What is happening to London Nightlife?
It has recently been reported that a staggering £200M has been wiped off the value of the UK nightclub scene in the past five years. Many conflicting reports blame several variables including: a generation shift, council issues and of course Brexit. But in a world where club closures have become the norm, how do aspiring DJs, promoters and labels source work and venues to host events?
In London, in the last year alone, we sadly saw The Nest in Dalston close. Its basement parties were always hugely popular, so it was surprising when they closed with immediate effect. Enter a replacement – UNDR, who literally went under in a matter of weeks and too cancelled all planned gigs – leaving artists and promoters with little alternative.
Another club London saw close was Proud, Camden. This venue, which originally housed the notorious burlesque house, quickly deteriorated over the autumn season and was replaced with FEST. We also saw the closure of the iconic Visions club, The Alibi, and last week it was announced that KOKO in Camden will be closing, initially for a revamp, but new management seems certain to take over the venue.
These closures followed a 2018 summer of complaints, which saw the London borough of Hackney announce that new pubs, bars and entertainment venues would be expected to close at 11pm on weekdays and midnight at weekends. It followed complaints of noise and antisocial behaviour.
These closures and restrictions certainly contradict the Major of London’s vision for the capital to become a ‘trailblazing 24-hour city.’
Amid the backlash, campaigners say London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the capital’s first ever night czar, Amy Lamé, have been surprisingly quiet. In response to the plans Amy Lamé tweeted that local authorities were responsible for licensing decisions.
But she later said she had demanded an urgent meeting with Hackney’s Mayor, Philip Glanville, and was concerned the new restrictions in the borough would ‘stifle its world-renowned nightlife.’
As a result, there is a knock on effect to London partying, DJs and promoters are having to work harder to secure venues, sell more tickets or increase prices to reach rising deposit/hire fees, which impacts the pay of DJs and artists.
In a world where we are still fighting for music equality, it seems that female artists are most at risk.
The fight for London nightlife continues…
An interview with DJ BEKEFI
This month, we interview Écouter Music resident DJ BEKEFI. She’s made an exclusive mix for WMN readers.
Who are you? (DJ Name)
Hi there, I’m B and my DJ name is Bekefi.
I am an establishing DJ and Music Producer. During the week, I work as a Sales Manager at Gymbox, but on Fridays, the fun begins with gigs and DJ residencies at bars and venues across London.
My latest mix is exclusive and was recorded just for you! You can find my Écouter Music X Women’s Music News mix at the top of this interview; otherwise you can find my latest mixes on House559 music radio.
Name your top 2 tracks.
Choosing my top two tracks is such a hard challenge!
These tracks mean a lot to me, for various reasons:
1, Ghetto Kraviz – Nina Kraviz
2, Korgasmatron -Rex the dog
When did you start DJing – what were your early passions and influences?
I started DJing in Copenhagen, Denmark, when I was 23 years old, however I was always into multi- genre music. My grandma’s brother was a professional DJ back in the 80s, so music has always been a huge family influence. My initial career was nothing to do music, as I played professional basketball from young age. Since then, I’ve learned to play the guitar and never gave up on my DJ dream.
How do you creatively work on music and mixes?
I love mixing different genres and sub genres together, you end up with something special and unique each time. Whilst mixing, I always try to create mini mashups from multiple tracks to add an authentic take on well-known tunes. I also enjoy incorporating my mood into my set, I find this keeps the crowd engaged and takes everyone on a journey!
I’m fairly new to music production, so I am sampling every single interesting sound I hear during my everyday life and I am lucky enough to work with some amazing vocalists as well. I am trying to create a distinguished sound; I hope you will all like it.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time?
My main challenge has been securing gigs and learning to mix different styles of music set by the music brief of the promoter or venue. At first this was a struggle, as I couldn’t play the house music I love, however I really wanted to learn and develop my skills, so I’d mix all types of genres every weekend at a residency where I played from 1am – 6am on both Friday and Saturday nights. This experience made me appreciate every single gig, where I could express and experiment with my own music. I want to keep learning and become the best version of myself. I definitely think that a positive attitude and hard work pays off.
The hardest part of my journey was when I moved to London. I had already established myself in Copenhagen, so I had to work hard to build up a reputation here.
My advice to anyone starting a career in DJing would be to go out, meet people, be decent and be the best version of yourself behind the decks.
Since moving to London, the best point of my career, has been securing my radio residency with House559 Music. I’ve met some amazing people and I get contacted for gigs constantly, which is the best feeling.
Who are your favourite DJs and artists?
I’ve met some great DJs and producers, who I absolutely adore. Here are just a few inspirations for me:
Nastia: Has been my favourite since the beginning of my music career. Nastia proved that you could be a successful DJ without producing. I love following her and look forward to seeing what she does next.
FYI Chris: These guys blow me away with their production. They’re super nice and really humble in person.
Avalon: Never disappoints
Rex the dog: I love how unique his production is.
Joy Orbison: Again, never disappoints
Where are your favourite dance spots?
My favourite dance spot is probably in Copenhagen, in a club called KB18. If you ever want to experience an incredible sound system, this is the place to go!
How do you prepare for your sets?
I normally just dance around. I don’t have a special ritual to be honest. I just love it, and the closer I get to my gig the more I can feel the adrenaline and excitement rushing through my body.
What is your state of mind during a DJ set? And how do you manage distractions?
I normally just think about what others must be feeling on the dance floor while dancing. I always get Goosebumps, 100%.
The most beautiful bit is when you have a moment with someone on the dance floor. It’s a great connection through music.
In terms of distractions, if it’s technical, it used to really affect me and I’d get upset about it, but I realised with time, that these things happen with everyone. Other distractions don’t bother me. In the end we are all out to have fun!
How do you find inspiration and new music?
You should really ask my girlfriend and my friends about this, as I’m sure my hunt for music annoys them! I always have to go into any record store we pass and spend lots of time there, regardless of what others want to do!
I’m always listening to new artists, collecting ideas, mixing at home and showing off my new mixes!
What’s next for you?
I love this question! This year, I will be releasing my first EP. I’m so excited for it to launch, I can’t wait to show you guys!
You can also find me playing most Fridays at Golden Bee in Shoreditch and on Sundays you can hear me live on House559 radio from midday.