AVA 2016: Reasons to get excited

Posted on: May 1st, 2016

BY PHIL LUCAS

It is extremely difficult to sum up the importance of AVA to the local dance music scene in Northern Ireland after just one year of the event. That in itself is a huge compliment to everyone involved in the festival, in the preparation and success of the first event, also in what has been lined up for year two. Here we take a closer look at what has been announced and also what makes this event special, how it has already become something vitally important for those passionate about house and techno in Belfast. Here are some reasons to get excited about AVA in 2016 according to  Twitch:

 

BICEP live:

Every time Bicep play in belfast there is a huge buzz and and when they play their own tracks the belfast crowds go crazy, with this in mind it’s not hard to imagine how BICEP performing a full set of live tracks will go down, we can’t wait to see it!

Matt and Andy always create a special atmosphere when they play anywhere and their wealth of re-edits, tracks and remixes now make up a large part of their sets, here they will be debuting their new live show with many of these productions, it’s also no secret that they are currently working on their debut album so we may get a few sneak previews of that!

 

Rodhad:

For this year’s event AVA have pulled off a massive coup with a Belfast Debut for the excellent Rodhad.

After a tug of war between multiple Belfast promoters, ourselves included, AVA snagged Rodhad to headline the festival, we aren’t jealous (we are a bit), but we still get to see Rodhad and in a huge venue! This will be an absolute treat!

 

Gerd Janson & Mano Le Tough:

Two top drawer DJ’s that have been on our Twitch wishlist! Both Mano and Gerd are DJ’s at the top of their game but most importantly doing their own thing, in their own style!

Gerd Janson can turn his hand to any number of styles and is an excellent selector of records! He blends these styles flawlessly and is a dj that always seems to be thinking two or three records ahead giving his sets a flow and purpose that many DJ’s struggle to achieve! Great booking!

Mano last played Belfast at the Red Bull Music Academy event when Scream pulled out at the last minute and he was drafted in as a replacement. I found this out the next day and was devastated, he’s a DJ I’ve wanted to either see or bring to Belfast for a long time and I was gutted to have missed him. AVA is affording me the chance to finally see him. His sets are always interesting as he is always willing to take risks and play the weirder and more abstract reaches of house music!

 

Belfast since last ava:

In the year since AVA, Twitch has had a feverous atmosphere and we’ve been able to take some serious risks with interesting bookings, Shine has pretty much sold out every event since AVA, the Night Institute is now an established weekly (which is no mean feat), Thompsons is packed full of people dancing every Friday and Saturday night, the dance music scene in Belfast is healthy and that is in no small amount down to hard work from local promoters and event organisers but has been given a huge boost by the buzz created by AVA.

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As a collective of all these events and efforts, Belfast is a place where artists and DJ’s want to play and experience. We’ve seen Steffi, Ben UFO and loads more say on social media that Belfast crowds are among the best in the world, keep doing what you do and the word will only spread and this will continue to grow.

 

The Boiler Room:

One of the biggest points of discussion last year’s festival was Space Dimension Controller playing a classic trance track on the Boiler Room, while this made for a great discussion it was evident of the open music policy at the festival and that with the Belfast crowd and their support he knew it would go down well, watch the video below, there were few complaints and what a reaction!

A carefully and respectfully selected set by Timmy Stewart and an excellent set by BICEP were other highlights as well as an appearance by former Twitch guest John Daley and Schmutz with a well received set including lots of yeows! What I felt was most important was that The Boiler Room actually came to Belfast and showcased to the world that we have some of the most energetic and receptive crowds in the world!

This years Belfast Boiler Room sees a Boiler Room debut for local legend Phil Kieran, the always excellent Optimo as well as 2 very exciting up and coming artists in Brame & Hammo and Hubie Davison. Brame & Hammo were originally Sligo, Ireland-based, now residing in Berlin and they make great deep house music. Hubie Davison is responsible for the excellent Sanctified championed by Twitch- favourite Midland and released through his Re-Graded label.

Rounding off the lineup is the excellent Belfast export Hammer, who is a regular collaborator with Bicep and a top selector as well as a technically excellent DJ holding down a Sub Club residency, and a well deserved BR appearance for Swoose & Cromby, who I discuss further down!

 

Twitch:

We are grateful to have been asked to play again at this year’s edition of AVA, to be involved in such an interesting festival that is growing and developing, and to be part of such an amazing lineup.

