of the green room and go home. But most of the DJs I encountered were on the ball as they usually had to play somewhere the next night or go straight to the airport after; there was no time for being on the sesh! So insane things were less likely to happen.
Except for that one superstar DJ.
As the brains behind the lovely Quarantune blog, now book, we’d like to turn the tables on you and ask you your own question and pick a photo that sums up a dancefloor moment for you and why.
While this photo doesn’t capture the energy of Tresor, Berlin, I remember that energy in my mind. I like to go for a bop around clubs — in this case Tresor — and take a few sneaky pictures on my phone for my own memories, this being one of them. Usually, people don’t feature in these photos (against the rules in Berlin clubs anyway), but I like to take photos of random objects, like this sign. It looks cool all lit up in its own cage! I’m drawn to things that light up lol.
If I take one photo from a party — it could be the ground, the booth or a pile of rubbish outside or something, that’s enough for me to keep as a memory so if I ever look back, I see that image and remember everything else about the party and in this case, a whole trip to Berlin. The friends living there, the unreal food, the cosy apartment we stayed in, the tunes, the supermarkets (love a foreign supermarket) and roaming around in the cold. All of this triggered from a sign for the exit. Beautiful.
Now in your role as a freelance journalist you’ve been doing stellar work highlighting up and coming artists (and a lot from Ireland) for a variety of publications. Who are your ones to watch from home for 2021?
There are loads, I have some anxiety now trying to name just a handful ahah. But here is a lucky dip:
Ceili — fun techno
Ôneyra — haunting but also ravey techno
EMA — dub wub breaks
Cáit — eurphoric loveliness
Maurice Anthony Moran — outer space electro
Josh Reid — schranzzzzz and techno too
Ngoni Egan — phat electro
and loads more omg.
Seems silly to indulge this mid lockdown buuuut, if you were throwing a dream party, where would it be, who’d be on the lineup, and what’s on your rider?
As I am a daydreamer, I’ve already thought this through on more than one occasion.
We’re going to the mystical hills here in Athens. Let’s make it a three-day affair, a festival if you will. Plenty of sunshine, dust and one-eyed cats (have seen a lot of these beauts up around the hills).
Definitely the heads I mentioned above from home and every artist I’ve featured on Quarantune! Can you imagine? At least 150 DJs, each bringing something different — electro, techno, jungle, house, breaks everything. I feel my legs going jelly just thinking about it. Let’s throw in a decent psytrance area too, v important.
I’d bring a stack of SNACKS. Salty snaxxxx. Everyone supplies their own rider because that’s the new rule.
Follow Niamh on the following socials
And read Qurantune.
Photography by: Aisling O'Connor