#UpcloseAndPersonalMcr – Manchester UK PromotersApril 19, 2019
Many of us who lived through the earlier years of dance music and experienced the illegal raves the ‘love’ buzz, the empathy, the newness and intimacy of it all, can see how over the decades a huge part of the scene has been watered down into corporate controlled entertainment farms with all sense of the underground completely obliterated.
Today seems to be all about the same big names on rotation playing 1 hour sets huge lineups, cramming the punters in, whilst completely shutting out the up & coming/ local artists/producers, that’s the stark truth!
However, something new has emerged in the bastion of Acid house culture Manchester UK that is trying to bring back some of that vibe that feeling that intimacy, they are called upcloseandpersonalmcr, headed by true lovers of the scene having been there at the very start, Andy Holdsworth and Stuart Higgins and they are making a serious impact! We caught up with them to get some background…
(this interview is also published in issue 15 of iconic underground magazine)
Mike Mannix: Nice one lads, we are really excited about what you’re creating in Manchester and the opportunities you’re giving to the raw underground talent that out there. Tell us a bit about your own experiences in the dance scene and what you hope to achieve today…
Andy Holdsworth: Nice one Mike, I have to look back at my clubbing experiences back to the days when I was introduced to the clubbing brand Renaissance, thanks to my good friend Marcus James. He was a good friend and at the time I was very much a huge fan of trance and Hard House and was a regular at clubber at Gatecrasher, Ministry of Sound, Colours, Cream, Slinky, Sankeys, Ibiza, and Marcus were the record label manager for Renaissance.
It was one weekend many years ago he invited me to London to the ‘Cross’ for their night with ‘Sasha and Digweed’, and been an avid Hard house fan I was sceptical and weary! I reached the ‘Cross’, which was in Kings Cross and was VIP, I met Geoff Oakes and Sasha and Digweed and ‘Marcus told them’,’ I was into hard house and was he going to convert me to this new unique sound,‘ the set was amazing and I was instantly hooked on the progressive sound. Thanks to Marcus I attended so many Renaissance events and met many DJ’s over the years.
As the years progressed
I have partied all over the world, Ibiza, Miami, LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Mexico, Cuba, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Belgium
to name but a few to even living in Miami. With my love of clubbing and DJs and music, I started to do a few events scattered around the country, London and Manchester. I started to look at doing club nights and I formed U-BAHN Events which means ‘underground’ in German. All the nights were a sell-out and I looked at ways to change the current clubbing experience.
In May 2017 I came up with a brand new Idea. I was sick of clubbing and all the nights being the same, I wanted to be different. So I came up with the idea of having one International DJ play up close, in front of you to an intimate crowd. I looked all over to find the perfect venue and was asked to look at Stage & Radio in Manchester.
This building is over 200 years old and has such an iconic history. It was an old jazz club that hosted Ella Fitzgerald who is referred to the First Lady of Song Queen of Jazz, and Coldplay who signed their first ever record contract there, it was also an old radio station. Today, its kitted out with a Void Sound system, and low ceilings which we used to max effect as Danny Howells played the opening night,
it was unbelievable the atmosphere was incredible, it was a sell-out!
Since then it’s grown in popularity, and our DJ list has grown with the likes of Saytek-Live, Quivver, Eelke Kleijn, Cid Inc, Jeremy Olander, Fehrplay, OC& Verde. I soon realised as it grew I seriously needed help. So in May 2018 I chose to make the brand a Limited company and reached out to Stuart Higgins as he had been very supportive and helpful in the buildup of #upcloseandpersonalmcr and offered him the partnership in the brand, to which he thankfully replied ’yes’. Up Close And Personal MCR Limited was formed and we hit the ground running booking even bigger DJs, Guy Mantzur, Nick Muir, Jody Wisternoff, John 00 Fleming, Danny Howells, and Robert Babciz.
And last but not least I wanted to finish with this Mike, as you know one thing that seriously bugs me in this industry is the lack of any exposure/support for up-and-coming & new DJ’s.
