This year, Soul Buggin’ celebrates 15 years of acting as the city’s beating heart for soulful electronic sounds. Oliver Payne caught up with the crew to find out what’s kept the party going until now and why their show with New York’s DJ Spinna will mark a milestone in Nottingham’s late-night heritage.
In 2004, residents Wrighty, Beane, Mark A and Elmo set up the brand to deliver grooves to certified fans of funk. Since then they’ve carved a name for themselves with a string of solid bookings, including Andrew Weatherall, Jazzanova, Recloose, Chris Duckenfield, Alexander Nut, Bill Brewster and more. They’ve also built a real fan-base of genuine down-right dancers who will no doubt be out in their droves getting ‘loose as a goose’ as the night celebrates its birthday in Trade’s boogie basement. Here’s what they had to say ahead of the show:
Take me back to when you began Soul Buggin'. Who came up with the idea? Was there a need for a party in Nottingham at the time?
It’s origins come from Beane running a weekly party at a place called Bar Humbug and us getting together through music forums and playing together at different venues, guesting at each other’s residencies around the city. Then a friend who ran Moog, who liked the cut of our jib, asked us if we wanted to put on regular parties there, which of course we did, and the rest is history.
It seems crazy there were disco events in that corner of the city. What was the venue like back then? Was that area more buzzing?
The area hasn’t really changed that much to be honest, the takeaways are different but the vibe remains the same. Moog was this amazing little rave pub hidden among back streets and disguised as a local boozer, a real one of a kind and even now there’s nothing else really like it. We had some memorable parties there which still get talked about today, as does the venue.
What big names did you have DJing at first?
The early DJs, as they do now, reflected our eclectic musical backgrounds, as well as our joint love of all things with soul. So we had Red Rack’em, Colin Curtis, Atjazz, Benji B, Simbad, Charles Webster, Domu, Kev Beadle, Phil Asher amongst many more.
Who caused the most carnage during and after the party?
All the DJs have been brilliant, it’s way too hard to pick just one out of them all. I'm definitely not going into after-party antics, what happens at Buggin’ stays at Buggin.’
Who’s the best DJ out of you?
Undoubtedly Raul – he’s a legend.
How have you maintained such a solid crowd for 15 years?
Slowly and organically through word of mouth and through the strength of our parties. We do this for the love and not for financial gain, cos we’ve had none, so we hope and feel that our crowd understand this and replicate.
What's changed in the Nottingham rave scene over 15 years?
A fair few things if we are being honest. Venues are definitely a big one. Obviously we have new ones popping up but more have closed down and at the moment a lot of promoters are scrambling around for the same few. In a way, it's causing some to look further afield or at new and unusual venues, but these come with their own headaches and problems. It just means we now have to tailor the size of our parties to the venues we can get as we refuse to compromise on quality.
Is there as much of a scene now as there was back when you first started?
Two or three years ago I'd have said no, but there are some new and interesting promoters keeping the scene going and adding some freshness to it too. It's always cyclical but it's good to see so many new and younger crews embracing the love of a good and interesting party to run alongside some of the more established promoters such as Mimm and Wigflex.
Is it cool the likes of Wigflex making sure you're involved in the City Fest, respecting the brand?
Yeah it was great to be involved in that, Lukas and Avarni are really clued up on what’s happening in Nottingham and involved in loads of local parties. We had a lot of fun and hopefully, the festival will be a regular fixture in the city's calendar, it deserves to be.
How are you going to mark the 15 year anniversary in style?
We decided to celebrate in gargantuan fashion by inviting over from New York the legend that is DJ Spinna. It’s taken a lot of hard work behind the scenes but we know that it will all be worth it to get a DJ of this calibre to Nottingham for the very first time. And of course we will be getting as loose as a goose.
Finally, are you all excited for a big celebration?
Like you wouldn’t believe. 15 years is a long time in clubbing, things change a lot, so to reach this milestone means a lot so we’re gonna’ go for it.
Soul Buggin' 15th Birthday with DJ Spinna (NYC) takes place at Trade on Friday 18 October.