Jim Stanton and James Hillard, founders of London institution Horse Meat Disco, will be dropping into Australia this July for a string of dates across the country.
Founded five years ago, Horse Meat Disco began as a dedicated disco party, and soon garnered a cult following amongst London’s underground club scene, becoming one of the city’s most renowned gay club nights. Since its 2004 conception, HMD has played host to many an international guest, with Tim Sweeney, Prins Thomas and Derrick Carter among the dozens to have graced the decks. Stanton and Hillard have also recently compiled their debut mix CD, to be released worldwide via Strut in August. Their Australian tour kicks off in Perth on Friday 3rd July, and will make stops in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane before finishing off at House de Frost's party in Melbourne. Tickets for the Sydney leg are available exclusively via RA Tickets.
We tracked down the duo via e-mail earlier this week, where they shared their thoughts on their forthcoming mix, HMD’s rise in popularity, and how to run a successful club night.
You guys are about to embark on a pretty extensive world tour. When, and why, did you decide to take HMD on the road internationally?
We’ve been touring a lot around Europe and the US for the last couple of years. We were lucky in that, from very early on, we were bestowed with a gleaming reputation from both punters and guest DJs, which lead to us being asked to play in various clubs, both in the UK and outside the continent. The last two years has seen our profile being raised to dizzying heights, through our involvement with the NYC Downlow at Glastonbury, headlining stages at some of the UK’s biggest festivals, our close friendships with Andy Butler from Hercules and Love Affair and the gang at DFA in New York, and, of course, the continued success of our Sunday night parties, culminating in the release of our first compilation, which quite naturally led to a much wider world tour for which we are very excited about.
You guys just announced the debut Horse Meat Disco mix CD. Is this tracklist a good indication of where you guys are at, DJ wise? Do you plan to showcase the release on this tour?
We all have our own styles of DJing, and our influences are very wide ranging – it’s nigh on impossible to get that across in less than 80 minutes on a CD. It was a challenge from the offset to pick tracks that reflected the spirit of the club, which after nearly 6 years now are innumerable whilst being fresh. I think we have achieved that with the track list, which includes some of our favourite artists and producers, as well as tracks that are a bit more obscure. At the core, though, they are tracks that we all love, and that have gone down a storm at the club – on the road and they haven’t failed us yet, so I dare say you’ll get a blast of them in Australia when we come in July.
You guys have shaped one of the UK’s most revered clubbing institutions, from scratch. How long after HMD’s inception did it take to balloon to such a level of popularity?
We have always been driven by the promoter mantra of ‘you’re only as good as your last party’, so, from the beginning, we worked really hard to make sure that every party was different, exciting and welcoming. I think we knew after the first party we did, in the current venue of the The Eagle, which was on New Year’s Day 2004, that all our hard work had paid off. It was a great party to build on, and we just kept plugging away at making it the institution it has become. Wether that was through guest DJs, theme parties or the now legendary vogue balls, ‘Vauxhall Is Gurning’. From the start, we always had a fiercely loyal and dedicated following – this was essential for things to grow. Disillusioned clubbers and music lovers, both young and old, respected us for going against the grain of mainstream gay clubs and sharing our love of disco music, whilst putting on a party that attracted both a sexy and diverse crowd. I think that at the core of HMD’s popularity, is the ability to mix up a diverse crowd irrespective of tribe, age, race, gender and sexuality, and to have let it grown organically through word of mouth, rather than it being from the outset an over-PRed flash in the pan, trendy, style over substance party. As long as we respect the punters and don’t take our eye off the ball in terms of always making sure we give good show the club will continue to be popular.
Do you think that the formula to running a successful club night, at its core, is the same all over the London, regardless of the type/genre/demographic, or do have you found that you need to be consistently innovative when it comes to promo?
From my point of view, a great party is one that attracts a diversity of people – for different groups to mingle when otherwise they wouldn’t is the key for an atmosphere to develop. It’s about having your own unique identity and respect for the people who come down to be part of it, and making a connection musically, irrespective of genre, with the dancefloor. If you can get that right, then you are well on your way to having a successful party. I guess we are lucky, in that being a weekly party means that after 6 years, the party pretty much promotes itself – but, that doesn’t mean we become complacent; we are always looking to change things up and innovate.
HMD frequently hosts international guests – back home in London, has it become necessary to consistently include these high-profile DJs on your roster when planning events, or is it something that isn’t crucial, as people will continue to show up, regardless of the DJs?
I don’t think it has been necessary to book guest DJs in terms of pleasing the crowd. The crowd loves the residents, and are always happy to see them up there in the booth. However, from the beginning, we wanted to buck the trend in mainstream gay clubs, whereby, with a couple of exceptions, the same DJs from different clubs play at all the parties. Booking guest DJs keeps the music fresh and exciting. Some guests have blown the roof off, whilst some haven’t lived up to expectations. Either way, we have been lucky in that we have been able to attract an impressive line up of guests over the years, based on our reputation, and those DJs have gone back to their homes with nothing but love for the party. This has been essential in giving the club natural growth by word of mouth, so it really does live up to the hype. And, it is from this that we have been lucky enough to be asked to play at some of the best clubs around, and be asked to put together a compilation for a label we have nothing but respect for.
Has the HMD ethos change, or have you guys kept that same attitude since 2004?