For the second installment of our The People Behind the Scene feature we speak to DJ, Promoter and the brains behind WARM UP Aidan Doherty. Read on…
Tell us about your typical day?
Well, since the beginning of 2016 my day now starts with a cold glass of water with lemon juice and a green tea, then I have some eggs and porridge. I mention this because most of last year I would wake up feeling anxious and miserable and maybe eat some chocolate gateau or the remains of last nights take away (LOL). 2016 had to be a fresh start for me physically and mentally. Last year kind of killed me.
Anyway after my healthy breakfast I’m straight to the Mac to follow on from where I left off the night before – that’s usually music hunting. I always have at least 15 tabs open with pages from sites like Bandcamp, Beatport and Soundcloud. I never stop thinking about music and where I can find the best new and exciting stuff that no one else has discovered. Since January I have actually spent over £600 on music – no joke! Next up I hit the gym, and of course have all the new music I have picked up in the recent week blasting through my headphones. It takes me a long time to feel that I know the tracks well and I need to feel confidence in them before playing them out.
Gym done now it’s time to hit the emails; there are always many conversations on the go about future bookings and projects etc. To be honest I do hate all the admin side of things and I’m not the best at it; maybe one day I will have a PA who will do it for me ha!
Most days I try to listen to new mixes from DJs I may have my eye on. I spend a lot time on the hunt for new talents to join the Warm Up community, however I’m very fussy about who plays for us and need to feel 100% comfortable that they understand the music policy, so getting to that point takes time – time watching and listening before approaching them.
A lot of my days are also spent driving around London on the hunt for new locations for our WUITW parties. This takes up a lot of time, but it needs to be done if I want to find the perfect spot. I’m very happy with the locations we have used so far but trust me they don’t come easily.
Finally I like to spend a bit of time every day on the decks, going through tracks, mixing and trying out new things with the tracks and getting a feel for the music I have at the time. It works out well in our flat with the music thing because I have a curfew of 6pm to stop. All the house mates work 9-5 so I have all day to play.
How did you get your job ?
Well, I kind of have two jobs now – DJ & event organiser. The DJ job, over that past 12 months, has become more serious purely down to hard work. If you want to stand out and get more work and play more gigs you have to prove you are good and show people that you are 100% committed to it.
For example, making regular mixes and uploading sets. This is a core part of the job of being a DJ if you ask me. You need to show people you care about music, demonstrate that you are up to date with current releases and putting mixes together is a great way to do that. DJs who don’t do this and moan about not playing out really make me laugh; you don’t get given anything on a plate in this world.
Some of the mixes I put together took me weeks and weeks of stressful hard work, sometimes it would make my life miserable grinding and grinding over a mix so that it’s perfect, but I know you have to do all this if you want to be successful. Also when you do get that gig, you need to nail it! I think over the past year I’ve played some pretty special sets that have really helped push things forward in a big way.
My job as an event organiser happened purely because I wanted somewhere to play my music. I had been a “bedroom” DJ for a while and really wanted to play out. I had made a couple of mixes that I was happy with and really wanted to play the music out (only really my mates at this stage though). I knew there were not really any other nights out there in London representing solely melodic techno so I thought I would make my own party. I was a bouncer on a little bar in the west end called Match bar, I had basically blagged the manager to let me do a party there. The place closed at 11 so my idea was to call the party Warm Up in the fact that it was a warm up party for the late night party. We did the first event on the same night James Holden played at Corsica for his album launch nearly three years ago – 30 people came and it was bloody great and we then went on to see James play.
After that night I thought fuck it let’s see where this goes. I then spent one year doing very small parties with just me and some mates playing. They seemed to be really well received. Then just under two years ago I decided to make an actual booking, that was essentially the beginning of Warm Up being a more serious job for me. So it all happened very naturally and I think that’s why we have such a great community of followers.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having total freedom; no boss to answer to and the ability to make all my own decisions. This gives me so much scope to really tap into the creative workings of my mind. I have always been self-employed and could never have it any other way. It make me incredibly happy seeing all the lovely people dancing and enjoying what we do at Warm Up. That really does make me so happy.
And the worst…?
The worst part is the not knowing when you’re going to get paid. These events are becoming harder and harder to actually turn a profit at. It’s kind of depressing really considering all the hard work and money that goes in. On the outside from a customer’s perspective it all looks lovely wonderful and fluffy, when In actual fact, behind the scenes promoters are pulling their hair out. But we still put ourselves through it to bring you the finest parties in town, and for what…? It’s simple, it’s for the love of the music. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it. I just wish more people would actually buy their pre-sale tickets on RA 🙂 . It really does help us out!
All of what I’ve said here kind of relates to why I now run my side brand WUITW. I think with the state of the scene at the moment promoters might start looking to do more underground events. Anyway, I will say no more on that subject as it’s a bit naughty 😉
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Well for me, being a massive risk junkie, one of the highlights was pulling off the 2nd of last summer’s forest parties with secret guest Ryan Davis. We hosted 1,000 people in a lovely spot in West London. The event ran from 10pm – 10am and not one single problem occurred. For me this was my finest achievement to date, but I must add I wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing partner Stefan and our team behind us. The atmosphere was just so beautiful, the crowd was lovely and most importantly the music was out of this word, everyone played such stunning sets that night.
Even more of a highlight for me was playing from 4am ’til close as the sun was rising. It was possibly one of the best sets I’ve ever played. The crowd got so involved and it really touched me emotionally. Playing deep romantic techno and electronica at 7am as the sun was shining through the trees of the forest was a truly heart-warming moment in my life that I will cherish and never forget. I felt we had really created something extra special that night, and I look forward to doing it all over again this summer!
Any tips for aspiring promoters?
I think it goes without saying – start small. Don’t think by making big headline bookings straight away that you’re going to be successful. Think small, build your solid following and community then expand. Be patient. Build a great social media community. Share music. Start a podcast series. Make people feel a part of something.
I think a lot of Warm Up’s success is down to the fact that we came from nothing and slowly built a community; it’s a long journey. Don’t compare your journey to others who are at a different stage.
Having passionate reliable resident DJs is very important. They are essentially the back bone of your brand; look after them, support them, share their work. I’m lucky in this situation that I’m the main resident for Warm Up but my two soldiers Jorge Martins and Gus Emmett know exactly what the brand is about and always nail their sets. So yeah, residents! Find good ones and look after them.
I also think try having unique branding is very important, adopt one look and don’t change it too much. Build a memorable visual identity so people remember you.
Lots and lots of networking – build relationships with other promoters. This is curtail! Supporting each other is very important – don’t forget that it’s a two-way relationship.
Try and do your research and find out when other promoters have events on so that you can avoid any clashes. This really dose help A LOT.
Good luck! It’s tough out there. Be prepared to lose money, be brave and TAKE RISKS!