London and its afterhours: a talk with Jim Rider

Jim Rider is a London based DJ and producer who has taught himself about the city’s after hour culture by fully immersing into it in the best way possible; by playing music. Moving to London after going to University in Portsmouth, Jim quicky made moves to enter the dance music scene by working at Lock and Load Events and then eventually gaining a residency to DJ at the Dawn after-party which takes place on Sunday mornings at the Lightbox club in Vauxhall.

We caught up with him to see what’s new in store for him this new year and also to hear about what is going on in London on weekends when the the night is over but the day is just beginning.

Hey there Jim, good to see you. Can you tell our readers a little about what inspired you to start DJing and producing?

I started learning to DJ around  the age of 16/17 but only started playing out in clubs when I went to University in Portsmouth. I spent my first student loan on new CDJs to replace the all-in-one Newmark CDJ thing I had where you had to flip the top up to put a CD in.

My first experience supporting anyone well known was when I played before DJ Zinc at a night called Sumo run by the guys from Kry Wolf. I was playing on CDJs and instead of mixing out of my last track he just wheeled it, stood the CDJs on their side and went straight into “138 Trek” on vinyl which made me look a right idiot!

Music production wise, I grew up playing drums and dabbled with Fruity Loops (lol) at uni but didn’t get into making music properly until I moved to London.

London is known all around the world to have a lot to offer in terms of music. I remember when I used to live here and party it up weekend to weekend some years ago, the scene was quite special.  Can you tell us about your experience of London life working in music, how you managed to raise your profile and also tell us about the Dawn after party that you DJ’d at?

Yeah absolutely. When I moved to London I had a few jobs in music but it wasn’t until I worked at Fire & Lightbox in Vauxhall that I started producing and DJing regularly. I was in a duo called Boean for a while and we had a fair bit of success to begin with, our first track together was picked up by Eton Messy and was played on BBC Radio 1 and we played some big gigs and festivals off the back of it. I had the industry connections and Jackson was making the music. We were making fairly commercial sounding deep house but at the same time I was playing longer and darker/tech sets under my real name, musically I enjoyed them more so I started out on my own and started learning how to use Logic properly.

One of the main residencies I held was at Dawn Afterhours. It was one of the first events we created together with Michael Bibi of Solid Grooves making use of Lightbox’s 24-hour license. The party starts at 5am and goes on until midday so people come from all over London to carry on the night, actually you’d see a lot of the same faces there each week. It’s still got a real family vibe to it although I don’t play there as much these days.

As a resident for Dawn then later Tribal Sessions and Shuush I made some really good industry friends and in particular became close with Simon Heslin who ran a label called Electronique (now a vinyl only label called EWax). I became a resident for him and got the chance to play internationally including Space Ibiza 3 years running and various shows in Berlin at Tresor and House of Weekend. I then got my head down and spent time doing production courses at SSR in Camden which has led to my first couple of solo releases so hopefully it will start to pay off.

Cheers thanks for sharing. Can you tell our readers about what London as a city has to offer today in terms of providing after hours events for those who want to continue the fun?

Like a few other cities in Europe, London has got a few options for this kind of thing. Dawn has more of a deep house and techno style and is still on every week. Also, every couple of months they throw an extended 12-hour party with big headliners which always do well. You also have Jaded at Corsica Studios which is mainly Techno. To me there doesn’t seem to be as many regular after parties as there used to be. Keep On Going was the leading East London alternative to us in the South but they don’t operate any more. With places like Printworks and Tobacco Dock hosting massive 5000+ capacity events but on early licenses (i.e. 10pm closing times) it’s led to a shift in people going out earlier on a Saturday afternoon and using normal club nights as their after party.

But I have to say you do have big Sunday events like Abode at Studio 338 which has grown into a monster over the last few years, plus Fuse at Village Underground. They start mid to late afternoon and go on until around midnight so people are saving themselves. It became clear the demand was there which led Phonox to open on Sundays (Jackmaster had a 4 week residency there and they’ve got Ame and Jon Hopkins coming up) and The Hydra started Sunday series at Ministry of Sound with massive names like Move D and Danny Tenaglia.

Some people prefer after parties because they consider the music played to be more experimental, as an after party DJ do you agree with this? How would play your set when playing at after hours?

