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Interview: Keepsakes and Jaded Nineties Raver Talk Haven

Interview: Keepsakes and Jaded Nineties Raver Talk Haven

Friday 2nd March, 2018 12:23PM

Auckland-based electronic artists Keepsakes (James Barrett) and Jaded Nineties Raver (Marie Celeste) have made it their mission to lift the bar for adventurous sounds in local dance music via their collective and label Haven. The duo put their money where their mouth is, hosting a stellar run of shows over the past year featuring carefully curated artists from New Zealand and abroad, and kicking off the Haven record label as a vehicle for promoting high quality local talent abroad. They'll be heading to Europe shortly, and are wrapping up Haven's Auckland events with a special show featuring returning Lobster Theremin artist Daze at Whammy Backroom tonight. We felt it was an opportune moment to invite Barrett and Celeste to reflect on Haven's achievements, and the challenges facing the underground dance community in Aotearoa...

Keepsakes: With our final Auckland show with Lobster Theremin signee Daze fast approaching tonight, it’s been interesting to reflect on what we’ve achieved, particularly over the past year. After a year of pushing Haven shows pretty hard in Auckland, do you think we’ve made a meaningful impact on the dance music scene here? I like to think, at the least, we’ve brought together an audience that really wants to hear the weirder side of techno where no shows focusing on that previously existed. I’m also pretty happy that this crowd has always come from a mixed range of social groups here - we haven’t just relied on the traditional club crowd or the indie and punk crowd with our shows which has kept things interesting. I’ve also really enjoyed the experience of bringing some of the leading lights of this music to New Zealand to the first time - a lot of these DJs are used to playing to thousands and thousands of people most shows, but have really appreciated playing a small, 100 person, intimate show in an emerging scene.

Jaded Nineties Raver: I feel like we've really upped the local small dance music gig game in terms of quality of artist, care in how we host our events and variation of local support, and that's come through in the crowd we attract. The parties often remind me of the early 90's Christchurch parties - filled with random people who look like they come from all walks of life but with a shared priority of music and an atmosphere with zero tolerance for bullshit. Everyone seems to be there for one thing and thats the music and thats all I ever wanted when we started doing these parties. It's also been really important to me that the support bookings have not gone to the older stale establishment DJs, but rather those often overlooked, and with a more discerning taste in what’s current. I feel the support we've booked have all worked really well next to the international acts we have held and I think it sucks that there are promoters out here that don't believe we have that standard locally or just choose to overlook them as they're not hyped. Promoters in this city are notorious for only putting themselves or their mates on as support and this has lead to mediocre and / or badly curated line ups, making it a real struggle to get the pubic interested in local artists.


Keepsakes: What have you found challenging about doing these parties in Auckland? It often seems like this is a city where it takes only a couple of things going against you with a gig to make it a failure. I think because a lot of people have a very limited amount of spare cash here, due to the ridiculous cost of living, people definitely have to pick and choose what shows they go to at times. So all it can take is another show on the same night, or too many similar shows around the same time, or even just a bit of rain to keep quite a few people at home. I know often agents that don’t understand our limited situation out here can really exacerbate our sometimes precarious situation too.

Jaded Nineties Raver: Agents and fees are a huge issue for everyone in New Zealand, at almost any level. Most of our acts are purchased via an Australian tour promoter and although we've been pretty lucky with who we have dealt with, many of those guys are only interested in looking after themselves, most of them tend to give NZ high fees to cover a lot of the costs for their own shows in Aussie, even though they will easily pull a healthy four or five times the amount of people we will. You've also got the European agents that are utterly clueless as to the size and state of things out here, they have no long term vision for this side of the world or their roster’s future over here. What has been amazing are all of the artists we’ve had out here - friendships have been forged. Theres been some fucking funny times and it will be super nice to see all these people again when we are back on the European touring circuit.

Keepsakes: What are some of the things you’ve enjoyed about running techno parties here? Personally, my favourite thing is how open and all over the place you can be when DJing here. I think because techno is quite a new thing to many people here there’s less of a preconceived notion about what should or shouldn’t be in a techno DJ set, which really gives you a lot of freedom. In some places in Europe you’ll often find that audiences can be pretty set in their ideas about what a techno set should sound like, and do not appreciate it if you move outside that boundary.

Jaded Nineties Raver: I've really just loved the opportunity to do this in our own punk way. Auckland is such a horribly commercial city, its been a highlight to host those people that feel they have never had a space for them catering to this genre of music and have found a very welcome home at Haven. That's been the most rewarding part for me and knowing we have bought over artists at the top of their game and put them in a tiny dark room in the South Pacific. There is something uniquely special about doing parties in a small place and within a burgeoning scene. I will miss that.


Keepsakes: You’ve always handled the visual side to the parties and label. What was your inspiration there? Did you approach the artwork for the parties and label at all differently? How do you maintain consistency between all the various posters and record art?

Jaded Nineties Raver: At the start it was all about going back to year zero. Auckland literally had nothing in the way of underground boundary pushing dance music, which is why we started doing these nights. To me, when you know exactly what you want your parties to be like and you know what crowd you want to have in there, every single component in putting on a party needs to be carefully considered around our ideals and the artwork is key in translating our message to the public, of what atmosphere they can expect at the party. We're doing raw parties with max a hundred people in a dark basement so I naturally felt a like a more old school approach to the artwork was fitting. Plus I had never used Photoshop so the early posters were definitely raw looking in a now personally amusing way. In regard to label design I think they're quite powerful and emotionally timely images for a lot of people and I also like the aesthetic quality the CCTV has. The images have a toughness that suits not only the music but our attitude in how we choose to run our label and club nights, that was an important message I wanted to try and convey.

Keepsakes: We’re planning on pushing Haven shows in Berlin alongside regular releases on the label. What are you looking forward to most with moving our operations to Europe? For me getting to play regular shows again will be nice. But I’m also very much looking forward to being able to have whatever choice of artists we want for our own shows and having the chance to get really creative with bookings there.

Jaded Nineties Raver: I cannot wait! I’m looking forward to putting our stamp on Europe - I do I think the style in which we do things will be refreshing over there too and I'm very much looking forward to having time to work on my own material. But in the meantime I'm well excited for our last Auckland Haven, Daze played one of our favourite sets when he was here last and I’m looking forward to a big one tonight.

Links
facebook.com/havenakl/

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Fri 2nd Mar
Whammy Backroom, Auckland