Progress: Audio Doughnuts

Over the last two years, Audio Doughnuts have grown to be one of the UK’s most diverse and exciting clubnights and festival stages. On top of that they’ve put out music by the likes of The Fives, Pusherman and Benin City, as well as two free LPs.

All this has been under the watchful eye of founder Henry Moller. He and his team now have big plans for the future of AD despite taking on another sizable task – The Upfront Project. Every Friday at Vauxhall’s Lightbox, TUP present consistently varied and current line ups of house, techno, bass and beyond. We caught up with the man behind the two ventures to find out more about the direction of AD right now, live-streaming events and the reality of being a promoter in London…

Firstly, why did you start Audio Doughnuts?
Audio Doughnuts was started as a label, a label with no releases, I guess that’s why it turned into a night so quickly as we really weren’t ready at the start of AD for what we wanted to do, and knew nothing about releasing music. I don’t think we were trying to create something different, I think we we’re just trying to create something a little less ‘cool,’ I wanted to just run parties I wanted to go to and release music I liked listening to. It was quite a selfish endeavour at first I guess, never really about being better.

Do you now see AD as a club night first, and label second then?
Not really at all anymore, obviously more people know us for the nights we’ve run but its much more of a 50/50 thing nowadays. If anything I would say our concentration at the moment is just making sure the label is getting as much dedicated attention as possible. We sat down a few months ago and began looking at 2013 and we all decided we’d want to spend more time releasing music next year and then do less parties but try to make them a little more interesting and special, you know?

So what is planned for 2013 in terms of releases?
2013’s release schedule is still something which we’re talking about and finalising. Its never been a plan with us, we find music we like, then plan it from there, over this year we’ve ended up with a lot of music we love just waiting to be released, so some of that will be released in 2013. We will continue to work with all of the artists currently signed to the label and also introducing a few more artists at the beginning of the year. We’ll also be doing full length CD albums with Benin City & Onoe Caponoe next year plus a lot more vinyl. I think 2013’s releases will really make people understand what sort of label we are, really bringing together the two separations of the label; the electronic, dance orientated sounds to the much more grass roots, live, roughly-cut stuff.

The label philosophy does seem to be replicated in the AD line-ups too, in terms of the absence of genre resrictions and continued support of a select bunch of artists. I know AD now program the line ups for The Upfront Project – how much of this philosophy spills over into that side of things?
The Upfront Project was really something where we can curate the things we don’t always get to do with AD, it means we can do things which maybe just haven’t worked in the past seeing as we have 52 dates we can use rather than say 10 or 12 for AD. The philosophy behind TUP is quite different, it’s really about providing the music at its most accessible to everyone. Right now London is so over saturated and ticket prices are pretty colossal, so we wanted to do something quite reasonable but still with the line ups which would usually be £15 or £20 for entry. Its not about earning big money, its about opening up the scene a little more, allowing people who might not go to nights like this and enjoy them as much as any other.

Have you seen lots of happy faces in your first month? Can you give us a couple of highlights so far?
The first month has been a really interesting one, August is always a really difficult month because of all the festivals going on and what not but its exceeded our expectations. I’m surprised at how many people have come down and enjoyed themselves week in week out. We’ve had people come 3 and 4 weeks in a row. I feel like the project will turn into a real community after a while, theres a real good vibe with the attendees. A highlight for me was 10th August when Ben Westbeech played his set, the crowd were one of the most receptive London crowd’s I’ve seen in a long time. Also seeing artists like Kode9 and Bok Bok just coming down to party, not there to work or DJ. Its just another reminder to what we’re trying to achieve. Keeping it friendly and a lot of good fun.

I remember talking to you on Boxing Day last year, whilst we were both listening to Rinse FM live from Fabric. How do you feel about clubnights being streamed? Do you think it takes anything away from the special feeling of being there, and is it a possibility at AD or TUP?
Can’t go wrong with a bit of Rinse streaming! It was actually going to happen at AD’s 1st Anniversary last year with Red Bull Music Academy but it was all a last minute dash to get ready and we ended up having technicals. I think live streaming is a brilliant way to extend the audience. More so for people who don’t live in the UK. People all around the world listen to the same music we take for granted because we have the DJs playing week-in week-out in London. I’d allow recordings of sets to be downloaded or streamed for certain AD events. For TUP, it’s something we might look at in future but at the moment we like it being intimate, we like it not being overhyped. I guess AD & TUP are a completely different kettle of fish though. We don’t run AD every damn week *laughs*.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a clubnight?
I can’t really give much advice, but from what I’ve learnt, you need to really love this shit. If you don’t, you won’t last long. Be ready to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and not get paid at the end of the month. You have to learn to love the stress. Promote the music you love, rather than the music which will pay wages. If you love it enough it will eventually pay a wage. Its not as glamorous as it all looks.

For two years of Audio Doughnuts, Hyponik say well done; and for the future of The Upfront Project, good luck! Can we have a couple of clues on the second anniversary line up?
The second anniversary, yeah I can’t quite believe we got here either. Feels like its been about 10 years though. [laughs] With the anniversary, for those who know what we did last year for our 1st Anniversary, we have multiplied last years line-up and capacity by 3. We will be bringing some of our favourite artists of the past decade whilst also bringing back some of our favourite artists from the past 2 years. It will be the biggest event we have ever done, and will probably be the biggest one we do until the end of next year. There are a lot of surprises in store, line-up wise I can’t say anything just yet. AD2ND will mark a really big change for us in terms of events in London, we will be moving into a permanent warehouse plus building our own light show and soundsystem for when we return in 2013. Everything is evolving…

Audio Doughnuts celebrate their 2nd anniversary on Friday, November 30. Check details here.

Interview: Richard Akingbehin