Five Minutes with Denzel Sterling (Sidechains)
Digging a little deeper into our favourite new crew from Sydney, Sidechains.
This weekend will see Sable's huge, Saybot/Shadow Sable-featuring URL LUV EP tour wrap up with shows in Brisbane at The TBC Club and Sydney at Oxford Art Factory. The latter of which we're hosting with our new favourite Sydney friends, Sidechains, a cool collective who look after a bunch of rad emerging electronic acts like Fresh Hex and Grasps_ (who you may remember from yesterday's premiere). And in the lead-up to the show we thought it'd be good for everyone involved, including ourselves, to get to know the Sidechains crew a little better:
For the uninitiated, who are Sidechains?
Sidechains is Denzel Sterling (myself), Jessica, Lillian (AKA Flexmami) and Christian (AKA Grasps_).
And what’s it all about?
Sidechains is a lovely and respectful community of dedicated party-goers, fashion-lovers and Internet enthusiasts from all over Sydney (and even interstate). It’s been described as the ‘Internet in real life’ by a lot of people, which is what we really try to push through all aspects of the brand: it’s like our own cyberspace.
We like to describe it as a community because each month, the group grows, but the familiar faces always remain. One of the main goals is to encourage equality and acceptance, especially being part of the club scene, to create a judgement-free atmosphere where people can feel free to dress however they want and be themselves.
The name “Sidechains” comes from the music production term, because we always wanted to focus on local producers. From the start, Sidechains was going to create a place for the local creative scene to flourish. We’re always trying to push new and exciting music and talent that we feel needs to be heard and appreciated. Each lineup is different and we try to curate it so that each party is a new experience.
Can you tell us a bit about how and why you started Sidechains?
Like most things, Sidechains started out as a little side project with no real expectations about how it would grow, or where it would end up. The basis of Sidechains has always stayed the same, and the main spark behind it was the lack of cool parties in Sydney with good music and a positive atmosphere.
We got offered a slot to hold a Thursday night party at the now closed down Backroom (RIP) in Kings Cross, which was a really successful launch party. We then got offered a Friday night slot at Keystone’s Kit & Kaboodle just up the street and have been there ever since. Kit & Kaboodle have been incredibly supportive from the beginning and have allowed us to grow into what it is today, so I have major respect for the people there.
What sorta tunes can someone stumbling into the world of Sidechains expect?
A whole range of things, really – it depends on the headliner, because we try to create a vibe for the night around that. The main genres to expect are Jersey Club, trap and future-bass, but we drop in a lot of sadboys, PC Music, grime, vogue, footwork/juke and witch house here and there as well. We like to keep the sound diverse, so you never know what to expect. We want to encourage open-mindedness with music, and help people discover stuff that they never would’ve heard otherwise.
Which artists do you look after?
At the moment we’re looking after four artists who have really diverse sounds: Grasps_ (who has an EP on its way) and Monomyth from Sydney, plus Recluse and Fresh Hex from Melbourne. All of them have so much potential in their own ways, and we love being able to grow the local music scene at this more personal level, as well as at the level of providing a physical platform as a club night.
You tie the audio side of things in with a really strong visual aesthetic as well, how important for you is it to bring those two worlds together?
Being a designer myself, I feel like having a consistent brand that people can identify immediately is key, so connecting the two is really important for us. The art and certain look that the community has at Sidechains is what has set us apart in the Sydney scene and made us stand out. People are always referring to it as the “Sidechains look” or the “Sidechains sound” which we love. Plus, I feel like there’s an unavoidable link between the audio and the visual that you can’t ignore, especially when you’re creating something like a club night or label.
What have been some of the highlights in Sidechains’ relatively young career?
The last year has been crazy. So many cool things have happened, like dropping our first compilation, which launched Sidechains as a release platform, and having our first international artist, DJ Sega. Floria & Air Max ’97’s parties were both amazing as well. It’s also been really cool to see some of our favourite artists, who have basically made the Australian music scene blow up, turn up to our parties, like Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight, Basenji and UV Boi.
We’re teaming up with you for the Sydney Sable show, what are we getting ourselves into?
The best crowd you’ve ever had – Sidechains people don’t hesitate to let you feel the love. And dance moves you never knew existed. Watch and learn.
Who do you think would win in a thumb war between Pilerats and Sidechains and why?
Sidechains: DJing at 160bpm+ when you’ve already been at the club for 5 hours isn’t for the faint-hearted. Bring it on.
Being based in Sydney and you being a dance music collective, it’d be remiss of me not to ask about lock-outs and things. How’s that whole situation affected you guys?
The 1:30am lockouts laws and 3:00am alcohol restrictions have been very draining on Sydney, not just financially for businesses but also on the average clubber’s willingness to stay out. 1:30 also happens to be when most trains stop running, so people are even less motivated to stay out. Kit & Kaboodle and World Bar are some of the only ‘clubs’ left running in Kings Cross.
Sidechains being a party that started when lockouts was already in place, it’s hard to say that it’s affected us because that’s just the way it’s always been. 1:30am is the new 3am and it’s something we always have to take into consideration now. We’ve had to deal with the lockout laws from the beginning, so essentially the party has been developed around the laws and over time we’ve learned little ways to keep people partying or give them a reason to stay. FOMO is more powerful than you would think. That’s where DJ Lockouts started: a masked DJ who strictly performs the 1:30am slot, playing the most hyper club and bass music possible. It started as a joke between us, but we decided to turn it into something and our crowd really responded to it.
What’s the future hold for Sidechains, where do you wanna take this beast?
We have a few long term and short term goals. The monthly parties are going to continue and there’s plenty more music releases coming from Australian and international producers. A second compilation is in the works with an entirely new all Australian line up, which we’re really excited about. We’d love to do more co-presented parties as well, like the Sable show, and heading over to Perth to party with you guys would be super rad!
Long term, getting to curate a festival tent or stage as Sidechains is a big dream and would be an amazing opportunity, not to mention so much fun. We’re also in the midst of getting some new Sidechains merch/threads for summer, so it’s full steam ahead for us!