It’s a reason to celebrate when DJs have the chance to get their names in the record books, especially when good causes will be receiving the benefits. On April 18th lovers of dance music, fun, and fundraising can get together in Manchester to cheer on 160 DJs as they attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for a B2B DJ Relay. For anyone has ever planned a gig, you know that this is no easy task, but the effort is worth it for promoter Daniel Williams who is hoping to raise awareness for the two charities Mustard Tree and Share Tanzania, as well as to showcase the incomparable music scene of Manchester:
“Manchester is a hot bed for electronic music, with so many incredible DJs, promoters and nights emerging from the city. Coupled with such a rich musical history, I just felt that it was right that this world record was attempted here… Having seen the work first hand of Mustard Tree and Share Tanzania, it just felt like such a perfect opportunity for the city’s electronic music community to help raise vital funds for two very worthy charities.”
Hosted at Joshua Brooks, home to Chemical Brothers’ first residency and recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, the event will be a full day affair starting at 11AM and continuing late into the night as it moves to Lost in Music for a special show featuring Mark Farina. Inviting Manchester’s clubbing community to come together, the day will include not only the 160 chosen relay DJs, but secret special guests, a pop-up record shop, discounted food and Liverpool’s iconic Liverpool Disco Festival, who will be hosting the bar throughout the day. For those around the world who can’t make it but want to watch, the event will also be streamed live through Skiddle.
While bringing the B2B DJ Relay Guinness World Record to Manchester will be an amazing achievement, the attempt itself is an avenue to encourage some of the most important aspects of electronic music: uniting the community, having fun, and doing a world of good. With a behind the scenes look into the process and insight into what is driving him to arrange this massive record breaking attempt, Daniel Williams gave us the inside info on what to expect. Get to know the man behind the plan, and get ready to celebrate what makes dance music so great.
I’d love to learn more about your background: What was your first introduction into electronic music like?
I have always been a huge fan of electronic music, I suppose it started with my mum who constantly played disco records in the house, I remember having a very early love for the 4/4 beat!
Around the age of 11 I asked the local DJ in the youth disco in my hometown how all of the equipment worked, he let me have a go and from then on I was hooked. I’ve been DJing and hosting events ever since!
What inspired you to become a promoter?
I suppose I had a love of bringing like minded people together who appreciated the same kind of music. I’ve done club nights to festivals for years but there is something special about seeing the work you’ve put in come together and seeing everybody having a great time on the night.
Can you share some of your favorite events you have promoted in the past?
I think the one that stands out the most is randomly bringing The Sugar Hill Gang to a one off event in the middle of a field in Cumbria!
We organised the whole thing in 4 weeks.
Nobody could quite believe we’d managed to get them to play this tiny 100 capacity event on a stage that we’d built ourselves out of anything we could find, in a friends field, but sure enough they came.
We had a slight tech issue 10 minutes before they were due to come on though.
The power completely went off, sheer panic came over me. Once we’d fixed the issue I asked my cousin to check the (previously unchecked) CDJ’s to make sure sound was coming through, to this day I have no idea where this tune came from, but Kylie Minogue’s mega hit “I should be so lucky” came blasting through the speakers, 5 minutes later they came onstage and smashed it, you couldn’t write it…
What do you enjoy most about being involved in electronic music?
I love hearing new and upcoming DJ’s break through the scene. I try to keep an ear out for unheard talent and I am constantly online and at gigs looking for new sounds.
I also love meeting new people at events as well, the scene is stronger than ever right now.
How did you first come up with this idea? What was the moment when you knew you wanted to make it happen?
My original idea was to take a pair of decks up Mt Kilimanjaro and break the record for the highest altitude DJ set, but as it turned out the Last Night a DJ Saved My Life Charity did the very same thing a year ago for the same charity we are raising money for! It was a complete coincidence, but it made me want to research DJ world records…
I saw the largest back to back DJ Relay on the Guinness World Record site, applied for it back in October, it got accepted in January and now here we are!
