Bored with the London clubbing scene that they were experiencing, krankbrother (aka Kieran and Danny Clancy) took the decision to start an underground house and techno party for themselves. Within two short years, the krankbrother parties are now regarded as one of the most cutting edge nights across the capital. Previous artists to have played krankbrother nights have included Dyed Soundorom, Pan-Pot, Heidi, Ivan Smagghe, Nic Fanciulli, Martin Landsky, Italoboyz, Clement Meyer and Shaun Reeves but it was this summer’s rooftop parties that really put the brothers in the limelight. Fresh from their latest party (which was their final of the summer) which welcomed Nick Curly and NYC’s MANIK to another new rooftop space, Kieran Clancy has just announced that he is now branching out and launching the brand new krankbrother agency. We caught up with Kieran to discuss both the parties and what he’s got install for the agency and the artists signed to it.
Pulse: How did you get into putting on parties initially? Kieran: It all started as a private yearly fancy dress party down at Corsica Studios, just for our friends really. Then there were 300 people turning up and everyone was telling us they wanted more, so we decided to make it into a regular thing. We were also pretty bored with the parties we were going to in London, and wanted to organise the kind of parties that us and our friends actually wanted to go to. And I think we’ve managed that with krankbrother – we like to think we do things a bit differently and that’s why the parties are popular. But it started out as just our friends, and I think that the parties have still got that private party feel to an extent – people are really friendly and respectful to each other.
When did it become more of a serious, making a living from it project for you? Did it happen consciously or did it just happen naturally? Well we always wanted it to be one of the things we made a living from, and it is to an extent, but we both have other projects as well. It’d be hard to earn enough solely off a party to make a living, and if you became too conscious about making money above all else, the quality of the parties would definitely suffer. In terms of other projects, I have just launched the krankbrother Agency, which is going great. My brother Dan also runs a part time restaurant in Islington called The Bonnie and Wild. Together we are also running a new space in Shoreditch called Factory 7, where we’ll be doing a handful of parties, fashion events, food events and lots more.
How, would you say, have you managed to make your krankbrother parties stand out amongst such a highly concentrated scene in the capital? There’s definitely a lot of competition in London – sometimes you organise your party and then look what else is on that night and you think “We are up against it!” [laughs]. The way we’ve stood out is primarily by using really interesting venues – we’ve used rooftops, old theatres, abandoned pubs, photographer’s studios and loads of others, so we’ve worked really hard to get people partying in unique spots. It’s also our crowd I guess – I’ve been to some parties and it’s about 75% men lurking about and there’s no atmosphere. Our parties usually have more women than men which I always think makes for a less aggressive, friendlier atmosphere. Also, our crowd are always really fun and enthusiastic – they’re serious party people. Last summer we did a roof party where it rained for the first 2 hours non-stop. But the crowd didn’t care – they were all still going crazy!
As so many parties in London have moved into warehouses and one-off spaces, has the bar been raised over the last few years in terms of finding venues? Yeah the bar has definitely been raised in terms of finding venues. But in order to find the best ones, you have to have been around a while and know lots of people that know and own spaces. Also, when someone has a great venue, they’ll usually be pretty selective about who they let put on a party in there – they want the right music, crowd and atmosphere in their place. Most of the time if we’ve been trying to convince someone with a really cool space to let us do something in their place, we just invite them down to one of our parties first and once they’ve been they’re usually convinced!
Has that been a hindrance, ie making it harder to find suitable venues or has it been a help by unearthing some fresh new spaces? It’s always hard finding new venues, particularly as we don’t like to return back to the same venues too often unless they are really special. But it’s really exciting when you find a new one that no one has been to yet. What we’ve also realised is that you very often have to look beyond Shoreditch – most people accept that if you want to party in really special places, they’re not always going to be on their door steps. There are obviously still some great spaces in Shoreditch, but there are also some amazing ones further afield that are worth using.
