INIQUITY

INIQUITY are a team of forward thinking techno promoters who have been hosts to some of the most gripping artists in the scene, such as DVS1, Freddy K, Marie Montexier, Newa, Salome and more.

The first thing I wanted to ask, was how did it all start for INIQUITY, how did the both of you meet?

Riccardo: INIQUITY all started as a game, an experiment, then after the first party we just thought-- maybe we should take this more seriously.

Running parties like these, with music like this, in Liverpool, unless you have a real passion for it, it’s very difficult, it can be unsustainable as well, economically. We do INIQUITY for the passion of it, we see it growing gradually all the time, for me it’s still a bit surreal what we’ve managed to do in such a small city, in such a small scene.

Max: Yeah, to build on that, on our first night we hosted Nene H, who you know, has played in Berghain and Amsterdam, not like it matters, but it’s a big deal for us. That first night went so well and we got great feedback, we reflected on that after and we were just like, we were meant to do this. We put on another night in Meraki, and after that we were like, we can’t stop doing this now, and it’s been two years and we’re not slowing down.

Riccardo: You know there’s been ups and downs, some nights go well, some nights go a bit less well, and considering the cost-of-living crisis in England at the moment, it can be very difficult selling tickets for your party, but we are going to just keep on doing it, because it’s what we love-- we love the connections that we make with the artists, the agents, this is what keeps us alive. INIQUITY is our life at the moment, we are happy to invest in it and we are never going to stop.

Yeah, it’s definitely a difficult time for anyone promoting and putting on parties at the moment. After coronavirus so many good clubs and parties closed down, there is definitely a huge difference in the scene these days.

Can you remember the specific moment that made you realise INIQUITY is something you wanted to pursue and do?

Max: Well, I mean, me and Ricc, since he’s been in Liverpool, we’ve always been clubbing together, and after the coronavirus, when we looked at the landscape and at what was actually going on in Liverpool, solely Liverpool, there wasn’t really any techno nights, bar a few.

The music we want to listen to sounds the best inside a small club, so we thought, if no-one else is doing it then we have to do it ourselves.

We want to listen to this music on a good sound system, a good club, and with our friends around us, and that’s what we’ve tried to do, bringing the community and you know branching out and giving that platform to those who haven’t been as lucky or confident enough to get to that point, we want to give them that chance as well.

As you said that there, about small clubs after covid, it’s something I’ve started to appreciate a lot more-- just going to small clubs where maybe there’s not going to be as many people but it’s a passionate crowd and everyone is up for it.

Riccardo: I mean yeah, it is definitely different in the small clubs compared to the bigger ones, but I mean, I think we can all agree techno is becoming the most popular genre in electronic music at the moment. Techno gets promoted to young people and students, it’s the new EDM-- it’s not that this is bad, because you know you can see this kind of music as a gateway to find new music, and new communities.

We believe the music that we promote unites people more than what’s commercial today-- such as hard techno-- don’t get me wrong there are some amazing artists and producers, but techno is just different and radical compared to everything else.

Definitely, young people are just getting into this type of music, and they listen to these harder kinds of techno, which is all about the big moments, the big drops, compared to a type of style that’s going to take you on an experience over four or five hours.

Max: But yeah, I mean you’ve got to start somewhere, when we first started going out, there were nights that were more like that harder style, because if you want to go to a busier rave, you’ll fall into that, whereas if you come to one of our nights, some nights might be full, some nights not as full, but those nights that aren’t as full, they still go ahead, that’s when you know we are doing it for the right reasons. It goes in cycles, you have to stick to what you love.

Definitely, I mean even looking at the people you book, you’re not going for the big names that are just going to catch people’s attention, you look for exciting artists that people aren’t too familiar with, but once they go to your night and experience it, it opens a whole new world for them.

Riccardo: One thing that we aim to do is create a human connection rather than just a booking, human connection is what helps you get out of the bubble of a little city, like Liverpool.

Max: You hear a lot about big bookings-- they come to your city, they get put in a hotel, they come to the club, they play for two hours, they go home and they fly back, and although that might be great and you sell tickets, where is that getting you?

You want to meet these people and form a connection, understand their scene, see what they like about yours, maybe have a little party and dance together, go for a meal, so yeah, these people we are booking are clearly not the biggest but they are the ones that want to stick around, they will be at the club until its closing, and that’s what gets me excited.

Just on that, another thing I want to bring up is just the collaboration you did with TES club in Georgia.

Riccardo: It’s a funny one, how that happened.

Max: Completely random as well.

