Friday, 22 June 2012

A Few Words From The Curator & Creator of Free House Project, James Winfield

I'm a little bit excited.  You know I like to talk a lot.  But I love music even more.

So, why am I doing the Free House Project?

Well, it sounds kind of bullshitty, but I was in Ibiza back in 2009, going through a bit of a rough patch in my life and I was on the beach in Ibiza, reading an interview with my hero, Sven Vath, and it was at that point that he connected with me telepathically to instruct me that I needed to start DJing and putting my own nights on in my local area.  Honestly, he did.

How did I come up with the concept?

Well, me and a friend came up with the idea one drunken Sunday afternoon in early 2010, watching the world go by, of a free party of us playing whatever we loved though mostly based around house music, and we came up with the name too at the same time, a slight rip-off of the Warehouse Project perhaps but I think more in homage and being 200 miles away I think they can be safe that we are not competition!

But that was 2010…

We had logistic issues such as a lack of equipment, lack of suitbable venue and lack of spare funds to be able to start something up.  Oh and the small matter of me not being able to DJ.  And then through either co-incidence or inspiration, somebody else came up with the same basic idea, slightly different music policy, with my co-conspirator on board leaving me to only have to do what I do best – attend parties and have a great time.

Then what happened?

I went back to Ibiza after a year’s hiatus, having just been made redundant and becoming unemployed for the first time this century, and had a conversation over a few beers in the sunshine and agreed to purchase some top-notch CDJs and mixer.  The nightlife in Reading for me was nearly dead apart from the irregular parties thrown by aforementioned friends so I had to learn, I had to get it out of me.

And finally, with Milk Bar, there is a venue with enough credibility and an open-ness to something different that I can throw the party of my dreams.

I do want to revolutionise the nightlife in Reading – there is no reason why if for example Southampton can attract some world-class underground house DJs that Reading cannot.  All it needs is a dream, a vision and a plan and I have all of that.  Oh and some willing party-goers and some excellent local DJs.  But one has to start somewhere, it won’t come overnight.

There are two main reasons why I am finally doing the Free House Project.  One is self-centred I guess, to give myself a chance to play out some of the music I love.  I guess organising an event is good for my CV and a real test of skills I would like to have.  And I want to improve my DJing as I am not that good yet, I need to be playing out to improve more.

But the other, more important reason is that I do care about the world and society, and especially my local area and the people that mean a lot to me - I am perhaps limited in the ways that I can change the world for the better, but I thoroughly believe in the power of house music to be able to spread love and this happy, positive energy to and between people, and by taking money out of the equation then I can give anyone, rich or poor, busy or bored, white or black, straight or gay, old or young, or whatever identity they associate themselves with a cost-free opportunity to try it out.  If you don't like it - you haven't lost anything.  But if I and my DJs, and my friends have anything to do with it, then I am certain that it will be a night to remember.

Taking money out of the concept is an important part of it.  It means I am not financially profiting out of it and neither are the DJs.  Sure, the bar will be, we live in a capitalist society and it has to be in the interest of whoever runs the bar to take the night on and give that precious opportunity - that is why it would only work at the right venue - Free House Project is not really suited to some corporate hell-hole with dumb middle managers working from a centralised textbook made in an office in Solihull which is handed down to all 126 establishments all with the same name and the same design.

I want the best in terms of hospitality for my guests - I've had some amazing nights at some of the very best venues with some of the very best DJs in the world - and I cannot offer that (I have no ice cannons...yet) but I will endeavour to do my best to capture the spirit and what I believe goes into creating the best nights as you don't actually need to book a superstar DJ or be at the coolest club in London or Ibiza to have a great time - you can do it in your local town.

This is why concepts that I find important to me, I will be trying to apply; such as booking DJs with a true love for music that is right for Free House Project, a venue that cares, a sound-system of good quality as opposed to loud but crap and damaging your ears, one where you can have a conversation without shouting, and perhaps most controversially - no laptops.  Sorry!  Oh and I am not booking DJs just because they can bring a crowd.

I'm not saying you cannot have a good party by doing those things, but I am doing what I believe in from my reasonable extensive experience of partying.

Where do I want to take Free House Project?

I have dreams but it really does depend on how the first party goes.  If it is a flop, then I guess it might just be a one-off and I might forget about it.  I don't see it being a flop, even England miraculously managed to finish top of their group just so I can have a football-free party, and it is even not going to pour with rain.  So I doubt it will flop.  But who knows.  It needs me on good form, it needs the DJs on good form but most importantly it needs the crowd - it needs you.  You can have the best DJs in the world but no party people = no party.

I always want to stick to my roots, and I will look after those who look after me.  I would never see me not doing parties.  I dream of being able to do something outdoors somewhere (with louder music and sunshine, he he!), or a dirty all-night party in an empty office block, but would have to be legal, I'm not going to be throwing illegal raves, sorry.  Maybe I will do a party on a bus or a street, one day.  But how I would be able to do them for free, I don't know.  It's one for the future and nothing is likely to happen until I have had a few small parties and the Free House Project has a bit of a reputation.

Also, I would love to book some of the people that inspire me from outside of Reading, like Maya Jane Coles, Subb-an, Heidi, Seth Troxler, Nina Kraviz, Maceo Plex, Huxley - there are probably about 500 DJs I would love to book.  I might dream but I am realistic - none of them are likely to want to play in Reading for free.  And it is unlikely their agents would let them.

But perhaps I could offer some kind of structured ticketing - like first 100 tickets free, next 100 £5, the rest £10 - something like that.  But this is a long way in the future and of course it would need a larger suitable venue.  And as long as the lovely Milk Bar wants the Free House Project then I would always want to do parties there no matter what else was going on - never forget those who give you the initial opportunity.

Anyway, those are just ideas in my head at the moment and a light-year away from fruition.

For now, it is all about Saturday 23rd June 2012.  I hope you can make it.  And if you cannot, feel free to spread the word. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Much love - and don't forget the other interviews on the blog and the mixes.

Oh and if anyone has the ability to video record a few minutes of the party, that would be amazing.  Doesn't have to be anything professional, just enough, a few minutes, to put on a Youtube page for a little memory or two.