When London based promoters Undersound started out in February 2012, the London nightlife ecosystem looked a lot different than it does now. Over the next seven years, Undersound would go on to become a loved series and one that would re-shape London nightlife culture.
The crew gave a lot of love to DJs in the early careers who would go on to become admired selectors. For their third edition, they invited Berlin-based selector Binh, who was more known for loopy minimal and deep house than his current rare-to-impossible to find tracks that span electro, techno and darker shades of house.
Other early support came in the form of an Onur Özer who was in the midst of a change of sound from big room minimal to darker and more obscure music. There was, of course, Nicolas Lutz, who’d just been picked up by Toi Toi and one Francesco Del Garda, still yet to become the underground favourite he is today.
Sadly the London scene, or any capital city scene, is a relentless and unforgiving place. The DJs whom Undersound had an eye for early on eventually grew to gain the recognition they deserved. In doing so, you can see any of the above DJs in London at regular intervals and at festivals all over the world.
As Undersound announcing their closing parties they cited the ‘changing scene‘ and it’s easy to understand why they were closing the party after seven beloved years. Still, there was no time to for tears and still loads of time to party, with two closing nights lined up in the form Onur Özer all night long and Binh going back-to-back with Nicolas Lutz all night long.
I walk into The Cause, an intimate venue in North London that’s bursting with character, at a little after 11. The DJs in question are mingling behind the caged decks towards the back of the room, after a series of laughs, handshakes and one last check of the record bag, they’re off.
It was interesting to see two DJs who have become accustomed to playing peak time over the last couple of years, play a warm-up. The pair took extended turns in warming up the dancefloor, opting for broken beats, downtempo garage, and the odd sub-120 BPM techno track.
As the room filled out with exchanges between old friends of Undersound, Lutz and Binh began to ramp up the tempo with a forthcoming track from Sohrab on Marginal Returns, and from then onwards , there was little looking back. The two usually stone-faced DJs seemed to outwardly relish every single record and every single mixdown, with laughs and jokes being shared in the caged booth at almost every turn.
As we’ve all come to expect from two diggers who excel at their craft, most of the music played at the closing party was unidentifiable, both during the night and also in the post-night analysis in group chats. It was my first time seeing them together, but there felt like there was a playful sense of one-upmanship on show. Of course not in an obnoxious way, but in the way two friends would play in their living room. ‘Oh you think this record is good? Just wait for what I’m about to play!’
Particular highlights came in the form of what can only be described as Lutz Bombs. DJ Boring’s apocalyptic remix of Lake Haze’s Love In Lux providing an introspective yet menacing moment in the night. Alas, the track of the night had to belong to Do Or Die’s Lost from the Uruguayan’s own label.
Every now and then you seem to have a track that perfectly encapsulates the night, it was dropped at the perfect opportunity and it provides an excellent snapshot into both of their musical vision – driving, weird but oh so danceable.
The two friends finished up with smiles on their faces, as did the Undersound crew in the booth behind them. It’s not clear what’s next for the London party crew, the label will continue and recently featured an excellent EP from Binh. Maybe they’ll be back, maybe not. But it’s probably not an understatement to say they changed underground London nightlife for the better.