Lost Club Culture: Jamie Ward
Written by Fliss Baker
We are only into our fourth feature in our ‘Lost Club Culture’ series but we have content flowing in left, right and centre. Scratching the surface of Coventry’s house scene has brought many people out of the woodwork, ready to talk and share their opinion.
Yes, there are negative people out there who have seemingly given up, frustrated by the lack of venues and critical of the City’s crowd and their perceived unwillingness to be educated by decent house music. But hold up. The determinative voices wanting and willing a better house scene outcry them all. This has proven one thing, there IS passion alive in this City. There are a lot of talented ‘house heads’ out there ready to jump on the bandwagon that right now, needs a kick start.
Currently, Coventry faces an integrated web of challenges.
Coventry needs more venues for sure but a club needs people who can’t wait to get on a dance floor, lose their head, dance like no-one is watching and open their minds not just to commercial sounds that grab the masses but specific genres where most tracks are undiscovered and clubbing is an exciting, educational experience.
How do we pluck the musically mature who ventured weekly to Careys and Rehab whilst pulling in the young enthusiasts, giving them an experience that makes them want to stay in Cov, not hop on a train to Digbeth? And you would be surprised by how much home-grown talent WANT to play in the City and do more to revive our scene.
Paul Morrell told us he’d love to put on an event, bringing superstars like Boy George with him. But wait, where art thou venue? World class, Coventry-based duos, ANTI-SLAM & W.E.A.P.O.N. and Phutek, championed by legends such as Carl Cox and Adam Beyer, are smashing the shit out of the techno scene and guess what? They want to get involved in our conversation.
We cannot forget, however, the commitment and hard work of entrepreneurial promoters in this City who have pushed, fought and done everything within their power to hold onto a house scene.
It’s these guys that are the catalyst for creating a ‘space’ for local residents to play and somewhere we can attract the big headliners. I wanted to know who was behind Coventry’s current successes, defiantly pulling in crowds 1500+ and the name just kept cropping up…’Jamie Ward’.
Staying loyal to the City’s house scene for over 10 years, Jamie has achieved more than most. As the Event organiser for ‘Ruins’, promoter for house nights at the Empire, the owner of two previously successful nights ‘Jack Groove’ and ‘It’s what we do’ with residencies at clubs including Careys, Rehab Warehouse and Kasbah… I asked myself whether Jamie and his crew were literally monopolising the City?
After talking to him, I understood why. In addition to being clearly mad for his music, he has pushed the boundaries of a declining scene with entrepreneurial ideas, investment, networking and sheer determination not to let the City’s house scene die.
I quizzed him on his best Coventry clubbing moments, what he thinks Coventry needs and delved into the concept of his revolutionary ‘Ruins’ events. My favourite quote of the series so far, “Don’t try and be too cool or do what other people are doing, just believe in what you want to do.” I’m sold.
When would you say Coventry’s clubbing scene was at its best?
In my opinion, it was the time Rehab Warehouse launched. It brought some massive attention to the City and some of the best names in dance music. I also had a few nights down there and a DJ residency over the two rooms – we had a lot of fun.
Tell us where you used to go clubbing?
I first started clubbing at Ikon when it first opened – that was my first proper experience of a decent club. It was huge and I spent many weekends in there. I have been going out since I was 16 so have hammered the whole of town over the years, ha!
Which nights had the best atmospheres?
When Rehab Warehouse was packed the atmosphere in there was quality, sometimes 1500+ people over 2 rooms and a garden. The nights would just fly by and I have walked out of there many times when the sun was beaming at 6 am. When I did Jack Groove for MK at Careys a few years back the atmosphere from that night from start to finish was just mad. Careys had such a good vibe on that dance floor when the right people were in there. The set up with the lights and sound was perfect for our nights.
What venue did you like the most?
Would have to say the old original warehouse before Rehab when it was just a small side room. It was a proper warehouse feel – small, sweaty and people just dancing all night.
Give us your most memorable Coventry clubbing moment?
Ha, the old warehouse defo! We did a night with ‘It’s what we do’, summer June 2009 I think. It was only our second night and the place was literally a warehouse with scaffolding everywhere and things just thrown together. There were people dancing on scaffold poles 15ft in the air and people walking around with elephant heads on, which they had found in an old cupboard in the warehouse. We had about 700 people crammed into a 400-capacity warehouse and garden and it was mental. We had two power cuts and we were trying to fix everything (and we’re weren’t in fit states to be doing it really!) But it was one of the best nights I have ever done and one I’ll never forget in a hurry.
There has been a decline in Coventry’s house music scene over the years – why do you think that is?
Not sure why really. Things were going well when Rehab was open and Careys was rammed most weeks with a few other good clubs, like Seven, doing well. When Rehab closed, then Careys, it just kind of killed the vibe. We went to Society to try to get things moving again and have had some mega names there. We had Hannah Wants and it was wicked and I thought the scene might push on again but then that shut. It’s a shame as people seem to have given up now. I feel sorry for the 18+ year old kids coming through as they won’t experience Coventry as the good clubbing City it once was back in the day. We have some massive history of music in this City and it all seems to be forgotten now.
How would you like to see Coventry’s house music scene develop?
I would love for some new bars and clubs to open – it would be mega. Don’t get me wrong there is a few good clubs still open like the Kasbah and Empire but they seem quite student based so there isn’t consistency there. A small club with 500-capacity would be perfect, something similar to Careys. I think that would be easier to get people in. Coventry has some top-class DJ’s and producers and they are massively overlooked. I was playing good clubs week in week out and learning a lot but there aren’t many places to play regularly. Also, if you’re a young and up and coming DJ, it’s even harder to get sets now.
Tell us about the concept behind Ruins events?
Well after nightclub promoting for 10 years, I had done nights in the warehouse, Kasbah, Rehab Warehouse, Seven, Careys and Empire and I was desperate for a new challenge. I always loved the Cathedral and talked about it for years but knew we had no chance. However, one day someone gave me an email of the new manager and she gave me a chance. It was massively different to a nightclub and there was so much work to do behind the scenes. In fact, I kind of winged it for a while! I have learnt a lot though. The first one was just a relief as the council and police didn’t really want it to happen so it was just a buzz to see it go ahead after all the stress. The first event was wicked with a good crowd and we attracted a lot of people from other cities, which was really good. We had Eats Everything, wAFF, Sonny Fodera and Sam Divine and it went off wicked. This year has been loads better as we have a wicked team of people all helping and believing in it. Our May event with Skream, Richy Ahmed and Artful Dodger worked really well.
Our final event of 2017 sees Jackmaster, Salado, CamelPhat and K Kloss play and looks set to be our best yet. It’s a lot of hard work but when you see the Cathedral lit up at night with all the lasers and lights and people dancing underneath it looks wicked and makes all the months of hard work pay off.
What factors do you think are the most important when creating a successful event?
Create a good name, something that will be different and make people talk about it. Also, the venue has a massive impact, you have to create a good vibe in there so it has to be right. Last but not least have fun, or try and make it fun. Don’t try and be too cool or do what other people are doing, just believe in what you want to do 🙂
Buy your ticket for ‘Ruins’ on Saturday 5th August here: https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Coventry/Coventry-Cathedral/Ruins-presents-/12989202/