Exposed Meets Bunga Bunga

Sheffield’s underground party scene seems to be getting bigger and bigger, with nights like Bunga Bunga and others cropping up all over the city.
Previous acts to play Bunga include Rinse FM grime maestro Slimzee, Bristol house star Julio Bashmore and Sheffield legend Toddla T, and they’ve used venues that range from the famous Yellowarch Studios to a warehouse behind a boxing club. We spoke to the team behind this ever-growing, ever-moving warehouse party about the scene in Sheffield, their involvement in it, other nights they admire and what goes in to putting on a night like theirs.
So first of all, what’s Bunga Bunga all about?
Well, it’s a party. People come down and get involved. People are welcome to work with us, and we have loads of them helping us out. It’s relaxed, we want people to come and have a drink and a dance. There’s not a lot of this sort of thing going off in Sheffield really, but it works. Sheffield likes a warehouse party, ‘cause its naughty!
Is there any particular musical identity you want Bunga to have?
We think it’s good to keep it open – we’re not just set to one genre. We’ve had all kinds of people play Bunga tho’; house, garage, grime, bassline…
We have a bit of everything. As we grow, maybe we’ll focus, but who knows? Our type of sound is bass-heavy, but we’re open to whatever. People in Sheffield are open to anything as well, you can introduce new acts and new sounds and they’re ready for it, which is great.

                                                    Photography by Elliot Holbrow
Bass music works so well in venues like the ones you use for Bunga – like your most recent party, where people were walking through a boxing training room to get to the warehouse space you were using. That seems to be what people want – a venue that sets off the music, and vice versa. In many ways the two become intertwined. Are you quite picky about where you’ll put your nights on?
That’s quite a central pillar of Bunga: setting the night in a space you probably haven’t been to before -somewhere completely new and different. It’s a big concern when it comes to finding somewhere. And it’s quite a search. Getting new places is hard! They’re hard to source.
It’s easy to underestimate the stuff that putting on a night like ours involves. You’re making a club – for the night! All the places we use have been health and safety checked, all our parties are licensed, and we endeavour to do that so that our parties can be safe. Mainly though, we’re a party where you can lose yourself and enjoy.
We all got involved in this because we’re passionate about the music, and we want to bring artists we want to see, and if people want to come then amazing, brilliant. We get giddy when we find the right venue, then everything just rolls on from there. Who’s gonna headline, who else we’re getting etc… The venue’s the important bit, you need somewhere to put it on. Once we’ve got that, then let’s go.
You’ve spoken about taking Bunga forward even though two of you have recently moved away from Sheffield, is it safe to assume that there will be more nights in the future?
Definitely. We’ve all put on parties like this before, we’ve all got experience putting on parties separate to Bunga. But I think if there are young adults who want to go to stuff like this, who’re interested in the music, then we’ve got to put on another party.
Sheffield’s got a massive history with this sort of stuff. There are spaces that are available, that can be used. Of course it has to build slowly, but the more the authorities accept it, accept that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that people are meeting up, and that could almost apply to the Arts Council for funding, the better. It takes a large and experienced team to put on nights like this, and the more the authorities and councils realise this, the more creatively exciting nights like Bunga can become.

                                                           Photography by Joel Barton
It seems that warehouse parties like Bunga are getting more and more popular…
It’s been a process, building to this point. We’ve all kinda been involved in it at different stages and it’s not the easiest job in the world sometimes, but the more experience we get the better.
Checan’s one of our residents, and when we met he was making the music that a lot of people wanted to hear, pushing it forward in his own right [as well as being one of the guys behind Bunga Checan is a rising DJ/producer whose profile has grown considerably in recent months, and looks set to continue to do so, check him out here]. Other members of the team worked to take Soup Kitchen [a night which started with a house party and grew to see the likes of Joy Orbison headlining in unusual venues around the city] from a 150 person party to something that was legitimate and had potential.  Through our links we worked to get artists and the soundsystem, and all our experience helps us put in as much as we want to our nights – it’s a passion.
Are there any other nights in Sheffield that you rate?
Well behind Kabal, for example, is such a solid, well-oiled team of 15-20 people who’ve been doing it for a long time [Kabal is almost definitely Sheffield’s longest running and most successful warehouse party. They promote their upcoming events only to their mailing list of loyal followers, ‘so you have to come to know’]. The brand is amazing, but they aren’t necessarily pushing it in people’s faces to make it work in a commercial sense. We absolutely love Kabal, and we all have a lot of passion for what they’ve done for Sheffield. They’ve stayed just under the radar, always putting the music out to people who are looking for it, instead of pushing it in people’s faces and raising the chances of them turning up and not being into it. I think that’s really important, I think that’s why it’s done so well for so many years. People don’t need it shoved in their faces, there’re enough people in Sheffield who’ll come because they trust them as promoters.
And we’ve got good ears as well, we listen, we know what Sheffield want and what the sound is.
There’s so much demand for nights like yours, and there are fresh people coming to Sheffield all the time who want to find something different and interesting – how does that make you feel?
When new people come down, getting to see new faces, and it might be a completely new experience of some of them, and they’re getting into it – it’s great.
Bunga Bunga put on nights at unusual venues around Sheffield, keep your eyes peeled for details of their next one on their facebook page.
Interview by Louise Sheridan.

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