One of the rising star names of last year was definitely the Bristol-based event and label brand, EMINENT. Big names that they hosted on their stages last year included DJ Boring, Ross From Friends, Moomin and Moskalus, the events quickly became a critically acclaimed within the cultural southern city. Constantly at the forefront of the electronic music scene, EMINENT continues to push innovative dance music, fusing elements of minimal NYC house with the electro and broken beat techno of Detroit. The man behind the brand is DJ and producer Hywel Gregory who has been active in the UK underground free party scene since the early 00s. I caught up with him whilst the residents, Yushh, Tramma and Zobol made a cool little mix for ZF.
ZF: How long has Eminent been running and how was it founded?
So EMINENT was set up by myself in April 2017. During the first few years I was in Bristol I was involved in some other musical projects but didn’t feel this gave me a proper avenue to express myself how I wanted fully. There’s no Isaac Newton Apple falling on the head style story behind the brand, unfortunately, although, the closest thing is probably behind the name, it’s how my name translates from Welsh into English apparently.
ZF: Who are the members of the Eminent team and what do they do?
This is a great question as the team has recently expanded over the last couple of months. Alongside myself, the other original resident deejay/producer is Don (Ulex). He’s helped me out over the last year with radio shows, mixes and productions etc. When I first met him he was releasing juke/footwork music on outfits such as Good Street records. Over the years his sound has really grown. Mostly I’d say he seems at home pounding out 4×4 techno behind the decks these days!
Jen’s newish to Bristol so we have been lucky to cross paths so soon. First and foremost as a musician she’s great and she’s making some really varied and great sounding stuff that we’re really looking forward to being released. As a DJ, lots of the records she’s digging for at the moment you could class as dub-techno/house. On top of this (probably the area I lack most knowledge in) she supports with is the sound engineering side of things. Since she’s come in we’ve launched EMINENT Audio with a Funktion One set up for anyone local that needs to get their party pumping. Anyone reading this who runs a festival or owns a space that’s crying out for some extra sound hit us up! We’re fully mobile!
Josh and I connected over a shared love of classic early D&B and dubstep. If you want to nerd out with someone over autonomic or DEEP MEDi he’s your guy. We both have big vinyl collections that we’ve built from our late teens and have been known to spend a ridiculous amount of consecutive hours on end rinsing it out after a night out. He’s come on board and is really helping me out in shaping the strategy and content of the brand for next year as well as bringing his own selections to the booth. Under his moniker Tramma, Josh has been playing some of the more unusual and bass driven house, techno and electro, most but not all with a distinct UK sound that harks back to the influences above. He certainly knows how to get a party going!
Jon loves all things funky. He’s developed a passion for mixing and producing warm crunchy left field tracks of varying styles under his two monikers Jonski and Zobol. He’s also great at graphic design and has a degree in the subject so naturally, he does all of our artwork, which is great. It’s fairly unique and interesting in terms of his influence for this as he uses a bunch of manual processes to get the organic textures we use for our posters and flyers. I first met him at Bloc 2016 (RIP) and then again in the summer at Dekmantel. Since then he’s moved down to Bristol and our working friendship has grown naturally.
Lastly, there’s me, of course. I grew up in Cornwall where the sound system culture was all fields and festivals. Moving to Bristol and changing to a club setting was a great experience. Through my uni years, I was a resident and helped to run another brand in the city Apex. It gave me great experience, opportunity and taste of the DJ lifestyle. We toured places across Europe in addition to supporting massive names such as Groove Armada and Pete Tong. It’s great to apply this knowledge into a musical direction that’s right for me now.
ZF: As a promoter, Eminent organises various events around Bristol,
how are your events different to others in the city?
There is a really thriving underground music scene in Bristol and it’s easily one of the best in the UK right now so making our events stand out will always be a challenge. We’ve not been afraid to take risks and have tried out some venues that aren’t always used for house or techno parties and although there are several top quality promoters doing similar things, we like to think we are bringing something a little more varied to the plate.
As I’ve mentioned, we have a group of people with quite different tastes, but there is a lot of crossover and the artists we want to get involved exemplify that eclecticism and versatility and like delve into the greyer areas of electronic dance music and that’s quite exciting, especially considering how much the scene as a whole has diversified and evolved over the last ten years. We want to help continue that by showcasing these artists and giving them that platform to express themselves.The fact that we’ve got Jen on board with the PA side of things too means we can push boundaries and set up just about anywhere you can think of.
ZF: From your past events what have been some of your favourite moments?
In the summer of 2016, I threw a boat party on Bristol’s river Avon, before everyone was part of the crew and EMINENT is what it is today. It was pretty crazy as halfway through the trip we had to stop the party and save a local man and his dog that were drowning in the river. We made the news! Unfortunately, I wasn’t asked to make a statement so I couldn’t plug EMINENT. Other than that, I think of the main highlights was Jon’s live electro set as Zobol. The guy is seriously talented and it was a pleasure to be able to give him a chance to demonstrate that. He’s definitely one to watch going forward
ZF: What would you say defines the sound of Eminent as a brand?
The original concept I had was to make sure the music didn’t get stuck in the latest ‘fad.’ Early bookings included one of Ross From Friends first live sets. As much as like some of the lo-fi sound that’s coming out I didn’t want to get associated purely with that vibe. Since then I’ve been really lucky to have some really great bookings such as DJ Sprinkles and Moomin that have really shown what we’re about. But as I’ve already mentioned above, we’re all about presenting the more interesting aspects of current underground electronic music that are harder to pin down in one phrase but not looking too far from Bristol and focusing on the wealth of talent that exists in the city. House, Techno and Electro all have some great ambassadors that are showing how the sound associated with those genres can be stretched and explored to find whole new sounds entirely. Come along and hear for yourselves!
ZF: You’ve just released your debut VA compilation album,
can you tell me about the concept behind it?
Mostly it’s a showcase of residents and friends. I have really great friendships with 90% of the producers on the label and it’s great to be lucky enough to support these guys with the label. The label took a bit of a backseat this year so I wanted to get a compilation out before the end of the year to remind everyone it’s still there. I know it’s a bit cliché but watch this space.
ZF: What advice would you give to any budding music promoter?
Try to integrate with other promoters in your city. It’s a lot better to be working with people rather than against. Also stay humble, be nice.
ZF: Which have been your top 3 favourite mixes you have featured on Eminent?
The top spot goes to our man Zobol. He’s been smashing out his new live hardware show that I’ve mentioned. We put on the first one in September and since his show’s been going strength to strength. To get one from Harrison BDP was great too. I’m a big fan of his production so great to be able to feature him. Finally, something slightly different from Ill Truth. These guys are a Bristol D&B duo that have signed to the likes of Shogun Audio. Definitely, ones to watch out for if you’re into that thing.
ZF: And finally, for 2018, where do you see eminent going in the new year?
In Bristol just keeping a nice consistency and intimacy with our parties. Wider than that some shows outside of the city too. We’ve got some things lined up in Cardiff and Plymouth that we’re nearly ready to announce plus some good plans in other cities across the UK and further. Also, I touched on it earlier but the record label should be putting out the first of what will hopefully be many vinyl releases.
Thanks to Hywel, Yushh, Tramma and Zobol at EMINENT for their words and mix!