For this edition of Behind the Night, our new series highlighting some of London’s most forward-thinking promoters, we speak with the team behind Trouble Vision.
Trouble Vision have been running parties from their base at Corsica Studios since 2008, though have since spread across London and even as far as Croatia and Bulgaria; booking names like Avalon Emerson, Jayda G, Job Jobse and Vladimir Ivkovic. Now a staple in London’s local nightlife, they’ve managed to successfully run a club night in the south of the city for over a decade, with punters trusting their vision and thoughtful programming that features a genre-diverse array of dance music’s most exciting names alongside local rising talents. Ahead of their event this Friday, Trouble Vision give us the lowdown on their roots and earlier programming, what they believe makes a good party and what they’ve got in store for this year.
So to begin with, who is behind the Trouble Vision team?
Hello! Trouble Vision is primarily Chris, Oliver & Matt.
You’ve been operating since 2008 – what sparked the idea to start Trouble Vision and what were those earlier parties like?
Trouble Vision began in 2008. Chris had been studying at Art college in London and while he was there he got into DJing and started putting on parties. They were pretty much all at Corsica Studios. Adrian and Amanda who founded the venue were and still are very accommodating to art students wanting to do events.
In the early days we really blended different genres – you could do that back then. We would have jungle or dubstep in one room and house, techno or disco in another. Looking back at some of the old posters the programming looks super weird: Grandmaster Flash in one room and Blawan in another. DJ Zinc and Sampha, Ms Dynamite and Midland – you get the idea but it kinda worked. People liked a bit of everything and some of the early parties were absolutely wild.
You’re Corsica’s first in-house promoter. How did that relationship come about and how has it been running nights at Corsica for as long as you have?
By and large all the parties Chris was involved in when he was a student were relatively successful, so when he graduated Corsica offered him a job to start their first in house night – Trouble Vision!
The early parties musically were pretty different to what we program today but the ethos of the party has remained the same. We’ve always programmed music that we like, so inevitably in 10+ years our tastes have somewhat evolved and in turn so has the party.
London can be a tricky city to throw a party in. It’s oversaturated and hard to maintain people’s attention. What do you credit as the reason Trouble Vision have been able to successfully throw parties for over a decade?
We’d like to think it’s the crowd of regulars that’s made it possible for us to do this for as long as we have. It’s the people that make a party after all, and we’ve been very fortunate to have attracted such a diverse group of people who have kept coming back over the years.
Obviously programming plays a part too. We’ve always tried to mix up the old and the new, from lots of different genres, and for the large part, this has had some amazing results. But that’s not to say it doesn’t always work!
What have been some of the hurdles you’ve had to face as a promoter throughout your time and what have been some of the higher points that keep you going?
The glaringly obvious hurdle is really the popularity of dance music. When we started back in 2008 you could put together a 3-room lineup for 900 people for a few grand. Now a single headliner would cost you that and the rest. So it’s fair to say the margins have somewhat narrowed and the financial risk increased.
It’s simply a reflection of popularity: headline DJs have countless options of where they can play in London and often their business goes to the highest bidder – not to say that’s the case for everyone, or is even wrong. It just comes down to supply and demand, and in turn, forces us smaller promoters to be more creative and get ahead of the curve. No bad thing really.
Corsica has remained independent throughout, so it can be tricky trying to compete with offers from clubs that are owned by bigger companies.
Having been involved with a venue located in South London for as long as you have, is there anything you’re worried about on a local level with Corsica amongst ever-rising gentrification and the battle against property investment?
I think it’s potentially at a tipping point. Obviously there are a lot of new buildings popping up in and around the club, but there have also been assurances about Corsica’s future. It’s quite hard to speculate.
What are the key elements that you believe make a good night?
A welcoming inclusive environment first and foremost. People are there to have fun so must be able to relax. This extends throughout an event. Everyone from the security and bar staff, to the dancers and DJs; everyone needs to be on the same page.
Beyond that, it’s pretty subjective, but I’m sure you can tell from our history that we like small dark rooms with massive well-tuned sound systems. Can’t go wrong with that!
Do you still get nervous before each party?
I think we’ve managed to teach ourselves into enjoying it – even those horrible first 30 minutes when you’re worried no one is going to turn up even when you’ve sold all the tickets haha.
For anyone wanting to get started throwing parties, do you have any advice?
Make sure you know why you’re doing it. We began because we love music, collecting records and DJing and we wanted a platform where we could book some of our favourite artists, DJ ourselves and deepen our love for it.
Making money from it was very much a secondary element, and if we made anything it was just a bonus. That said, keeping an eye on the financials is essential to maintain longevity. Only spend what you can afford to lose, because promoting in London, or anywhere for that matter can be wildly unpredictable. You may think you have a sure thing going on, but there are lots of factors outside of your control which can derail the best-laid plans.
You’re turning 12 this year – what’s in store for Trouble Vision in 2020 and beyond?
We’ve got lots lined up for Corsica Studios, including a Hivern Discs showcase with John Talabot in March. Outside of Corsica, we’re working with BICEP on their Brixton live shows and it’s been incredible to see the guys grow as artists during our time working together. We’ll also be at this year’s Queens Yard Summer Party, hosting a stage on the Friday with our friends at Ransom Note.