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Expect our usual mix of house and techno wherever and whenever we end up playing at AVA, our only hope is that we don’t clash with anything we want to see!

 

Terriers:

Terriers are a two-piece who originally hail from Dublin who make gritty, hazy, heavily filtered house and techno. They were afforded the opportunity by Twitch favourite Levon Vincent to spend time in the studio with him developing their sound.

Every release they have put out so far has been really interesting and exactly the sort of sound I’m into, I can’t wait to catch them playing as part of the AVA lineup. This is another thing I love about this festival, it isn’t just about big names, they have carefully selected acts like Terriers who are making great music and introduce them to those who don’t already know them!

 

Record Fair:

Even with Belfast Underground now established in Belfast and Dragon providing the odd gem, sick stocking more dance and Head also having a fairly healthy vinyl selection in it’s dance section belfast’s record buying options are still limited, so this is a rare chance to have a hoke through some 2nd hand records.

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Last year I picked up some forgotten gems from Marion’s stall and a few absolute classics from Keith, this is another aspect of the festival that will hopefully expand and gives AVA further appeal to local collectors!

 

Jika Jika:

I’m really glad to see Jika Jika on the lineup this year, people in Northern Ireland can be very Belfast-centric and forget that some of the best parties in N.I. are being thrown up the road in Derry.

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As much as it’s great to see Belfast-based Misfit, Belfast Music Club and other local additions on the lineup this year i’m glad that the Jika crew will be representing Derry at AVA. Derry is miles ahead of Belfast in terms of licensing with use of the bunker being authorised for parties over the last year, we were lucky enough to be asked to play at the first one with Midland and Marcel Dettmann and that place is an experience everybody should make the trip up to check out, their lineups have been excellent! The Jika crew are also lining up more exciting ventures further north!

 

Shanti Celeste:

Shanti played for us back in January and then we had an impromptu back to back session with her in the garden room at The Opium Rooms, Dublin where we now hold a monthly residency.

She is an excellent selector and a hugely talented producer, we can’t wait to see her again at AVA! Shanti will be taking part in a ‘Women in Electronic Music’ talk during the day as well, this is a huge thing in the music industry at the minute, something I’ve discussed with her at length about and she is living in and working on the topic, so it should not be missed.

 

Local acts:

Another year and more great local acts added to the lineup, JC Williams, Misfit, Jordan, the excellent Swoose & Cromby, OR:LA and loads more alongside many of the acts that appeared last year.

Swoose & Cromby have had a huge year with numerous London residencies and high profile gigs as well as a well deserved Panorama Bar gig towards the end of last year.

JC Williams is another local artist who has managed to do what every producer strives for, create his own sound, tight snappy classic drum machine style percussion and some of the filthiest acid about, John’s live show will be a showcase of this acid squelch!

Also watch out for Misfit mixing things up with their new live setup, these guys run the best Friday nights in Belfast with a great varied selection of guests making regular appearances, from Tiga to Carl Craig and Nina Kraviz to Henrik Schwarz, their importance to Belfast’s club scene can not be overlooked!

Belfast Music Club have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things disco, house and beyond and bring some of the most interesting and carefully selected guests to Belfast, Young Marco, Bradley Zero, Ruf Dug, Marcel Vogel and so many more, they do their own thing and we love what they do!

Jordan is making waves in Belfast and much further beyond, he runs The Night Institute alongside Timmy Stewart as well as having a big year production-wise over the last 12 months, starting his own label as well as having a couple of tracks signed to the excellent Classic Recordings imprint!

There’s loads more local acts and Irish exports worth checking out too, Extended Play label bosses JMX and T-Bone (Timmy’s Boiler Room set from last year was a personal highlight! Local BICEP collaborator Hammer and local techno heavyweights Psycatron return for this year’s event and also OR:LA, who is a Meine Nacht resident across the water and Schmutz!

One very welcome addition to the AVA lineup this year is a DJ who is in my own personal opinion, the best techno DJ in Ireland, former Twitch guest Sunil Sharpe.

 

Optimo:

Im so glad to see Wilkes and JD Twitch on the lineup again this year, 2 of the best in the game and they will be appearing on the Boiler Room.

I used to go see these guys in Edinburgh and Glasgow regularly where their events were the stuff of legend. They take musical risks which is something we see all too sparingly in dance music, they play curveballs but the difference between them doing it and most others is that it always seems to fit and work with what they are playing. They are also Boiler Room regulars but we get the feeling the addition of the Belfast crowd to this appearance may make it that bit more special.