Riccardo: That’s what made it so good. We were doing this party with Newa, she’s a resident in Bassiani, this big club in Georgia. I was doing the door with a bouncer and this guy turned up at the door, and he was barely speaking English, he was saying something like, “I am Georgian, I came here because I saw that Newa was playing in Liverpool”, he was living here with his dad at the time, and he was like, “Newa in Liverpool that’s so strange”, I said just come in, so he came in on his own, and he stayed with us, and from that we started a beautiful friendship.

[Georgie] used to run a festival back in Georgia and he had some connections in the club scene there, and just like that we started working together and he linked us with TES, it’s an amazing club and from there everything started, we met the residents and the people.

I like how it was just an organic connection, something that happened on a night out. Something I am realising about the music scene, is that it’s just about getting out there and meeting people, you never know what might come of it, and off the back of that it ended up you guys actually travelling out to Georgia to play.

Max: We are pretty good mates with the guy now, Georgie’s a part of INIQUITY.

When he went back to Georgia, the first thing he said was, I will get you guys into Tbilisi, so we worked on that for three to four months, and our dreams ended up coming true. We’d been saying for three or four years that we have to go to Tbilisi, and to actually go and play there was surreal. We invited five or six Liverpool and Manchester based DJ’s, we just pitched them the idea. We ended up all travelling down together and we had an insane trip, we went to Bassiani raving, then we played in TES club for a full club, it was absolutely packed.

Riccardo: It was a very maturing experience for everyone.

Max: And we’ve been back four times since then.

Riccardo: Maybe a bit too much.

Max: But I mean, off the back of that, we played there, and then we also brought some residents from there to Liverpool and they came here for a week, they came to a little party here that went on until about six in the morning, they enjoyed that, Ricc left, I left, and they were like, we’re staying, so they stayed until the end which is funny.

Riccardo: That was a very funny night, all the guys who came down were lovely and it was so good to see people from the other side of the world coming to Liverpool and appreciating the city so much.

Max: And that’s the thing, the connection, and there’s potential to play again, and bring them back here again, and that’s not slowing down, now we have that organised, we’ve figured out ways to do visas and stuff like that, so why not play there, it’s the best experience, and gives these guy’s a chance to play in the UK, which they’ve never done before, we both owe one for each other so it just works out.

Riccardo: Nessa, who’s a resident at TES, she’s from Iran, and with the visa situation and Brexit, bringing these people from Europe to the UK is difficult, and it was so good seeing her doing an interview with the BBC in Liverpool’s Meraki, which should come out soon. It’s all about the music and building something, the community.

Max: It’s also a confidence boost when you see clubs like Printworks trying to book Newa, the visa not going through, while just me and Ricc on our own, we managed to sort that out for quite a few Georgians, so we were pretty proud of that one.

Riccardo: Yeah, very proud of that one.

With INIQUITY, it seems like a lot of passion goes into it, it’s very community focused, and from being at one of your parties before, it’s a nice group of people, you do have that vibe, that everyone who comes is loyal to the brand. Do you feel like anything is stopping you from growing further in terms of the club scene in Liverpool and the infrastructure?

Riccardo: Well, when you are based in such a small city like Liverpool, you have to be community based because the people that go to the raves are always the same. We don’t have very big rooms, so it’s these small clubs every time, in the smoking area or inside, everyone you see, you basically know them.

I would like to involve people that have moved here for university a bit more in our scene, that’s what we’re trying to do at the moment.

In terms of infrastructure, I would like to see clubs invest more in local talents and making residents of them. I think if a club has regular residents, you can actually be the movement for Liverpool’s scene, you could have for example two or three techno residents, then have someone who plays house, or breakbeat, and they are all locals. Institutions like Berghain or Bassiani, but also TES, they all have residents which play different music, and they are locals too, having residents means growth-- the first five new people to the venue are like, “oh yeah, my friend is DJing at a club, I’ll come check out the show”, then that becomes 10, 15, 20 people, until you build up an army of people.

I wanted to bring up, in terms of talking about Georgia and the way things are in Liverpool, did you notice many differences in terms of culture in the UK compared to clubs in Europe.

Max: The whole economy is different, it’s not like the UK, where we go to work Monday to Friday and we all go out on a Friday and Saturday, its more integrated than that, with DJ workshops, DJ schools.

Riccardo: There are a lot of restrictions in the UK when it comes to clubs because of laws that you don’t have in places like Georgia. Everything from the time the club is open, you always need a certain type of license, you probably need it legally too in places like Georgia, but I feel like in Georgia, you can just have longer times in general, the laws don’t stop you. In the UK, people see clubs and they think I need to come in at 10 and I need to finish at 4am and then I have to go home, but if you have longer times you can stay in the club and see the club instead as a place where everyone meets.

