WHP12: Re-writing the Script

Words by: Stephen Flynn
Posted: 18/9/12 7:20

WHP: Re-writing the Script For twelve weeks, this city is ours. It’s a slogan that, over the last five years, has cropped up in Northern England every winter to announce the return of one of their most renowned parties, The Warehouse Project. Yes, even in Manchester - a city with a much-fabled musical history - the return of the WHP to Store Street is always a joyous occasion. Except this year, they’re not returning to Store Street at all. Instead, they’ve secured a new, multi-purpose venue just outside of Manchester’s city centre. And so it is that the brains behind the party are adding a new chapter to the cities nightlife in their own inimitable style. Again.

So, while the old Store Street etched a place in Manchester’s hallowed music history books, its time – just like The Hacienda before it - had to come to a close sooner or later. But having briefly opened the new venue in Easter of this year, how have the promoters found the transition? And why the need for a change in the first place?

I Voice caught up with one of the prime cogs behind the party, promoter Sam Kendel, to talk us through the history of the WHP and much more besides…

So, this new venue, you’ve road-tested it already right?
Yeah, we opened it officially on the Friday of the last Easter weekend, and we had Eric Prydz and James Zabiela playing. Then, on the Sunday, we’d a more house/techno day and night party, with Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Maya [Jane Coles] and Carl Craig all playing.

Do you curate the line-ups and help run the event too?
Yeah, there’s a team of us, but I’m completely on top of everything that’s going on so I’m constantly kept busy…

Were you involved with the music industry before WHP?
I worked at Sankeys in Manchester for six years as a promoter after I left university. Then, myself and a couple of colleagues [at Sankeys] left together to set up the Warehouse Project

Did you leave Sankeys purely to set up the Warehouse Project then?
Yeah, well I’d worked at Sankeys for six years and I’d been a promoter for four years before that. It just sort of happened really and it’s a bit of a blur how it all came together. It just felt right at the time.

This idea that we would work in a temporary space for a part of the year was really appealing.
Manchester is a bit like Ibiza in a sense, because it’s very seasonal. You have this really busy period where everybody wants to go out, & then you have this lull that comes too...
And whose idea was it to bring things back to the warehouse again?
Well we did a big warehouse show when we were with Sankeys in 2003, and I suppose that was the original inspiration for the WHP. This idea that we would work in a temporary space for a part of the year was really appealing.

Manchester is a bit like Ibiza in a sense, because it’s very seasonal. You have this really busy period where everybody wants to go out, and then you have this lull that comes too. So as a promoter, it’s all really tiring work. So that was kind of the original concept behind the WHP.

It must help that all the students are back in university when you run WHP, right?
We’d only ever planned to run WHP for a portion of the year, so if you’re going to run it like that, that period leading up to Christmas, from right after the end of the Ibiza season is always the best time to do it. Of course, the students being back helps, but that never formed a huge part of our thinking either…

Is the new venue closed for the rest of the year then?
Date wise, the format is the same, although we’re doing slightly fewer events this time around. They’ll all be twice the size as they were in Store Street mind, so the new venue gives us extra scope to try new things. So yeah, it’s a big challenge, but as of now we’re not planning on opening up for the rest of the year. Lets see what the public make of the new venue first…

Has the new venue been designed solely with the WHP in mind?
Not solely, no. Outside the WHP period it’ll function as a live venue, and we’re hoping to put on a few touring bands in there too.

Do you just work for the WHP then? Or what else takes up your time?
We also do Parklife in Manchester, are involved in Hideout in Croatia and do Kendal Calling in the Lake District too and various other bits and pieces. The most annoying question I get asked is: “You know when the WHP is finished, do you just chill out afterwards?” I can assure you that I don’t! It takes us up to 12 months just to finalise the WHP parties, so we’re always kept busy…

You come from a clubbing background…
Yeah, although now that I’m a father I don’t have much time to go out anymore, so I have to be quite selective about what nights I attend. So part of the idea behind the WHP was to create a night I’d like to attend myself…

How many of you are involved in the WHP then?
There’s myself, Sasha and Kirsty who are our partners. Then there’s a team of about eight to ten people who work on it kind of full-time too.

