IMS meets Alice Favre | LWE


4 April 2018

LWE are unquestionably one of the most exemplary promoters of UK underground music culture to have emerged in the last decade.

Officially established in 2010 by Will Harold, Alice Favre and Paul Jack, their formidable back catalogue of events have spanned the full spectrum of global talent, across some of London’s most salient venues, gratifying the needs of hundreds of thousands of clubbers along the way.

Having initially plied their trade as individual promoters for over 30 years collectively, curating events in London, Nottingham and Bournemouth, they finally joined forces and established London Warehouse Events. Playing a leading role in pioneering London’s warehouse scene, LWE’s regular appearances at the former Ewer Street Warehouse, commonly known today as Great Suffolk Street Warehouse, set a precedent for a new breed of clubbing in the Capital.

But arguably their most impressive years have been of late, having unveiled three of London’s, and indeed the World’s, most influential, avant-garde underground music venues & events, launching Tobacco Dock in 2014, and more recently, Printworks and Junction 2 at Boston Manor Park, just last year.

Needless to say, LWE would not be the powerhouse they are today, without a nucleus of idiosyncratic, creative toilers behind it. Which is exactly what they have, a select few who set their hearts and minds on reimagining London clubbing, by masterminding one of the electronic music industry’s most revered phenomenons.

One such dignitary is their Director, Alice Favre. Born and raised in Chettle, North Dorset, Alice has played a leading role in guiding LWE through its prolific ascent to the forefront of forward thinking production, operations and programming, that is now the envy of promoters worldwide.

Alice, thank you for taking the time out of of your busy schedule to share some insight with us about who you are, what you’ve achieved and what you hope to achieve in the future…

That said, let’s start from the beginning… I’ve heard you were previously the Event Manager down at Slinky in Bournemouth. Coincidentally, during my first year of Uni back in 2003, I spent almost every Friday night down at the Opera House, raving at Slinky. They were probably the best drum and bass parties I ever had the privilege of attending! Could you just summarise your pilgrimage for us, from those Slinky and Cocoshebeen days in Boscombe, to the colossal Printworks in SE16?

Nice… that’s the first time I have ever been asked about my past, and with such knowledge. It’s weird how many people I meet in the music industry that tell me they popped their clubbing cherry at Slinky at the Opera House. It was definitely an iconic time for dance music around the turn of the century, that is definitely why I am still in the industry now, it was born from the passion that The Opera House had.

So from the start… I went to an all girls boarding school (can you believe) and in our A level years all my friends were applying to Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol etc and I was asked to choose where I would go and what I would study. I found it really hard as I hadn’t decided what path I wanted to take. I decided to take a year off and applied for a Geography degree. In the meantime I applied for a bar job at The Opera House.

I had been out to clubs a few times in London and enjoyed it but I had never experienced nights like the ones I worked there. I was in love and it meant I never made it to any Uni! I spent 7 years there in total, running events for them all over the UK and managing the ones in Bournemouth.

By 2007 I had my fill of Bournemouth and wanted to spread my wings. My best friend had moved to London so I followed. I did a lot of random freelance work whilst working for a DJ manager. It was a great few years and I made some good contacts.

In 2010 I met Paul and Will and ran a few events for them. Will has just left matter and fabric and Paul was running parties in various venues across town. We decided to join forces, each one of us had a different skill set and we made the most amazing(ly weird) combo that everyone commented on… It just seemed to work.

We never really had a plan with regards to the future and what it held for LWE, all we knew was that we made a great team and we loved what we did. Every party and new venue was another high, obviously there were some big lows (as a promoter you spend a lot of time losing money!!) but with the other 2 by my side it was a share of the burden and it only seemed to make us stronger. We are now like some weird dysfunctional family.

Given how volatile London’s underground music scene is, you must have experienced so many challenges over the years. What would you say your biggest challenge has been to date, and how did you overcome it?

Finding venues! As well as not following the same path as everyone else. We knew to compete we needed to find a USP and unusual venues, properly operated became it. Our ability to find venues has been amazing though, I am not sure whether it is luck or sheer doggedness?

LWE curated two fantastic series at Printworks in 2017, setting a precedent for London clubbing that has never been seen before. Many have asked why you won’t be returning for a third series, given the phenomenal success you have already experienced at the venue. Are you able to explain your reasoning behind this decision, without getting too political?

