Like its name suggests, there are numerous complex elements that add up to create Glaswegian collective Numbers' scene-defining and widely-aped parties and quality record releases.
The hipster hook-up between the city's edgiest electronic club nights, musicians and labels has six people at its core (from left to right, Bobby Cleaver, Goodhand, Spencer, aka Calum Morton, Jackmaster, Richard and Nelson) but includes countless more coolsters who DJ their parties or release on their new label.
The latter was born out of three of their original imprints, Stuffrecords, Dress 2 Sweat and Wireblock, and is now home to such underground names as Deadboy, Lazer Sword and one of my local favourite DJs ('the new Diplo!') Offshore.
So, to celebrate being so freakin' awesome and to cheer on seven years of shaking up the UK's clubbing soundtrack, Numbers are kicking off a marathon week at Fabric tonight.
It’s more that just a birthday celebration for Fabric, however, who were recently pulled out of administration (hurrah!), helped by private investor Gary Kilbey, and continues business as usual with musical direction intact.
Here’s seven (well, it is their seventh birthday) reasons why you should like them a lot after the jump.
1 They’re not genre-driven ‘We’re not a house club or a techno club or a hip hop club or a dubstep club. It’s generally all electronic and really good for dancing to. That sounds like it could be a just a student night, but we have more of a sonic effect,’ says Numbers member Spencer (né Calum Morton), one that is created by their ‘rich and colourful’ journey through Detroit techno, Chicago house, UK garage, hip hop, R&B, boogie, funk and beyond. At its core? ‘I think it’s somewhere between hip hop and techno,’ says Spencer. ‘We’ve all been massively into hip hop, and then discovered Chicago house and Detroit techno a couple of years later.’ You can find its Los Angeles equivalent in the Low End Theory club nights and its London counterpart, Patchwork Pirates, one of whom coincidentally helps programme Fridays at Fabric.
2 But they are design-led.
The production values for their flyers and record releases are incredibly high – so far they’ve produced laser-etched vinyl, origami flyers and screen-printed sleeves. ‘Everything stems from our love of records; it has always been a sort of vinyl thing,’ says Spencer, ‘and sleeve art has been a really important part of our upbringing. I’m not even sure what a kids would do now – they would probably just have a wallpaper [on their phones]. I think one of the best fliers we’ve done was for a recent gig in Glasgow called ‘Pyramid of Doom’ with Flying Lotus and Rustie. We did a tetrahedron on the flier and you could fold it up to make a little pyramid. It took me about three-and-a-half minutes to make one, though!’
3 They’ve thrown some ridiculous parties In October 2006, the 450-capacity Sub Club in Glasgow was rammed out when hip hop legend and Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah came to perform at a Numbers show there. 'It was organised with a week to go and it was the craziest atmosphere I'd ever seen – the owner of the club was even standing on top of the bar taking photos with his kids,' remembers Spencer.
4 Their success has been in great bookings – and taking risks Says Spencer: ‘We were doing clubs in very small, 100-capacity venues for a good three years, just booking people that we liked. When we booked Modeselektor, it was their second UK show and it was in a basement to about 80 people. Now they play shows for us to 600. The people who we’ve booked’s careers have grown naturally alongside ours. We’ve built our reputation through a lot of hard work and a lot of connections.’
4.5 They're not too 'blokey' 'We put on the minimal techno producer Robert Hood in Glasgow recently and the club was full of guys, so sometimes we do a bunch of "girls go free" nights too. The idea is just to try and take away some of that staleness you often find inside some techno clubs, when all you really need is just girls dancing,' says Spencer. 'It's like something you'd hear on pirate radio – "no hats, no hood, girls go free" – but we make a joke out of it. At our fifth birthday party, we made a pink poster!'
5 They launched Rustie and Hudson Mohawke Mohawke, along with Rusie, are considered Glasgow's finest musical exports of recent years – Numbers' former labels released their debut tracks (Hudson's was a collaboration with his own collective, LuckyMe). In fact, Spencer was the one to give both of their demos to Warp boss Steve Beckett, where they are now signed.
6 Glasgow is on fire! Numbers are the beating heart of Glasgow’s thriving electronic club music. ‘The Glaswegian scene has been going off for five years now and there’s exciting new stuff all the time,’ says Spencer. ‘We are regulars at club nights like Fortified and Ballers Social, both of which push amazing new music and always put on excellent guests like [dubstep pioneer] Mala or [queen of UK funky] Cooly G. Our frequent club collaborators Monox push the harder side of techno, while [nightspot Nice & Sleazy’s party] Wrong Island is always a great laugh. And if you are still standing on the Sunday then Optimo’s new night Hung Up is well worth a visit.’
7 They’re playing at Fabric on Friday – which is staying open! 'It's really nice that everything is back to business and back to normal [there]. The first thing I was thinking [when I heard the news of its administration] was not "Is the club night still going to happen?", it was, "Are all my mates still going to have jobs?". Their party on Friday stars UK Baltimore house old gun Karizma, who, they say, you can't just see every weekend in London.
7.5. They're freakin' cool. Oh, we already said that.