Young Academic has been a dedicated extoller of all things Warehouse Project for years now and as the event prepares to return to its spiritual home, it just felt right that we caught up with the event’s co-founder, Sacha Lord-Marchionne to discuss the state of the scene, Mancunians and plans for a decade of WHP.
The return to the Store Street venue, nicely nestled underneath Piccadilly station and a stone’s throw from the bohemian epicentre that is the Northern Quarter, has gone down extremely well with the punters. A tumultuous few years at Victoria Park may have seen some of the finest displays the event has seen, but there is just something about this grubby urban car park that captures the imagination.
Whether it’s the atmosphere which is created under one of Manchester’s quintessential tunnels or the fact that many of us will have parked our cars up on the dance floor just weeks before when out shopping, Store Street is thought by many to be the real home of Warehouse Project.
So, just a few weeks after the big announcement and the release of one of the sweetest line-ups in recent memory, was this always the plan for Warehouse Project 2014?
“No. We thought we were done after 2012’s New Year’s Day event. It’s true what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side! We can’t wait to be back and neither can our customers!” said Lord-Marchionne.
The Rumour Mill…
The ever-thriving Manchester musical rumour mill has been turning out all sorts of ideas for possible new venues for the event, as many suggest Warehouse Project is set to get bigger yet with a move to a huge location near Piccadilly, but Sacha was keen to distance himself from such speculation.
“There are loads of rumours. Some are true, but on the whole it’s random speculation. What I can tell you, is that our 10th anniversary in 2015 will be spectacular,” he said.
This year’s Warehouse Project line-up seems to have left no stone unturned and has a mix of Warehouse veterans and young, cutting edge artists. From Caribou to A$AP Mob, there is something there for everyone, leading tickets to sell out in the blink of an eye.
We’ve all witnessed the change in the music industry over the last decade or so. By and large, manufactured groups have replaced bands and the conveyor belt of derivative R&B artists seem to have rendered musicians looking to write their own material and sing about something over than “being in the club” obsolete; but has the rave scene suffered the same decline?
It comes as a relief to hear Lord-Marchionne say that despite the shift in the quality of the more mainstream genres, the rave scene seems to have come through unscathed.
“In all honestly, apart from the actual music it hasn’t really changed. That’s what’s unique about Manchester. We have the biggest student population in Europe and every year sees a new set of eager ravers. For me, there is no better city in the world. Manchester people are different, they get it!” he stated.
Sankeys Soap & Warehouse Project…
A proud Mancunian and purveyor of the dance scene, Sacha is keen to convey the fact that the other big rave in the city, Sankeys and Warehouse Project actually work in tandem and aren’t necessarily in competition with each other. Indeed, Sacha is extremely proud of what we has achieved in the last fifteen years.
“I actually owned Sankeys between 2000 and 2006 and it’s great to see Sankeys Ibiza doing so well as well as Sankeys Manchester opening again after its summer break. People presume its WHP versus Sankeys but quite the opposite. We work together. Recently, myself and Dave Vincent from Sankeys were having a coffee in the Malmaison and someone spotted us, it was weird, like they had seen a ghost!” he added.
With the aforementioned rumours hurtling around the city, I was keen to find out whether or not Warehouse Project will continue on its commercial trajectory and grow and grow, but Sacha kept his cards close to his chest.
“Who knows, it is one beast. It’ll take itself in the direction it belongs.” Lord-Marchionne stated.
There are few characters on the scene in Manchester who know more about rave culture than Sacha, who not only ran Sankeys but also vied his time as a punter before getting into promotion. But what is his advice to any youngsters out there studying music or entertainment courses and wanting to pursue events such as Warehouse Project as a career?
“It’s a cliché, but don’t give up on your dream, all you need is a bit of luck. My advice if you are thinking about becoming a promoter, don’t”. I left that one there.
With Warehouse Project moving back to Store Street and to a venue half the size of its previous home, it seems that the ethos is very much around what feels right and not necessarily expansion, but with rumours rife of a sensational announcement for WHP’s tenth anniversary, who knows what the future holds.
Of course, music events which involve dancing from 11pm to 6am often come with their fair amount of baggage and in the case of Warehouse Project, this came to a head last year with some tragic incidents involving fatal ecstasy tablets. Although there is little organisers can do to stop such occurrences, with the consumption of drugs being a personal choice, Sacha is keen to emphasise that a zero tolerance policy will continue and Warehouse Project will be doing everything in its power to ensure 2014 is an incident free campaign.
“Warehouse Project did and does everything it can to prevent such incidents. We will continue to push the boundaries on this matter.” “Customers appreciate the length we go to prevent such incidents by creating awareness and education,” he was keen to impress.
“For Twelve Weeks, This City Is Ours”
Sacha’s answers were short and sweet, befitting a man who is clearly busy running a number of endeavours from his gigs and festivals to his security firm, so I finished with a gentle enquiry regarding the best Warehouse Project performances he had seen. Sacha admits himself that he isn’t the musical aficionado of the partnership [with Sam Kandel] but had little hesitation.
“2011. Nile Rogers, Chic and Johnny Marr….mind blowing!”