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Sevenby7 20 Years Young

Much-loved DJ night, which has played host to Andrew Weatherall, Richard Hawley and Philip Oakey, along with many “have-a-go-heroes”, celebrates with a party to remember at the Dorothy Pax.

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Remember the early 2000s? 2001 to be specific.

Well, that’s when Sevenby7 first popped up on the Sheffield scene, welcoming anyone who fancied playing their favourite 7 seven-inch singles and encouraging them to just have a go. 20 merry years have gone by and this Sheffield institution is still going strong. I chatted to co-founder Tim Bowell to reminisce about the last two decades and hear more about the upcoming celebration.

So it’s almost time for the birthday bumps! How does it feel to be celebrating 20 wonderful years of Sevenby7?

Haha, yes! We’ll have to ask some of the DJs at the event to throw James (Halse, my Sevenby7 partner-in-crime) and myself in the air!

It’s a fantastic feeling. We’re both very proud of what Sevenby7 means to people. When we started with a couple more friends at the Bar Fly back in 2001, I don’t think either of us thought we would still be going strong a couple of years down the line, let alone 20 years later.

In the last couple of years I’ve been promoting regular Sunday sessions at the Gin Bar and that’s given Sevenby7 a new lease of life. We’ve had everyone from seven-year olds to pensioners, and a fair few teenagers – including my lad, William – keen to share their or their parents’ record collections.

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There must be so many, but can you tell us about some of your favourite Sevenby7 moments from over the years?

Back in the day we used to run a coach to Manchester for our events at the Night & Day Café. On one night Philip Oakey was DJing and since he couldn’t stay all night he drove all the way from Sheffield, played his set, and drove back home again. A true Sheffield gent.

Over the years lots of great musicians and DJs have graced the decks – Andrew Weatherall, Richard Hawley, members of Pulp, A Certain Ratio, I-Monster – but it’s been our “have-a-go-heroes” who have stuck in the memory. We’ve had a group of seven mates all playing one record each (cue much confusion behind the decks), the dulcet tones of Arthur Lowe reading “Mr. Happy” (on a 7-inch, though not really a dance-floor filler) and some genuinely fantastic mixing by Neal Marsh of the Lipps Inc’s “Funky Town” riff with the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” chorus – not easy on two 7-inch singles!

For us, the best thing has been being able to give people their first DJ experience. That was our main motivation really and it’s always great to see the effort that goes into song selections – to reflect the songs that the DJs love and to get the dancefloor going. So many people who have played records for the first time at our nights have gone on to DJ across Sheffield. And as someone who still DJs regularly across Sheffield, Sevenby7’s created plenty of competition!

I’ve heard that you’ll be pulling out all the stops for the birthday bash happening on 25 September at the Dorothy Pax. What have you got in store?

We have some special guest DJs who we’ll be announcing soon via our Facebook page and then lots of faces from over the years who have supported the night and played some fantastic sets. We’ll also have James’s famous 7by7 birthday cake and some vinyl giveaways. The Dorothy Pax have invested in a fantastic new sound system too, and I can’t wait to hear our selectors' selections blasting out.

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I can’t bring to mind many nights that are still going after two decades. What do you think it is about Sevenby7 that’s led it to enjoy such longevity?

It’s probably because other promoters have gone on to bigger and better things!

Seriously though, I think that much of its longevity is down to the fact that it’s an event that has always involved the people who come to it. There aren’t many DJ nights where the punters are front and centre, and where there’s such warmth and encouragement from everyone there towards everyone involved.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the night?

I don’t intend to stop running these events any time soon. There’s always more folk out there to hear from. In the past couple of years, particularly since I started the Sunday sessions, we’ve connected with so many new people who hadn’t heard of Sevenby7 before and have really taken to it. For me, the fun is anticipating the gems that people are going to spin when they bring their record boxes through the door. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that feeling.

If you would like to play your favourite 7 seven-inch singles at one of our events, please contact us via our Facebook page.

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