Not necessarily the first city that comes to mind when bass music is mentioned, Brighton has nonetheless been blessed with one of the longest running bass-focussed club nights in SuperCharged, a former breakbeat night that has evolved since its foundation 17 years ago to become a specialist in drum and bass, grime, dubstep and everything in between. A significant player in the transportation of London sounds to the south coast, the night has been growing in stature for many years, and is at the peak of its powers going into 2017.
Ahead of the spring tour which kicks off in January, we spoke to the night’s main driving force, Sarah Cole, about how a pre-2000 breakbeat night has come to be the defining source of urban sounds in Brighton’s 2016 clubbing scene.
SuperCharged has been running for quite some time now, so tell us a little bit about the minds behind the night.
SuperCharged has been running non-stop since it launched back in 1999, launched by Krafty Kuts and a guy called Lloyd. I came into the business to bring in more bass music and help it evolve from a breakbeat brand, I eventually brought the brand about 7/8 years ago and have been building it ever since. This quarter we will have done over 10k tickets and we have hosted the main bass tent at Wildlife Festival in the Summer. I run the business alone with one key promoter, we are a small lean team but it’s the best way to work as it keeps communication concise - all you need is to have trust with your promoter. Jack Donald has worked for me on & off for 10 years or so, he knows exactly how I work so we generally have a smooth running.
Brighton is known to be a creative, arty and open city; how much of an impact does location have on what SuperCharged is able to do?
Brighton is generally a very sociable city; people come here because there is a vibrant nightlife and people are able to express themselves without judgement. I think SuperCharged has thrived here because people love going out and that’s reflected in the atmosphere. I’ve often been told by acts that the vibe in clubs in Brighton is one of the best.
SuperCharged started off primarily as a breakbeat night back in 1999, and has since branched out to incorporate most strands of bass music. Has the expansion of the SuperCharged sound been a conscious decision or a natural evolution?
It was a conscious decision - breakbeat was consistent but there was a bustling scene of D&B , Dubstep and Garage which people wanted to go clubbing to, so we made a conscious decision to introduce big acts from other scenes into what was then our weekly residency. The first acts that appeared in this series were Skream, Andy C, Rusko, and Marky, and they were huge. Ever since the music policy has been about staying at the forefront of bass music, bringing new acts and supporting evolving genres. No boundaries, it just has to be good music that people want to hear.
SuperCharged shares a similar philosophy to sister night Charged, so can you explain the relationship between the two projects?
I launched Charged last year to be more experimental musically. SuperCharged has always been big dance floor acts and stacked line ups, it’s all about the rave but I wanted to look at bringing deeper or less commercial music to Brighton that didn’t lend itself to the Sc music policy, but also to have a brand that can be about one headline act in a smaller space. Charged launched into the new Patterns venue and really only works there, due to the intimacy of the space.
Heading into the end of 2016 and the new year, SuperCharged has shows with My Nu Leng, Lady Leshurr, Shy, Bad Company and more to look forward to. Which excites you most?
Everything excites me, that’s why I do this, but what I love is promoting acts I’ve not booked before. We have our staple acts that return a few times a year due to demand but for every series of events I always try and add in at least two new headlines acts and more support . For 2017 we are doing Lady Leshurr, AJ Tracey, Fine Art - all of which are new to our programming. These are the acts that help keep the curation fresh and interesting.
Concorde 2 has become the regular home of SuperCharged, so what’s so special about the venue?
C2 is all about the space, it’s a venue rather than a club so I think the experience is enhanced. I came through rave days so I think for me I prefer a venue space opposed to a club that can have too many details. C2 is simple, loud and has a big stage - that’s all you need.
SuperCharged will be running Concorde 2’s NYE party, with Redlight and Flava D behind the decks. How will you make sure that 2016 gets a proper see off?
I don’t need to, it will be everyone inside the sold out event that makes it, the atmosphere will be incredible! I am there to just deliver the necessities to make it work.
Previous guests have included DJ Marky, David Rodigan, Stanton Warriors and many more legendary figures. Many of them must have put on great performances for you, but have any of them taken you by surprise with their sets for SuperCharged?
What surprises me is the consistency of the acts that play. For example, Andy C has been playing for me for near on 15 years but every time he returns he absolutely kills it. I have total admiration for the established acts that have been in it for years but always deliver a faultless show. The acts you mentioned all fall into that category.
It may still be early on, but Brighton currently find themselves in one of the automatic promotion spots for Premier League football next season… Let’s say you’re in the changing rooms on the last day of the season and you’ve been put in charge of the playlist - which track are you going to play to inspire the team for the final push?
Throwing football related questions at me is tricky... it’s certainly not my thing but If I were to choose tracks to get people into a fighting spirit let’s go with Skepta “Shutdown” & Audio “Make It Happen”!
The SuperCharged spring tour kicks off on Friday 27th January with Mumdance & Riko, and will take place at Patterns and The Arch as well as usual haunt Concorde 2. Chase & Status, Bad Company, Lady Leshurr, Dusky and Wilkinson are among other huge names set to join the SuperCharged parade.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of SuperCharged