A few years ago Exeter’s student club nights boasted little more than the typical student offerings marked by Nicki Minaj remixes, jägerbombs and lads decked in Hollister. But a recent transformation in Exeter’s electronic music scene has changed things for the better. Exeter now attracts diverse acts to perform at a host of popular student-run nights that continue to stick two fingers up to the myth that our city is just a sleepy Southwest retreat with a huge John Lewis.
The Our House brand, established in the summer of 2012, has been at the forefront of Exeter’s musical evolution. Its bi-weekly nights at the Cavern have become a permanent fixture in Exeter’s fluctuating scene, and over the past few years they can boast billing some of the most cutting edge DJs touring the UK – including the likes of Bodhi, Krystal Klear, garage masters Artful Dodger and the legendary DJ Zinc. Our House will host their own stage at Hijacked Festival this summer in the expansive grounds of Powderham Castle where they will showcase their familiar potent cocktail of student DJs and headliner acts.
Henry Oliver spoke to the founders of the brand to find out how the foundations for Our House were laid, how it has evolved and what plans they have in store for the summer.
Our House began around the time Exeter’s dance music scene was really beginning to take off – what inspired you to start Our House, particularly considering Thick as Thieves and Beats and Bass already existed at the time?
Ian Stephenson: Our House was a reaction to the developing scene. The success of Thick As Thieves highlighted the growing demand, and we wanted to contribute to this growth of quality dance music events with our own influences. With Our House we wanted to cover a spectrum of dance music that we felt wasn’t on offer at the time at other events.
Can you give us a bit of the history of Our House as a collective? How has it developed since you started?
Ian: Our House was developed initially by Sam McLaren and Ben Smith in June 2012, they were later joined by Ian Stephenson, Will Thomson and then Kate Bossie. Run for the first year as a monthly event, one of the core values was to make the nights as accessible as possible and to open the underground music scene up. A very important factor for us, as well, has been to have lots of individuals involved with the brand, whether this be selling tickets, or fostering new DJ talent. Many of the current most popular DJs in Exeter were given their first opportunities at Our House events. Nowadays Our House is run by Harry Fox, Marek Skibinski, Harry Gordon and Sam Baker Doodles. The boys have continued to involve reps across a large span of the student body, and have recently enjoyed a term of sold out events with a variety of eclectic headliner bookings, which has been a testament to how far the brand has grown.
Over the past few years Our House has managed to bring some big names to Exeter, what have been the highlights for you?
Ben Smith: Unsurprisingly I would say Krystal Klear and People Like Us for our 2nd Birthday last June. I met a personal hero and I don’t think ill ever enjoy a set or club night as much as I did that night. But also our night at Timepiece with Artful Dodger and Applebottom – because it was the first time we tackled something bigger and we pulled it off.
Will Thomson: Bodhi in January 2014 was a big step for us and proved that we had the following and the ambition to step it up as much as possible. And the booking of Krystal Klear furthered highlighted this progression and was a great send of for Ben, Ian and I before we graduated.
Ian: Looking back over the last 2-3 years we have had some amazing acts down to Exeter. Pedestrian and Doc Daneeka stand out for me in terms of their DJ talent and the variety of music they performed.
Last year Hijacked provided a focal point for Exeter’s electronic music lovers, and acted as a platform to book some of the country’s most renowned DJs. How did Our House become involved with the festival?
Ian: Hijacked Festival was a huge project for Exeter and the Thick As Thieves crew. One pleasing aspect about the scene in Exeter over the last few years has been our ability and willingness to work together as rival brands, which is not often the case in other cities. Our House was approached to become involved and support the festival at a time when the reach of our nights was expanding following the success of headline events with the likes of Origins Sound and Bodhi. It was an exciting project to become involved with and one that helped strengthen the brand while in turn helping contribute to an unforgettable day and night. We hosted one of the official afterparties with PBR Streetgang, an act we loved having down. Following the success we renewed our support for Hijacked for 2015.
Those in the know will already be well aware of the parties Our House have been throwing, and we can’t wait for some serious vibes at their stage on the day. Looking past this summer’s revelries though, we took the time to speak to Harry Fox, the man in line to take over next year, for a fresh perspective on what’s to come.
You’re set to take on the reins of Our House next year, Harry – do you have a specific vision for where you see it going?
Harry Fox: This year we have been overwhelmed by the popularity our events have received, I want to see this carry on through to next year and I have no doubt it will. The bi-weekly Cavern nights have been the focal point of Our House and I am keen to keep improving these by working on the small details to improve the overall experience for everyone that comes. However, we are looking at bigger things. We’ve talked about doing collaborations with other nights in cities such as Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh and we are currently planning a potential night in London this summer.
I am also excited by our strong relationship with Hold It Down. Collaborating with them for the DJ Showcases at the Phoenix have provided some of the most memorable shows for us. I am looking forward to working on some new and exciting projects with them for the next academic year.
My main aim is to continue to throw the best parties in Exeter. As our popularity grows our freedom to book more interesting and exciting artists means we continue to put on fantastic nights. We have an amazing following who appreciate the music, and I really hope people will continue to come and party with us. I’m incredibly excited for what is to come.