Let’s be honest, there are countless London parties that profess to nurturing the core values of underground partying. Few actually achieve it though.
KAOS has been steadily extending their fanbase since the early days in 2003 at Madame JoJo’s in Soho, and it has garnered quite a reputation during this time. Exploring the subtle bridges between art, debauchary, live techno performance and family vibes, the party has evolved over the years, saying “goodbye” (with love) to the glitz of JoJo’s, and welcoming the squalor and neo-gothicism that other venues around the city embrace.
They recently moved their monthly gathering to Electrowerkz in Angel, and will be throwing a party with R&S favourite, Paula Temple, this Saturday. I caught up with KAOS founder, Lee Adams…
KAOS is obviously an underground party catering to the alternative and queer crowd. How did the first party come about at Madame JoJo’s? It seems unfitting to the kind of parties you host nowadays.
We’ve always enjoyed the challenge of creating events in unusual spaces, from the subterranean catacombs beneath London Bridge Station (now the foundations for The Shard), to a converted slaughterhouse in Copenhagen or a former underground pissoir in Spitalfields (Public Life) to a neo-gothic church in Hackney, but the decision to start our techno adventure in Madame Jojo’s was personal and symbolic. My dear friend Marianne used to own the venue until Stanley Kubrick shot parts of Eyes Wide Shut in there. in the late 90’s Marianne hosted ‘Matinee’, an insane underground techno after-hours on Sunday evenings and it was in homage to that party that we created the first Kaos in JoJo’s.
Techno has enjoyed somewhat of a revival in London recently, particularly amongst younger people who used to love hard dubstep/breakcore – have you got any stories about this younger generation who you’ve met recently that have inspired you in any way?
Yes indeed there has been a huge resurgence in techno in London recently. For a long time Kaos seemed to exist in a void, now there are some really brilliant events starting to happen again and the people I am meeting from this younger generation are hugely inspirational, smart, critically informed and creatively engaged. Adam Csoka Keller and Opashona Gosh from Sixth Finger Magazine for instance are initiating all kinds of multimedia technoshamanic cultural interventions, whilst Alexander Dodge Huber and Agata Kay are collaborating on a novel and a series of short films respectively exploring technomysticsm, divine madness, nihilism and aestheticism through their engagement with techno culture. Pier Filippo Di Sorte just arrived in London from his native Rome to realise his techno dreams through his vinyl imprint Blackwater Label, Mona Mock is using gong baths for vibrational healing whilst artists Naddy Sane and Luke Jordan are creating ‘The Invisible Museum’ featuring sonic art, noise, ritual, performance, installation, visuals and spontaneous acts in a derelict pump house on the Thames. Perhaps the most incredible dance floor encounter though has been with an amazing man studying to become a brain surgeon who said he wold take the energetic frequency, the unique vibrational field he encountered at Kaos and apply it to his medical practice, that is radically profound.
There’s been a few gay-friendly parties moving over to Electrowerkz recently. What makes the space so special?
Yes Blanc have taken up residence on the top floor whilst Ursula Snakes party Legion and Rosa Decidua run by my good friend DJ Inept are now both on the ground floor. The space is fantastic, atmospheric and cinematic with an air of post-apocalyptic dereliction, it has a fascinating history as a former stables for London Transport in the nineteenth century and and more recently as a metalworks and has hosted some incredible music events over the years including regular Warp Records showcases, but it is also the people who run the venue that make it special, everyone from the management through to the technicians and the security crew are incredibly supportive, enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with.
If you could create your own space, what would it look like? What features would it have?
It would be amazing to reimagine an abandoned industrial structure a derelict sea fort, a water-tower, swimming baths or ghost station or a network of tunnels…. old buildings have a particular resonance, a melancholic romanticism. I would love to have the opportunity to work with an architect and a sound engineer to create the perfect acoustic chamber within a space like this.
There is a huge focus on nurturing a place for creativity at the night. What kind of things have you seen at KAOS that have made you proud?
Yes we’ve hosted some extraordinary performances, installations and interventions over the years but it’s also the spontaneous, ephemeral actions and unexpected juxtapositions that stay in the mind. Kaos has also been a place where different artists, musicians and performers have encountered each other and these meetings have often led to collaborative endeavours that have spilled out from the club and into galleries, stages and screens around the world.
What do you think about events such as Sink The Pink?
I don’t have any opinion as I’ve never been. Their events have tended to clash with ours and so I am usually working, from what I understand, their music policy and aesthetic is the polar opposite of ours which is great, a city the size of London needs diversity and niches.
You’ve hosted incredible live acts over the years. Who would you say has been the stand out?
The recent live performance from seminal Canadian techno duo Orphx was a dream come true for me. Their sound somehow epitomises everything that I love about techno, other highlights have included London Modular Alliance who brought such a forest of machines that we had to extend the stage and Dominic Butler (ex Factory Floor) and Richard Smith’s (L/F/D/M) new project Bronze Teeth who performed their first ever live UK show at the Kaos 10th anniversary party.
Paula Temple is playing your upcoming party on 20th June. How did this come about?
I’ve been completely obsessed with the astonishing, otherworldly sounds that Paula has been coaxing from her machines recently. I’m a regular guest DJ at the Berlin Club Gegen, someone took Paula there last year and she loved the place so much she produced a new track titled Gegen in honour of that party. Everything came full circle at the beginning of May when I finally heard Paula play a brilliant 3 hour set at Gegen. As soon as I returned to London I contacted her with an invitation to play at Kaos.
Paula was a Stattbad regular, arguably one of Berlin’s greatest clubs. Have you noticed any parallels in London vs Berlin clubbing recently?
Yes of course finally in London there is a convergence of ‘queer’ with techno. There have been moments in the past with parties such as Antagony and Behind Bars but for some years Kaos was in the wilderness. It’s great to see techno take centre stage in London once again and I’m sure that much of that is to do with the proximity to Berlin and the exposure to some of the brilliantly deranged techno events happening there.
KAOS presents Paul Temple @ Electrowerks
Paula Temple (HYBRID live/dj set)
Jose Macabra (live)
Visuals: Christina Jendreiko and Adam Csoka Keller for Sixth Finger Magazine