Despite having just enjoyed a rare full weekend off (his first since September), Orde Meikle, one half of acclaimed Scottish house and techno duo Slam, isn’t allowing himself the luxury of unwinding too much. Instead, he’s using the downtime to gear himself up for what looks like being one of his most memorable weekends of 2011. Pressure, the monthly club night he runs with the other half of Slam, Stuart McMillan, is celebrating its 12th birthday, after which they fly to Berlin to play at the city’s notorious Berghain club.
Considered by many to be the current world capital of techno, Berghain is known not just for the quality of the music and the hedonistic atmosphere, but also for its fearsome door policy where large, leather- clad German bikies rule with an iron first over who makes it into this ominous looking fortress of fun. “There is absolutely no door policy what so ever,” confirms Meikle. “They judge you as you walk up and yeah, it is pretty hard to get in.” The guys have previously played both Berghain’s main room and the upstairs Panorama Bar, but on this occasion are scheduled to play a much later (or earlier, depending on how you look at it) set, hitting the decks for a challenging 9am start. “It’s very strange DJing at that time,” Meikle admits. “If you go to bed, do you come in on the right wavelength? I think I might get a little bit of sleep before I go down there, then a couple of sneaky double Jack Daniels!”
Slam is a name synonymous with quality house and techno. The aforementioned Pressure, which runs monthly in the brick-clad, viaduct arches underneath a railway station in Glasgow’s city centre, is regularly heralded by some of the most respected names in dance music as their favourite club and crowd to play. Big name guests including Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier, Richie Hawtin, the Chemical Brothers and Underworld are joined on the club’s lineups by lesser-known artists sourced from around the globe by Meikle and McMillan. This ‘seek and you shall find’ ethos also extends to the tracks you’re likely to hear the guys playing out.
“We’ve always been those kind of musicians, those kind of sad people that would be standing outside the record shop before it opened you know,” Meikle jokes. “So we’re always trudging through other peoples’ charts, stuff on [music sharing website] Soundcloud and listening to what other people are doing on the major digital websites. It’s always been about getting that record that you think is really brilliant, that no one else has picked up on and just dropping it.”
Not content just to introduce new music through their DJ sets, Slam also run two record labels, the seminal Soma Records, most known for releasing Daft Punk’s first tracks from 1997’s Homework, and the more recent Paragraph Recordings, which is used as a vehicle for the music that Meikle and McMillian produced themselves but which doesn’t seem to fit within what is regarded as the traditional Slam sound.
Having been regular visitors to Australia since the mid 90’s, Meikle is understandably keen to swap a Scottish winter for another Aussie summer. “Last time we were here was just a fucking great tour!” he enthuses. “It’s just a brilliant time of the year to be out there, so we’re really