15 Years of Intrigue Bristol
Flashback to Bristol 15 years ago when Ben Soundscape and Joe Static (The Insiders) launched Intrigue to fill the gap of liquid nights in the area. Inspired by Fabio’s seminal Swerve and Bukem’s Progression Sessions, the ethos was set, and Intrigue was born…
Flash-forward and Intrigue is stronger than ever with a reputation as one of the most respected D&B nights in Bristol, with a consistently impressive annual compilation to boot.
This year’s Anniversary album features the likes of Break, The Insiders, RoyGreen & Protone, Phaction, Ill Truth and more, with a busier release schedule in store for the label in 2018 and beyond.
We caught up with founder Ben who now runs the night solo, to chat about the last 15 years of Intrigue, and what we can expect in future. Get to know…
First of all happy anniversary! 15 years of Intrigue – wow! Tell me you had a romantic dinner or something to mark the milestone?
Thank you! No romantic dinners sadly, but we did have an amazing sold out show at Thekla with Calibre and Lenzman to mark the occasion, all hosted by one of my favourite MCs, DRS.
Oooft, casual affair! 15 years of any club night is certainly no easy feat! Did you guys ever imagine the night would have the longevity and following it currently does?
When Joe and I first started Intrigue we never imagined it would be going 15 years later, probably due to how difficult it was to get it off the ground. It took a long while to carve our own niche and build up the strong following it has today. I’m extremely happy with how it’s turned out!
As you should be! It’s no secret you started the night to fill the gap of liquid nights in Bristol – has your ethos shifted at all from then to now?
That’s right. Intrigue is all about quality drum & bass really, sometimes it might take a slightly harder direction on certain nights but the vibe remains the same. The focus is always on good music with depth.
As always the anniversary album is packing some serious vibes. Do you always have a set idea who you want to approach to contribute to the compilation?
It changes from year to year and depends a lot on what we get sent in the previous year. I also hit up all the artists on the label directly and ask them to submit tracks for it. There may also be someone who comes to mind who I think would be a good addition to it. With remixes, I usually approach an artist, give them some tunes and let them choose whichever track they’re feeling the most.
How did you approach this particular edition?
I wanted this one to be really special as it’s marking a big milestone! Fifteen exclusive tracks. Break had to be on there as a friend and an Intrigue regular since day one. Then it was a case of speaking to all the label artists like Lurch & Joakuim, RoyGreen & Protone, Raw Q, and getting some new recruits on board like Phaction and SMP. Also I wanted to showcase some of my own new tracks and collaborations like ‘Lying Here’, which you’ve supported, and I’ve been working a lot with Superior Selectionz so ‘Justa’ and ‘Memories’ are two of our latest creations to make the album.
The vinyl looks seriously sexy, what made you decide to get this album out on wax as well this time around?
Why thank you – shouts on the artwork go out to Seth Grym, a seriously brilliant artist. I started doing vinyl again last year and thought it would be great to make it a yearly thing. Vinyl sales aren’t what they used to be but when you’ve got a special project I think it’s worth doing. It’s a collector’s item, something to physically hold in your hands for years to come instead of just a file buried on a computer.
Do you have a highlight/ pinnacle moment from the past 15 years?
Always a tough one to answer but lately it’s been the shows at Thekla, particularly the birthday events every year. In 2017 we had Calibre, Marcus Intalex and Fabio at our 14th, and it really was special. They all completely smashed it, and it was the last time Marcus ever played for us. I look back on that night with very fond memories. Packed to the rafters, thick vibes, crazy good sound — a brilliant way to celebrate.
Special scenes no doubt. Weirdest thing you’ve witnessed at an event in the last 15 years then?
Hmm well let me think…. I remember someone got so pissed off I wouldn’t let them MC that they grabbed the mic from our MC and hurled it at the decks. It bounced off and broke the fader off the mixer. They were really terrible actually!
What else… Well we had a night with Therapy once that was pretty weird – a complete clash of styles, “heaven vs. hell” we called it. Pretty fun and weird to be DJing with loads of body parts and skeletons hanging everywhere in the club. There’s plenty more I’m sure but nothing toooo crazy comes to mind!
Hold tight the aggressive MC! 😉 How do you see the brand evolving in the future?
I’d just like to continue on the same path really, representing deep drum & bass in Bristol and beyond. I’d like to take the brand overseas more and put on collaborative events in other countries. This year we are involved with a couple of festivals which is really exciting. My aspirations are high with the label too, one day I want Intrigue Music at the top table of drum & bass.
The issue of venue closures has been a hot topic in the UK in recent times, how instrumental has your relationship with Thekla and your residency there been in the development of Intrigue over the years?
Thekla are brilliant to work with – supportive, professional, friendly staff. It was a breath of fresh air moving our events there to be honest, after dealing with so much crap from different venue owners over the years. It’s nice to be treated with a level of respect instead of people trying to take the piss! The venue is in no danger either, the campaign was about helping raise awareness of new developments being built right next to clubs, and the potential dangers of people complaining about levels.
Bristol continues to thrive in terms of passion for music and events, what do you think makes the scene as unique as it is out there?
I’ve grown up here and going to clubs since I was 16. There’s a hugely versatile nightlife scene, something for everyone right across the genres. Bristol’s got certain creative energy about it, “something in the water” as Bukem used to say to me. Loads of musicians, artists, writers, actors around and it’s got a super laid back vibe to it.
It’s got a unique vibe for sure! What’s been the biggest change in the scene from when you started to the present day?
There are way more multi-genre nights on than there used to be, less purely D&B nights. A lot of people like variation on a night out. But for the D&B heads and for us it’s been good in that it’s allowed us to maintain our niche and core following for all these years.
If you could give yourself one bit of advice 15 years ago, what would it be?
I would say something like “Perseverance is key, keep going, never ever give up. Always follow your dreams.” Oh wait that’s four bits of advice, oops!
No cheating!! So where to from here?
Next stop is more releases, more music and more shows. Keep up the momentum with the label and the night. The next event is looking big, with dBridge, Alix Perez and Breakage in attendance on the 15th of June. Can’t wait for that one!
I aim to put out more releases on the label this year as well. The next one after the album is myself with RoyGreen & Protone, Don’t Lose It/ Side to Slide, featuring my dad on guitar. Then after that a new single from Stereotype, followed by singles from Atlantic Connection and myself alongside Superior Selectionz.
So the release schedule is getting more regular?
Yes definitely, ideally I’d like to release at least 6 singles a year plus our annual compilation.
Looking forward to it all! Any final shouts?
A massive massive thank you to all friends, family, fans and Intrigue crew for all your support over the years! Here’s to the next 15! Also big up the D&BA crew, naturally! Anyone who’d like to send in demos, you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org – We do listen to every demo received. Nice one!
Big up yaself Ben!
Intrigue 15: The Anniversary Collection is out now – get it here
Catch dBridge, Alix Perez, Breakage and SP:MC at the next Intrigue – event details here