A purveyor of no-nonsense techno and lush house sounds, Jamie Grenenger has a reputation for bringing quality underground electronic music to Brisbane. Jamie will be playing at Dragonfruit Fridays pres. Decoded & friends – Barbuto on Friday 3 August at Capulet and is one of the organisers of the upcoming IWTFA Pres. Cleric (Clergy / Figure / Soma- UK) event at The Brightside on Friday 10 August.
Q. Jamie Grenenger, you’ve entrenched yourself in the Brisbane scene with some amazing parties here over the years. I’ve been very happy to have attended quite a few of them. But you are originally from a small town in New South Wales. How did you find your way to Brisbane, and what has the journey been like for you as you have become so well-known up here?
A. Well, Sydney was my first stop from moving out of my hometown of Nambucca Heads. Nambucca is a cruisy coastal place to grow up in, but I felt I needed a big city to find myself as a person. Sydney was amazing for discovering new music and most weekends I would end up at Chinese Laundry, which was around the time you could catch some of the biggest prog, house and techno acts playing in my favourite room in the venue, the “Cave”.
Other nights in Sydney that have had an impact on my music direction would be from attending the Shrug events held at the Civic. I would definitely say that these nights were quite influential for me at that time because of the calibre of underground music that was being delivered by a bunch of artists that I respect, artists such as Robert Babicz, Clive Henry and Jay Shepheard to name a few.
The transition to Brisbane was enabled due to changes in my career, my desire to study, also Sydney gets cold and the warmer winters were calling. Brisbane has been extremely kind to me. When I moved up here all I really wanted to find were some events that played great music. By chance I stumbled across a night called Subtrakt and decided to go check it out. I fell in love with the music that was being played but I also remember feeling that it was the people who attended that really made it such a special experience. Pretty sure since then I have not missed one yet.
I went to gigs that appealed to me, I met some really genuinely passionate people and loved supporting their events regularly without really expecting anything. Saying that, I have always had equipment set up at home and I have been collecting music on vinyl and digital regardless of whether I have been actively playing out or just for my own satisfaction. I recorded mixes and sent them out to people. I was just lucky enough to send the right mix to the right person and the rest just built up from there. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity that was given to me to play good music to people.
Q. You have a refined taste in house and techno. What sort of music did you like when you were young? How did you get into electronic music?
A. I listen to everything. My mum and dad always had a huge variety of music to listen to. I never really got stuck into one category of music, I would listen to music that I loved or appreciated. But the transition to electronic music was like a flick of a switch. One night I was watching Jeff Mills – Exhibitionist, which a mate from back home had on DVD, going back to 2003 I think. I remember watching it for the first time and thinking “what the hell is this”, this guy is from another planet. I was hooked from that moment.
Q. In 2011 you relocated to Brisbane from Sydney, where you had played at Boutique Bar, The Bunker, Civic Underground, and Favela, as well as held a residency for two years at Water Bar. I think I would have first met you at Rikki Newton and Hakan Henry‘s Drūm events at Montague, which you played at here in Brisbane. You’ve had a fair bit of experience as a DJ in both major cities. How do they compare?
A. Well Sydney was more of a learning platform for me. Learning how the room feels, how to read a crowd, getting used to different booths, the challenges with different equipment in each club. The Water Bar was by far the best learning experience I’ve had, residency for over a year, and it gave me the time to really work on playing long sets and focus on programming, something that I feel is one of the most important parts of DJing. But Brisbane so far has given me the platform to take what I have learnt in Sydney and push what I love, and do the best I can up here.
Sydney is just like Brisbane but on a much larger scale. But I do find Brisbane to be very conservative when it comes to its music culture. This today is slowly changing and for the good. We have some great promoters in Brisbane pushing their own events and sound so there will be a time when that conservative title will fall away. It all comes down to the audience, the more you attend these events, the stronger the scene becomes.
Q. In 2016 you became a partner in Soirée with Jengis Köse, and together you blokes have hosted a heap of solid events with some popular locals and internationals. Jengis has moved to Melbourne and kept the Soirée fires burning down south while you have been doing other things up this way. How were you invited to become a part of Soirée, and what have been some of the highlights along the way?
