Deep Hedonia Discovered

They’re the new music inspired events, design and promotions agency on everyone’s lips. We scored an exclusive interview with Deep Hedonia…

Following a dry-run sorting out the music side of things for a certain Liverpool-based online arts journal, this week has seen new promotions bods with a twist, Deep Hedonia, launch a website and arrive on the lips of all the right people. With their first show proper – Laurel Halo – looming large, we caught up with the three bright young things behind the name.

We meet Jonathan Davies, Sam Twidale and Thom Isom in FACT Cafe, on a sunny Monday afternoon. The setting is in stark contrast to where we last saw these guys, working the room late into the night with some left-field floor fillers, looking comfortable and happy behind the decks at Camp and Furnace for our launch party. Today it’s (a little) more business-like; they have arrived armed with important things to tell, a manifesto of sorts, and we’re all ears.

With Liverpool already boasting a pretty impressive line-up of promoters, we wondered just what is it that Deep Hed will bring to the table that isn’t there already. “Basically, rather than just putting on shows, we’ll offer different strands consolidated in one package: our own installations, gigs and design creations, as well as offering a service to other clients in making events happen in Liverpool that are a bit different, a bit more creative,” says Davies.

An exciting proposition, certainly, yet there is a sense from the trio that there is an element of experimentation, if not gamble in what they’ve embarked upon, Twidale adding, “We’ll just see how it develops over the next few months.” A sentiment echoed by Isom: “we’ve kicked off with these shows … to put feelers out to see how it goes down.”

But they are hardly coming at this cold. Davies has previous in booking and programming gigs; Twidale plays with the highly tipped Sun Drums, while Isom is already a well respected graphic designer and illustrator.

We suspect there’s some expectation management served with a liberal side of humility going on here. Through the course of our conversation, there’s little suggestion that they haven’t thought everything through. They, and we, know what Liverpool already does well in terms of putting on a certain type of band. “We want to try and put things on that people won’t always think of as being a ‘Liverpool’ show’”, says Isom. Acknowledging that Liverpool has a strong tradition in attracting quality when it comes to the likes of Liverpool Music Week, he worries that “it’s only when those big events are on. There’s no reason why it should be staggered like this, we want to see a constant stream of quality rather than in big chunks.” Davies concurs. “Sometimes we miss the boat with breaking acts. We tend to see them when they’re more established at the likes of Sound City.”

“We talk about promoters taking risks but perhaps audiences could take more too”

So what does this mean, we wonder, what type of act should we be expecting to appear over the DH-hued horizon? “The acts we’re looking for are international ‘out there’ music”, say Davies. Isom clarifies: “It’s going to be less indie-rock … more dance and house.” At a time when there is a clutch of bands snugly fitting that indie-rock description to choose from, there is a burgeoning scene out there that seems to have sidestepped, or been sidestepped by Liverpool. Are the guys concerned that they have a niche to carve out if they are to be a success?

Rather than great swathes of the city needing to be educated in the ways of an alien or forgotten genre, it’s more a case of profile suggests Twidale. “We need to make the Liverpool audience aware of what we’re doing.” Again, they’ve clearly considered this question already. “There does need to be more exposure. It’s a given that the acts we have lined up need more exposure in Liverpool. Scenes exist in England and America that don’t always make it here. The acts we want to bring in have had exposure in the likes of the NME and Wire”, adds Davies. “At the same time, says Twidale, warming to a theme, “we don’t want shows to be a huge risk for people. We want them to come to expect a standard from Deep Hedonia”.

There is an inescapable feeling they want the DH brand to stand for something, a mark of quality that people know they can trust. They hope, based on experiences to come, if punters only have money for one gig that week, they’ll be happy to invest in a Deep Hedonia night. This can’t happen straight away however, and Isom intimates that early days, their fate rests in the laps of the music gods somewhat. “We talk about promoters taking risks but perhaps audiences could take more too. Some of the best shows I’ve been to have been people I hadn’t heard beforehand.”

In securing Laurel Halo for their first show, an artist flush with strong reviews for her debut album, Quarantine, DH seem to have shortened their odds for success considerably. The arguably slight though affecting nature of Halo’s voice, in contrast to the dark and unsettling themes running through the record (suggested in various interviews she’s given lately), has only added to the growing sense of ‘importance’ being attached to the Brooklyn-based star in waiting. Care has been taken lower down the line up too, with Dauwd, Sun Drums and Outfit Djs making up the rest of the bill, while later this month, Pitchfork favourite Ital heads up an equally impressive show, alongside Forest Swords, Isocore and Hive DJs.

So welcome to the party Deep Hedonia, a promoter (a moniker that doesn’t seem to do them or their ambitions justice) willing to take risks in a city whose musical landscape they only want to enhance. All they ask in return is that we’re willing to take the odd risk along the way, too. We’re game.

Laurel Halo plays The Kazimier Tuesday 5th June

Posted on 01/06/2012 by thedoublenegative