A Chat With… Melting Pot
plus an exclusive mix!
2016 is a mile-stone for Melting Pot. To celebrate fifteen years of running deluxe hi-fi disco parties, Andrew Pirie and Simon Cordiner are throwing themselves a massive birthday party with Horse Meat Disco, followed by a gigantic Easter weekender headed up by Mr Scruff. It’s no ordinary teen birthday party, that’s for sure.
This year also sees the Glasgow-based duo take up the reins for a rare six-date residency at Sneaky Pete’s. Before Melting Pot return for bash #2 on March 11, Andrew explains the ethos behind their “anything goes” music policy, his fascination with hi-fi, and muses on how clubbing’s evolved in the years he’s been behind the decks.
It’s impossible to talk about Melting Pot without discussing how seriously they take their set-up. “It’s a holistic thing,” Andrew explains. “Everything has to come together, and the sound-system is the foundation. If you don’t have it right, you can’t do anything. I have a vintage American rotary mixer that I got near the start of Melting Pot, and it’s always been a case of trying to make it as good as possible – it’s a personality trait in me.”
“… it’s a holistic thing”
“People might play CDs, they might play USBs, they might play vinyl, but no matter what they’ll still sound better at Melting Pot than they will do anywhere else. No-one else goes to the level I do!”
Andrew is the finance director of hi-fi retailer Loud and Clear, and, as he puts it, “it means I get to borrow lots of every expensive hi-fi equipment! It’s a case of trying to push it every time. I’ll take an entire car-full of equipment… It’s an ever evolving project.”
When Melting Pot comes through to the Cowgate, Andrew admits that “we can’t bring everything…” but back in January they managed to squeeze their own sound-system onto Sneaky’s stage. “It worked out amazingly! I wasn’t sure how it was gunna go, you know, the first Friday in January… but it was great fun. So much so that all the records started to bounce up and down, because everyone was going crazy. We had to change cartridges half-way through the night!”
They recorded a mix, too, but it had to undergo some post-show surgery. “Yeah the mix has been fixed, because there’s one track where it just jumped twenty times, because everyone was bouncing up and down. That was a bit of a pleasant shock! Sneaky’s is so small, and you wanna get as many people in as possible to have a great time – and when somebody’s fairly drunk and keeps falling back into your turntables? That’s part of the party.”
“… Melting Pot has a foundation in disco, but it’s an open music policy”
While super-human precision is applied to arranging their cables, Melting Pot use a more emotional kind of intelligence when it comes to choosing a record. “It tends to just be… what happens!” Andrew laughs. “I always have a large stack of records, CDs and the like, and we just see… Melting Pot has a foundation in disco, but we play house, techno, Brazilian. It’s basically an open music policy. [Simon and I] tend to play blocks, so it’s about balancing it out, reacting to what the other person’s doing. The thing with Melting Pot is to expect the unexpected…”
If you’ve been to a Melting Pot party before, you’ll know that Andrew and Simon love to keep you on your toes by throwing tracks into unexpected contexts. Be it Tame Impala or Marvin Gaye, they’ll find a way to rejuvenate a song, to make it sound totally fresh.
“It’s not a case of going out with the same 4/4 kick drum all night, where you get into a trance,” Andrew considers. “It’s good for people to have a bit of a jolt, to really reconnect instead of zoning out.”
“… playing things they just couldn’t play anywhere else”,
The same eclectic policy applies to their booking: Over the years Melting Pot have hosted a rainbow of the biggest, and most diverse, names in dance music. From Frankie Knuckles and Danny Krivit to Mogwai, Todd Terje and John Morales… you know you’ve got to take Melting Pot’s visitor feedback seriously.
“Quite often they’ll say that they’ve ended up playing things they just couldn’t play anywhere else! DJs want to come play for us, because they know they want to play with that sound-system.” Andrew emphasises the importance of a trusting, informed crowd, too: “You can build up to things and just think: This is the moment!”
“When we played [Sneaky’s] last summer, I had the live version of Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Bottle’. I don’t get to play it out that often, because there’s a seven minute long percussion break-down,” Andrew laughs. “You could totally lose the crowd, kill the night… but there are certain times when you think, yeah, I can get away with this. Everyone was going insane, the final chorus when the breakdown ends… hairs on the back of your neck.”
“… it’s a bit like Back to the Future”
Finding the right track, for the right people, at exactly the right time is a skill which only comes after putting in the hours, and Melting Pot have been in this for the long-haul. “Yeah I’ve been playing since about 1998… But it’s a two-way thing, it’s not just about you. It’s about what the crowd’s into. There’s a real back-and-forth relationship.”
Over Melting Pot’s fifteen years so far, they’ve moved away from residents in favour of bringing in a glittering array of guests… but Andrew talks slightly nostalgically of long-lasting, trust-building residencies. “That’s why I’m excited by the challenge of playing Sneaky’s – I get to play the full night again!”
So – after fifteen years of parties, you’re kind of coming full-circle?
“Yeah! And the interesting thing is, when we played [Sneaky’s] in January, Simon turned to me and said ‘This is like a mini Riverside!’ We started off at a place called the Riverside club, it would have ceilidhs up to about quarter to twelve, then they’d throw everybody out and we’d start at midnight. You’d have all these disco fanatics waiting to come in, and sometimes people would stay behind, too, with their kilts on. It had a stage like Sneaky’s, and sometimes you’d get a bit of a bumping on the decks… I saw where he was coming from on that one! It’s a nice way to look at it… it’s a bit like Back to the Future. You want to be challenged, you want it to be fun! For me it’s just all about the sound, and connecting it with people.”
Melting Pot play Sneaky Pete’s on March 11, for the second installment of their six-night, year-long residency.