DR3 Sounds

What do you get when you mix students in halls trapped in lockdown, and a shared love of music? DR3 Sounds. What began as a platform to share music and mixes between peers, progressed into a club night with a mission of championing rising DJ talent from the Manchester student community. DR3 Sounds is now a well-established promoter and event collective known for creating diverse line ups and creating an environment that welcomes all, challenging a club and rave scene dominated by the same people for a long time.

“We always want to set an example and if we can instill this culture of change and celebrating all people then we like to think that then naturally the whole industry will progress and over time it will just become the norm.” - George DR3


A conversation with George and Indy, Founders of DR3 Sounds and Louise Millar, Seed Strategy Director*

Tell us about DR3 Sounds.

Indy: We conceptualised DR3 between the end of first year and the start of second year. We didn’t know where we would fully take it, but it started out as more of a music platform to give the underground scene a bit more representation. We’ve had the past, present, and future of electronic music on our line ups—we’ve had Pangea, Malia, and then also some quite low-key names.

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in youth collectives. Why do you think that is and how do you think it reflects the attitudes of your generation?

Indy: I think with the pandemic, especially with our generation being the internet generation, it fostered this idea of neo-tribes, so it's now much easier to enter these kinds of communities, collectives, and types of spaces because of the internet. I think it is something that is more prevalent now, but I don't think it's a completely new idea really.

Why do you think people have trust in your parties? Is it to do with your values?

Indy: Sometimes I feel like in the dance scene, there’s collectives that only book certain people to open because then they can say “look, I have a female on the lineup” type of thing. It's not about saying “oh I need 25% of the lineup to be of African background or female background”; it's more just about having honest and open constant dialogue with people. I feel like people understand we align nicely with themselves, and maybe it's just the energy when they've come to our events.

What do you see as being the legacy of DR3 Sounds?

Indy: We want to go to London and do something next summer. I think that's our next main goal. We want to try and just see if we can sell in London and see if we can kick in London and create an idea. I think I'd still see our base being up here. If we ever got accepted for some funding or we had money coming out of our arses, I've always had the nice idea of having a community-based radio space, or a shop maybe in the future.

What lessons do you feel like you've learned since starting DR3 Sounds? And how does your collective shape the cultural conversation in the music scene?

George: I think our first event, because of covid, we were so excited to actually be in a club with everyone and put an event on that we kind of neglected equal representation of gender and culture. In recent events, we strive to really make sure we consider people of different genders and ethnic backgrounds—and obviously not just to tick the box, but because it does actually matter to us and we're very invested in the community.

When you're thinking about these cultural conversations and the music scene, are you also thinking about how you’re affecting the next generation?

George: We always want to set an example, and if we can instil this culture of change and celebrating all people then we like to think, naturally, the whole industry will progress and over time it will just become the norm.

Indy: I always get the same thing where people say, they just like what we represent and how we align—people are actually realising what we're doing.

Any advice for the next generation of collectives?

George: I think you have to realise your goal—what you actually want to get out of having a collective. For us it's a “know your why” sort of thing, which for us has just always been about bringing people together for the love of music and doing it in a fair and representative way.

There's been a rise of third spaces in the last year. Why do you think there's such a demand for them now?

Indy: I think it just gives a different outlook realistically to enjoy artistic expression. It’s outside the conventional space and a bit more intimate.

George: You build a much different connection with the music and with the whole place as opposed to being in a big, commercialised 1000-person club.

You have done a few commercial projects and brand collaborations—can you tell us more about those experiences?

George: Our first collaboration was with two major UK brands and was just a massive moment. I think the main thing for us was that we were being recognised. The smaller of the two brands were great because they were really good in terms of human communication, maybe because they are a smaller operation. They were very transparent in their communication, and they came to Manchester specifically to meet us and do stuff with us. But with the bigger of the two brands, it felt like they were just trying to cosign alongside us and say “we're doing this with these”, but we never really had great communication from them.

What do you consider the elements of successful brand collaboration?

George: Typically, when we collaborate with brands, the main thing we like is a shared end goal, and obviously that comes with transparency and communication. It all links back to just having the same end goal, whether that's bonding your two audiences together and growing, exposing your audience to something new, or just sort of trying something out.

Let's think what's the ultimate partnership—what does that look like?

George: The White Hotel shares our values quite well. They are just very progressive in their bookings and very inclusive—as well as it being one of the best clubs in the whole country. It's a very, very safe space and a no-judgement zone. You go there because you love music and you want to have a good time, and I think if we could do a partnership with them—I think that is what we've been striving towards since we started.

Indy: When you think about collaborating with a big global brand, I just don't think it has that same feel that I'd normally like, and I think the natural feel is sort of lost in translation when you have so many numbers and boxes to tick.

Okay, so what do you think brands get wrong about dance and club culture?

Indy: Sometimes I feel like brands kind of see the dance and rave scene as a place of quite hedonistic pleasure where it's just there for people to go and escape the reality of the world. Whereas I feel like the rave space itself can be something that can help bond people. I feel like brands should highlight that community thing—I see a lot of brands doing stuff now like that Boiler Room post with Jameson, and it’s good because they’re funding the scene at a point where they can create a community.

*This conversation has been condensed and edited but has strived to remain as close to the original word for word version as possible.

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