Where does the time go? And how much of it can you actually remember? Stephanie Heneghan meets the ringmaster general, Yousef, ahead of this month's ninth birthday party at Circus.
We’re fans of a good old fashioned success story here at SevenStreets, especially when it’s one from our back yard, and Yousef (pic r) is squarely in that category. After winning Muzik magazine’s Bedroom Bedlam competition in 1998, he went on to create a reputation for himself behind the Annexe decks as a Cream resident before striking out on his own to set up his now legendary night.
SevenStreets were in attendance on the very first night and nine years later it’s time to sing a very happy birthday to Circus again. As always they’ve laid on a good spread with James Zabiela and Chris Liebing (main pic) heading up the party, Maya Jane Coles returning after her much lauded set in the Shipping Forecast over the summer and residents Lewis Boardman and Scott Lewis there to kick off proceedings as always.
Add a three hour ‘anything goes’ set from the inimitable Danny Howells, an appearance from Yousef himself and sprinkle in the friendliest crowd in Liverpool for top notch bon anniversaire celebrations.
We caught up with the main man for a chat before the festivities to find out what his highlights thus far, what he’s looking forward to over the next year and exactly what keeps the happiest man in house music smiling…
The past nine years have flown by! We remember the first night vividly and have had some amazing nights in the Masque. Viewing it from the other side of the decks, what are your highlights from the past nine years at Circus?
I’m lucky enough to say there have been so many. The first Essential Mix I hosted was an incredible moment; we’d only been open 12 months and I was playing at an Essential Mix at my own event which was surreal! The crazy line ups we have pulled off is always a highlight. Laurent Garnier’s first appearance changed the face of Circus for good and really set in motion the club’s standing in the UK and far beyond. We’ve had UK 1sts for Loco Dice and Davide Squillace and many other amazing debuts, including the first booking outside of London for Luciano.
Don’t forget Carl Cox at the Masque six years ago and then again April just gone when we played back to back. The 500th Essential Mix with Hawtin, bringing Cocoon to Liverpool, being the first to bring MTV to Liverpool (which led to the EM’s), Villalobos’ debut too… But the best highlight is the fact that each month it’s always the one of the best gigs to play anywhere in the world for any DJ, and we have got a simply brilliant crowd.
Did you have any idea when it started how successful it would be when you started?
I literally had no idea. The plan was just for me as a hobby to continue to play in my home city after I left cream. It’s mind-bending really, everything that’s happened, when I think about it.
With other clubs you often see them starting to edge out into other areas, nights in Ibiza, residencies in other parts of the country. Is this something you’ve ever considered or did you make a decision to keep it local?
It’s a question I’ve been getting asked for years. We have done some events in Ibiza, New York, Sydney, London and more, but you can’t emulate the crowd we have if it’s just a tour night which I find usually kills the original vibe. So, I do them sometimes when it’s right (for example I’m doing a Circus event in Jakarta soon) but overall I like to keep my DJ touring and Circus activities separate.
Away from the club, you’re in the studio finishing off your second album, what can we expect from it?
I’m nearly there. It’s been hard as I’ve been away so much this summer so I’m not much further on that I was in May. That said, the tracks I’ve done (22 of them) have all brewed nicely and I am now editing and fine-tuning them all. I’m adding some vocals and taking others away which is working really well too. The project is very musical and dynamic; it’s my best work to date but I’m still not ready to release it. You can expect a few surprises. I want the project to be listened to from the beginning to the end as it’s not just a series of club tracks.
What have you got planned for the forthcoming year? Any guests you’re particularly excited about?
Yes, can’t wait to see Chris Liebing make his Circus debut. The Theatre is not going to know what’s hit it – literally!
Looking forward to next month’s event, the Halloween parties at Circus are legendary, with the costumes becoming more inventive by the years. Any hints at what we’ll be seeing this year?
I’ve missed the last two Circus Halloween events so I am taking no chances with this year’s outfit, it’s probably the best yet to be honest! Also I am really looking forward to having Crosstown Rebels play too with their full team of Damian, Seth, Jamie and Visionquest, which will be great.
Busy schedule, flying all over the world, running your own night and working on new music, it’d wear most people out but we’ve never seen you without a massive smile on your face. What’s your secret\motto for life?
Live in the moment, I love life. So called “heaven” is how you choose to live your life, as the phrase goes, so don’t think you get a 2nd chance. If you are negative or mean or nasty, your life will be hellish; you may have accumulated material wealth but those people are seldom happy. If you are kind and helpful and treat yourself and others with dignity and have disregard for material possessions you will be a lot happier. I do like nice things, but overall I choose the later so I’m rarely fed up, hence the smile
Circus Ninth Birthday Party
Saturday 24th September
@ The Masque, 90 Seel Street, Liverpool, L1 4BH
SPECIAL GUEST TBA
Maya Jane Coles
10pm – 4am
Price £15 / £17
Info – 0151 706 8045
Ticketline: 0161 832 1111