No, No It’s Techno!

…are the first words out of Dave Clarke’s mouth after I ask him about his EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival this year. I’m authoritatively made aware that The Riverside Festival is NOT an EDM festival, it’s a techno festival. I’m then schooled on the differences between EDM and techno … it quickly becomes apparent that Dave Clarke cares very passionately about techno. What he doesn’t know about techno is probably not worth knowing I begin to think...

By Greg Kane

50 something, Dave Clarke is the director of Glasgow’s two day techno festival which takes place in and around the site of the beautiful, Zaha Hadid designed Riverside Museum on the banks of the river Clyde on Saturday the 25th & Sunday the 26th of May. This is its 11th year.

The festival will attract nearly 10,000 people over that weekend and will take up nearly 6 months of Dave’s time and endeavour to put it all together.

Where it all Began

Dave Clark is a Westender. He has lived in the Westend since he was at university aged 16.

“ … when I was at Uni, my friend Stuart & I started putting up posters and handing out fliers for gigs at Glasgow University’s QMU and Strathclyde Uni’s Level 8 venues … that earned us free tickets to gigs and I was lucky enough to see The Smiths at the QMU and REM at Level 8”.

“Stuart and I got a job at the pub Chimmy Chungas (now called Coopers) on Great Western Road and it’s there I met Stuart’s friend from his time at Sheffield University, Orde … Him and Stuart would wrestle on who’s mix tape would be played from behind the bar … we were all searching out new music and were keen to get it out there, for people in the pub to hear it”

The Stuart and Orde that Dave’s speaks of went on to form DJ duo SLAM in the late 80’s and they became a Global success as techno pioneers with Dave at their side helping organise events and club nights.


“ We all loved this weird new Acid House music that was starting to happen around the late 80’s, driven by the Roland Tr 909 drum machine and TB 303 bass synth and we wanted to put on nights celebrating that sound. We made flyers and encouraged all our friends to come down to nights at Fury Murry’s, Tin Pan Ally and The Sub Club. There was a craze going on in Ibiza and London at that time (1988) and we latched on to that and just put our own nights on. We’d reach out to a network of people all over the UK and Europe who were doing similar things and even brought up the DJ Jon DaSilva from The Hacienda in Manchester to play at one of our nights in Glasgow.”

“We’d also head over to Ibiza in ’89, ’90, ’91, to party and listen to new music and at the same time broaden our network, I had a filofax full of contacts of people from this scene … It was known as The Balearic Network.”

“… In 1991 we formed Soma Quality Recordings, we just wanted another creative pursuit that didn’t involve us having to be up all weekend running clubs, not seeing much of the daylight”

Soma is most known for releasing the original vinyl version of French dance music superstars Daft Punk’s track ‘Da Funk’ in 1995 and the record company is still going strong some 33 years after it was formed. Dave is still a director of Soma but since the formation of SLAM EVENTS Ltd in 2002 he found himself concentrating more on live events including 20 years of the Slam Tent at T-In-The Park and organising tours for many of the artists on Soma records.

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The Weekend Split

I steer Dave back to talking about the Riverside Festival this year.

“Although a lot of people come for the whole weekend, we’ve got a musical split in the genres on both days. The Saturday is more house orientated with the likes of Eliza Rose (who had the Global hit “Baddest Of Them All” in 2022), Chicago House legend Green Velvet and Maceo Plex playing.

And on the Sunday we’ve got a kinda harder, faster end of techno with Dutch techno producer/DJ Reinier Zonneveld, British whiz kid Charlie Sparks and Portuguese techno woman Biia playing … Sunday is geared up for high octane, younger 20 somethings will be well into it. There’s definitely a split between the Saturday and Sunday.

“The Satellite Stage has been such a success for us over the last few years. It’s situated amongst the food outlets and cocktail bars around the side of the museum building. And on that stage we have completely Scottish based or home-grown talent and what we’ve managed to do there is a combination of us choosing people who are doing well in the underground clubs around Scotland and artists that just get in touch and put themselves in front of us … we ran a DJ competition this year to win a spot on the stage too, which was a great initiative. They’ll be 20 home-grown acts on The Satellite Stage this year and I think this gives me the most pleasure when you’re seeing people coming through there.”

I asked Dave if he had seen any new trends in techno music.

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The Post Covid Scene

“I’ve found that post-covid and with the affect of Tik Toc, beats have sped up almost to a level that it doesn’t sound pleasurable to my brain and my ears. But between the age group of 18-22 there’s an audience that that’s what they love, hard, fast, bouncy … people started doing nights last year that started at 160bpm and upwards … for me it kinda lost the groove but we’ve had to embrace it as promoters at the festival because it’s a movement, it’s a cult almost, it has a following.”

“If I was to pitch the Riverside Festival to someone who was unfamiliar with Techno and electronic music, I would say, it’s an amazing atmosphere in a great location that’s so handy for Westenders. I would say if you’re a novice to dance music then the Saturday would suit you better as you might have heard some of the music being played, but the Sunday is more for the aficionados for sure.”

The Riverside Festival is on Saturday the 25th and Sunday 26th of May 2024 at the Riverside Museum on the banks of the river Clyde.

WIN! For a chance to win TWO weekend tickets to the Riverside Festival click HERE

For the full programme and more information on the festival visit the festival website

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