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Nightlife

15 resident DJs keeping UK dance culture alive and kicking

They’re the lifeblood of the scene – and they’re probably playing a room near you right now.
Written by Phillip Williams
8 min readPublished on
The superstar DJs get the jetset lifestyles, the five figure pay packets and the glowing write-up on the DJ Mag Top 100. But if you want to find the lifeblood of the club, look to the resident DJ. No one knows their club like the resident. Spinning to the same crowd weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, resident DJs build a special rapport with their audience, giving them leave to go deeper, wider and weirder than most headliners dare.
Building an exhaustive list of the UK’s best residents would be a near-impossible task, but the following list, compiled with the help of some of the UK's best music writers, gives a broad cross-section of names that you should definitely seek out.

1. Kerrie

Eastern Bloc
Many a successful DJ has worked at Manchester record store Eastern Bloc, and Irish born Kerrie is one of them. Arriving in the rainy city in 2010, she joined the record shop-cum-event space in 2013, first behind the counter and later as the venue’s events coordinator and resident. It was playing alongside the likes of Juan Atkins and Ben Klock that Kerrie honed her love of techno, but also ambient, dub and house, developing a signature style of tough and unrelenting sets. Now also a producer, her hardware-only set up has led to releasing her debut EP, Before Calm, on Don’t Be Afraid – four raw, bolshy records destined for the peak-time club chaos. (Kamila Rymajdo)

2. Voicedrone

FOLD
FOLD is a special sort of venue, a hazy and stripped-back escape into a murky realm of rave. Much of this is down to the club's co-founder and leading resident Voicedrone, whose ear for mood and melody has led to some of the more mind-melting experiences in the Canning Town outpost. The Georgia-born DJ and producer lives and breathes the club, and when he's not working hard to fine-tune the space behind the scenes he's steering the dancefloor – whom he considers his family – through agile and ferocious techno. Catch him play their semi-regular Sunday party, UnFOLD, to see the Georgia-born DJ and producer at his prime. (Josie Roberts)

3. Krysko

The Warehouse Project
Manchester is a city that places its local legends on a pedestal, and their role within UK club culture cannot be underestimated. Continuing the city’s legacy as a hub of hedonism is Krysko, the longstanding Manchester staple whose DJ sets have soundtracked countless early mornings throughout the past decade. Krysko now holds it down at The Warehouse Project, sharing the stage with countless global icons on a weekly basis. While Krysko may be a DJ who spans two decades it took him until 2016 to head up his own label, I Walked By Night, a home for club-ready house music and a Mancunian take on music from the Motor City. (Jack Needham)

4. Sycophantasy

Stereo
DJ/booker at Glasgow venue Stereo and presenter at Subcity Radio, Sycophantasy aka Catriona Reilly started her career at Scottish LGBTQ focused club night Lock Up Your Daughters, before running a series of successful events herself. She is likely to have played every genre somewhere in Glasgow over the last decade – from the niche, like witch house at her night Heavy Daze, to mainstream pop and R&B at her night PUSH IT. Now a respected voice in conversations about making club spaces more safe and inclusive, Sycophantasy is also often a sought out DJ for emerging club nights. (Kamila Rymajdo)

5. Acre

Project 13 / The White Hotel
If you’ve ever found yourself lost in the sub-heavy shadows of Manchester’s The White Hotel, you've probably got Acre to thank. He’s a long-time member of Project 13, one of the city’s consistently excelling parties for skewed and fractured dance music, and a favourite behind the booth at the Salford outpost. It's easy to see why: from icy, skeletal grime to bone-crushing bass, Acre’s sideways take on dark, experimental club sounds works in powerful synergy with the rough-around-the edges former car mechanic. (Josie Roberts)

6-7. Harri and Domenic

Sub Club, Glasgow
A photo of DJ Harri and Dominic from Sub Club, Glasgow.

Glasgow's Sub Club boys

© [unknown]

Very much the DJ’s DJs, Harri and Domenic are the redoubtable hosts of Subculture at Glasgow’s Sub Club, where they’ve been holding it down on Saturday nights since 1994 – some say it’s the longest continuous club residency in the world. Expect techno and house music of all stripes, mixed up with a crate-digger’s knowledge and the love for music all up front and on show. (Phillip Williams)

