As passionate about dance music and his local scene as anyone else you’re likely to come across, it’s no wonder that Stoke’s Lee Fredericks has made The Move one of the most ambitious party purveyors in the Midlands. Dedicated towards supporting his hometown’s clubbing scene, his tireless work has brought some of the biggest names in house, disco and more to Stoke-on-Trent, plugging a gap that few others have had the patience or determination to tackle since the end of the city’s Golden clubbing era.
More focussed than ever on elevating Stoke’s status in the UK dance music scene, Fredericks spoke to us about The Move’s biggest project yet, as well as the importance of supporting your local parties, formative dancefloor experiences and more.
We’re now just a few weeks away from the biggest event that The Move has ever done, with Solardo, Derrick Carter and Steve Lawler set to play at a huge warehouse in December. You must be buzzing! How’s it shaping up?
It certainly is the biggest event we’ve ever done! We’ve had some big lineups in our time but venue wise and logistically, it's most definitely the most ambitious event in Stoke’s clubbing history!
Stoke isn’t too well known for its house music, so how would you describe the scene for those who’ve never sampled it?
I find it funny when people say that Stoke’s not known for its house music. I suppose it’s an age thing really. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember when Stoke was quite a player in the early UK scene! Sasha cut his teeth here in Stoke with his first residency at Shelleys Laserdome and Stoke was home to one of the first Superclubs - Golden. There’s quite a few big names in the industry that are originally from Stoke. It’s definitely played its part in UK house music history that’s for sure.
Nowadays, granted, the major UK cities are a world away from what Stoke has to offer in terms of venues and volume of events as we don’t really have the population to sustain regular multiple large to mid size events all on the same night like in London & Manchester for instance but there’s some great young promoters coming through putting on new nights and the scene here is as healthy as it’s ever been. It’s pretty easy to describe to be honest, Stoke has always had a great party spirit with its working class mentality. We like to party hard!
(The huge warehouse space of China Hall will become a dance spot for the first time in December when The Move bring Solardo and more to Stoke)
The Move has been operating for over six years now. Was your intention always to achieve such longevity with the party?
If I’m honest I don’t think of six years as being a long time! I guess it is with how quickly things move in today’s world but the weekly dance event I ran before I started The Move ran for nearly 13 years! I think the fact that The Move isn’t pigeonholed with regards to genre too heavily gives us the freedom to float in and out of fashion while staying true to our musical background and ethos. I know it’s a bit of a cliché these days but there’s two types of music, good and bad. Good music takes many forms and if you can dance to it and we like it, there’ll be some aspect of us wanting to collect it and play it.
Tell us a bit about your resident DJ Pete Bromley. How did you meet and what makes him the right man for the job?
It’s difficult for me to talk about Pete without sounding like a massive sycophant! Lol. Not only is he one of my closest friends, he’s arguably one of my favorite DJs ever. I first met Pete in 1990 over the counter of Lotus Records where he used to work. In the 90s when I produced and released music, Pete was always my first port of call for an opinion on a track I’d worked on. He first played for me around 2000 I think as a guest at a night I ran. A couple of years after that when his Golden residency had ended he became my resident and has been ever since.
Where to start with Pete as a DJ? When any young up and coming DJs ask me for advice, he’s automatically my main point of reference. When it comes to pure dedication, commitment and passion, I’ve never met another guy like it in my 28 years of being involved in the scene. The only guys to come close that I got a similar vibe off was Danny Tenaglia & Colin Curtis. Guys like these base their life around music and the pursuit, collection and playing of it above everything else. Pete has been Stoke’s number 1 DJ now since about 1993 and shows no sign of giving up that mantle anytime soon. He’s like a machine when it comes to Djing! I’ve seen him DJ all night, like 8 hours plus of strictly vinyl of course without even a toilet break! I do joke with his wife that if their home caught fire, his record collection would be evacuated before his family!
What were the formative experiences that got you into dance music?
Like most people my age, the early 80s phenomena of breakdancing hitting the UK shores was probably my first taste. Collecting all the Streetwave Electro compilation albums (copied cassettes of course). After that, just being very lucky to be the right school leaving age in 1989 when things started exploding here in the UK. I do count myself incredibly lucky to have experienced that era. I feel we all took it for granted at the time but that’s the naivety of youth for you.
When we last spoke to you in June you were getting ready for some impressive looking events, including a party with Jackmaster and Manu Gonzalez. How did that go down?
Ahh that was an amazing party! You never know what to expect with Jack and he didn’t disappoint! A proper showman as well as an accomplished DJ. Manu was on fine form too. He’s a proper genuine guy is Manu, he’ll go a long way in this game. Not only does he have the determination to get to the top but he’s such a versatile DJ too. He can warm up and bang them out, perfectly in equal measures.
