The clubbing and events industry in the UK is a thriving business but one with a huge amount of competition. From festivals to club nights, there's thousands of people out there all with the same ambition - to put on the biggest party in their area. Many try and many fail but it's more than an achievable dream, you just need a little bit of know-how.
That's where Daniel Monsell comes in. As owner of his own prolific events company, Daniel knows more than enough about throwing the best parties in dance music. Festivals, series, live events and one-off club nights are Daniel's playground and his many years of experience has taught him exactly how you first start your own events and then turn them into a brand in their own right. With his latest series, Illuminations, hitting London from 30th October, we thought we'd find out a bit more about his most recent project and get some insider tips on how to make your own events a huge success.
Can you tell us a little bit about the events you've got going at the moment?
Alongside our general programme on RFB where we promote shows for acts this year such as Father John Misty, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Poliça, Flume, Mø, Chromatics, Songhoy Blues and many more, 30th October see the start of our Illuminations Festival series. This is a series that runs just over 10 days across London, focusing on explorations between music, film and arts.
It's an attempt to being really adventurous and explorative with music events, bringing a festival and happening feel to London in November. There's a lot of different things going on - film events, Audio Visual performances, an event about video games and music, shows curated by some wildly inventive and original artists and more.
How did you first get into running your own events like this?
I started young playing music, then when at University in London, ended up running all the live music events for the university, and the music magazine. From there I spent summers working across some of my favourite labels at the time like Domino Records, Transgressive Records and magazines like The Fly.
Alongside running my own nights I started DJing for what was then a monthly 150 capacity club night at the now defunct Buffalo Bar, in Highbury, called Basement Club, which Rockfeedback ran then. After university I went straight to the Rockfeedback and Transgressive office which was then a monthly club night on the live side which I took over. I started doing more and more shows, then festivals, and it is now over 150 events a year.
What are the main challenges you come up against when planning and putting these events on?
Trying to be as creative and interesting as you can be and working with music you really love, but making sure it all makes sense financially! It's a competitive landscape in the UK too, but also a supportive one. There are lots of people looking to do very interesting things and lots of people wanting to go to events where these interesting things are happening. In a great way, we're spoilt for choice across the arts and beyond for things to do, so it's an exciting time to to be part of that.
What process do you usually go through when setting up a lineup?
A lot of thinking and listening first. This usually starts the process with a bit of a wish-list of artists. I'm lucky enough to work with some great agents, labels, managers and other people in music and beyond, and I'll have a lot of conversations with all of them about who is around, what people are keen to do, and whether my ideas could be practical. From there it's just a lot of head-space and conversations and hopefully you end up with something as close to what you hoped to set out with.
How does your day usually pan out when you're setting up for a night?
Again really lucky to work with a great team of people who support across everything from bouncing creative ideas off, booking, production and marketing for all that we do. The production team will be working on an event for weeks or more before, and on the day it's just about running the plan through and all supporting each other, making the artist, performers and audience as comfortable as possible to have a great event all round.
What would be your main bit of advice for anyone else looking to get into this sort of thing?
Be ambitious and creative, and then be realistic. Start small and do a party where it may mostly be your friends, but make sure everyone is having a good time and you enjoy the process. Build slowly and in small increments each event. It takes time but it feels a lot more natural and more comfortable that way. It's definitely a lifestyle choice too!
Any other projects you have at the moment we need to look out for?
I also book another festival called Visions Festival in London Fields in August amongst our other Rockfeedback shows. Plus we have started a new event in Margate at a theme park called Dreamland. The first event sees Foals, Hot Chip and more and is the end of November. Lots more all listed at www.rockfeedbackconcerts.com
Three tunes that are guaranteed to set a party off?
Too many to name for all the different occasions. I've been having a ton of fun DJing at friends’ weddings this summer. It's not exactly techno there, but there's a special golden trio of Prince, Hall & Oates and Luther that's a big one for uniting the generations on a wedding dance-floor.