Highland Techno Collective's Lyndsey McCallum answers some of Kyle Walker's questions about the organisation below in the run up to Rising at the Ironworks on Friday, November 3...
Q Could you give me a bit of info about yourself and HTC itself please? When did it start? Why did it start? What's the history of it?
LYNDSEY: Well... I landed up north for the first time about two years ago. I'd been travelling for a couple of years and when I came back a friend of mine was working in Ullapool and suggested I come up for the season. I'd never been that far north, nowhere near it, and it truly blew my away. There seemed to be some much more space and opportunity for intellectual freedom than you have in a city. Someone described Ullapool to me as a place for artistic and political self expression and I thought about what that meant to me. I'm very interested in ideas about how we can organise ourselves more independently in our communities, rather than relying on corporations or governments to resolve problems or make things happen. I also thought about what was missing for me culturally living up there and the answer was these kinds of nights and this kind of music and that's where the idea was born to form a group of like-minded folk and start to actualise the idea of organising techno events that could be beneficial to the community. It could have been any kind of night or event and we always try to put the idea across that if this isn't your thing that's cool... anyone can arrange the kind of event they are interested in, whatever that may be, but for me it's techno, so that's what I do. I started the Facebook page, booked the village hall and started to put the word out to see if anyone wanted to get involved. They did and so it began!
Q Rising is at the Ironworks on Friday, November 3 – how did it come about? Can you talk me through the evening's line-up? Are there any DJs in particular you're looking forward to seeing again?
LYNDSEY: Yes it is! Are we there yet? Haha. It's been so long in the making, but it's sure to be a right good night and something a bit different. It's a free gig for a start! That was always the objective with Rising, to show that well-organised, quality events like this can be put on for free. That it doesn't always have to be about money but rather like-minded people organising themselves collectively and just putting on a great event. We had some problems with the venue which has meant that we have had to accept some additional expenses but we were determined to go ahead as planned with a free party to thank everyone who has supported the collective so far. There will be an opportunity for anyone who wants to to make a donation towards the cost of the venue hire on the night and I'm pretty confident that that will go a long way towards helping out with that. It's amazing the generosity people have offered so far, offering their time, skills, equipment and all other manner of bits and bobs for the cause. People seem to get what we're trying to achieve and have responded well.
The original line up featured 22 DJs from the North of Scotland and having to cut that down to the nine we have time for at the Ironworks was a really hard task. Everyone involved had supported the project so much so it was pretty heart wrenching having to dramatically cull such an amazing line up.
The line-up we're going ahead with is Alan MacPherson who has been a resident with Technique and has been promoting his own club night, Audiolife in Inverness for a long time now. He's brought some big names up north and worked with some of best DJs in the UK and beyond.
I'm looking forward to Alan's set for sure!
We also have Al Carson who is one half of State of Grace, NonStop DJs Ali McFly and Ali MacLennan from Skye, all also brilliant DJs and well-established heads on the scene.
Andrew McFadden (Deviation), Matt Lyon (Ruckus) and Raymond Noble (Full Volume Highland) organise Shenanigan and bring so, so much to the party. Meeting the lads earlier this year was a real milestone for Highland Techno Collective.
Their support for what we do and their combined experience make them a force to be reckoned with and undoubtedly friends for life!
We also have up and coming DJ Robbie Dunlop from Inverness. Robbie's been making a name for himself over the last couple of years and has a lot of talent. He's a great example of how to go about making a name for yourself through hard work and dedication. We're very proud to have him included in Rising.
And last, but by no means least, Kyle Matheson. Kyle played at our very first night in Ullapool and a fundraver we hosted in Lochinver earlier this year. Anyone who's seen him at Shenanigan or elsewhere will tell you he's the real deal. Strictly vinyl and a love of the music as strong as I've seen in anyone – that really comes across in his sets.
I can't say there's any one set I'm looking forward to more than the others. With that kind of line up every one is a guaranteed good one!
Q It's been a long and tricky road for Rising – including a last-minute shift of venue from Glencanisp to the Ironworks due to police concerns? What happened? When did the Ironworks step in? What lessons have you taken away from this as a promoter? And do you think the police were justified in their concerns?
LYNDSEY: Yeah, it's been tricky alright! About three or four weeks ago now I was told by the estate manager at Glencanisp that he had been contacted by the police who had concerns about our party going ahead. They were worried that the numbers would get out of control and it may turn into some massive rave that became a health and safety risk.