A. The one thing I’ve always admired about Jengis is that he has a good eye for genuine people and also for acknowledging guys and girls with genuine talent. I was so grateful for him reaching out to ask me to come on board as an equal decision maker for the brand he was growing, it was around the time he decided to branch out by hosting Soirée in Brisbane. At that time promoting house and techno on the Gold Coast was pretty challenging.
We did one event on the coast and one in Brisbane on the same weekend. Nobody turned up to the Gold Coast event that night, let’s be honest – it was a total flop – yet on the same weekend on the Sunday in Brisbane we hosted Eric Volta and we absolutely killed it.
Having that thought of “who I wanted to book” was daunting but exciting, but I really wanted to shake things up, make an impact and show everyone that I wasn’t just another promoter. So, I took on Antigone and saw that everyone loved what he did that night, I knew Brisbane needed more of this music. The rest is history.
I have to give Jengis a big shout out, he gave me a platform to do what I’m doing right now, and I can’t thank him enough. The one guy who had total trust in me and had my back.
Q. Last year you and some like-minded techno heads put your heads together and started something special. With Pete Helskanki, Aamir Raza, Scøttie Chappell, Rob Glasgow and Mitch Grey, you brought forth IWTFA (I Won’t Techno For an Answer), a series of underground parties with a focus on techno in its purest form, with local and international artists performing at sold out events across Brisbane. Tell us how IWTFA came into existence. What motivated you and your partners to create something so dedicated to one sound?
A. All of us were from a different part of the house and techno community but we all had a love for techno. It all started as a birthday party which I was asked to curate the music for, because Scottie and Aamir were just massive techno heads. The night was a success and we had a lot of feedback from everyone asking that they wanted that again. We all sat down one night and put all our minds together and out came IWTFA.
We had to look for a sound that was unique to Brisbane, a sound that nobody was pushing, we didn’t want to be like any other events or push the same music. We wanted to push IWTFA so when you came to our event, you got techno and nothing else. No fluff, all balls is what I like to say. We focus on quality and try to create a techno experience that is focused on programming from start to finish, giving you a wild ride into the unknown.
Q. You’ve been involved with running events for years now and have seen a lot of parties come and go. What have been some of the more memorable ones? What is happening in Brisbane at the moment that is worth checking out?
A. Yes, some stick around and become ingrained in the community and some come and go. It’s hard being a promoter at the moment, venue shortage and more promoters hopping into the market makes things more difficult. Andromeda Festival has to be a highlight, it’s an event that brings everyone together in Brisbane to celebrate house and techno and it is run by three guys who have put countless hours into where dance music is today in Brisbane.
There are some great things happening in Brisbane that some promoters are doing, I can’t wait to see what Rikki Newton and Leighton James have installed for Inner_Circle as well as Pocketmoth crew, Shade and BTHC doing their house thing and still going strong. The Flux guys are bringing their minimal house vibe and have put on some great internationals. Melt have a visual experience to their events which is a ball of fun. It’s also great to see Damion from Decoded Magazine come to Brisbane with his years of knowledge and dedication to electronic music. Someone like him will do great things for the dance music community in Brisbane.
So, Brisbane is doing well. It just comes down to finding that event that is going to be different and unique to your tastes and getting out and attending these events. Support them, as they all do it for the love of music.
Q. You played at the first Secret Garden Festival in New South Wales. In Queensland you’ve played at the Andromeda Festival and at Arcadia, in May this year. How have the experiences you’ve had at those outdoor events influenced you musically and shaped your identity? What festivals are coming up in Australia that we should know about?
A. I don’t think these festivals have shaped my identity much at all. I still treat a festival set like any booth I play in and treat the crowd like I would in a club. I think it always comes down to what you need to do in the time frame you have and what you do in the time slot you have been given. Always know your place on the line up, play to your set time and play your absolute best.
