If you keep up with independent music news in London, you probably know the prevailing narrative. An increasingly expensive city is increasingly hostile to its club scene. Rising rents are pushing out longstanding venues. Councils and city government are claiming to be trying to protect clubs, but then passing laws that do the opposite. It’s against this tide that UNDR Hackney celebrates its recent opening.
In an ideal world, we could just talk about the opening of a great venue like UNDR Hackney without contextualizing it within a narrative of doom and gloom. We’d talk about the intimate and pure music experience, the remarkable sound and lighting system they’ve installed, the impressive lineup of artists they already have for the rest of the year. And those things are all true. But the venue represents something more. As one of the holders of an increasingly rare license type that allows them to stay open late in the trendy and rapidly gentrifying borough of Hackney, they stand as a beacon of hope for the entire London music community.
Of course, all that is to say, you should go see a show there! I spoke with Tim Hinson of UNDR Hackney to find out a little bit more about what it took to bring the venue to life.
Congrats on the opening! How has the new club been coming together?
Things have been moving rapidly at the club. All of our Friday and Saturday shows until Christmas have been booked in, and we are already looking into the first quarter of 2019. We are now gearing up for a massive set of artist and show announcements in the coming weeks.
You’re located in a space that has been a club before, The Nest. What have you taken from that space and what have you changed to make it your own?
During our planning stages, we wanted to really focus on everything was great about the space before we took it over, i.e. the intimacy, the acoustically-treated ceilings and walls, the super-charged sound system, and the no-frills atmosphere.
While there are no huge structural changes to the venue, we have stripped back the decor to the basements authentic rawness to really celebrate its underground roots and history.
The Martin Audio sound system was a huge focus for us. The Nest was known widely for how good the system was, and we wanted to develop this further. So we took a decision to re-tune the sound so that the space really emphasizes its clarity and power. You can expect much warmer basslines, crystal clear vocals, and thicker sounding percussion.
We have added a brand new sound and lighting booth for greater control over the sound system whilst adding new capabilities for live shows and performances.
The venue’s lighting was also another big area of change for us. We added a fresh lick of paint and 20 brand new lasers throughout the space which are tailored and customized to each event to better illustrate the atmosphere and energy of the party. The one-size-fits-all approach is not something we wanted to lead with at UNDR, every event is unique and special in its own way, and we feel it’s our job to illustrate that the best we can.
How have you found the neighborhood you’re in? Especially with the recent legislative changes, you’re in quite a good spot to have secured one of their licenses.
Many of the team being Hackney/East London locals, we love where we come from! We love the diversity of Hackney, its rawness, its authenticity, and how supportive the community is, and this is something we really want to celebrate and fly the flag for.
Of course, there are going to be challenges with recent legislative changes, especially with licensing. More council pressure on smaller businesses and the night time economy will present new challenges to us, but it’s our responsibility to ensure that we overcome these challenges to support growth in Dalston.
Being one of the few venues left in the area with a late license, it has never been more crucial for us to deliver on what we promise and to support the growth of the community
What do you hope to accomplish with the space in terms of experience and your place in the overall London nightlife scene?
With all the legislative pressure surrounding the area, and of course the amount of club closures in Dalston, our aim is to simply be the underground space Hackney so rightfully deserves!
The venue is run by a team of hardcore music lovers, with a passion for the area and its growth and in a time of doom and gloom in clubland, we hope to be a small beacon of hope for Dalston.
Any upcoming shows you’re particularly excited about?
Way too many to mention, but stand out shows would for me personally would be:
- Levelz Manchester takeover on the 19th October
- Chunk Presents DJ Bone on 27th October
- The Menendez Brothers, Coco Cole & Little Gay Brother on the 10th November
- Interval with Alex Arnout, Clive Henry, James Dexter & Anna Wall on the 15th December
And of course our NYE show! That is going to be INSANE!
What would you say to somebody who might be curious to check out the new space for the first time?
If simplicity, groundbreaking music, flawless sound, and intimate settings are your bag, let’s talk…