Interview: Pretty Pretty Good
…we love banging tunes, basically. And lasers. And big sound systems…
Ahead of their two massive final parties of the year, our Nightlife Editor Leo Burrell caught up with the Pretty Pretty Good boys to hear more about the unique stamp they’re making on the Steel City with highly reputable club-nights at the Harley, Hope Works and across the UK.
Hey PPG, how’s it going?
Dan: Hey man, we’re good cheers. Thanks for inviting us into your lair!
Freddie: We’re in that in-between party haze, where we aren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves. And we have exams looming…
Pleasure, lads! First off, do you wanna give anyone who might be new to you an idea of what Pretty Pretty Good is about?
Freddie: As our bio says, we’re a community of party-lovers who bring our favourite DJs to the best venues in whichever city we find ourselves in. I don’t think there is much more to say beyond that, other than to encourage you to come and experience a PPG event for yourself! If you’ve been to one, then you know…
Samir: [Nods approvingly]
Dan: Yeah, pretty much. I mean we love banging tunes, basically. And lasers. And big sound systems. I guess we have a really keen eye for detail when it comes to quality and a pretty broad music policy, but it’s loosely based within the realms of house and techno.
We can’t wait for Levon Vincent on 2nd June. It’s crazy that you’ve booked a Berghain regular for a venue as intimate as the Harley! Your bookings there are always way bigger than you’d expect: Midland, Pearson Sound and recently even Detroit’s DJ Bone on an all-night session for your 2nd birthday. Is maintaining such a high standard something you’ve always set out to do?
Dan: Thanks! We’re very proud of our previous guests, especially because it’s all happened within two years. I don’t think we specifically set out to book the biggest ‘name’ possible, but we definitely put a lot of work in behind the scenes to maintain a level of quality.
Freddie: We try to stay clear of what other promoters are doing within the city and to ensure that PPG bookings are a bit unique within our sonic preference.
Samir: [Nods approvingly]
How do you keep your tickets so cheap despite the massive line-ups?
Dan: To be honest, we owe that entirely to our crowd. We’ve been going long enough now that the feedback from DJs to agents and other DJs has earned us a bit of a reputation for being a really energetic, open-minded party. DJ Bone recently posted on social media that the crowd at our 2nd birthday was one of the most knowledgeable groups he’s played for in a couple of years. Midland was equally complimentary, and when artists like that are singing your praises it gives you a big helping hand in booking others, without necessarily having to offer the largest fees. So, thanks to the posse – keep dancing hard and the bookings will only get better!
Samir: [Nods very approvingly]
You’ve booked a wide variety of DJs, many known for their eclecticism – Hunee, Call Super, Palms Trax etc. Luckily, your collective of resident DJs cover most bases so you’re never short of a fitting support DJ. Is inclusivity something you aspire to with PPG?
Freddie: Yeah, we’re all quite distinct as DJs so there’s always one of us absolutely itching to play a particular support set. It’s pretty mad looking back at who I’ve been able to support since PPG started. It’s always a massively fun challenge to support a wide variety of artists, being able to compliment them while still injecting your individual style. After seeing DJ Bone and Objekt, it really made me want to develop myself as a DJ and refine my own individual sound and technique. With regards to inclusivity,and referring back to the previous question, one of our aims is to provide tickets at the most reasonable price possible to minimise the financial barrier in attending our events. We want to encourage the most diverse dancefloor possible.
Your parties at Hope Works have had some outrageous line ups too. There was the one with Deetron/Roy Davis Jr/DJ Qu/Objekt AND Shanti Celest, and then you had Paranoid London/Pangaea/Jane Fitz/Lurka + Laksa! Why not just book one or two headliners?
Dan: We try our best! We think that the best programming is achieved from striking a fine balance between quality residents playing important slots alongside a variety of exciting guests. We also don’t really like the term ‘headliner’, for that very reason. Sometimes it’s the right call to have just one guest, like at The Harley, where you just don’t have room to squeeze two guests in without compromising on the quality of the set offered. With multi-room warehouse parties, though, we have much longer to play with and it makes sense to bring multiple guests to town and make things really interesting!
