Darren Quail (aka Quail) is a resident DJ at one of Glasgow’s most respected underground techno parties, Animal Farm. Their events take place at the legendary Sub Club, and at them Quail has had the opportunity to play alongside such luminaries as Ben Klock, Luke Slater, Shifted, Skudge, and Rolando. Quail is a busy man, splitting his time between finishing his studies, working for Soma Records, producing music, and promoting the now seven-year-old Animal Farm party with friends Chris Lamb and Charles Turtle, and he’s soon to launch the Animal Farm label, whose first release comes from the emerging production talent Bleak. With all of that going on, we’re happy to say that he also recently offered up some views on the art of the warm-up. So read on for his thoughts, and grab his corresponding Beatport chart here.
Why is the warm-up such an important part of the overall Animal Farm night?
Without this, there is no focus for the rest of the night.
Is there a specific “job” for the warm-up DJ?
If you have a guest at the event, it’s about setting the right tone for them based on how you think they will take up the reins when you step off.
How do your opening sets differ from your headlining sets?
I definitely play a lot deeper and slower. As [Animal Farm is] a predominately techno night, I find it best to start of with deep dub-techno, gradually picking up the pace. As clubs in Glasgow open at 11 PM and close at 3 AM, you really only have just over an hour to set the mood.
How do your music-buying habits change when you know you’re on warm-up duty?
I play the warm-up set quite a lot, so I always make sure that no matter when I buy tracks, I have a few in there to add to the collection.
What are the biggest mistakes warm-up DJs often make?
Playing heavier than they should, wanting to be heard!
What are the benefits to being the warm up DJ?
You get to enjoy the rest of the night!
Is there pressure to capture the “correct” track selection during a warm-up set?
It’s best to relax and let the vibe take you where you think.
How important is it that the warm-up DJ plays the same musical genre (or closely related) as the headliner?
I think it’s good to keep a sense of continuity.
Which is more difficult—warming up or playing peak-time, and why?
Warm-up, for sure. You have more freedom playing peak time.
Do you find it difficult to avoid playing the big tracks just to get people freaking out?
There are plenty of ways to work a crowd in the warm-up using big tracks but still keep that air of momentum. If the club’s packed though, go for it!
With the “book as many DJs as possible” mentality for a lot of clubs or parties these days, is the art of the warm-up DJ lost?
In Glasgow we really tend to have one main guest DJ, so there is always someone on the warm-up. An afterparty culture exists here, so sometimes even the main DJ is warming people up for a pretty long night of partying!
Does a warm-up set at a festival require a different approach to a club warm-up?
I have only recently played some festivals in Scotland, so in this instance, me and the rest of the guys kind of went for it [laughs]. Big house tracks at Rockness in the North of Scotland got a great atmosphere going from the get-go.
One piece of advice to any DJ who is booked for the warm-up slot.
Know what type of crowd the night is expecting and play accordingly.
Favorite three opening DJs you’ve ever heard, and why?
Any time at their Return To Mono night at the Sub Club in Glasgow. A more house-oriented event for the guys, and they really show their class as all around.
Harri and Domenic (Sub Club)
One of the clubs that has pretty much shaped my musical taste, and these two have been at the helm of that for many years.
Bit of an obscure one, as I can’t even remember who they were, but some of my first techno experiences were at this club night in Glasgow’s Art School. I was always there for doors opening, bang-on 11 to make sure I wouldn’t miss these guys.
What are your three favorite warm-up-set opening tracks?
Wow…hard one. Here goes:
I could really pick any of the M Series records for warm-up. Perfect, blueprint dub techno. There’s just something about this track that melts through me every time I listen to it.
A great evolving track from the fantastic Stephen Hitchell. As with so many of their tracks, this is one of many variations on the original.
Great modern Detroit techno that plays out perfectly.
Dream DJ to warm-up for, and why? What do you open with?
I have been very lucky to warm up for some great DJs in the last couple of years. Ben Klock and Regis have been a couple of stand-outs for me personally.