Brisbane’s Dan Burke is a DJ and one of our finest promoters, who has done amazing things for our town’s house, techno and trance scene. 2019 marks ten years of his Lemon & Lime brand hosting events in Fortitude Valley and surrounds. On Sunday 10 February, Lemon & Lime will be throwing their anniversary bash at Capulet, with respected international progressive and melodic house and techno sensation Hernán Cattáneo, supported by Rich Curtis.
Q. Dan Burke, thank you so much for everything that you have done for a decade now for Brisbane’s electronic music scene! It’s been a phenomenal period of time that has seen major international acts play in intimate settings to overjoyed party goers. How do you feel about having put on events with Lemon & Lime for 10 years?
A. Thanks mate! I still can’t believe it’s been 10 years. It sounds like such a long time, but it also seems like yesterday that I was booking my first acts. I was thinking that if I made it to five years that would be an achievement in itself, but I never thought I’d hit 10 years. Most nightclubs don’t even make it to 10 years, so it does feel very special.
Q. I know there are a number of people involved in bringing this music to Brisbane, who have no doubt been instrumental in making it happen. Who would you like to thank for supporting you on this journey?
A. There’s a tonne of people who have helped and influenced me along the way. In the very early days of Lemon & Lime, the team at Planet, which turned into Electric Playground, were open to letting me push the trance with a few sneaky gigs on a Friday night and taking over some of the public holiday weekends. The guys at Bar Soma really opened up the Sunday shows for me and along with Trent (aka Tranceducer), we started the Sunday afternoon sessions, which are still running today.
The guys at The Met, like Michael Watt and Pete Smith, gave me a chance to take what I was doing to a larger venue, and we took over the Coco room for some amazing shows like Anjunadeep and Kyau & Albert. The team at In The Mix, specifically Joey Curtis, were a big help as well. It opened up doors to being able to promote to a wider audience and have the backing of a major music promotion platform.
Also, Harry and the guys at Family allowed me to take some things to the Main room, which was very special when we did the 5th Birthday there with Kyau & Albert. The team at TBC (Bowler Bar), where we hosted John ’00’ Fleming and Hernán Cattáneo a few times. And finally, the team at Capulet, which has been my usual home for the last few years now. They have allowed me to push the boundaries with shows like Dubfire and Sasha.
Q. Tell us about how Lemon & Lime began. What made you decide you wanted to devote your time to throwing parties on the regular? What have been some of the interesting milestones along the way?
A. So I’ve always loved dance music, right from an early age when I attended my first rave party at the RNA Showgrounds. I think I was 15 or 16. From there I was hooked. I not only loved the music, but I was fascinated with the lights, sound, the equipment – everything about how the show/gig ran. When I finished Year 12, I set about saving up for some DJ equipment. I was working at a salad bar in Post Office Square and every Friday when I got paid, I’d head to Central Station Records, annoy the shit out of Murray Brown, and ask (which probably seemed like stupid questions) about DJing.
Fast forward a bit, and I had my decks and was doing some cool house parties for all my mates who were turning 18, and some mates who were still at school and having house parties. I managed to get a job at Lightsounds, a DJ/sound/lighting shop, and from there I was able to meet club owners, club managers, promoters etc. So, I set about trying to have a dig at throwing a party.
I was 18, I think, and my very first one was at Rockafellas. We paid the DJs in record vouchers from Butter Beats, and we had all locals, playing hard dance, trance, happy hardcore. I think we pulled like 200+ ppl paying $20 on the door. From there I was hooked, I was like “fuck yeah, running gigs is easy! I’m gonna do this forever” hahah.
After a little bit of time and a few more random gigs at Rockafellas and The Arena, I decided to focus a little more on the music I was passionate about, which was trance. Brisbane, I felt, was just missing out, not so much on the major acts, but some of the mid-range guys who’d play Sydney and Melbourne but bypass Brisbane. So that’s where things started to have a bit more of a direction.
I did an event with Mike Nichol, who at the time was the hottest thing in the trance world, as Armin was playing all his stuff. But… I lost money on that (the first of many to come). Second was with Jaytech at Bar Soma, epic gig, and epic night, made $500. But the Lemon & Lime name came about a show or two later. I needed a brand name, and I didn’t have one. So, because I liked lemon, lime & bitters (my non-alcoholic drink of choice), it only made sense to use an inside joke as the branding.
