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I think a teacher told me in school that plan precedes action and that the best businessmen are calculative reptiles. I’ve been quite content in conceding this assumption, because it works well with my nihilism-is-truth assumption.
In light of Drop.’s birthday and the party they are throwing to celebrate, I decided to look a bit further into the people behind it. I sharpened my pens, anticipating the moment when I’d pierce their grime-y scales. Surely, to go from residents’ parties to Ms Dynamite in a year, these guys must have sold their life to either the Devil or Donald Trump, or both. Call me prejudiced, close-minded, bigoted or whatever you want, what I certainly was, is wrong.
I met Arian and James -the older and younger members of Drop respectively- on a particularly lazy Sunday afternoon. I asked them how it all started. James didn’t have much to say; as the newest member of Drop he has only been involved for a few months. Arian, on the other hand, had several things to relate.
He was concerned by the absence of “grime and garage,” a phrase he repeated several times during our conversation and not once without child-like excitement. His first steps as DJ where in London and for Blackbox, but he wasn’t playing what he wanted to. It wasn’t grime, or garage, or jackin house. He must have been pretty upset because he started an events company to play this kind of music. “I realised there was this gap in York,” and a gap there was. At the time, there was no Tremor or Damrak. York was plagued by too many really good house-y events. It might not sound like a problem, but to some it was. Arian decided; this problem could no longer be ignored.
I remember the first Drop, mainly due to my housemates’ faces when they found out that there’d be a non-house night in our small town. As a lowly Greek, I did not understand why.
Curious, I went to Mansion on the 23rd of February 2015 to see what the hype was all about. It was lit, genuinely lit. I had never heard that kind of music in a club before, and it worked. Ooh, how well it worked. Parts of the crowd knew every single lyric, others were clueless. What was painfully obvious was that everyone was enjoying it. Everyone was dancing. “I could see that people loved these tunes,” Arian said.
He must have felt more than relieved. Not only was he starting something unlike anything else in York, but he had to find the money to do it as well. He even paid his rent late when he had to.
The success of the launch party was followed by two more residents’ parties. One of them was a house party, an unusual choice for an event brand. “I thought it was boring to do it in Mansion again. My housemates needed a bit of convincing, but it turned out to be one of the most fun nights at that house,” he remembers.
This attitude is characteristic of these guys. They don’t get complacent. They are always looking out to deliver something more to their fans.
The different members of the Drop core complement each other. Arian mixes grime and garage, throwing in the occasional d’n’b, reggae, trap etc. Keon performs live by his side, providing the necessary MC skills. Oscar brings the jackin house; the “bit between grime and house,” think Hannah Wants. Ollie pays house bangers too, and Watson drops old school garage, cause no one should forget those tunes. The newest addition, Jim Thomson, is on deep bass, gritty, dirty garage. “It’s dark and it doesn’t have many vocals.”
They often include non-Drop DJs, like Blackbox’s Antwon and local celebrity Alex T. Their first booking was London’s DJ Complexion, who you will find in Mansion on Friday night. “I saw him playing at a club over summer and just emailed him directly. A few weeks later he was playing at the Freshers’ Party.”
First, it was DJ Complexion, then, the King of Grime. The story of how D Double E graced us with his presence turns out to be a funny one. Someone contacted Drop. to do a partnership, booking D Double. The arrangements proceeded normally, until the guy disappeared. It turned out, he had not been in touch with anyone’s manager. But Arian went ahead and booked the King anyway.
“It seemed like the natural progression.” They didn’t want to only listen to themselves play in Mansion night after night, they wanted to bring us the best of grime. And so they did, causing chaos in York. The day the event was created I must have heard the name “D Double E” followed by “IN YORK!!!” about a hundred times. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so exciting.
The event sold out quickly, no surprise there. We got to see D Double, they got to meet him too; win for us, double win for them. “He was very quiet and introverted and he knew a lot about music. He showed me some of his unreleased music and I showed him some of mine.”
A joint event with Blackbox was the interlude between the King and Preditah. Fibbers was transformed into something of a jungle, and they hit the spot in terms of music. They were smoothly transitioning amongst the different styles and it was a night thoroughly enjoyed.
James put the experience of seeing Preditah very well, “To be able to see a producer like that in his prime, and especially in York, is quite something…”
A collaboration with Tremor, booking DevelopMENT was the first time James was involved in organisation. He admits to being nervous at first, before Mansion got really busy. When people start pouring in and having fun, “It makes all the stress worth it.”
On Friday’s celebrations, they agreed that it is a way of saying thank you. The event will be free, which is a silly business move. Even without any big bookings they’d sell more than enough tickets to cover costs. “It’s not about the money. If it was about the money, it wouldn’t work. It’s about making sure people are having a good time,” James proclaimed. They understand that it is the crowd that keeps them going, and they want to show their appreciation.
As I mentioned before, they never get complacent. They are now looking to expand beyond nightlife, into fashion and visual arts. They are working on an online platform that won’t merely be a portal for content, it will be the primary source. “The music is the base. It gives people something to connect to, otherwise we’re just an image on a computer screen. We will always be UK urban, but we can do anything at this point,” James said with a smile full of promises of things to come.
And he’s right. They actually care about what they’re doing, and they care about the people who support them. They want to be constantly developing, always bringing something new. To me, that sounds like a recipe for success.