Following a run of sold out shows, Hacienda Classical heads to Birmingham on 31st July, as part of MADE Birmingham. We spoke to world famous Hacienda DJ Graeme Park about the reincarnation of dance music’s most iconic era.
Having sold out three dates in Manchester, including your recent Sounds of the City show at Castlefield Bowl and a show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, you’ve announced a new date at the Birmingham Rainbow Open Air Arena in July. Are you looking forward to bringing the show to the festival?
We’ve also sold out shows in Glasgow, Lancaster and Brighton too. We’re all very excited about Birmingham though. I’ve been DJing in the city for decades and continue to enjoy amazing nights here with wonderfully receptive crowds. This will be on a whole different level though and I know that the Birmingham audience are going to love the show. I can’t wait to see their response and to see a sea of familiar faces in the crowd.
For someone who is not familiar with the Hacienda Classical shows, what can they expect?
We’re reinterpreting a variety of early classic house tunes with a full blown orchestra who play synth parts and acid riffs. It’s an epic journey through the late 1980s into the early 1990s with some massive, familiar tunes and some surprises too. Imagine a string section playing acid riffs and real brass and woodwind recreating synth lines with live percussion and Mike Pickering and I spinning in samples, acapellas and sound effects live. We’ve also got the amazing AMC Choir and guest vocalists and other performers too. You’re in for an absolute treat.
How did the idea come together?
A daft idea that developed over several months until we sat down last August with the Manchester Camerata orchestra and conductor and arranger Tim Crooks. That’s when we all realised that it wasn’t such a daft idea after all and work began in earnest for our February debut in Manchester. The original idea to recreate a continuous DJ mix of classic Haçienda tunes with an orchestra was on!
You guys will be performing alongside the iconic Manchester Camerata orchestra, how has it been working with them?
It’s been a massive learning experience and an utter joy. They’re so professional and wonderful to work with.
What’s the process behind choosing the tracks and bringing the show together?
Mike and I chose 20 tracks each. 10 were the same, so we then argued, debated and discussed which of the others should make the final cut. In the end we agreed on 19 tracks to make up a 90 minute DJ mix that was then scored and arranged by Tim. Anything that the orchestra couldn’t do, we then recreated into a backing track. Three days before the first show we all got together to make sure everything worked. It did. Beautifully.
What is your favourite Hacienda track to play on the big stage?
I don’t have a favourite. We’ve done seven shows and each one has a totally different highlight for me depending on the crowd.
What is the best thing about working on the Classical shows?
The sheer size of it. It’s a logistical nightmare, but such fun when we’re all on the stage ready to go and Tim raises his baton. The sense of anticipation is quite overwhelming but when you hear the opening strings and the beat kicks in, the feeling of pride and euphoria takes over and the nerves subside and the journey begins. Performing at the back of the stage and being able to see the orchestra perform with smiles on their faces in front of an up for it crowd has been special.
Can we expect any more shows to be announced soon?
Indeed! London, Sunderland and more are all on the horizon with dates overseas on the way too. Turns out it hasn’t been a daft idea at all.
Tickets are still available here.