It’s all go in the Baltic Triangle right now. New venues, new spaces, new offices (we’re in one, if you want to bring us booze), and even a bakery. Over a year ago, when the CUC went under, it seemed like this area was stalling as much as the cars being repaired in the garages nearby. So it’s encouraging to see so many new places popping up – HAUS, on Greenland Street, is the latest. Helmed by local team Waxxx, who’ve been putting on sellout events for a couple of years, they’ve upped their game and got their own bloody venue, complete with studio spaces. As you do. We sat down with Josh Burkes for a chat about their latest challenge.
Waxxx have been really successful doing your thing over the past couple of years. Did getting your own venue feel like a natural step?
I wouldn’t say we’ve been financially successful over the years, although we have been successful in other ways. We started doing ‘house parties’ in Liverpool just two years ago, and since then we’ve been on the look-out for a place we could call home. We’ve always felt slightly restricted in terms of what we can do in other venues, and at times our plans have even landed us in hot water. Now we have our own place, we’re really keen to keep on pushing the props and production side of our parties, making each event different to the last yet maintaining that home-baked DIY ethos.
Whilst working at Camp and Furnace in the early days, I realised that they were going to do something quite unbelievable and they have achieved more than I ever anticipated, but it was different to what we wanted to do. It did feel quite natural to find our own place, but until recently we didn’t have time to step back and realise how naive – or stupid – we were to take on an 8,500sq ft. warehouse.
What was it about this space that really attracted you?
We definitely wanted to be in the Baltic Triangle, as it’s an ongoing project that we really wanted to be a part of. Although our building isn’t beautiful in a traditional sense, it does have a certain charm. It’s really big, and therefore has potential for us to do some really creative things. We saw a lot of spaces all over the city but instantly fell in love with this place, and signed the lease two weeks later.
Some people would wet themselves in fear at the prospect of being in charge of a venue space. How have you found the transition?
It has been an incredible struggle and even though collectively we have a lot of experience in a variety of areas, there were challenges that raised their heads in the early days that we were definitely not expecting. The transition has been easier for us in some ways but having no money has been tough for us personally. We’ve had to learn on the job, but there’s plenty more to learn, particularly with our new projects. But we’re getting there. Now we want to throw ourselves into other areas which we love and think we can do differently, and hopefully successfully. But more centred on a daytime offering that appeals to a different audience.
Where do you see the Baltic area heading in future?
It’s an amazing place. Since Camp and Furnace took off, the area has such a buzz about it. There’s excitement and optimism here about what can be achieved. There are some obvious comparisons to Shoreditch, amongst other places, which get bandied around a lot but I think it will be different to that. It will be very much a work in progress where people will always be pushing the boundaries of creativity. 18 months ago, the Baltic Triangle felt like a very different place to how it does now. With a range of good eateries, bars and even clubnight spaces now in operation, we’re immensely happy to be able to call it our home.
Can you reveal anything you’ve got planned with HAUS this year?
We don’t want to ruin the surprise too much but we’ve got some amazing things up our sleeves. The last thing we want is to become known as a nightclub because we believe the space lends itself to so much more than this. We have a few promoters we are working with but there’s a limit we will set. So far we’ve done about two nights per month, which may increase but by being selective with that, the space can have a breather and the nights will benefit.
You’ve also got studio spaces in here, right?
Yes, it’ll be up and running soon, providing affordable office and desk space for artists, graphic designers, musicians and small creative businesses. So far about 50 people have made enquiries and they all seem perfect. We mainly want people in the space who have an interest in the arts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be an artist. We don’t do interviews and we’re not cliquey in any way. We just want people in the space to feel happy, supported and free to work in a relaxed creative environment.
What’s good about Liverpool at the moment?
The Baltic Triangle is so exciting at the moment, obviously. There’s a real sense of working together and the creative minds here are going to make it a brilliant space to work, eat, drink etc. I think the potential sale of Frenson’s property portfolio would destroy parts of the city centre and some of the best venues. I think the monopoly of promoters in Liverpool has often stopped young upstarts who want to do something in the city, but that has eased off and the likes of Freeze, MuMu, Waxxx and Abandon Silence are all bringing amazing line ups to the city and the friendly but competitive nature makes us all want to outdo each other.
What do you think needs work?
The lack of jobs and cuts are crushing young people in the city. And retaining students after they graduate is going to get more and more difficult for Liverpool. Local Government organisations like ACME and Baltic Creative CIC are doing everything they can to encourage decent businesses to move to Liverpool, which would give graduates a reason to stay, but there are a range of wider issues they face which hinders their progress. They’re certainly achieving a lot with limited resources, though.
Have you felt welcomed by everyone already based in this area?
The best thing is the good nature of the people in the Baltic Triangle. I think we are seen as a baby which needs support, which is entirely true and a lot of people in the area have helped us massively. From Camp and Furnace donating an unwanted caravan, to contacts like Mark Lawler at Baltic Creative sending people our way for conferences, like the one Sound City hosted here last week. Everyone wants each other to succeed and therefore they always help out. I hate people talking like this usually because it sounds massively kiss-arse but we’re just immensely grateful for everyone’s help. I can’t imagine it being like this in any other city.
HAUS, 35 – 39 Greenland St, Liverpool
For enquiries about HAUS Studio space, email firstname.lastname@example.org