Q. You have played host to a lot of major international artists over the years. What have been some of the highlights? Who are you still yet to book that you would really like to have play at a Lemon & Lime event?
A. There have been some real highlights, some amazing shows and some firsts for Brisbane. Obviously the first one that comes to mind is the Richard Durand roof top party, a party for the history books, something you had to be at. Some of the standouts have been booking Dash Berlin right when he blew up, but was still reasonably priced, haha. Doing some major touring shows like Liberate and Godskitchen really put the pressure on me, but it was a great experience dealing with multiple acts on one show.
The Showtek gig I did at The Hi-Fi was a big stepping stone for me in terms of artist, a live venue and technical production. Someone close to me convinced me to book them (and I was thinking “I don’t do hard dance/hardstyle”). So, I did, and it was epic – one of my biggest shows to date, with close to 700-800 people.
A real turning point for Lemon & Lime was securing the show for Dubfire back in 2015. It took ages to try and convince the artist and their management to come and play Brisbane on a Sunday afternoon to 300 people. But we did it, first solo club show in Brisbane ever, and it was amazing. So much so that we have done it three times now! Ali (aka Dubfire) still calls it his favourite place to play when in Aus. I’d still like to tick off some of the big prog/techno guys like Digweed, Maceo Plex, Adam Beyer etc. Just a few more and then I’m done, I swear! 😉
Q. Ten years is a long time for a promoter to be active in any town, especially one hosting events of such a high standard. How have you managed to keep things running so well? Do you have any advice to give to promoters who are just starting out?
A. So I’ve never solely relied on gigs for my income, it always was and has been a hobby. At times it’s totally consumed my life for weeks on end, but I take it from a point of view to have fun. In the early parts of Lemon & Lime I was at uni/working for the first five or so years, and now I work full time. I think in the first few years, things were hard, I was learning on the fly, I didn’t have a huge amount of money to really gamble with. Any loss I took the hit hard, and any wins I had, went back into trying to make events better. But I think I’ve reached a point now where I’m usually 90% confident in the acts and shows I’m doing. It still doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous, but I trust in the Brisbane music scene and what they like.
In terms of advice, I’d say that working with the music you know helps a lot. I always had passion for trance and progressive, so I was confident in the majority of the artists I booked. There were some hard lessons along the way, as some artists I believed were big (in my eyes anyway) weren’t really that much of a pull in Brisbane.
In terms of other advice, I’d say just be up front, and try and work the best you can with your fellow promoters and venues. Be professional – if shit hits the fan, that’s ok, it happens. Don’t get too bogged down in how people whinge about a specific music scene or genres, because you’ll just get stuck. And be prepared to lose money, because it will 100% happen.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Brisbane scene right now? Do you think things are happening as they should around here? What would you like to see change?
A. I think the Brisbane music scene is in a great place! Is there room for improvement? Always, but if we focus on the positives, we can move forward with better ideas and better parties. In terms of seeing things change, I’d like to see some of the bigger venues take some chances on non-mainstream music. The smaller, mid-size venues are doing a great job, but I’d love to see someone like a Hernán Cattáneo with 600 people in front of him, and that can only happen at a larger venue.
I’d also like to see some of the major artists and their agents be a bit more negotiable with their fees! Yes, we know they are huge acts, but Brisbane still has a very passionate music scene, just not the numbers like Sydney & Melbourne. Every artist that has come here and performed has loved the shows and has loved the crowd.
Q. What are some other local parties you’ve been to that have stuck out in your memory? Who do you think has the right idea when it comes to running events?
A. The guys behind Elements always do a great job, and the IWTFA guys and their take on the BYO warehouse parties are a standout for music in Brisbane. Also, the guys behind Melt and the stuff they are doing, especially the pop-up one I went to a few weeks back, which was really cool. I like the idea that music and parties can be taken out of the Valley and go full underground.
The guys at Eden are doing great things and educating the Gold Coast, which I know can be tough. The Dragonfruit guys have really done well with the weekly underground shows. Finally, the NuBreed team (who have recently called it a day) have been at the forefront for big trance acts, which has been epic.
Brisbane DJs and promoters get along pretty well, so it’s a credit to everyone in the scene who’s trying to make it better. There’s always a few little politics that go on. But at the end of the day, everyone is trying their best to make Brisbane better.
