The London-based music agency from DJs Giles Smith and James Priestley celebrates ten years of day-time partying
It’s a well told tale that Giles Smith and James Priestley introduced Sunday daytime clubbing to London. But, not only that, they have continued to define it in the ensuing ten years. Switching up venues, tweaking the music policy and - when they feel necessary - scaling the whole thing back to stay true to the original vibe, Secretsundaze now also incorporates a devilishly deep label and similarly tasteful booking agency where you’ll find the likes of past guests Delano Smith, Chez Damier, Brawther, San Soda and more.
Now celebrating the whole shebang with a genuinely excellent double CD mix compilation which delightfully anthologises the sort of deep house, disco and tech vibes you’d find at any of their parties, there are also various Secretsundaze parties taking place around the globe in coming months, a huge tenth birthday on August Bank Holiday with Moodymann as well as a party at south London's Bussey Warehouse with Joy Orbison and Patrice Scott.
Dazed Digital: After a decade in the game, what are your key ingredients for a good party?
Giles Smith: Ahh, I mean this is no great science. The usual things… great music, great venue, great sound system and production and never forgetting the vital one... great people. Although I think it’s most important to ask yourself “Are you are still enjoying it?" I mean, anyone that can see me at secretsundaze knows I enjoy it and this can only be infectious.
DD: How hard was it to stay true to your original ideals and scale back your parties when they came too large? What’s the importance of doing that?
James Priestley: We just felt it had to be done really - we weren't feeling it as much, like not as connected to the crowd etc and enjoying it in the way we had. So after the summer of 2009 we took a hard long look at ourselves and, whilst happy in many ways as to where the party had got to, we realised in order to keep it going - in many ways for our own self-enjoyment - we had to make some pretty drastic changes to what and how we were running things. This included really scaling back our promotion, not using platforms like Resident Advisor or any social networks, and often not announcing guests etc. Looking back, I feel it was quite a bold move at the time, but one that's certainly paid off.
DD: Will the focus move away from the parties and more to the label and agency now do you think? What’s the thinking behind that if so?
Giles Smith: I don't see it as moving away from parties at all. I still see the parties as the most integral thing and where we came from and where I want to stay. It’s the grass roots. But of course we have a new broader vision now with the label and agency. To be honest as clichéd as it may sound it’s a totally natural progression and as usual the driving factor is pushing music we love and highlighting the good stuff. I mean, with the party we have always pushed underground talent, and we are doing so with the agency and will do so with the label.
DD: What are your favourite Secretsundaze memories?
James Priestley: Over the ten years I obviously have so many fond memories, forming so many friendships along the way, some of the early days have a special place in my heart, the parties at 93 Feet East, the poet especially and the first roof party we did in Bacon Street in 2003 - was such a 'friends and family' crowd, the feeling of especially playing at those parties. Playing to capacity 5000 people at the Shoreditch Carnival in 2004 - that was certainly off the hook, so many amazing parties we've been privileged to be involved in all around the world really.
And there they've been the funny random things that have happened along the way - like when we once knew the owner of the poet was away in Ireland and not up for having us do any more parties because he was getting so much grief from his neighbours. Well we basically persuaded the son of the freeholder of the site to get us the keys to the garden so we broke in and threw the party anyway. Peter from the poet ended up flying back from Ireland to catch us pretty much in full swing. Well, at the end of the party, the three of us just scattered in every direction hiding from him - felt like teenagers again, it was hilarious! Despite a couple of generations gap, he's quite a dude really, certainly a risk-taker so soon saw the funny side himself.
DD: Musically, what have been the biggest evolutions for you over the last ten years? Have there been big shifts or has it been a more natural progression? What’s driven that?
Giles Smith: Anyone that knows James and I as DJs, secretsundaze as a party and indeed if you listen to the new compilation it's evident that we are not so caught up in what's new. We play a healthy proportion of older records be it from five years ago to 15 years old. I can actually tell you a healthy amount of records in my bag now that I played in the very first secretsundaze party. We've gone through different phases but the main thing is being true to yourself and going with your instincts.
Don't get me wrong, I love new music and walking home with a bag of new tunes is still the biggest buzz - I have to say though I am very excited about a lot of the post-dubstep/future garage and do love the likes of Joy Orbison, George Fitzgerald, Scuba, Addison Groove and the Hessle Audio crew as a lot of this has a great groove and plenty of soul but with a fresh UK twist.
DD: What else you looking forward to?
James Priestley: Seeing the next stage of the development of my venue The CAMP unfold, the downfall of the Murdoch empire and the fixing up of corrupt politicians, police and the media in this country plus a two week proper holiday in Pantelleria, Italy in ten days time, woop!
Ezel-In My Lifetime (Yoruba Soul mix) (Ocha)
G.Marcel-Groove With Me (Aesthetic Audio)
Takeshi Kouzuki (Abstract Acid)
Dexter-Space Booty (Clone Crown)
Mr G-Daily Prayer (Phenix G)
DJ Blend-DJ Blend (FXHE)
Unknown (Black label)