The Red Eye Hi-Fi crew are gearing up for their final party of the calendar year at Band on the Wall, which doubles as a celebration of their nine years in operation, and represents the last opportunity to soak up some true contemporary carnival flavours before 2018 draws to a close. Needless to say, the crew have come along way since the early parties in South Manchester, but despite having travelled far and wide with the sound, maintain a strong bond with the city and its party lineage. Jack Red Eye has long been involved in the scene and as well as assembling a top drawer playlist for us, shared some of his early experiences of Manchester parties with us.
‘I came up at a time when there was a thriving free party scene in Manchester.’ Jack explains. ‘It was something that I saw and thought, I want to try my hand at that. I was only about fifteen or sixteen at that time, but I started buying some little speakers, putting on house parties, selling beers at those parties to buy more speakers, and it kind of grew — quite slowly and organically — from there, until we were able to put on our own free parties.’
What began as a DIY initiative soon became a legitimate club enterprise, with Red Eye moving from spots like The Whitworth pub and Saki bar in Rusholme (‘a lot of club nights came through that place’ Jack reminisces), to spaces like Antwerp Mansion, Contact Theatre and Dry Bar. ‘We definitely learned the hard way with a lot of blown up speakers and broken equipment,’ Jack laughs, ‘we never learned formerly, it was just … trying stuff out, y’know.’
The Red Eye crew did have people they could turn to however, ‘the guys at Neuron Pro audio have always been very helpful and Dub Smugglers, who we had a friendly rivalry with, definitely helped us along! Also, Herbal Sessions, another sound system who were around at that time, helped us out a lot.’
The Red Eye crew are no longer reliant on their own sound system, but back in the day when it went where they went, achieving a great sound was of paramount importance. ‘It was always about getting more bass.’ Jack states. “A big part of the sound system culture is ‘who has got the best sounding rig’ – which usually means having really heavy bass, but also having crisp tops and high quality amps to create a really nice sound that wasn’t just a horrible, distorted mess – but often it was! It’s all about upgrading, piece by piece, to create a sound system that works more efficiently.”
The in-house system factored into Red Eye’s decision to begin throwing parties at Band on the Wall, but so too did the venue’s history as a home for artists from around the world. Jack’s desire to push musical boundaries with Red Eye Carnival bookings, made it seem like the ideal spot. ‘I think that’s a priority of mine, to push the boundaries a little bit more with the music and to try and bring some different stuff from all over the world to Manchester, maybe stuff that hasn’t necessarily been here before. That’s the intention and I hope people will get on board with it.’
The upcoming night sees the arrival of Jus Now and Serocee, the latter of whom has sound system culture in his blood, considering that his parents were both integral to sounds in Birmingham during the seventies. ‘Serocee has been about for years, he’s a powerful force in the UK bass music scene.’ Jack states. ‘I can’t remember exactly where I first heard him, but he’s been somebody I’ve been listening to for a long time. His roots are in reggae and dancehall, but he’s worked with Toddla T, he did Culture Clash with Mixpak, he’s done stuff with Chimpo … he does a lot of different things and the current stuff he’s doing with Jus Now is particularly exciting for me, because it’s carnival music, it’s high-energy music…it’s just a place where he really fits!’
Jack has a new album coming out next year entitled Overproof, following the well-received Chips ‘n’ Gravy mixtape, which alongside Serocee, featured Manchester favourites Skittles, Fox and Sangy. ‘It’s very close to completion, so I’m excited to put that one out’ Jack confirms. We eagerly await it dropping and highly recommend securing tickets for Red Eye Carnival on Friday 7th December ahead of time!