Words By: Dray Morgan
Lead Image via Karl Magee
By looking at their world through a satirical lens, the The Shed Residents collective have sculpted a different path in Dublin. In an effort to reclaim the clubs, their collaboration with Jägermeister on #SaveTheNight: Irish Edition will see a collection of international and homegrown DJs take part in an immersive clubbing experience, on September 29th.
The Shed Residents have bloomed from a shack in a back garden to tastemakers for Ireland’s nightlife, but what does that even mean anymore? Four out of five nightclubs have closed down in Ireland since 2000. Despite the adversity, The Shed Residents have managed to carve out a presence that brings light and fun into a struggling Dublin club scene.
Through their lighthearted approach to the often self-serious world of electronic music, the collective have managed to grow a cult following via their social media presence. Event announcements are usually presented in creative video formats, piggybacking off pop-culture references and intuitive marketing. Their website acts as a virtual archive of their evolution. Focusing on the crowd, their film photography in intimate settings infers a sense of community. Over one hundred images of young partygoers, relinquishing any modern senses of anguish through a common love of nightlife. From parodying Grease to Time Magazine, creative expression does not just stop at the music. The group’s organic friendship from childhood shines through everything they do. At its core, it still is just friends having fun.
“We’re not a DJ collective.” is the first thing which comes out of member Stephen’s mouth when asked to define what The Shed Residents is. “It’s just a platform for our hobbies and then obviously, DJing is the main drive of it.”
Ted, Stephen and Alec are childhood friends who met at school. Growing up together meant that their exposure to Dublin’s nightlife came simultaneously. “You’re going to Harcourt Street, D2, Diceys for your first year of college but it gets stale and boring fast,” Stephen explained. A transition from the city’s mainstream clubs to techno-filled rooms sparked an interest which resulted in the formation of the collective.
However, the true limitations of Ireland only hit home on an interrailing trip. Somewhere between discovering what Europe has to offer and attending Melt, the German electronic music festival, a passion for the profession had been kindled. “We got back, bought decks and decided to do an event for our birthdays in The Button Factory, but it ended up being cancelled because of COVID,” Alec said, acknowledging the blessing in disguise this was. “We had no clue what we were doing.”
The desire to master the craft only grew from there. Following nights out in the city, the friends would return to a member’s shed and continue spinning tracks to keep the night going.
A natural evolution took place over time, culminating in the group’s first event in The Sound House. Not too long after, the collective was able to take itself abroad. In an attempt to connect with collective member Kate, who was living in Berlin, the group were able to bring the Irish diaspora together and fashion a pocket of Irish nightlife in Germany. “I remember just looking around a sweaty Berlin basement thinking, ‘this is cool’.”
This alternative and accessible route is working for The Shed Residents. Their satirical approach to their online self promotion contrasts against what can be a solemnly serious world of hardcore electronic music lovers. They hone in on the purest reasons for why we have nightlife: enjoyment.
Their nights are reflections of themselves, and by parodying GQ or Time Magazine or Pitchfork, they tap into that humanistic element which makes their event culture so attractive. They prove there are faces behind the decks, the camera or the computer screen.
“Techno snobbery is very pervasive within the scene. I feel like some people view it as an intellectual exercise,” says Ted. The boys detailed how subverting the mainstream can often lead to falling down a rabbit hole of pretentiousness which is ultimately more restrictive than distinguishing.
‘It’s just all about sticking together, it’s about having everyone’s back and that’s what will bring you success.” Stephen affirmed.
The group were sure to fire home that the problem with Irish nightlife is not a lack of creativity or new ideas. Nightlife has always been the poster child for counterculture and alternative movements. However, promoting events in Ireland comes with its own set of challenges. Stephen pointed out, “Certain club owners aren’t keen on changing the status quo. Often, there are late start times, and clubs have other uses before the nighttime.” Ted added, “Thankfully, with the #SaveTheNight campaign, we’ve received support to overcome some of these challenges.”
The uphill battle continues further as the Irish Government relent to go through with nightlife licensing changes. After over a year of promises to loosen restrictions and allow establishments to open until 06:00, delays are persistent. What could be a turning point in youth culture, morale and the nightlife economy, feels forever just out of reach.
The collective believes that change in the Irish nightlife scene requires government support. Stephen emphasized, “The real problem is the government. People need to vote, protest, and support initiatives like ‘Give Us the Night’ to bring about change.”
The group went further by detailing how Jägermeister’s #SaveTheNight has helped the collective to actualise their creative visions. They decided to work alongside Jägermeister as their ambition showed a conscious desire to cooperate in order to improve nightlife. In turn, giving the young promoters a platform to reach their audiences at a larger scale, that would otherwise not be as feasible.
“They’ve identified the problems in the nightlife industry, how difficult it can be for young people to put on gigs,” Ted says.
Now The Shed Residents have become a force in the resurrection of Irish nighttime entertainment. They have built a virtual creative space which has translated to the physical plane through their music curation and event management. Here, they are continuing their efforts as part of Jägermeister’s #SaveTheNight campaign with their upcoming club night featuring Dr. Rubenstein on 29 September at 22:00 at Here & Now.
Stephen added, “Booking artists can be challenging, especially when many DJs are booked up months in advance. It was tricky to find available dates for the artists we wanted.”
While they aimed for an international presence, The Shed Residents were also keen on showcasing local Irish talent. Stephen emphasized, “It was important for us to have Irish acts on the lineup. We wanted to represent our local scene.”
That international presence came in the form of Dr. Rubenstein. Ted explained, “We really enjoyed seeing Dr. Rubenstein at Melt Festival, so she was a top choice for our headline gig. Thankfully, she got back to us and replied quite quickly, saying that she was available.”
This night is part of a larger campaign by Jägermeister which launched globally in 2020 as a way to help the nightlife community through the pandemic but continues today given nightlife still is severely threatened. The Shed Residents represent a wider landscape of young people taking matters into their own hands and connecting creatively to bring their city back to life. It is a further model of how the youth are utilising creative expression to make political statements. It is a refusal to let the night dwindle at the hands of those in power. Through unique marketing and a true passion for their environment, what once started off in a shed is now seeing international acts pass through their doors. The incessant creative collaboration programmed into young people signifies a refusal for the night to die.
The Shed Residents will be hosting #SaveTheNight: Irish Edition featuring Dr. Rubenstein on 29 September at 22:00 at Here & Now. Click here to grab tickets to the event.
Please enjoy Jägermeister responsibly.
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