Unfortunately, in today’s scene if your social media presence isn’t sufficient they don’t get any support regardless of skills, and whats that about anyway, considering the ENTIRE dance music scene was built on top of DJs that had passion and skills!!
So, I came up the Idea of the UCAP-LIVE-STUDIO-SHOWS, searching for those local DJ’s and streaming them live on Nights On the Round Table, giving them that chance to shine. When you give people who have a serious passion for what they do maybe they’ll realise their dream and the next big DJ could emerge from it!
AH: Cheers Mike
MM; And fill us in your background then Stuart in those early days that led you up to becoming a DJ, Producer and then UpClosAndPersonalMcr…..
SH: Cheers Mike, as long as I can remember growing up in Northern England I was listening to the likes of Stu Allan, Jay Wearden, Moggy, Mark XTC & Mix Factory on stations such as Klash FM & Sunset Radio. I was dedicated, and would listen to them until the early hours with pen and paper in hand writing down names of the tracks etc for my weekend shopping list. Honestly, I always felt most comfortable hanging around record shops and looking out for the latest music hitting all the major records shops like Sound House in my home town Ashton under Lyne and others like the now iconic Eastern Block Vinyl Exchange, Spin Inn & 3 Beat in Liverpool. This then developed into a desire to DJ as I started growing my record collection, developing my taste and own individual style and technique.
I travelled the length and breadth of the UK to endless club nights, handing out countless mixtapes which was pretty much the norm back then.
Eventually, this paid off as I ended playing all over the UK, and got offered a residency at ‘The Edge’ in Sheffield West Yorkshire which gave me the opportunity to play alongside iconic DJ’s such as Mickey Finn, Grooverider, Swan E, Hype & SS.
Over time I realised there was something missing, I was ready for a new challenge, a new direction. This direction was influenced by DJ’s and producers such as Brian Transeu, Blue Amazon, Paul Oakenfold but most of all the highly acclaimed ‘7 ways’ album by Paul Van Dyke. Then came the introduction to Sasha & John Digweed, listening to their style and track selection I was seriously hooked they just blew me away. I then knew where I wanted to go musically and production came next.
MM: OK, I’m jumping forward a bit, but tell us a bit about your current production workflow, what inspires you and how do you create your tracks?
SH: Sound Mike, I always start with the drums, with my DAW of choice being Logic Pro X which unfortunately doesn’t have the best drum machine in my opinion, so I like to use NI Maschine because its tactile. When I have my drum patterns ready I drag WAVS into Logic (but keep the patterns in Maschine in case I want to change anything later)
Synth wise, I’m very much in the box at the moment as I find its an easier workflow. I love using the Arturia Collection, Roland, Prophet and Moog for pads and bass, plus I love the Jupiter 8 too! As regards to inspiration, I’m always looking to the new and established artists as there is over 3 decades worth of amazing tracks to get excited about, so in no particular order they are Guy Gerber, Sasha, Cybernailia, Audiojack, Nick Muir, Dmitry Molosh, Luke Brancaccio, Steve Bug, Nick Curly, Quivver, Steve Parry, honestly the list is endless actually.
MM: Nice one, part of your dynamic today with Andy is sourcing local and up and coming talent, what words can you offer to inspire them?
SH: Try staying true to yourself. Don’t copy somebody else. Try to be original (yes its hard) and put in the work as nobody will hand it to you on a plate and the rest will follow!
MM: Fill us in on your recent experiences and what you got coming up production wise?
SH: Yea, so these days as Andy said, I’m currently the resident DJ and partner for Upcloseandpersonalmcr and I feel very privileged to be a part of this and thank Andy and all that have put the faith, time and effort in me!
My debut EP Detox has just been signed by Paul Sawyers Krafted Underground look out for that soon, and also All That You Want on Plethora Music is out May 2019.
MM: Last words…..?
SH: keep ‘em dancing…