 

Juan Atkins:

This blew my mind when I saw it, easily one of the greatest dance music producers in history talking about production. It was actually last year at AVA that I picked up a copy of this Juan Atkins classic from Keith’s record stall at the festival:

Juan is responsible for some of the most forward thinking dance music in history, Model 500 tracks still sound like music from the future 30 years after they were released. From Model 500 to Infiniti, Cybotron to Audiotech Juan is a man of many pseudonyms and all while running his classic Metroplex label which laid the blueprint for all Detroit Techno. Juan is dance music royalty and you can catch him talking during the FREE daytime event! This is a special, special coup for AVA.

This is just a small part of the free daytime activities at AVA, anyone with even a fleeting interest in dance music should come along and check out. From record fairs to production workshops, there is something for everyone.

 

Ableton:

Again this year AVA in collaboration with Generator NI will be partnering with Ableton to provide push workshops as part of their free daytime schedule. Ableton is the dance music production platform that is used most in modern electronic music and AVA are again providing Ableton Push 2 workshops.

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They will have representatives from Ableton there on the day and these workshops are suitable for the novice looking to get into music production or the experienced user looking to pick up new tips and tricks.

 

Sarah & her team:

One of the most important factors in AVA is that it is run from the top down by people that are passionate about the music and acts that perform at it. AVA is the brainchild of Sarah McBriar, and she has surrounded herself with driven, enthusiastic people in order to grow the festival, none more so than Michaela who also helped organise the event and was great to deal with from an artist point of view last year.

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AVA is a really brave venture, it’s credible from a music point of view and well thought through, from the food options to the determination to have a huge schedule of FREE seminars and classes during the day and talks from not just any acts but artists like Juan Atkins, one of the original creators of modern dance music, Shanti Celeste who is easily one of the most exciting and influential female artists in house music right now, and the daytime events are FREE! The daytime events are all in collaboration with Ross and Mark from Generator NI and there is nothing else close to this that happens in Belfast and we’re lucky someone has taken the risk to make it happen!

 

The setting:

Its easy to forget just how lucky we are in belfast with our sprawling industrial docks which make up the setting for AVA.

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The famous Samson and Goliath cranes and a massive oil rig in the background of last year’s Boiler Room were a highlight for me in terms of the setting, but the warehouse-style setting of the main room in T13, a specially converted skate park that is re-jigged to house large scale events, it is a perfect setting for AVA. It’s amazing that we are able to party amongst the industrial history of Belfast.

Adding to the incredible location will be the excellent Guerrilla Shout providing their incredible visual art and graphics, they’ve had a huge first year!

 

A Sunday Session:

We’ll be releasing details closer to the time but we are teaming up with AVA for our first Sunday Session of the year at The Hudson Bar with a selection of local DJ’s on rotation, food and the Hudson’s great beer selection! Make sure to book off the Monday!

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Twitch will also be teaming up with The Night Institute and Jika Jika for a party after AVA is finished at Aether & Echo!

 

Belfast crowds:

What can we say, every dj we bring over is blown away by the energy and enthusiasm of the crowds in Belfast. It really is like no other place.

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To quote Ben UFO about Belfast, “There’s a reason Twitch has become such a huge favourite of pretty much every DJ that plays for them. It’s not that the place has particularly exceptional sound (although it’s definitely pretty good!), it’s not because there’s some fancy custom DJ booth or flash backstage, and it’s certainly not down to the room itself which is a students’ union bar – it’s because the crowd are consistently incredible and they dance super hard.” This is Belfast summed up.

 

It’s something different for belfast:

AVA has changed the landscape of dance music in belfast and provided something new, something exciting. It isn’t just about another rave in the city, it’s a part of a bigger movement away from the monster that was EDM, a movement away from contrived music events that for long periods was the standard Belfast night out.

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AVA is pushing credible and interesting music and acts, it is run by people who care about the music they put on and that comes through in the bookings, the daytime events, the attention to detail that everything is carried out with.

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It would be so much easier for them to book some big name, past their best acts to shift tickets but that isn’t what AVA is about, it’s a showcase of interesting music, it gives people background about the dance music scene, about how the music is made. It has brought The Boiler Room to Belfast, it has introduced a lot of young people to new music and massively helped Belfast’s club scene. This feels like the 2nd edition of many more AVA’s to come!