The warehouse party at China Hall will be one of the biggest events in Stoke’s underground music history. How much work goes into something of that scale?
I’ll be honest with you, we’re finding out as we go! It’s taken us what seems forever to get to this stage! From our first contact with the local council when we were told the venue was accessible to literally dozens and dozens of meetings, inspections and evaluations, we’re here 5 years later and it's finally happening! Obviously a lot of things are the same as a regular club event except on a much bigger scale but we have some amazing professionals around us who have great experience in production & marketing for large scale events. Stoke has really risen to the occasion for this and we can’t begin to thank all our supporters enough. Still a long way to go yet, we’re learning something new everyday.
How important are nights like The Move to cities that historically haven’t had the most thriving music scenes?
As mentioned earlier, many older clubbers will feel that isn’t a true reflection of Stoke’s house music heritage over the years but I suppose I have to see it from a perspective of maybe someone who started going to events in the ‘00s and if honest, we (Stoke) really dropped off the national map with regards to a big club brand being here. All my events over the years have been relatively small nights, nothing gaining any national recognition but keeping thousands of locals happy and entertained for years. There’s scores of smaller, poorer cities all over the north/midlands that have probably experienced the same recessive vibe as Stoke and the dance scene has simultaneously grown so big that smaller destinations like ours are certainly seen as the less fashionable places to come if you don’t know its heritage. I’m sure there’s a hundred promoters just like me, flying the flag in their city or town doing their best to keep their followers entertained. Supporting your local night has always been an important thing for me, not too dissimilar to following your local football team. Is it important? I guess it is if you love underground dance music and want a regular local fix without having to travel too far.
Do you think there there is scope for The Move to encourage a wider community of dance music fans in Stoke? How do you think you can encourage more people to get involved and boost the scene?
Who knows? It’s a nice thought but ultimately most people get involved in this scene just like I did, through a love of music or a desire to achieve, revolving around something they’re passionate about. People are inspired by a great night out so I suppose The Move has been doing its bit and I love the idea it may be inspiring the next generation of DJs, promoters & producers. As for the scene being boosted, its has had a huge boost of late with a new breed of young promoters & DJs putting on some great parties. There are more people traveling into Stoke now for the old skool club reunions at the local uni and some franchised branded events…
We take it you’re referring to the Sankeys Stoke franchise? What are your feelings about that?
I have mixed feelings to be honest. I suppose the bigger question is ‘can a promoter be franchised?’ I appreciate that historically, successful commercial clubs have had multiple venues but that has been nothing really to do with underground dance culture. I suppose it’s all down to an individual's point of view really on if you think an underground club franchise is a genuine thing or not. Let’s be frank, it’s the distinction between promoter and brand that I think is the contentious point here. For the record, any promoter putting on an event is great for Stoke’s night time economy and everyone benefits. For me personally? I think it’s more a question of the integrity of it all. I’m not sure you can franchise a club brand and sell it to people who take their music and clubbing seriously as the reason most true clubbers choose to go to a specific event (other than to have a good time or to hear specific DJs they’re into) is usually because of what the promoter has to offer in terms of reputation, commitment, knowledge and the creative aspect of what makes one brand different from the next brand. Can you borrow those qualities off another promoter and sell them off as your own without it being called into question? I personally don’t think you can.
I have incredible respect for the original Sankeys team with regards to what they did in the 90s and what they’ve achieved over the years. My resident DJ was a resident at Sankeys Manchester from 96-98, I went with him enough times, he even did his Essential Mix live on Radio One from there! Granted the brand has changed somewhat over the years as it’s expanded into other territories, not to mention Ibiza and has been forged in the main part by David Vincent who has brought some incredible DJs and concepts to his venues, but this unfortunately isn’t David here in Stoke.
Any big events popping up locally to shed some spotlight on Stoke is something that benefits everyone involved in the scene. It’s certainly bringing more people out and that I applaud. Young people getting into music even if it’s just following a recognised logo or name on a flyer or social media page is a start and that can only be a good thing. I definitely have no issue with it but I see it for what it is: it’s not Sankeys to me. It’s easy to trivialise these kind of things and say “It's just a night out” but I suppose some of us take our clubbing and music more serious than others. It’s been my main focus all my adult life and I’m proud of Stoke and its scene and I’m not about to apologise for feeling passionate about it.
Finally, we like to maintain the tradition of ending interviews with an appropriate song. What’s an anthem that you associate strongly with The Move?
Wow, there’s so many to choose from over the last six years! I suppose a good choice would be Xinobi – ‘Puma’. It’s not that it represents us musically so much, it was just a record that organically became a really big record out of nowhere for us a few years back, courtesy of Pete Bromley of course ;)
The Move’s huge warehouse event will take Steve Lawler, Solardo and Derrick Carter to China Hall on Saturday 2nd December.
Photo courtesy of L E Scrivens
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