I’m all for local support so keep your eyes peeled for Andromeda Festival. But for long standing festivals I thoroughly enjoyed Elements Festival and Earth Frequency Festival this year. Earth Frequency Festival was my first time and I loved the feel of the event. I also had the honour to close the stage after Loco & Jam. I was so nervous at the start because I could see everyone walking over the hill from the main stage as Opiuo just finished on the main stage. It was an amazing feeling and at 11pm on a Sunday night everyone was still up for it. A moment I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Q. Thank you so much for taking the time to record an exclusive DJ set for Underground Sound, featuring some very nice techno from all around the world. It’s a captivating set and as usual, I am amazed by the music you have played Jamie. What was your inspiration when putting this together?
A. I really wanted to record my set at Arcadia but totally forgot my recorder. So, this mix is a mixture of the music that I played on the night. It’s just a few that I remember playing. I have a couple of tracks from a label called secondnature which I’m loving at the moment. It also showcases tracks from Wata Igarashi, Takaaki Itoh, Cassegrain, Amotik and Joachim Spieth. I just wanted to keep it deep but driving, but still stay on that hypnotic tip I love to play.
Q. On Friday 3 August you are playing at Dragonfruit Fridays pres. Decoded & friends – Barbuto, at Capulet in Brisbane. Barbuto was born in Sydney and lives in Austin, Texas. His style of techno is diverse, but always driving, and will keep the dance floor moving. It will be the third Dragonfruit Fridays party Decoded have put on this year, and it should be a fantastic night. How did you get involved with Decoded, and what do you plan to bring to the night?
A. Damion Pell approached me after listening to one of my podcasts I did for Toa Sound back in late 2016. He loved it and wanted me to be a part of an event he was putting on. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the Decoded brand.
To be honest I have no idea what I’m going to play. I have been buying new music and going through all my back catalogue for this one, but I can never tell what will happen on the night. My plan or vision always goes out the window once I step in that booth. But I’ll be warming up for Barbuto, so I’ll be stripping things back, keeping it rolling while keeping to my sound and trying to give him a platform to really show his stuff.
Q. The next IWTFA event is happening in Brisbane at The Brightside, on the night of Friday 10 August. IWTFA Pres. Cleric will be a big night for techno in Brisbane, as Manchester’s Cleric brings his distinguished sound to Fortitude Valley’s nightlife. You and Toby Murphy are playing as well. How have you prepared for this event, and what are your hopes for the evening?
A. All of us at IWTFA have been a huge fan of Cleric’s production and his Clergy label is becoming one of the go to labels when it comes to good old proper banging techno. He is at the top of his game at the moment, so we are incredibly stoked to have him here in Brisbane for the first time.
We are hoping for a successful night. Brisbane has been extremely responsive to the techno we have been showcasing. A lot of work goes into these events we do. There are a lot of meetings and discussions, venue sites, negotiations, arguments and it does consume you. But once the event is done, it is totally worth it. To see everyone have a great time, and to showcase the best local, interstate and internationals in Brisbane for everyone to see is a great feeling. We have a good crew and also we have a lot of friends who are giving up their own time to help our events, which means so much to us.
But in regard to the night we have installed? You just have to buy a ticket and come see it for yourself. It’s fun and it’s an experience that’s for sure. You will walk out of the venue loving techno, I can promise you that.
Facebook Event: Dragonfruit Fridays pres. Decoded & friends – Barbuto
Buy Tickets: https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/1139634
01. Merovee – Love Call (Original Mix) [Less Is Techno]
02. Wata Igarashi – The Reel (Original Mix) [Midgar]
03. Echologist – Dead Men Tell No Tales (Deepbass Remix) [Lanthan.audio]
04. Cassegrain – Shahmaran (Original Mix) [Arcing Seas]
05. Joachim Spieth – Annihilatio (Original Mix) [Affin]
06. WLDERZ – Agorafobia (Original Mix) [Skryptom]
07. Liza Aikin – Lonely. Quiet (Takaaki Itoh Remix) [Decoy Records]
08. Fugal – Monolith (Original Mix) [secondnature]
09. Michel Lauriola – Smooth (Takaaki Itoh Remix) [Blackrod]
10. Ambivalent – Drag (Amotik Remix) [Enemy Records]
11. Archivist – Star in a Circle (Original Mix) [secondnature]