What were your biggest motivations behind turning the idea into a reality?
First and foremost I wanted to raise as much as possible for our chosen charities, they both rely heavily on funding and it would be great to be able to donate an amount that will make a real difference to peoples lives.
I also like to set myself big challenges and programming 160 DJ’s to within a minute by minute schedule is certainly challenging!
Did you have any other options for a location, or did you know that Manchester was it from the start?
Having lived in Manchester for over 13 years now it had to be the place that we attempted this record. The city has such a rich musical history and the electronic scene is buzzing at the moment. I don’t think there is anywhere else that has such an energetic, diverse selection of nights that are thriving right now.
What do you think makes the city such an important location for electronic music?
You only have to look at the heritage of Manchesters’ music scene to appreciate how gargantuan it is. Music and Manchester have always gone hand in hand. Its woven into the very fabric of the city. Historically clubs like The Hacienda and The Boardwalk paved the way for electronic pioneers to make their stand whilst more recently nights like the Warehouse Project and Lost in Music are bringing world class acts to the city all the time. Culturally, Manchester has always been a huge melting pot of sounds and characters, it makes for such rich diverse pickings, we are really spoilt for choice here.
What about the venue itself? What makes it the perfect place for this special event?
Joshua Brooks was home to the Chemical Brothers’ first residency, its a very special place. It’s in it’s 25th year now and it just seemed incredibly fitting to host an internationally recognised event like this here.
We have a lot going on throughout the day in the form of a pop up record shop, live performances from World Class Dance Acts and DJ sets from some of the UK’s best talent, the club and upstairs bar lend itself incredibly well to this format.
The planning behind a show with 160 DJs seems like quite a daunting task, what have been some of the most challenging parts of this process so far?
I’d have to say the programming is proving tricky. Making sure we have enough time to surpass the current record will take some work but I’ve every confidence in how we are approaching it.
What has been the most fun part of this for you?
Definitely making new connections and meeting so many great new people in the scene.
Has anything surprised you during your planning?
The sheer volume of DJ’s that applied!
We had over 320 DJs apply in two days, it just blew up and my phone did not stop for two days straight after announcing it.
Could you give us a little insight the reasons why you chose these 160 DJs?
A lot of the chosen DJ’s are people we’ve already worked with and some are well established names within the industry who have very kindly agreed to take part.
We had to randomly select the others to take part, quite literally names out of a hat, it was the fairest way to do it.
Are there any specific rules you need to beat the previous record or is it all good as long as the music keeps going?
Yes, Guinness are quite strict with these. We can only use 2 decks, with a third acting as a backup. We have to have a continuous mix from start to finish, no repeat DJs at all, and the entire attempt is to be recorded, video and audio. We are not allowed to repeat a track within four hours and if we have a technical failure we have 30 seconds to fix it, so we have to be on point!
Could you share more about the charities that you are donating to? Why did you select these two causes?
Share Tanzania operate in rural Tanzania and their aim is to alleviate the poverty children are faced with every day. I was fortunate enough to visit them last year and see first hand the amazing work they do, it really is an incredible charity all started by one man with a mission. John St Julien, who in just 4 short years has turned it into an essential project in the area, raising thousands and thousands of pounds, building a school etc. They have changed the lives of hundreds of children who otherwise may not of been so lucky.
As mentioned I’ve lived in Manchester on and off for 13 years now and I’ve only seen the homelessness crisis worsen here. The Mustard Tree charity have been providing essential support services for those in poverty and facing homelessness in the Greater Manchester area for over 25 years. I chose this charity as they are instrumental in delivering help that ensures those less fortune can live the life they deserve.
What do you most hope people walk away from this event having experienced? What makes it a success?
If we can raise enough money to have a positive effect on just one persons life off the back of this event then I will consider this a huge success.
Obviously breaking the record and bringing it to Manchester is also a great achievement!!!