Although we reiterated the legality of the event and the extensive safety planning that had been put into place etc. the decision was made that the event shouldn't go ahead at Glencanisp. Basically someone shouted 'rave' and everyone well and truly freaked out.
The remoteness of the location and the time of year made it very unlikely that massive numbers of people would have attended but, because the event was free and not ticketed it made it difficult for us to argue that the numbers wouldn't be an issue. In hindsight, that was undoubtedly an error of judgement on my part and a hard lesson learned, but a lesson nonetheless.
It's a sad story that this sort of culture has always been demonised to an extent in the UK and that 'rave' is too often seen as a dirty word or synonymous with something illegal. Rising was always planned as a legal, licensed, well organised and above all safe event that would be beneficial to the local community and showcase the opportunity to host any kind of event in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The news was pretty devastating and although I spoke with people from all over the country who were willing to let us host the event on private land there was a genuine concern that the event may be shut down by the police and the last thing anyone wanted was any kind of trouble or for things to end on a bad note. There has been so much love and effort put into Rising and it's intended to be a positive thing so we decided to completely change our approach for this one and go with the Ironworks.
We were really lucky that they had nothing booked on the Friday night and we snapped up the opportunity to hire the venue. Although it's a pretty dramatic change of plan, there is so much to be said for hosting a gig in a venue like that and it's a brilliant opportunity for some of the DJs to play there for the first time.
It's also a lot cosier than an estate in the far North West Highlands in November, so that's something!
Q The Highlands' dance scene always seems to be going from strength to strength at a grass-roots level – along with HTC, you've got OutDores, Shenanigan, Groove, Hypnotic Groove, Filth, etc. With this being an all-Highland line-up, what's your opinion of how the region's dance scene is looking? Is there anything you'd like to see happen that would help it out in some way?
LYNDSEY: Yeah, the dance music scene in the Highlands is most definitely thriving. Every weekend there's something happening in Inverness or Dingwall, Forres, Aviemore, all over. And, yeah, throughout the summer you've got the bigger events and festivals that seem to be getting bigger and better every year. Shenanigan was in its third year this year and it has become an absolute beast, featuring around 40 DJs over four stages! It shows just how much talent there is n the Highlands and what we're trying to achieve with the collective is a way of bringing that talent together. I wholeheartedly believe that we are stronger when we work together and the combined, talent, skills, experience and connections that we have as a group make it possible for us to achieve all kinds of things gong forward that are mutually beneficial to all involved. Probably the biggest challenge facing all of us is finding the right venues for different kinds of events, but as our circle of friends continues to grow doors are continually opening. I'd like to think that as we grow, people will get what we're trying to achieve and be more open to letting us use different venues and spaces to do something good.
Q What would you say to the paper's readers – some who might be a little sceptical – in order to get them to come along?
LYNDSEY: To be brutally honest, we're not selling anything, and because we're not seeking any profit, it means we don't have to convince anyone that they should come along if it's maybe not their thing. There are certainly enough people around the Highlands who are after this kind of night and care about the music and supporting the scene. To be honest these kind of nights are better when everyone is there for those reasons. All I can say is if you like techno we'll be hosting nine of the best DJs up here at a free gig, in a cracking venue. What's not to like!?
Q What's next on the cards for HTC after Rising's been and done? Any plans for the future?
LYNDSEY: All kinds of plans – because we are a constantly-evolving group of people connected through the music. By extension there are always new possibilities and ideas cropping up through the different people we cross paths with. We'd like to make our events good for the communities we host them in and different ideas about how we do that are what I'm focusing on going forward. There a lot of beaches that need cleaned, buildings in danger of becoming derelict. I have a lot of ideas about how we can occupy some of the space in the Highlands and by doing so help to improve it in various ways. Plans to host a similar event to what was planned at Glencanisp are still well and truly in the pipeline for next year. A lot of the hard work and organising that's needed to plan that kind of event has already been done and none of that will go to waste. I'm also keen to do three or four nights in different village halls across the Highlands to showcase what we're all about and get more aspiring DJs out of their bedrooms and hooked up to a sound system! A massive part of what the Highland Techno Collective is concerned with is bringing these nights to smaller communities and giving DJs a platform to do their thing and cross paths with the time-served heads who bring such a wealth of experience. We're always keen to hear from anyone who wants to get involved.
* Rising comes to the Ironworks on Friday, November 3 from 8pm and organisers say to get there early – there are limited numbers.