RPZ: Tru playerz
Colin McKean talks to the heads behind RPZ about midweek clubbing, Moogs and pop art as the Glasgow favourite celebrates its seventh birthday
While gifted resident DJs form the backbone of all of Glasgow’s most successful clubs, the majority of the city’s club nights operate as a platform for talent from elsewhere. Although there are other notable exceptions to this rule, few clubs have been as singularly driven by the talent, commitment and vision of their resident DJs as Optimo and RPZ, the latter of which this month celebrates its seventh birthday at the Art School.
When Alan Miller, better known as Hushpuppy, started Record Playerz (since abbreviated to RPZ) in 2002, he and founding colleague Hi-fi Shaun saw an opportunity to create a midweek club that was unique in Glasgow. ‘We wanted to do something that was very specifically about putting together our particular interests,’ says Miller. ‘We wanted to play the music that we really liked across a number of genres, and we wanted to put that into a party that would not only sound fun, but that would look fun and that people would get something out of that they wouldn’t get from other nights. We’ve been lucky to be in a venue that’s synonymous with being a little bit off-kilter and off the beaten track and we were allowed to do what we did for the first two years as it gradually got busier.’
While the success of the club has resulted in queues that regularly extend down Renfrew Street on a Thursday night, it is RPZ’s commitment to quality, rather than any reliance on low drink prices and thirsty students, that has consistently distinguished it from the shoal of midweek clubs that has formed in its wake. ‘Musically what sets us apart is that mix of being able to find things that are new and suited to our particular kind of sound and tying them into things that are older,’ he says. ‘We are able to draw on old electronic music, Belgian new beat or synth stuff, Moogs or pop music and find a context in which those things can drop in and make sense.’
Reflecting on the part his club has played in perpetuating Glasgow’s reputation as a party city, where weekends begin in the Vic Bar on a Thursday evening, and end at the Sub Club in the wee small hours of Monday morning, Miller attributes RPZ’s continuing success to the club’s philosophy, centred on creating an immersive audiovisual experience. ‘I don’t think anyone else has the kind of all-encompassing approach to visual aesthetic that we have,’ he says. ‘We wanted RPZ to look really pop art and very 80s-style, like Danceteria, like a neon 80s video, and to put something on that has been curated as a complete aesthetic, so that when you come along there’s a complete sensory thing.’
It’s this commitment to creating a party atmosphere that makes RPZ such a memorable event, melding the RPZ experience into a brew of sight and sound. ‘The imagery is quite jokey, it’s quite tongue in cheek, but there’s nothing hollow and ironic about what we do,’ says Miller. ‘We have the images and the music and everything because we love them.’
RPZ, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Thu 30 Apr.