Samir: [Opens eyes widely and nods approvingly]
There’s also the courtyard parties to mention. Tama Sumo and Frits Wentink slayed it at the most recent one and Frits enjoyed his set so much that he uploaded it online afterwards. What have your favourite nights there been?
Freddie: My favourite courtyard show so far has to be the Mall Grab, Ross From Friends (Live) and Byron the Aquarius night. A load of new faces came to the party and brought a fresh energy with them that just set the tent alight. It was really nice just to have the immediate PPG family and a few close friends playing in the second room that night too. Cervo and Kudan smashing out DnB during their b2b set is something I won’t forget for a while! Palms Trax was special too and Hunee is where it started, but for me that was the night that fully realised the potential of the courtyard space.
Before we move on from Hope Works, let’s talk about the massive Just Shake Street Party you’re putting on with Nice Like Rice on 10th June. You’ve got Omar-S, Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda, Pender Street Steppers, Jayda G, DJ Wey and 20 other artists playing across four stages. You’ve also agreed a road closure with the council for the event. Was that as hard as it sounds?
Dan: Yeah, this event has been a huge organisation task for sure. In truth, the credit for the road closure goes pretty much fully to Steven at NLR. He’s worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to make it possible and he deserves a pat on the back from every single person who attends.
Yeah, I can’t wait for his all vinyl 140 set in Little Mesters that night. Do you wanna tell us a bit about the mix series you’ve just launched?
Freddie: We wanted to create a platform for DJs we admire and want to showcase, to give them free artistic reign in whichever way they choose to express themselves without having to conform to any preconceived expectations. Our aim is not necessarily to focus on established Sheffield DJs; we have mixes lined up from across the board, from the rest of the PPG residents through to established artists such as Adelaide’s Freddie Norwood. We’ll also be supporting local newcomers such as Merj, an incredible digger with a sense of progression and flow beyond his years. Something tells me we will see a Leroy mix at some point in the not-too-distant future too!
I’d be honoured! You expanded to Leeds at Wire and the 212 Cafe & Bar just under a year ago, and your first event in London is at Rye Wax record store on 9th June with LA’s Mor Elian. Where’s next on the PPG nationwide takeover?
Dan: We have a few options on the table but we want to take things nice and slowly and use only the very best venues. I can allude to one little secret now though: we’ll be teaming up with another night that started in Sheffield and has moved into other cities towards the back end of the year, at a top quality venue in as yet unchartered territory for PPG…
Sounds fruity. We see you’re hosting a boat party at Soundwave Festival in Croatia this summer, which should be a lot of fun! What other festivals would you love to run a stage at?
Dan: Yeah, we really can’t wait for that one! We’re lucky enough to have Medlar and previous PPG guests Ross From Friends joining us on the boat, so we’re expecting it to be pretty mental. We’ll also have a couple of really good sets out there and are taking a big crew of mates over with us, so it’s basically gonna be a PPG holiday. We’d love to run a stage or boat party at Dimensions. We’ve been a couple of times now and it’s an absolutely incredible festival.
Freddie: Dimensions was absolutely unbelievable last year. We can’t wait for ‘PPG on tour’ – round two!
Samir: [Looks extremely excited]
Can you tell us anything about your plans for the Autumn?
Freddie: We’re planning something new to slightly separate the big warehouse events from the more intimate parties so that we can create a unique vibe at both, rather than simply applying the same template. As for bookings – no chance! We’re going bigger and better then ever before though, so watch this space…
Sounds exciting. Finally, any dream bookings you’ve got your eyes on?
Freddie: Moodymann, Underground Resistance, Pépé Bradock… oh, and Aphex Twin!
Dan: Larry Heard!
Samir: Me! All night long! Every time!
Smorsli b2b Smorsli please! Lovely chatting to you boys, see you for Levon and Omar!
PPG: Been a pleasure, cheers Leo and big up Exposed!
Pretty Pretty Good hit the Harley with Levon Vincent on June 2nd and Hope Works with Nice Like Rice for the Just Shake street party on June 10th. Grab your tickets here!