8. Tash LC

Kartel/Boko! Boko!, London
Tash LC is the south Londoner taking over your frequencies, a DJ of true eclecticism whose selections cover the globe. Her regular Worldwide FM show Rhythm Travels brings inspirations from across the continent to your speakers on a monthly basis, while regular slots on Radar Radio sees Tash LC cover music made for dark basements. As a resident of London’s Kartel and Boko! Boko! club nights is where her masterful selections are best suited, however. Tash has been bringing the carnival vibes with Kartel since 2015, and as part of Boko! Boko! alongside DJ Chin and Mina – two fine selectors in their own right – she curates musical passages into timezones much more tropical than our own. (Jack Needham)

9. Mantra

FABRICLIVE / Rupture
Mantra is a powerhouse for drum'n'bass in London. She co-founded of long-running label and party Rupture with partner Double O in 2006, which to this day remains at the vanguard of jungle and breaks-heavy sounds in the city's vast D&B landscape. Now also one of FABRICLIVE's residents and host of The fabric Show on Red Bull Radio, Mantra's demand as a DJ is as strong as ever – weaponising a deep knowledge of 170 sounds for pure dancelfoor elation. (Phillip Williams)

10. DJ Autumn

Banoffee Pies / Headroom
Banoffee Pies is an eclectic record label and club night that was founded in 2013 by Ell Weston and Sandy Hagenbach – aka. DJ Autumn and Dr. Banana – in the musical hotbed of Bristol. The varied range of techno, house, disco and hip-hop they release on vinyl by Florist, Ruf Dug, Walter Ego and many more deep-underground artists is increasingly sought after by collectors and top-tier DJs. Banoffee Pies parties have also been going strong ever since, nowadays with DJ Autumn (who also co-founded Headroom Festival) at the helm. He is anything but rigid in his DJ style, selecting tracks “almost at random,” tapping into the mood and energy around him, and sometimes reaching even more widely into boogie, jazz and ‘80s pop. (Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff)

11.
 Lukas Wigflex

Wigflex, Nottingham
Lukas is behind Nottingham's club night Wigflex, pushing line-ups that have been ahead of the curve for a decade. His sets are innovative, holding strong to the music he loves without watering down his selection to make sure everyone's dancing all the time. His sets bend into weird and wonderful shapes, bravely incorporating fidgety techno-electro-funk oddities released on Border Community, Berceuse Heroique, Whities and Powell's Diagonal label, always staying strong to his roots by showcasing the inventive sounds made by his Nottingham brethren like Hizatron and Metaphi/Metske. (Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff)

12. Paul Damage

House of God, Birmingham
Surgeon may be the most famous House of God resident, but die-hards of the long-standing, irreverent Birmingham techno institution speak with utter reverence for Paul Damage. Damage is the man to deliver the knock-out blow to a night of rampant techno abandon through a combination of ferociously fast, industrial-tinged bangers and razor-sharp technique borrowed from his roots in hip hop. He can be just as comfortable doing an unnerving warm-up, but the end of the night is where ‘The Damager’ is in his element. (Oli Warwick)

13. Will Tramp

Homoelectric
Most people from Manchester will know Will Tramp as resident at Homoelectric, whose message of inclusivity made it one of the rainy city’s most iconic club nights. But Will – whose taste spans house, disco, Detroit techno and '80s boogie – started his career in 2004 as co-founder of Tramp!, a weekly student night that brought Justice, Diplo and Chromeo to the city. Now, Will is a mainstay at The Warehouse Project and Parklife, and has hosted radio shows across Manchester’s local stations such as Reform and MCR Live. On occasion, his vast collection of rare records can also be heard when he’s playing the Northern Quarter’s busy bars. (Kamila Rymajdo)

14. Lo Shea

Hope Works, Sheffield
Located in a crumbling industrial part of Sheffield, Hope Works has firmly positioned itself as the city’s most thoughtfully curated space for electronic music. Curating such killer line-ups is the venue’s own resident DJ Lo Shea (Liam O’Shea). A self-described “warehousing agitator / rave maker” Lo Shea’s eclectic yet coherent sets reflect the metallic and industrial backdrop of the area through hard-edged taut techno as often as they do mutated takes on house. (Daniel Dylan Wray)

15. Tom Smith

Cosmic Slop, Leeds
Cosmic Slop has a glowing reputation, and not just for its music – this legendary Leeds night donates profits to local charity MAPS, which supports young people removed from mainstream education. None of this would exist without the work of founder “Cosmic” Tom Smith, who even built the club’s highly esteemed soundsystem (which has tempted down names including Four Tet, Floating Points and Motor City Drum Ensemble). On any given night, you’ll see Smith himself hopping onto the decks, reaching for dub, Afrobeat, jazz, dancehall and anything else that takes his fancy. (Phillip Williams)
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