Well it’s always been a music mad city, but I think the WHP has definitely helped dance music become even more popular here. The scene has grown a lot, but because we’re only there for a while we sort of fill up the market and then disappear for the rest of the year. So that’s left a void for a lot of smaller, more underground nights to prosper... I have to ask, why did you choose to remain fairly anonymous during the first few years of the WHP?
I guess because none of us involved particularly enjoy being the centre of attention. It was just the nature of the event too - we just thought it’d be better that way…

How did you prepare you for running WHP? Is it as stressful as you thought it would be?
I think, between everybody that works on it, there’s a lot of experience in the industry, which definitely helps. But yeah, at times it is highly stressful and once a week at least, we always question why we do it. But as always, it’s worth it in the end after a great night.

What was your prime inspiration for the WHP?
Well, that Sankeys night we talked about earlier, were we took over a warehouse, that was a real inspiration and provided a real eureka moment. The idea to do seething that falls between a club and a festival really appealed to us.

We wanted to make it a really experimental club-night that only operates for a portion of the year. It was a big risk, because when we did it first we weren’t sure it was going to work, but a lot of people seem to have followed a similar formula recently…

Do you notice dance music is more popular in Manchester these days compared to when you started?
Well it’s always been a music mad city, but I think the WHP has definitely helped dance music become even more popular here. The scene has grown a lot, but because we’re only there for a while we sort of fill up the market and then disappear for the rest of the year. So that’s left a void for a lot of smaller, more underground nights to prosper. That’s a lot of people in Manchester looking to go out, and when the WHP isn’t on there’s always a few places to go to nowadays, which might not always have been the case.

Torey WarehouseGoing back a bit, I wanted to talk about your original venue, Store Street. Am I right in thinking you only ever envisaged that as a temporary venue?
Yeah, but it’s the same for the one we’re in now. Part of our concept is that we’re nomadic and we like moving and keeping things fresh. We stayed in Store Street for five magnificent years because well, it was really good! Hopefully the new place, Torey Warehouse, will provide us with just as many great memories.

How does it differ to Store Street?
Well, Store Street was a car park and the new venue is not, so rather than think about how we’re going to build and dismantle the venue each week, it allows us to focus on other elements such as the experience we’re offering.

The main room in the new place is huge so we can do a lot more production wise too. It’s roughly twice the size so we can fit quite a big crowd, almost 5000 in the main room alone. So it feels completely different this time around. We don’t want it to feel like a concert though, the venue is still very industrial and connected to club culture which suits us perfectly.

How did you come across the space?
The organisation that was developing the site actually came to us. They’d heard about WHP and felt they’d a new suitable home for it.

Were you actively looking to change venues at the time then?
I think it was probably a catalyst in us moving. We’d been at Store Street for four years when they first approached us. I mean, we were never going to stay at Store Street forever but we were very comfortable there. But the whole point of the WHP was that we weren’t restricted by bricks and mortar.

So, rather than waiting for everyone to get bored of the venue, we knew we’d move. No matter how great a place is, if they’re seeing the same DJs etc. in the same four walls, the experience is definitely not what it was for them the first time.

I wanted to ask about the council in Manchester. Are they supportive of what you do?
They’re actually incredibly forward thinking and have always been behind us. Without the relationship we have with all the authorities, both in Manchester and now, in Trafford, who we’re now dealing with, it’d all be impossible. We run a tight ship and we have to - or WHP just wouldn’t work like it does…

I imagine you appreciate that given that other UK authorities aren’t always so supportive of dance music events…
Yeah, hugely. We’re fortunate to work in Manchester. There’s a musical legacy here that people are very proud of such as The Hacienda, Factory Records etc., and the authorities realise it’s a part of our culture and identity. It’s all an important part of what the city is about. Some of our shows for example, will be going until 5am, although we’re usually going to keep them to 8pm-4am and you don’t get that kind of flexibility in all areas of the UK

I mean regardless of whether you’re in to house or techno or Aphex Twin or dubstep, we try and create the most ridiculous line-ups we can and do whatever it takes to deliver something unique.
Obviously we try and attract different audiences all the time...
  
