In just under 4 weeks it’s the fourth edition of Belfast’s biggest party, the first of its kind for Northern Ireland, With visual arts, films and the industry acclaimed conferences through to live performances and mega DJ Sets, it’s all out fun from the word go. Ahead of AVA Festival and Conference this June 1-2 in Belfast, we shine a light on 6 collectives making a mega impact on the music scene in Northern Ireland and beyond. A spirited city with creativity, warmth and fun pulsing through its veins, Northern Ireland’s electronic music scene is putting the little green isle firmly on the map. Here are some top moments from the people behind Derry-based promoters Jika Jika!, techno collective Meat Free, free parties Inside Moves, legendary event hosts Twitch, local showcases The Night Institute, and DSNT records.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? DSNT: VISUALLY INTENSE BANGING TECHNO
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? DSNT: Late night crusty rave AnD B2B Sunil Sharpe, we had to stop the music for 10 mins as the cops showed up… When we turned it back on the lads opened with EDMX Cerebrus and the place went mental. Flat out banging gabba kick drum
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? DSNT: Our most recent lumen party (DSNT 6th birthday) with Paula Temple as super special – Banging sets from everyone on the lineup, we brought out a vegan birthday cake for our shared birthday.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Lumen – DSNT 6th birthday – above mentioned cake image
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Inspired by classic house, soul, disco, Balearic and afro rhythms – Inside Moves bring a party designed to make you dance.
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Inside Moves: We threw the first ever party in S13 Warehouse last summer as part of the Dimensions International Series with Kornel Kovacs. We used the back on of an old loading bay for the main stage, and our green room was in the back of a lorry… It was our biggest party yet and definitely one to remember. A special mention also goes to our first party we put on – on the SS Nomadic – the boat that brought 1st class passengers onto the Titanic.
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Inside Moves: We booked Maurice Fulton for our 1st Birthday in an old music hall a few years back. His set was amazing, and it was definitely an interesting experience working with him!
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Inside Moves: Too many to choose from… but here is one from the party in S13 – we kept the production quite raw and really tried to showcase how special the venue was.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Twitch: Twitch is a stripped back party with a focus on the music, we like a dark room with minimal lighting, we try to bring the best house and techno DJs to Belfast and we have always booked the DJ’s we love and want to see play, it’s not a business, it’s some guys that love dance music putting on fun parties.
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Twitch: Paul Woolford played for us in the smaller room and it has a really low ceiling, so many people were punching the roof that they made loads of holes in it, when the lights came up everyone was covered in plaster dust and it looked a bit like a zombie apocalypse. Shortly after that gig, they reinforced the roof with wood instead.
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Twitch: My favourite Twitch would have to be our 10th Birthday a couple of years ago because it had most of our favourite DJ’s playing, we went big and had 10 guests for 10 years and had Steffi, Virginia, Paul Woolford, Joy Orbison, Pangaea, Kowton, Soundstream, Job Jobse, Antal, Timmy Stewart and ourselves all djing! It was stressful but was a dream come true to put that on.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Twitch: We have loads of classic photos to choose from, I always go for the photos that give an idea of the energy and atmosphere at Twitch. To be completely honest I’m not sure which night this was from, but ask anyone, it could be any of our events. This captures one of those moments of light and release in a dark, small room during a dark and heavy night, it captures what we’re all about.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Meat Free: Really, really good music being played on a really, really welcoming dancefloor.
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Meat Free: One of our best moments was probably one of the first nights we did, the very first was a co-pro and an absolute flop but the next one we did we did it our own way and people actually came. We couldn’t believe we’d created that.