Yeah I definitely play deeper and darker stuff at after hours gigs. The last thing people want if they’ve already been out all night is mad high tempo stuff. For me you want to be able to have a bit of a dance and get into the music but then chat and chill out if you need to. When I was promoting events more regularly the after party was a chance to finally unwind and catch up with people after running around working all night so the music needs to fit that.

In comparison to other European cities how do you think the London after hours scene differs?

I think London after parties lean towards house and minimal/dub rather than heavy Techno but as I said there are a lot less options than was. I’ve spent a fair amount of time DJing and partying in Berlin and it will always be the best city if you want to stay out all weekend, the clubs just don’t seem to close. You can very easily end up “club hopping” and before you know it it’s Monday morning!

In recent years London has suffered a bit of a blow with regards to counter culture with the closing of venues such as cable and also more recently the temporary closure of Fabric. How do you see the future of clubbing in London in years to come and how do you think the scene will adapt?

It has but I can’t think of anywhere apart from maybe Berlin or Amsterdam where you are literally as spoilt for choice every weekend as you are in London. The press will always focus on the negatives surrounding London nightlife because it makes a better story. We did have a rough couple of years with clubs closing, the fabric situation and the fire at Studio 338 but I feel like London is in a strong position at the moment. Printworks has been a huge success and most nights in their series’ sell out, Tobacco Dock is hosting more and more massive shows. Studio 338 has been refurbished and you’ve still got solid clubs like Fabric, MOS, XOYO, Corsica Studios, Phonox, Fire & Lightbox, Egg etc. If you look at the RA listings every Saturday there’s always at least 4 or 5 big nights to go to.

How do you feel about the Mayor of London’s appointment of Amy lame as the night czar to protect the city’s nightlife? Do you think this will in reality have a positive impact on the future sustainability of London counter culture? Have you personally seen any positive developments on this front as of yet?

I think she’s been a great appointment and the difference is that City Hall now better understands the positive impact that London nightlife has on our economy. Having her work so closely with the Mayor of London feels like a positive step and with the introduction of the NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) clubs and promoters are now working much closer with the authorities than they ever have. There seems to be a more common sense approach surrounding nightlife in London now which will benefit everyone.

I think the introduction of the 24-hour Underground at the weekend is a clear example of that. The Overground in East London is also now 24-hour on the weekend, I picked up a Transport for London leaflet for it the other day and it even suggests places you can now get home from easier which included XOYO. That wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago so it feels like progress!

Tell us about what’s in store for Jim Rider in 2018?

I had my first two solo tracks released late in 2017 on Toolroom Records and Flashmob Records and both were well received so I’m looking to build on that this year. In the next few weeks I’ve got an EP coming out on a Canadian label called Monique Musique who have had people like Martin Buttrich and Carlo Lio release with them and then a remix for Rezongar music from Argentina which I’m really excited about, it’s great that people that far from home are noticing my music. I’ve got a load of original tracks that i’m currently sending to labels so fingers crossed I can get some of those signed. I’ll also be running a series of small outdoor London events this Summer but I can’t say too much about that at the moment.

We are called Clubber Confession, and I always ask this to the artists I meet. Were you a clubber before being a DJ and producer? And do you think it is necessary to be a clubber in order to be a good DJ?

Yeh 100%, I don’t think you can read a crowd of people as a DJ until you’ve stood there yourself!

Also our audience is mainly a continental European one, if any of our readers came to London for a weekend to party where would you recommend they go? Are there any new gems worth checking out?

Without a doubt you need to go to Printworks, it used to be the Daily Mail print press and still has some of the original factory features. The sound and lighting are ridiculously good. I’d also suggest Studio 338, it was an amazing venue before the fire so I’m excited to get down there and see how they’ve rebuilt it. Summer events in there under the glass roof are the closest you’ll get to Ibiza without getting on a plane! In terms of gems I’d say Dalston Roof Park, Corsica Studios, Phonox and a new club called E1 are all worth checking out too.

Also, this year is Dawn’s 5th birthday. The date is still to be confirmed but it will be on the Dawn After-hours Facebook soon. So if any clubbers happen to be in London on the weekend that it takes place, be sure to check that out.
Make sure to check Jim out on his Facebook and have a look at the Dawn After-hours page as well!

Interview by Armo Andonian