The Road to Soundwave
Five years ago in 2006, Soundcrash was born. The brainchild of graphic designer Rob Waller, it is now one of London’s premier music events companies. Over the years, Soundcrash has deftly ushered the cream of today’s underground electronic, hip-hop and bass music through its doors, and these artists have, without fail, slayed an array of avid fans. From an unforgettable audience with the ever-intriguing Mos Def, to magical nights at the Royal Albert Hall with the Cinematic Orchestra, Soundcrash has grown from humble beginnings into a key, much needed part of London’s always-electric live music scene.
With its boutique festival Soundwave (described by The Guardian as having “all the quirks of a Bestival but in a far more beautiful and sunny setting”) just around the corner – offering music from the likes of Little Dragon, Bonobo and Roots Manuva next to the shimmering turquoise waters of the golden Croatian sun – Brainer caught up with its founder to discuss genre eclecticism, Soundwave itself, and what’s in store for us all in the near future.
How was Soundcrash started in the first place?
Well, I was working as a designer for quite a while, and I was putting on small bands on the side and small club nights in Shoreditch. Places like Herbal, a few basements here and there… Just small, cool stuff. Obviously friends were coming through, and I guess it got to a period where I started putting on a few gigs. Things like Kid Koala came up and the gigs became bigger, and all of a sudden I decided OK – this is the way to go. I’m going to stop the graphic design, and just throw myself fully into trying to make this scene that a lot of people love, into something a bit bigger. At that point the scene was definitely dwindling, in a live sense; it needed some impetus, and I thought I was the man to do it.
What was the first gig under the Soundcrash banner?
There were a few bank holiday weekend ones I did back in the day at 333 which were Ninja vs. Warp, but not many people know about those. The first under Soundcrash as we know it today was a Kid Koala show at Cargo – we vastly oversold it, I was completely inexperienced in what I was doing. A 375 capacity venue, 500 people in the place – people were dancing on the bar to see Eric do his stuff. It was crazy!
It must have been a great feeling…
It’s nice to see hard work pay off. From then on, it was one thing to the next. Within a year and a half of that, we’d done our first show at the Royal Albert Hall – our first Cinematic Orchestra show – closely followed by Mos Def tours and some other really good shit.
How were you able to start off putting on nights on the side?
I was gambling my wages, basically. At the time my girlfriend wasn’t too happy about that! The rent was sometimes late, but when you’ve got a passion for something… Basically I believed a lot of artists out there – big artists, small artists – had a lot to offer, and there was a big crowd of people that wanted to see a certain sort of music. These two things weren’t linking up. So, I took a gamble. First and foremost I’m a fan; I don’t put on music that I don’t like. Everything I put on is something I’ve got a passion for.
What were some of the problems you encountered starting up?
Starting up something new, you don’t have the relationships with the people you need to work with. Convincing people that you’re serious, that you want to hire out a bigger venue than you’ve done before, sometimes that’s not easy. Our first one at Koko I remember bringing Krush over from Japan; is the venue