Max: There’s a whole sort of culture, because in Europe, these parties last as long as 24 hours, you might go for four to five hours, you can then leave and go get lunch or breakfast, and then you can go back again and you feel refreshed and in a different mood and you can keep dancing. When we went last time, I was up at six in the morning and I wanted to go out and party and there is that chance to do that, not to say it’s amazing just because you can dance at 6am but it’s crazy the fact that you can just get up and go to a full-on community in a club, whereas that wouldn’t happen here in Liverpool.

Back home in the north of Ireland, 2am is the cut-off for most clubs and venues.

The big thing on that as well is the infrastructure of it in terms of transport and getting people home safe, there’s a lot more to it than just opening the clubs later.

Max: There are a lot of people working on these things in the Liverpool scene as well, like getting later bus’s open, but it takes a lot of people to get involved from the council and clubs to get these things passed, maybe it is the infrastructure that is needed to keep these clubs open longer.

Riccardo: You also have to consider the economical part. For example, for a night out it’s £20 for a taxi, £20 for a ticket, £20 for a taxi back, £30 on drink to let loose a bit, one night becomes like £100 or £150 and you don’t even realise. We try to keep the prices of our tickets under £20, so they start from £8 and they barely go over £15, but yeah as a result of this is that it’s not sustainable, because of the artist fee, and then you need to also pay the club for the equipment and space and everything, so there are some changes to be done, that we need to work towards in the future.

Again, it’s just building that community to do this with.

Another thing I wanted to ask about was a party that I unfortunately did not make, quite annoyed I didn’t make it, it was the DVS1 & Freddie K event, a collab with Tiribä in Manchester. I was talking to you guys the night before, and I was going back to Ireland the next day, it’s one I’m not happy to have missed.

Riccardo: That was a very quick thing, they cancelled a big festival in Liverpool and we had a private email from their management and they were like, do you want to do this, and Max was like we need to do this.

Max: I was sat on the coach after work on a Friday, thinking I was just going to chill, I had nothing much going on, and then this email popped up on my phone, DVS1 and Freddy K in Liverpool, I was so shocked, I read the email, called Ricc straight away, and we had a week deadline to organise this, so we had a week to sort out the club, sound system, hotels, everything, the co-ordination, the graphic, and we managed to pull it off, it was crazy. Before all that I went round every club in Liverpool just driving round in my little Renault Clio, and just pitched to them that we had the two biggest DJ’s, for me anyway, in techno in the world in Liverpool next week, and you’ve got to host it-- sadly none of them had the chance to say yes, so that’s why we branched out to Chloe and we said look, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, do you want to do this with us, and she was the one who managed to get us into Manchester’s Soup, and then it went ahead. As soon as we got that yes, and the extended license, we were like, now we’ve got a party on our hands, and it bloody was.

Zack (DVS1) had played there exactly 11 years ago, so he’s gone on this whole journey, and he was back 11 years later, playing this little club again, it was something you’ll never see again, them two playing to a little 250/300 capacity venue.

Great, great venue.

Riccardo: Seeing these veterans enjoy it so much, something so DIY and simple, it makes me believe that anything is possible, it was really inspirational, I’ll never forget that.

It was one for the books and the conversations that we had with them, the things we discussed, it was like, “never stop what you are doing guys, keep doing it because you might struggle two, three, five, even ten years but when the other things disappear you will still be there”, and I believe everything he said.

I was listening to his resident advisor podcast a while ago, and I think it’s the same thing even for producing, trends come and go, and I think you can really tell when someone’s trying to do something because its popular at the minute.

Another thing I was just going to ask in terms of looking at the way you guys use social media, it’s quite minimal, it’s not over the top, I feel like these days it’s so important for artists and promoters to use social media, do you find it hard to keep a healthy relationship with social media?

Max: Me personally, I pretty much hate social media, I don’t really use it to promote myself or anything like that, it’s so busy, and it’s hard to get that attention. The reason we keep it minimal is because we’re not trying to push it into anyone’s face, how I discovered this music was off my own back, and I think other people will benefit from discovering it organically too. With our club nights, it’s like, if you’re there, you’ll see it and understand it, if you don’t, maybe come to the next one and you will, but we aren’t going to push that everywhere-- come and see and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.

Anything else you’d like to briefly mention before we close, what’s coming up for INIQUITY at the moment?

Max: Busy six months actually, in two weeks’ time, we are doing a little local night at an intimate venue called the Kabin, which is Invisible Wind Factory’s new little space, next to the Kazimier Garden and that’s going to be a resident showcase alongside Ollie from Plush, who’s forever present in this scene, the idea is that not every night has to be a big club night, we can do some smaller raves and get some more local DJs on. We also have a big party coming up at the end of march, easter bank holiday, taking from the Tbilisi experience, we are bringing over Olly who is a regular in Bassiani, if you like techno get involved.

 

Find the full interview & set here:

Interview by Emmett Gallagher

Words by Charlie James-Turner