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General News / May 2, 2019

On their 5th birthday, Telephones reflect on the party they’ve created

General News / May 2, 2019

On their 5th birthday, Telephones reflect on the party they’ve created

“A blizzard, a power cut and a crowd that danced harder for every degree the temperature dropped…”


Telephones is a monthly party series that now calls Yamamori Tengu its regular abode, but they also have a holiday home in Dublin 8 called Pallas Studios. Their school yard parties in Pallas are unlike anything else in the capital. A simple formula of intimate, character-laden locations, heavy sound systems and sound heads.

“Big parties, small spaces”, as they put it.

To celebrate five years of Telephones they’ve put together a weekender of parties, with an all day BYOB schoolyard buzz at Pallas Studios and an afterparty in Yamamori Tengu, then on Sunday Prosumer will headline the Button Factory with R.Kitt playing live on support. We’ve got some free tickets for friends of District, click here to grab yours.

We caught up with one of the founders John Mahon to discuss how he and Louis Scully created a party monster.

Telephones district magazine interview john mahon 5

Five years old is probably 96 in “club night” years, but you’re not a typical club night. What sets you apart?

Well, we are and we aren’t. Telephones started life as an outdoor day time party, an anti-club night of sorts. Not because we had anything against club nights, we just wanted to run a good day-party, something that was in short supply in Dublin. We then started our monthly club night in Tengu off the back of the success of the day time parties. So, whilst we technically run a ‘club night’, the heart and soul of what we do is around our wee day time parties in Pallas Studios!

What was your ethos going into creating Telephones?

From the outset, we had three criteria for our day time party. Number one, location/space. We wanted a unique feeling, small and intimate space that was somewhere a bit off the beaten path so people would have to put a little bit of effort into finding us.

Number two, music. We wanted to create a party and a space that would allow us to stretch the legs and play all sorts for the eight hours of the event. Jazz, hip hop, house, Afro stuff… Whatever, it just wasn’t going to be banging all day.

Number three, crowd. If we get the above two criteria right and promote it well then it usually guarantees a super crowd and thankfully it’s been nothing but wall to wall sound folk for the last five years.

We take the same ethos to our nighttime events too and we have a brilliant, diverse crowd who let us play what we want. At 2:30am we could be playing jazz fusion, techno or 130bpm high-life… And the people, they dance.

Do you remember how the very first one went? How different was that to the last one you did in Pallas Studios?

Interestingly, the first event was just as good as the last event. We only do a handful of the outdoor parties per year in order to keep them special, we focus on the details that matter and keep the template simple so as long as the sun shines (and it usually does for some reason) then it’s always a great party. Well even when it rains or snows our crowd still knuckle down and get on with it!


How did the relationship with Pallas come about?

It took us a year of beating the street looking for the right space. A pal of mine told me about Pallas Projects Studios. I visited one freezing, wet January day and just knew this was the spot. I was probably on the verge of pneumonia, but all I could see was the place basking in sun, people dancing…

What makes that space so special?

For starters, it’s in a 100-year-old primary school-turned studio space, with the event taking place on the old school yard, so the place has character to burn. It’s also just the right distance from town meaning only dedicated folk come to the party. Mark and Gav who run the space also put a lot of faith in us to run a good event and look after the place so a lot of credit has to go to them too.

You’ve a sharp focus on local DJs, is it important for you to build these heads up as well as book artists like Hunee?

It’s not only important, it’s very enjoyable. Watching a local guy or girl, develop their skill and confidence and eventually rock a crowd just as hard as some fancy big name is 10 times more satisfying than booking in a crowd pleaser. We love bringing in acts like Hunee from time to time, variety is important and they’re great at what they do, but when we focus on locals it means we have to work harder (not a bad thing) and it really helps develop a sense of community and commitment.

Telephones district magazine interview john mahon 2

In saying that, when Hunee played Telephones he wasn’t the internationally recognised DJ he is now. Is having that eye for future stars a handy thing when throwing parties like this?

Defo helps! But we really just book genuine people who play Telephones music, or bring something new to the picture, and try not to focus on other factors.

Hit me with some highlights of the last five years?

The first Telephones at Pallas Studios – one of those rare events that turn out to be as good as you hope, if not better!

Hunee in a laneway near Grafton Street a couple of years ago… Madness. People literally climbing the walls. The Guards weren’t impressed.

Telephones district magazine interview john mahon hunee

Nev Jio, he started on the door and eventually became one of our main residents, rocking crowds as well as as any big name DJ. He’s closing our Saturday night party at Telephones this weekend.

Telephones district magazine interview john mahon 3

Bríen at Telephones in Pallas Studios… Belfast lad Bríen got the train down to Dublin, came straight to the party, downed a bottle of wine and slayed the place with a set that went from house bangers to Gil Scot Heron and… Abba. Magic stuff.

Paddy’s Day 2018… A blizzard, a power cut and a crowd that danced harder for every degree the temperature dropped.

Telephones host another BYOB Schoolyard Party on Saturday May 4 in Pallas Projects/Studios and on Sunday May 5 they link up with Hidden Agenda to bring Prosumer and R.Kitt to Button Factory. Click here for more.