Sheffield Techno Institute, now run by Ben Dorey and Terry Dragatis, has been providing a consistent techno fix since September 2010. Showcasing local Sheffield talent and bringing a real party atmosphere to the Red House is the name of the game. We caught up with them to ask a few questions about the Sheffield techno […]

Sheffield Techno Institute, now run by Ben Dorey and Terry Dragatis, has been providing a consistent techno fix since September 2010.

Showcasing local Sheffield talent and bringing a real party atmosphere to the Red House is the name of the game. We caught up with them to ask a few questions about the Sheffield techno scene, what tunes they’re listening to and the future of STI.

How did Sheffield Techno Institute start and what were the reasons behind the night?

It was a realisation of hours of late night chats between us and former co-founders Fred Oxby and Dave Pownall. We were playing minimal and modern techno at house parties and always getting an amazing response, often being asked where people could go to listen to that type of music regularly in Sheffield. At the time there were few events where you could listen purely to that kind of music and a large number of local DJs who we knew wanted to play it. And so the idea of a monthly party showcasing the wealth of talent we have in the city was born.

What do you think of the Sheffield music scene?

Music in Sheffield is thriving, despite hard times. Most genres are well represented and turn outs are on the up. Techno has made a big comeback in the city, especially over the last year, with nights like Collect and Drumroll making some really strong bookings recently. Though we may not see the visiting big names as often as Manchester or Leeds, going out in Sheffield has always had a unique feel with the emphasis firmly on having fun rather than being seen in the right places. That is part of the reason we feel our night has developed so well, as we have people from different backgrounds coming down together for some dancing.

Did you have any previous promoting experience or was it a first time deal?

A couple of us had previous experience in promoting, but it was very much a fresh start for all of us. We just wanted to put on the kind of night we would enjoy going to as customers and things went from there.

How was the most recent night?

It went really well. We had a very lively crowd and two of our perennial Sheffield favourites – Gallup and Gusinator – playing incredible sets, with local stalwart Jack Opus treating us to a slick selection of dark minimal to round the night off. There was a lively afterparty too.

What has been your favourite STI moment, something that sums up what people can expect from the night?

Every night we’ve put on has been enormous fun for us, but if forced to pick standout moments then the STI Summer BBQ in May was especially good. Nine hours of beats, burgers and minimal is a hard recipe to beat in our eyes. The first birthday in September was also particularly memorable, with the Red House bursting at the seams and all DJs killing it on the night, plus a legendary afterparty.

What DJs have impressed you behind the STI decks?

We make most bookings based on the quality of mixes people send us, so as of yet there’s been no one who hasn’t impressed us. There’s a wealth of techno talent in Sheffield and we’re still discovering incredible DJs every month.

What tunes are you listening to at the moment?

Ben: Anything by Plastikman has been rinsed in anticipation of seeing him in Manchester this month, and I’m also enjoying the Omega/Alive album by Robert Hood. The Shed remix of ‘Soulspeak’ by Basic Soul Unit has also featured heavily recently, as has The Black Dog’s new material.

Terry: I still love listening to anything by Stephan Bodzin. More recently I’ve been playing tunes from Kanio, Autistic and Sian’s recent releases. At home, Marco Carola and lots of last year’s Seph album. There’s not enough space here to give you a longer list.

Do you have any advice for new promoters?

If you’re keen to put on a night, make sure you’re aiming for a gap in the market rather than treading on the toes of others and you’ll be rewarded. In this city a focus on fun always goes down well too. People are far more likely to return if they don’t encounter aloof promoters and DJs who act like they don’t give a shit. We also find the provision of as large a rider as is financially feasible gets all those involved into an appropriate mood for our parties.

What do you see for the future of STI – a full scale takeover?

Dominating a corner of Sheffield’s clubbing scene is not what we’re about. Our emphasis is always going to be on providing quality techno music whilst not losing track of the fact that going out dancing should be fun. There are plans in the pipeline for some special one-off events which will hopefully take the atmosphere of the Red House events larger and later, but they’re ultra-secret so you’ll have to keep up with us on Facebook to find out what’s happening and when.

Interview by Adam Simon.