‘We all knew if this went wrong we would all be looking for a new career’: Manchester’s mainstay club night debuts in Melbourne

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‘We all knew if this went wrong we would all be looking for a new career’: Manchester’s mainstay club night debuts in Melbourne

warehouse project
words by kaya martin

Throwing legendary events since 2006, The Warehouse Project is undoubtably a part of party history. Now, for the first time, it's taking on Australia.

Despite how they’ve morphed over the years, raves still reign supreme in the party-sphere, offering punters an escape from the mundanities of everyday life and a chance to fully succumb to the beat and the bass.

And there’s nowhere that does raves quite like the UK. Nearly two decades ago, Sam Kandel and Sacha Lord came together to throw a club night like no other, where each session was unique and unpredictable. Their venture, called The Warehouse Project, would grow to become a fixture of the Manchester music scene.

The Warehouse Project Melbourne 2024

  • May 25 and 26
  • PICA
  • Tickets are on sale now

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Early this year, they announced their first-ever foray down under, with two days each at Melbourne’s PICA and Sydney’s Munro Warehouse. The lineup features UK EDM gems including Bonobo and Kelly Lee Owens as well as Australian sweethearts Mall Grab, HAAi, Effy, Dameeeela and more.

Ahead of his Australian voyage, we caught up with Sam to talk about the history of The Warehouse Project, the ways the scene has changed since he started out and what fans can expect from the upcoming parties.

You kicked off the Warehouse Project in the UK in 2006. At the very start, what was your vision for the project?

The vision at the start was to try and build a new format where we would take over a derelict space for a few months each year and create a season of shows where each night feels completely distinct from the next.

Manchester has always had a big reputation for breaking new ground in music and at that point in time this kind of seasonal and very eclectic approach felt brand new.

What was that very first party like? Were you nervous?

Well yes, very nervous of course… The partners who were involved at the start had all been working as promoters in and around UK club culture for a long time but we all knew if this went wrong we would all be looking for a new career.

We had Public Enemy headline the opening night, which felt like quite a statement of intent! That first year we made plenty of mistakes but it was the start of a big learning curve – one we’re still [on] 17 years later. 


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What’s gone on since then? What kind of impact has The Warehouse Project had in Manchester, but also on a wider scale?

Over 300,000 people head to The Warehouse Project in Manchester each year so it has become a flagship event in the city. That’s definitely not to say it’s all about WHP in Manchester though…

We are only active [from] September to December each year and there are lots of brilliant promoters and clubs putting amazing parties on week in, week out. Hidden, The White Hotel, The Loft and many others. Teletech has also created a real movement in Manchester which they are taking around the UK, Europe, the US and Australia very soon also… It’s great to see. 

Outside of Manchester, it’s difficult to comment on the impact… I suppose one obvious thing is that the format that WHP kind of pioneered at the start has been adopted by many promoters around the world, finding an industrial location and building a seasonal programme. 

In your experience, how has the electronic music scene changed since then? Is the crowd today much different than they were in 2006?

There has been [a] huge change… some positive and some negative. Obviously, electronic music is bigger now than ever before and there are constantly new sounds and scenes developing and also fading away… Sometimes it’s tricky to keep up! I think around the world generally, music, and electronic music specifically, is now perceived as an important part of the culture of a city which certainly wasn’t always the case. 

One other big transition in terms of dance events since 2006 has been that the vast majority of larger events no longer take place in clubs which is a shame… There’s something undeniably magical about a perfect club. 

I’m sure you’ve seen some wild stuff in your nearly two decades’ worth of parties. Do you have any stories for us? Was there a party or an act that stood out from the rest?

The Warehouse Project moved to a new 10,000 capacity venue in 2019 and Aphex Twin headlined the opening night. In terms of recent memories, that night really sticks out. Aphex was unreal and it felt like the whole thing had just shifted up a few gears. The start of a new chapter… But there are special moments in every WHP season and you never know quite where they’re going to come from. 

We’ve also had some pretty close calls over the years which happens to everyone who works events and music for a long time. Just when you think you’ve seen it all something comes from nowhere to surprise you. That can often all be part of the fun but sometimes it takes you to the edge!


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In recent years, you’ve branched out internationally, throwing your first overseas festival in Rotterdam in 2022. What has it been like to see the project go global?

For a long time, we really were not interested in taking WHP outside of Manchester. It seemed WHP was so connected to the city that doing it elsewhere might be odd.

We looked in the US and elsewhere in Europe but it was only really when we went to Rotterdam that we realised there were locations around the globe where it would make sense. I’m glad we waited all this time though to embark on the international shows as now we’re doing with the right partners, plus all the experience and relationships that have developed over nearly twenty years. 

Rotterdam was brilliant.. We’re making plans to get back there before the year is out. 

How do you see the electronic scene in Australia? Was there something about Australia in particular that made you want to hold an event here?

Well number one, I suppose Australia has a reputation for loving a big night out and has a huge history with dance music. I think romantically we love the idea that this scene that we are all connected to really is a global community. Going as far away on earth as possible to host WHP and recreate the energy of what we see in Manchester just feels like something we have to do!

Do you have any other plans while you’re in Australia? Feeding the kangaroos and whatnot?

There is a small crew of us from WHP heading out for the shows and we’re all really looking forward to just soaking it up really… Apparently you also get a bit more sunshine than Manchester? It’s been raining here for three months solid.

For more on The Warehouse Project and to grab tickets, head here