Q. You have been DJing yourself for a long time now as well. How did you get into it? What was some of the original electronic music you heard that captured your interest?
A. So the DJing came about in high school. I’d always loved dance music, and my days of catching the train had me listening to Ministry of Sound Hard NRG, Trance Nation, etc. After attending some of the 16+ events at the RNA Showgrounds I knew I was hooked!
So, the moment I finished school and saved up some money, I went straight into Cash Converters and bought some American Audio turntables and some cheap 2 channel mixer, and that was it from there! My passions were always around trance and the harder types of sound. The early days of me DJing had me playing UK hardcore, freeform, hard trance. But over time that moved more to the slower trance and into progressive, and I guess the rest is history!
Q. Thank you so much for your exclusive DJ set for Underground Sound. It’s a recording of you playing after Nick and Jody at Eden pres. Way Out West (Anjunadeep). I have to say this set features some of my favourite tracks in recent times, and I really enjoyed listening to it again after being there on the night. What was it like playing right after Way Out West?
A. Thanks mate, it was such a huge honour to play after them. I know Nick and Jody well, but to have them there together was just amazing. I originally was meant to be warming up, but there was a slight change in things, so I ended up playing after. I had to re-think my entire set then and there, and I was actually still going through music on Rekordbox five minutes before I had to play. I hope people listening enjoy it as much as the crowd did at 1am.
Q. 10 years of throwing parties with Lemon & Lime is such an epic achievement. We’re celebrating in style at Capulet on Sunday 10 February, with the much-anticipated return of Argentina’s Hernán Cattáneo, and Rich Curtis warming up. It’s a sold out event. What are your plans for the day?
A. So I usually get up, make sure all my shit is sorted, like equipment, banners etc. Check all the flights are on time, have my coffee in the Valley (usually by myself) and roll into the venue to set up sound and light check, and then its doors open! Then it’s 9pm closing time!
If I can also add one more thing, I’d like to thank all the people who have been involved with Lemon & Lime over the years – all the local DJs, all the venues and staff, the guys who have helped with sound and lighting and all the other random stuff that goes on with running a gig. All the people who turn up to every gig, the regulars, the randoms and the new people I see at events.
Special mention has to go to people like my brother Tom Hodge, always there at the drop of a hat for advice, and when I’m crackin’ the shits. Jen, my loyal door queen, has the best bullshit detector for people who are ‘on the list’ or ‘know the promoter’. Trent, who still is the only other person I can totally be comfortable running parties with. Breanna, for the airport pickups, last minute equipment drop-offs, support and reassurance. The team at Capulet, who over the last few years, have allowed me to take things to new heights. Tony from Tigerstyle, who puts up with so much bartering and shit from me over who needs a suite or a normal room when booking a hotel. There are heaps more, you know who you are, and I look forward to having a dance and drink with you on the d-floor.
I have no idea what the next year or even following years will bring, but I will always love music, and the Brisbane music scene.
Facebook Event: Hernán Cattáneo- Brisbane- Lemon & Lime 10th Birthday
Buy Tickets: SOLD OUT!
01. Tinlicker feat. Thomas Oliver – Nothing Without You (Tinlicker Rework) [Anjunadeep]
02. Richie Blacker – Voices In The Echo [Of Unsound Mind]
03. RÜFÜS DU SOL – Like An Animal (Yotto Remix) [Sweat It Out]
04. Alex Metric & Ten Ven – What U Need [Anjunadeep]
05. ARTBAT – Upperground [Diynamic]
06. Cristoph – Lost Witness [Suara]
07. ARTBAT & Dino Lenny – Sand In Your Shoes [Diynamic]
08. Oxia – Domino (Matador Remix) [Sapiens]
09. B.B.E. – Seven Days And One Week (Yotto Extended Mix) [Positiva]
10. Age Of Love – The Age of Love (Solomun Renaissance Remix) [Renaissance Records]
11. Monika Kruse meets Pig&Dan – Soulstice (Alberto Ruiz 80 Monster Remix) [Terminal M]
12. Alcatraz – Giv Me Luv (Nicole Moudaber Remix) [Yoshitoshi Recordings]
13. Danny Tenaglia feat. Celeda – Music Is The Answer (Deep Dish Deadline Mix) [TWISTED]
14. iiO feat. Nadia Ali – Rapture (Deep Dish Space Mix) [Made Records]