Why Optimo are legends of the underground
- Arusa Qureshi
- 28 June 2017
DJs influenced by Twitch and Wilkes tell us what the legendary club night and duo have meant to them over the years
Optimo are celebrating 20 years of being top of the game with a one-off massive all-day gig in Glasgow that highlights their ability to put together a stellar lineup. We spoke to some of the acts both involved with the gig, or inspired by Optimo, to give them the chance to explain why Optimo are so influential.
On their influence
Nightwave: Optimo are a huge inspiration to me, both musically and generally as people. They are both extremely humble, open minded, supportive, and approachable. They are a musical encyclopaedia and a party powerhouse, I am constantly learning new things from them and their love of music and the whole culture continually inspires me. They are true pioneers.
Sofay: It's clear they both have an insane knowledge when it comes to dance music, but it is often the more abstract sounds in their sets and radio shows that inspire me. Their sets sound personal, sometimes they are dark, sometimes they are euphoric, sometimes they are silly. It is that playfulness that is so influential to my DJing.
The Black Madonna: They absolutely represent and inspired one of the most important turning points for me as a DJ. It was because I heard Optimo that I began to believe the wider scope of music that I loved could work in a club.
On what makes an Optimo club night special
Aurora Halal: Optimo are simply badass. The last time I saw them they were blending Slayer's 'Angel of Death' into Italo and making everyone scream with joy. What they do is a pure expression of human connection and that's what it's all about.
Nightwave: Anything goes – it's about having the best time and not sticking to a strict policy. It takes everyone on a journey and exploration of new sound and energy. It educates people without being pretentious, it brings everyone together in a really special way and that is rare these days. It's what true club culture was all about.
Sofay: My first experience of an Optimo party was going to one of their infamous Hogmanay soirées. Watching live bands play on the dancefloor in a packed out, sweaty club is fun for everyone and they know that – they've always understood what their club is about and they never veer away from that.
Solid Blake (Apeiron Crew): When I started going to Optimo nights, most of the other nights I was going to were a lot of fun, but in this really rowdy way. Optimo was always a great party, but the fun was more free, inclusive, and perhaps more respectful towards the music than I was used to.
On why Optimo have endured 20 years after their first night at Sub Club
Sofay: What I like so much about them is how nothing is too cool or too uncool: there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure record. You could hear Madonna and Iggy Pop then some disco white label or rare Japanese record that you might never hear again. It's not pretentious, it's punk – something that is very rare and hard to find in the dance music scene in Glasgow.
The Black Madonna: Creativity, perseverance, exploration. And, of course, Glasgow itself is so very special. There's no place on earth more perfect for this experience.
Solid Blake (Apeiron Crew): Over these 20 years, Jonnie and Keith have continued to interact with younger people in the scene, educating them in many ways, but more importantly, being willing to learn from them too. This attitude has kept what they do fresh and interesting as new people come through.
On being a part of the Optimo 20 lineup
The Black Madonna: At the risk of embarrassing myself, it's something I would have dreamed of ten years ago and laughed if you'd told me it was possible. I am honoured to celebrate them!
Solid Blake (Apeiron Crew): Optimo and their Sunday nights at the Sub Club were so fundamental to my education in music growing up. Coming back to Glasgow always has a lot of meaning for me, and especially now to come and play the kind of event that I'd have been first in the queue to buy a ticket for back in the day feels really special.
Optimo 20, SWG3, Glasgow, Sun 6 Aug.