Would you be busy at 8am or is clubbing at that time something you’re trying to introduce to the city?
Well as I said, we don’t want it to feel like you’re going to a nightclub, so one way of doing that was to introduce these parties that start a bit earlier. So people are coming straight to us and by 9pm they’re on the dancefloor. When we see that happening, that’s when we realise we’ve created something special.

I wanted to ask too, about your line-ups, which are always eclectic. Do you want to accommodate all types of music fans?
Yeah, that’s always been the way with us. I mean regardless of whether you’re in to house or techno or Aphex Twin or dubstep, we try and create the most ridiculous line-ups we can and do whatever it takes to deliver something unique. Obviously we try and attract different audiences all the time. I think it’s the depth and breath of what we offer that attracts so many different types of fans then?

So I gather you’d notice a different type of crowd all the time then?
We rarely get people who are there to check out the WHP. Because the nights are so diverse, people choose the nights they attend carefully. We choose 25 one-off events that are spread out evenly and no genre is tied to one night or anything like that.

I notice there has been a sort of resurgence in the popularity of warehouse parties since you guys started out. Does that grate with you at all?
Not at all actually. I mean we weren’t the first to do it, I just think people like the whole temporary, almost pop-up type atmosphere that a warehouse gives off. I think people like the idea of something that’s been created for them, something different than a nightclub. Obviously the UK has some amazing nightclubs too like fabric and Plastic People etc. I just think that kind of rough and ready and industrial vibe we offer can bring something different…

And what kind of legacy do you hope to leave on Manchester’s nightlife?
I’ve never thought about it to be honest. I mean, everyone involved knows that it’s not going to last forever. We’ve said from the start that if the public weren’t hungry for it we’d stop it. In terms of legacy, who knows?

Lastly, what’s been your proudest moment of being involved with the WHP?
Just the fact that we opened up in the first place, when all the odds were stacked against us. That first night, seven years ago, with Public Enemy was a really special occasion for all involved. They were particularly appropriate guests too… Fight the power!

WHP12 - The Warehouse Project Program Friday 28th September
The Warehouse Project Launch
Rinse in Association with Fact
More info here...

Saturday 29th September
Welcome to the Warehouse
More info here...

Friday 5th October
The Warehouse Project Presents
More info here...

Saturday 6th October
Curated by SBTRKT
In association with Hoya:Hoya
More info here...

Friday 12th October
Bugged out!
More info here...

Saturday 13th October
Ape birthday
More info here...

Friday 19th October
Curated by Bloc Party
More info here...

Saturday 20th October
The Warehouse Project Presents
More info here...

Friday 26th October
A Halloween special
Curated by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
More info here...
Friday 2nd November
Cocoon
More info here...

Saturday 3rd November
10 Years Of Metropolis
More info here...

Thursday 8th November
Dhp Concerts Presents Animal Collective
More info here...

Friday 9th November
The Warehouse Project X Red Bull Music Academy
More info here...

Saturday 10th November
Laidback Luke
More info here...

Friday 23rd November
Hospitality
More info here...

Saturday 24th November
Hot Creations Presents Paradise
More info here...

Friday 30th November
Annie Mac presents
More info here...
Saturday 1st December
Resident advisor
More info here...

Thursday 6th December
Skrillex
More info here...

Saturday 8th December
The Warehouse Project Presents
More info here...

Thursday 13th December
Soulwaxmas
More info here...

Friday 14th December
All Gone Pete Tong
More info here...

Saturday 15th December
Crosstown Rebels Presents Rebel Rave
More info here...

Sunday 16th December
The warehouse project presents 25 years of Laurent garnier
More info here...

Monday 31st December
New Years Eve at the Warehouse Project
More info here...

Tuesday 1st January
Closing Party
More info here...
The Warehouse Project Online
Web Site Facebook Twitter Mixcloud Lavamatic on Vimeo

Advertisement

Advertisement
Podcast
Timo Maas
Andres Campo
Bas Ibellini
Kenny Glasgow