We talk to the guys in charge of one of Exeter’s most successful nights, Our House, discussing the emergence of a dance scene in Exeter, their favourite DJs and what’s happening to the night next year.
Introduce yourselves for us.
Well for those of you who don’t know Our House is run by Ian Stephenson, Ben Smith and Will Thompson.
It’s fair to say Our House is one of the most successful nights in Exeter, with tickets selling out for most of the nights. What makes it so popular?
Ian: People look at it as a great start to the weekend. We have a good team involved from our ticket sellers to the DJs, so the night reaches across a fairly large proportion of the student population. The headliner DJs we book helps to attract people, and also the feel-good atmosphere we have. Everyone is there to have a good time and enjoy the music. It’s relaxed, there’s no pressure to be something you’re not, which is often the stigma from those who don’t attend.
Ben: I think we are lucky in having the Cavern as our home for the nights, we’re the main student night there and it’s a great venue. It just gives people a chance to mix it up and go for a different kind of night compared to what they are used to which is always good. I think everyone gets to a stage, especially into 2nd year, where they start looking around to see what more Exeter has to offer as it’s not the biggest place. People always seem to want to come back as well, I think a lot of people have complete misconceptions about nights like ours, but I constantly hear ‘I’ve never been down before because I didn’t think I’d enjoy this’ and ‘It’s not my scene, but I’ve had a great night’, and then I see them down all the time.
Will: I think the popularity that Our House has seen is testament to the efforts and quality of the residents that play. There is always a diverse range of music to hear, from disco to tech house and everything in between. In terms of music there is something for everyone, but our DJs always make an effort to bring something new to each set they play, which guarantees a varied and exciting night. We’re also really excited about our new residents, who are sure to continue this fantastic effort into next year.
When I came to Exeter good club nights that played good dance music were pretty rare. We’re pretty lucky now to have more options, but what would you say to people who said Our House is just like every other dance night?
I: Everyone who has been involved in the development of student nightlife in Exeter should be proud of the transformation that has been achieved. There is a lot more diversity on offer now in the different nights out compared to when I started at Exeter in 2010. Our House has been a central part to the increased diversity, but credit is due to the work done by Thick as Thieves in creating the interest, and the huge bookings brought to Exeter by Beats and Bass and Exit.
B: Anyone who heads down to all the different nights will notice a distinctly different style, part of the reason we set up Our House was because we wanted to contribute to the scene but in our own unique way, which reflected more what we were listening to. Of course certain aspects will overlap but I think we’ve always had a slightly lighter atmosphere, I seem to end up with Disco taking over most of my sets, whereas Beats and Bass, for example, represent a really broad range dance music genres that are often different to ours. That’s what makes it so exciting right now, because you can actually get an incredible diversity of great dance music from great DJs across the city.
W: Like Ben has said, I think Cavern is a huge asset for us. We’re the only student dance music night based at the Cavern this year, and it great to be based at a venue with such a great musical heritage. As a venue, the Cavern has such an exciting and welcoming atmosphere, it appeals to seasoned attendees to electronic music nights, and new crowds alike.
Tell us about your favourite Our House to date.
I: I know it sounds clichéd, but I really enjoy them all. Once the early stress of setting up and opening the doors is over the nights have been relatively problem free. Our headliners have been so easy to work with, which makes things much more relaxed on the night. I have had to think about this question for quite a while. For me it was Second City, and the response to ‘I Wanna Feel’ (which could go to number one).
B: Every night seems to be amazing in its own way, which I think is mostly down to the efforts and range of the DJs we bring in. SION was special for me because it was my first time back after over a year since I set up the night with Sam back at the end of our second year and to see just how it had grown was incredible. Bodhi was unforgettable, just because of the amazing build up around the night which delivered massively.
What can expect at the next Our House?
I: Something very different. If you haven’t heard about it, we are putting on an End of Term Takeover at Timepiece on Sunday 23rd March, with The Artful Dodger and Applebottom.
W: I can’t believe the legend that is The Artful Dodger is coming to Our House! It’s also been a great start to 2014 for Applebottom, and we can’t wait to see what he has to offer. For me, Sunday is the ideal way to end an incredible term, not only for Our House, but for electronic music in Exeter more generally.
Who would your ideal line-up be?
B: Its tough, but I don’t think there is anyone that really does sets quite like Krystal Klear, it would give me a chance to meet a bit of a hero as well so I’d have to go with him.
W: Hot Since 82 has been smashing it for a long time, I’ve been wanting to get him down to Exeter for a while!
Who are your favourite Exeter based DJs from Our House or any other night?
I: I could mention everyone who has played at Our House as they do really bring so much to the night. Tom Cooke (Vandeleur) for being central to the development of Our House. Cuzo brings such variety to the night, and is going to be a big loss next year when he graduates.
B: It goes without saying that all the guys at Our House are phenomenal and are so much fun to work with. Going back further though, the old Thick as Thieves line up of Ariel, Tonic, Budos, 5imba and Southpaw were amazing and we would all be down there every week for these guys and they always smashed it.
W: I couldn’t agree more with what the guys have said, but recently I’ve been really impressed by what some of the new guys on the Exeter scene have had to offer, it definitely bodes well for the future!
Our residents for next year are Tom Deuchars, Sam Baker-Doodles (Doodles), Josh Toogood and Harry Gordon. We are extremely pleased with the guys we have on board, who are definitely going to help us grow even further. Each one of them offer something different in their taste of music and what they bring to the night.
The three of you are final years, what does this mean for Our House next year?
I: I live locally and have a grad job nearby so I will be continuing Our House over the next 12 months. It will be interesting to see how the night moves following Ben and Will’s departures as obviously between the three of us we have contributed significantly to the progression of Our House over the last year. We are lucky that there is a strong team of ticket reps on board who we will be looking to help out with tasks involved with running the night.
B: Despite being absolutely gutted at leaving all this behind, the plans are in place for a new team to come through and it’s just as exciting to see what they will bring in replacing us.
W: It’s going to be tough to leave, but I know Our House is in capable hands. I will be sure to come down as much as possible to see how much Our House comes on in the next couple of years!
You can catch the next Our House this Sunday at Timepiece, featuring Artful Dodger and Applebottom. You can check out all the details of the event here.