Once merely the name of a particularly unpalatable brand of African beer, now synonymous with hosting the best parties in Liverpool, Chibuku Shake Shake has definitely become a tastier proposition over the past decade.
Since founder member Will Jameson borrowed the moniker to launch a small night with three of his friends, there’s no denying that Chibuku has become that rare happening – an enduring, and thriving club night.
Now approaching its 11th birthday, and displaying no signs of slowing down, Chibuku’s Saturday’s celebrations span a spectrum of genres from disco to grime and includes crowd pulling names like Chase and Status and Horsemeat Disco.
Despite being one of the busiest men in Liverpool we managed to sit down with Chibuku’s head honcho, Rich McGinnis to ask him what’s coming up in 2011, the highs and lows of the last 11 years and if he ever finds time to relax…
Club nights are notoriously hard to keep successful and yet you’re still putting on locked out nights 11 years down the line. How have you managed to keep Chibuku feeling fresh and keep pulling in a crowd?
We’ve moved with the times and quite often been ahead of the curve but always tried to make sure the different strands of people that have been coming for years will be able to find something in each line-up.
I suppose the Erol Alkan and BoysNoize type DJ’s are a progression from Cassius and Jacques Lu Cont that we used to book. Skream and Rusko sit well with the likes of Andy C and DJ Marky and booking legends like Sir David Rodigan ticks the box where John Peel once sat.
The curve balls present randomly so when we get the chance to book Ian Brown, or a secret Justice show, we snap it up. Balancing new and interesting against old favourites without doubt keeps everyone happy.
Chibuku isn’t a night you can pin down into a genre, which must give you free reign to book pretty much whoever you want. What’s the decision making process behind this; do musical trends influence you or do you try not to always go for the obvious crowd puller?
We’re 100% immersed in dance music all day every day, picking up new things all the time, listening to it in the office. We’ve learned there are few substitutes for an obvious crowd puller but every time you do it, or overdo it, you are vastly shortening the life span of that DJ/act. People have short attention spans so we can’t have too much of one thing. Musical trends influence us, but I think we have always balanced that out with good old plain weird stuff that no one has booked in Liverpool yet.
After starting out in the Lemon Lounge, you’ve been at the Masque for the past nine years. What is it about the venue that fits with the night so well?
I think the flow of the venue, the varying sizes of the rooms, and the three spaces offering three different styles of music on one line up helps. Add in the fact that it’s a bit shabby and it lets people know they can relax and let loose.
You can tell a lot about a club night by the quality of its residents, with your Resident Parties as well attended as the bigger nights. Do you make a concerted effort to champion local talent?
When we started there was a huge army of friends and family that made up the residents but they got older, had babies, got married or moved away. Then we felt like we needed to represent the present and James Rand, Rich Furness and Mr Paul are vibrant young DJ’s, seething with passion for what they do. They eat, sleep and breathe music in the same way we do and if they are not behind the decks you will find them on the floor.
As well as Chibuku in Liverpool and London you’ve also got Circus, Manchester’s Warehouse Project and the Shipping Forecast in your repertoire. Do you ever take time out to relax or are you happiest when you’re busy?
That’s just half of it! This year we’re programming Global Gathering which is a huge honour, as well as being involved in Kendal Calling and the Parklife Festival in Manchester. Last year’s Parklife was probably the best thing I have ever been involved in. It was simply incredible.
We’re also working with Come Together at Space in Ibiza and have just launched a festival in Croatia called Hideout which is going to be amazing. Yeah, we are super busy all the time, but I can’t think of it being any other way. We’re in the middle of a recession and I’m lucky to be busy in a job I love so why take time out? We need to take on every opportunity we can while things are good!
Other big names like Cream and Ministry of Sound have licensed their brand out and the market is flooded with CDs and merchandise. Is this something you resolved to steer clear of?
What we do and what they do has always and will always be different.
A Chibuku birthday is always an event to remember, from John Peel and his legendary set in the bar to Club 75’s epic six hour stormer at Nation last year, what are you looking forward to this year?
This year we’ve purposely made it a less mental affair after the mayhem of last year, ten years was something to shout about for sure. For me this year is about The Masque and consolidating this special place which has served us so well throughout the years, creating roadblock parties week after week
The vibrancy and energy of Chibuku can sometimes get lost in bigger venues. BoysNoize in a 500 capacity room? Chase and Status doing club shows? We want to put on line ups that no one else would do and send people home going, wow…that really blew my head off.
Additionally we had two or maybe three huge pieces of news that weren’t ready in time for the birthday event so they will have to wait for later in 2011.
A clichéd question but what are your high and low points of the past 11 years?
Mixmaster Mike at last year’s birthday
Benga’s first show
Felix da Housecat and seeing the theatre let rip for the first time
Getting ripped off to the tune of £30k by a bunch of well known ticket touts
Soulwax having an altercation with some locals
The roof in the annexe filling up with water and exploding one hour before doors on a Mr Scruff gig. Utter chaos.
The highs far outweigh the lows though.
There’s been a rave on a train, the infamous Forest Parties, any plans to do something similar in 2011?
I was in discussion with just last week about a return to Tal-y-bont, which for me was the most epic outdoor adventure of the lot. There is something special about getting 500 ravers on a few buses and taking them on an amazing journey. They never make money but they make friends, memories and legends, which in the end is much more important.
Chibuku Shake Shake birthday party
Saturday 5th March.2011
The Masque. Seel Street. Liverpool
Chase & Status(DJ set)
True Tiger feat
+ more tba
Online tickets available from http://www.chibuku.com/shop (£17 NUS, £19 others)
Paper tickets available from: 3b Records Slater Street Liverpool: 0151 353 7027
Chibuku info: 0151 706 8045