Oli Furness lies his allegiance with house music. Music Is Love - his record-label-turned-club-night - is a natural embodiment of this passion, showcasing artists such as Jackmaster K, Liam Geddes and Mr KS on its roster, and hosting parties in its spiritual home of Sankeys and beyond. Aside of this he’s set up vinyl-only sister label MIL, I & I Recordings alongside Jamie Trench, a management company, and has had output on various high-profile labels such as Skylax and Tact Recordings. Ahead of his performance at The Jackathon Warehouse Project, we caught up with Oli who - with typical charm - talked us through how his affection for all that is groovy has shaped the heights and expanse of his career so far.
How has Manchester’s clubbing landscape - as you’ve experienced it - changed since you’ve been living here?
Well I’ve lived in the city centre for about 13 years, so we were going to naughty little parties in skateboard shops round the Northern Quarter long before it became over saturated with bars. Around that time the city was lit with incredible parties such as Kindergarten, meandyou, Electric Chair, Casa Music, Back to Front and Tribal Sessions. You would find a lot of the same people on the different dance floors and that made for some incredible times. As the Warehouse Project was introduced it made a ripple culturally in Manchester I think; it presented the very best in electronic music in an incredible space (I remember the first year of WHP, Boddingtons will hold a place in my heart). As a punter this was fantastic to have the world at your front door, but as a promoter I hear it was difficult to compete with, but this lead to the scene evolving, the parties started to be hosted in smaller, quirkier venues & artists which only added to the vibe. Moving forward to nowadays I think Manchester is in great shape at the minute with a bevy of talent and promoters busting to make their mark on the scene.
Were there any particular DJs or artists on the Manchester circuit who were influential in your earlier DJing years?
I started going clubbing around 1999 or something like that, so around that time the people that for me stand out in a very jaded memory are artists like Jeff Mills, Derrick Carter, Peace Division. But closer to home it was people like Krysko (in his then Sankey’s residency) Greg Vickers, & Dan Mumberson that stand out. These guys shaped my knowledge and understanding of how dancefloors should be worked for the appropriate set.
What drove you to set up Music is Love?
At the time it was due to a couple of factors, the main 2 being surrounded by some incredible unheard talent that needed to be pushed forward and also a true desire to put our own stamp on a scene that we love so much. I like to think that coming up to our 5th year in 2017 we have achieved that.
Are there any particular Music is Love nights which stand out in your memory?
There’s been some fantastic parties over the years, but I have to say my all time favourite was the Split showcase in Berlin last year with Music is Love x Beste Modus x Slapfunk. So many like minded people, so much good music and so many laughs. Magic.
Last year’s split EP with Paul Johnson was quite something. How did that come about? Are there any other house legends you’d like to work with in this Tribute series?
To share some wax with PJ is something I’ll treasure forever. To cut a long story short I played with Paul & Parris Mitchell for Tribal Sessions at Sankeys and got to talking, spoke to Ray Barney at Dance Mania and pieced the whole thing together. For me to work with someone such as Ray Barney is an absolute honour. Those boys were hustling way back when and their sound & styles still influence today, which was something we thought would make for a great series. We are looking for the next Tribute EP to happen next year with a few people in mind, but until its sorted I'll have to keep my lips sealed.
Where has 2016 taken you so far? We see you’ve done a couple of slots at Berlin’s Chalet and have a few new releases...
2016 has seen some lovely parties around Europe and there was some talk of a Australian tour - which I think that will be next year now - but Chalet is above and beyond somewhere I try and play as many times as I can. It makes me feel like the first party I ever went to everytime I go! Its such a fun and carefree vibe inside and out, and the garden is one of my favourite places to be. We are really fortunate the crew at Chalet are into what we do at Music is Love and it’s a relationship that I hope continues to blossom for a long time to come.
Your set at Warehouse Project is coming up pretty soon - are there any tracks you’ve been playing which have really popped off recently?
Yes it is and I’m very hyped for it indeed, I can see me losing my shit in the main room at some point as the line up is right up my strasse. There so much good music about at the minute it’s almost out of hand, but I’d say my favourite to pull out at the minute is by the homies Mak & Pasteman and their track Automatic on UTTU.
Aside from Warehouse Project, are there any other projects, performances or releases in the works which we can get excited about?
A few things on the horizon with some dates in Holland coming up, a release on Patrick Topping’s Paradise CD which drops near the end of the year, I have a few things in with a few labels I can't really talk about but if they come through you will see a smile from ear to ear. On top of that we have a huge release coming up on Music is Love our 3rd VA in the Lovebox series. We have tracks from Wbeeza, Mak & Pasteman, New Jack City, Jamie Trench and some more hitters - out 11th Nov.
Catch Oli Furness - alongside Laurent Garnier, Black Coffee and the Black Madonna - at Heidi’s ‘The Jackathon’, Friday 21 October. Tickets can be found here.
Words: Josie Roberts