The rooftop parties in Peckham Rye this summer were a great success. What was the highlight of that series of parties for you? The rooftop parties were amazing. The level of interest in them was pretty remarkable – all of our summer parties sold out over 2 weeks in advance – I think it’s proof of how desperate people are to break out of partying in dingy basements and to get down in beautiful locations. The highlight for me had to be Heidi’s set on the roof on August 20th. It was unbelievable. The energy that girl gives off is unreal, and she’s got some serious moves! She’s a good friend of ours too, we’ve just spent a week with her at Burning Man, and so we’re really looking forward to getting her back playing at krankbrother in 2012.
How do the dynamics of DJing with your brother work? We play straight up back to back. We like it that way, as then you’re always kept on your toes as you never quite know what the other guy is going to play, so you can’t really plan ahead at all. Being brothers and serious mates too we’ve also got a pretty good understanding of one another, which is important if you are DJing back to back. We have a lot of fun when we play – it’s nice having those experiences together. Although he’s not happy with me this week – I got a bit over zealous with a dance move whilst we were DJing last Saturday and accidentally hit him in the eye with a bottle of Vodka. He’s got a bit of a black eye this week!
How would you describe the sound you play with your brother in clubs? We try not to stick to one prescribed sound as that’s what makes us really bored when we listen to DJs. But people always tell us that we play really “sexy” sounding stuff which is quite a nice description! I suppose most of the stuff we play is kind of bassline and groove driven – we don’t really play anything too minimal. We also play loads of older stuff – there’s nothing worse than watching a DJ that just plays the current Beatport Top 20, or just plays way too much stuff from one artist or label. We play quite a bit of 90s and 80s house and some old disco cuts when they fit, as well as obviously stuff that got released recently.
Now krankbrother expands with a new DJ agency. Who is signed to the agency? Yeah I’ve just launched the krankbrother Agency – it’s a really exciting time. So far on the roster we’ve got Wildkats (Hot Creations / Lower East) , Alexis Raphael (Hot Creations, Lower East) , Nick Lawson (Visionquest, Leftroom) , No Artificial Colours (Sinq Records) , DZeta N’ Basile (1 Trax) , Tad Wily (Retrofit, Smash Hits) and me and my brother, krankbrothers.
What is the ethos of the agency? Will you represent artists across a selection of dance music related genres? Yeah we’ve definitely got a nice cross section of sounds on the agency. Alexis Raphael has got a really sexy warm “new house” sound, whereas Wildkats are more bassline driven and funk and soul influenced. DZeta N’ Basile have got quite a minimal, stripped back sound, whereas Tad Wily is heavily influenced by disco, P Funk and boogie. Then you’ve got No Artificial Colours, whose tracks and sets have this real hypnotic, spacey bassline to them, and Nick Lawson who plays this kind of groove laden house and techno, which will suit either warm up sets or peak time sets. I suppose the ethos of the agency is not to be too prescriptive in terms of the music we all play, and not to take ourselves too seriously. Some DJs can be way too cool for school and it’s pretty annoying – but all the people I’ve signed to the agency are just nice, talented young guys, and they’re not at all jumped up or anything. They’re all down to earth and will get to know the promoters they are playing for and will put on a serious show for the punters. We’re still adding acts to the agency roster at the moment but we’re delighted with how it looks right now.
What are the plans for the future? Well we’re working on a little UK tour for krankbrother in 2012, and probably a European tour as well. We’ve also got some killer line-ups coming up – this Halloween we’ve got Matt Tolfrey and Shonky playing in this incredible loft space we found – I can honestly say that this loft is the coolest space I’ve ever seen in London. Then in early 2012 we’ve got a Get Physical showcase with M.A.N.D.Y and DJ T., as well as a new krankbrother “back to back” concept, where we invite huge acts to come and play straight back to back with each other. We’ll also be at a few festivals next year which should be fun. In terms of the agency, they’ll be a launch party down the line, and at certain krankbrother parties we’ll be having a whole room dedicated to showcasing people on the agency.