Down on the south coast of the UK a crew of party people have been making some noise for the past few years, with their reputation spreading north and across the whole country in a short space of time. Junk Department actually held their first event outside Southampton in London, so we here at Deep House London thought it would be interesting to hit them up for a chat about their history, the scene down there in Southampton and their first ever one-day festival event called the Junk Department Big Top, which takes place next weekend…
First of all can you give us some background on everyone involved with Junk Department, how you guys got into music and what you were doing before you started working together?
The Junk Department team is made up of four wild bandits who escaped from the world’s most notorious insane asylums and high security prisons, brought together by a passion for music and to put on the best parties in the world for our loyal band of freaks and weirdos.
Who were the locals heroes when you guys were coming up and which parties on the south coast really inspired you to start your own?
There weren’t many parties happening on the south coast when we started ours, that was our inspiration. There were a couple of brands doing occasional parties and the odd boat party but these only happened a few times a year. We really brought a scene to the south coast when we arrived, bringing the best acts to the city and pushing the boundaries.
How did you meet and when did you decide to start Junk Department?
The Junk Department brand was a concept born from Junk nightclub which we had been running since 2005. We decided we would try and take the Junk ethos out of the venue and run parties across Europe. So far we’ve touched down in London, Berlin, Ibiza, Serbia, Croatia, Amsterdam and all from our home in Southampton so it’s quite an achievement.
What was the original ethos? Where does the name come from?
The ethos has always been to put on the best parties in the world. We invest all our time and money into our events and aim to please even the most savvy of clubgoers. The name is just a mystery we can let you decide that one…
Tell us about the first ever Junk Department party? Where was it? Who played? How did it go?
The first Junk Department was at Village Underground in Shoreditch in April 2011 we had DJ Sneak and Shonky headlining and we packed the venue out – it was a huge success for us! Then we ran a mad after party in this crazy basement – it was a bit of a wild affair.
After that first party, how did you feel? What made you decide to carry on doing it?
We felt pretty rough the day after but after about three days, when the haze lifted, we were ready to plan our next one! It was great for a brand from Southampton to get to London and run parties and was kind of the next step for us along the way towards world domination!
How long did it take to get to the point where Junk Department became a recognised brand in your hometown?
Well Junk was known already as a club so the Junk Department brand was never that hard for people to recognise in the city but once we started doing the London thing in 2011 and booking bigger acts/events people were really getting interested from outside of the town. We were doing some crazy events with brands like Crosstown Rebels, Cocoon and we also did the first ever (and possibly only) Circo Loco boat parties and quite a few club nights with them too in the UK – these were pretty exclusive at the time.
What differentiates the party scene in Southampton from London (apart from the size of course)?
That’s the main difference really as the people are just as wild down here as they are up there. We have a mad band of followers who get really rowdy on the dance floor.
How has Junk Department evolved over the years? What are the key differences between the party now and how it was in the beginning?
It’s always been the same vibe and atmosphere. I guess all that has changed (definitely for the better) is the music which has evolved over the years. It was more funky house in 2005 then went really minimal and techno blew up but now there is this deep/tech house craze which is cool but at the same time people are constantly discovering new artists and new styles and DJs aren’t just playing one style there are a lot more cross-genre sets now.
What effect has working on Junk Department had on your lives?
It has been really stressful at times and crazy hard work but it has also been an amazing time and we’ve all become a really tight family now. I mean we constantly take the piss out of each other but it’s all love at the end of the day.
Working on parties for so long, you must have seen a fair amount of funny/strange incidents, anything in particular that really stands out?
We’re normally the ones causing the strange incidents! There have been lost passports on planes, fire alarms set off in airports, DJs turning up at the wrong venue. One funny story was when one of the DJs we booked came to one of our shows and the driver took him to the hotel but he thought he was going to the venue. They had a guy DJing in the hotel lobby and it has a kind of pub vibe so he rang us up like “This venue is a bit weird… there are loads of seats everywhere and where are all the clubbers??” I think he’d had a late night before!
Any regular characters who always turn up to the parties in Southampton?
We have this one guy who wears these mad shirts and dances like a lunatic – he’s there from start to finish and has been coming for years. He doesn’t come as much now but when he does it’s always a special night.
You’ve got the Junk Department Big Top coming up soon, can you shed some light on that and how it came about?
The Big Top was something we had planned for a while. Its like a mini festival and just 10 minutes from the centre of Southampton, 1 hour from London and 40 minutes from Bournemouth and Portsmouth in an amazing outdoor space. We always wanted to do a party in the city outside of the venue and thought we may as well do it big! But seriously, it took a lot of planning and it looks like it’s paying off. We’re just about to break through to the last tier of tickets so it’s certainly going to be an amazing party and a great day!
Beyond that, what else is on the agenda?
To be honest and not to sound ungrateful we’ve actually turned down a few events including a residency in Ibiza. We’ve done a few bits in the past but now we really want to do it properly and we’d rather do a couple of large events rather than spread ourselves too thin. We’ve just come back from Berlin doing a showcase in Watergate and we’re planning some future projects with them. We’re also planning some cool summer parties in Southampton and also during the September – December period when the students all return.
Lastly, what are the main things anyone who’s considering putting a music event should always keep in mind in order to have a decent chance at success?
Attention to detail is the key to an amazing party.