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Meat Free: It’s really difficult to single out one night because across the last 5 or so years it’s been such a rollercoaster… however, one of our most recent nights, with Ancient Methods and Sarin felt really special. It was at one of our favourite venues, a grimy old garage in Salford and the crowd were amazing. We had heavy metallers moshing beside trans-people vogueing and the atmosphere felt incredible. It was like everything we’d worked hard to create and foster finally all came together in perfect harmony.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Meat Free: These pics are from a day event we did together with High Hoops, another local promoter. It was called One Love and it was in the wake of, and to raise money for, the Manchester terror attack – all the DJs played for free… Legowelt, October, Space Dimension Controller, Stephanie Sykes, Jon K and John Heckle. Despite extremely low spirits in the city everyone came together on a beautiful sunny Sunday and celebrated life and each other.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Timmy Stewart (TNI): Belfast’s trusted Saturday night weekly, based around a great music policy and it’s two resident DJs with very occasional guests. (I feel brave enough to say this now, as we approach 3 years of being weekly this July). :)
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Timmy Stewart (TNI): Mike Dunn doing the Phreaky MF vocals live through his headphones plugged into the mic jack on the mixer to a loop of his track, the whole front row sang the XXX-rated lyrics back to him verbatim. Best moment was the re-launch night in the new space, as it felt like we’d finally found the best fit for what we do.
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Timmy Stewart (TNI): There have been a few real pinch yourself moments but I loved being able to host Octave One’s live show, as I’d bought their records for so many years, that was definitely a full circle moment. Kornel Kovac’s style of djing was great, joining the dots between house, techno, disco and er R&B. Great energy, mixing and programming throughout his entire set for us.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Timmy Stewart (TNI): I love this pic of our new base in full swing! We were pretty instrumental in the interior of the refurb of the club, so it all coming together in this image helps reassure that something on this scale with this feel had been missing from Belfast nightlife.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Jordan (TNI): A coming together of oddballs and misfits – good music and good people
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Jordan (TNI): There’s definitely been a lot of funny moments that aren’t quite PG13 but DJ Haus stage diving was definitely an unexpectedly funny moment. I’m not quite sure it’s something he’s known for and it was caught on camera and used for promo of his next Rinse show. Another highlight was watching one of our first Culture Night parties from Berlin via live stream whilst Timmy held the fort in Belfast. (He still hasn’t let me live it down!)
I think there were 700 people in the car-park and we were only allowed 400… We’ve been on our best behaviour since mind you.
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Jordan (TNI): Kicking off with a street party where Harvey Sutherland jammed for an hour street on the Juno before Mike Dunn took over in the club was certainly a highlight. Mike turned his headphones into a mic to finish the night with a rendition of Phreaky MF was a definite highlight. There were a few girls right up at the front absolutely loving it and knowing every word.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Jordan (TNI): These before and after shots of our launch party of our new venue, The Art Department make me smile. We had a short window to make the place really special and the owner was keen to work with us. We consulted on making changes to the sound and light alongside industrial fans and cages. It feels cosy and illicit in equal measures.
KALTBLUT: One sentence to sum up your night? Jika Jika!: A gathering of like-minded people with a passion for enjoying themselves and listening various styles of house to techno.
KALTBLUT: Funniest/best moment? Jika Jika!: Funniest and the best moment for me was when we brought Cocoon to Derry to play to 4000 people. Pulling off such a great event really gave us a massive buzz to continue expanding our parties further. My parents both came to the party and my mother decided she wanted a dance with Sven while he was mixing on vinyl, so off she goes and interrupts him for a chinwag and a dance. He took it very well haha
KALTBLUT: Favourite night/DJ you have booked? Jika Jika!: We’ve had loads of amazing gigs over the years but the one that sticks out for me personally is Danny Tenaglia at the Bunker. To bring an idol of mines to the city to a full house in an underground car park was surreal.
KALTBLUT: Fave pic from your events – and what night it was? Jika Jika!: I’ve added two… One from Jika Jika at the Bunker with Danny Tenaglia and the other from our Cocoon party with Sven Vath.
Final tier weekend tickets for AVA Festival are £75, and with flights still available from most major UK cities for less than £40, it’s the last chance to get down with the Belfast craic without breaking the bank! More info: avafestival.com