Thank you for your kind words. I mean what a space, we had to do it justice! Also it came at a time when there was a lot of negativity surrounding London nightlife and we landed on Printworks at exactly the right time for the UK, even the world. It was talked about by promoters and clubbers across the globe.  And our departure from Printworks, put simply, we could not agree on a shared vision. It’s sad to walk away from something so amazing but we have to follow our hearts, it’s what we have always done and it’s got us this far!

You recently announced a new venue called Fountain Studios with The Martinez Brothers and Paul Kalkbrenner as the first shows. What is the vision for the space?

The ‘new’ venue is one of many we have been exploring since leaving Printworks. With land in London at a premium it’s not been easy, however, the way the city view it’s buildings and places is definitely changing. Fountain Studios is an amazing space. The main dancefloor is epic, it has the height to accommodate some great effects and lighting, it is totally soundproof and the set up will sound sweet and look amazing. The breakout spaces are also great. The toilets are really nice and there is some good chillout space inside and outside. We will only be there on and off though, we have other plans up our sleeves for something more permanent in 2019… I so wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to jinx it!

Can you tell us a little bit more about Junction 2? The third edition takes place in June at Boston Park, the same location as last year. But what does London’s premiere techno festival have in store this time around, for yet another LWE production which has already set the bar for music festivals in the Capital?

More of the same, and better, obviously. We are keeping the site the same size, and the number of stages – just tweaking the operations and concentrating on keeping the neighbours happy when everyone leaves and bumbles past their houses to the tube stations. My partner Will would explain the exciting line up and changes to the artist bill for this year much better than me so I won’t try….
Junction 2 aside, what’s next for LWE? It’s hard to imagine being able to trump the Printworks, but you’ve obviously got something pretty special up your sleeves to have left that behind. Could you give us a glimpse into what creative spectacles we can expect from you during the coming year?

We have a few new, smaller venues to explore in 2018 whilst we prepare for something bigger in 2019. We also have a new festival, Arcadia Spectacular, which is on the bank holiday weekend, 5th & 6th May, in Queen Elizabeth’s Park in Hackney / Stratford. It’s a great site as the sound levels are pretty decent and it will be an amazing show, a giant spider stage spitting giant flames into the air with LED, lasers and loads of performers. Plus a great line up. What’s not to love?!

You are also the founder of ticketing platform, ‘Ticket Tannoy’. Can you tell us a bit more about the concept behind this, how it differs from the likes of RA and Skiddle, and how you see the platform evolving over the coming year(s)?

Not many people know that we founded TT (or Ticket Tannoy). Ticket Tannoy is a customer friendly ticketing platform. We did it because we were giving away money in booking fees to ticketing platforms that couldn’t give us the support we wanted for us and our punters. We now offer it as a service to other promoters and events and we have some great staff and some clever scanners that seem to be the fastest and most efficient in the business, providing dedicated scanners that don’t run out of battery, they scan all tickets on the market and are very easy to use. They also have a clever guestlist function (amongst other great features) that allow selected staff to add people to the list when the event is open remotely from their phones. Customers can also buy tickets to events whilst on their way and their ticket will automatically be added to our scanners.

 

Finally, I would be doing a disservice to both all, and this interview, without asking at least one question about your musical preferences. So, if you could go to one last rave tomorrow, anywhere in the World, which venue and/or party would it be, and which artists who you like to see on the bill?

Oooh… urrrr… Venue… that’s a difficult one. Maybe the old Sankey’s in Manchester. And probably starting the night with Alle Farben and Andhim, moving on to Carl Cox (on a chunky old school day), maybe Skream (when he also plays an amazing classic rave set), Danny Tenaglia and end with some techno from Chris Liebing or Tommy Four Seven. Oh and maybe some Nicole Moudaber before the full on techno. I’ve been a bit too busy to listen to much current stuff, I run the operations and production so am more on site building the show and then running it, liaising with the police, council, all the staff and the residents. That doesn’t leave much time for listening to the DJs :(

 

Well thats a wrap! Thank you so much for talking to us Alice. We very much look forward to seeing what surprises LWE has in-store for us all in 2018, and I hope to bump into you at IMS in May! Mines a Piña Colada if you get to the bar first, cheers!
Interview conducted by Luke Farrugia