Scott Rozario, Harry Luderman and Ivan Kutz are the founding residents of Maidstone born extraño (which is Spanish for weird if you were wondering) and they too are big believers in the kinds of values we’ve been hinting at above. Despite basing themselves in different spots round Europe they have a shared affinity for the south England town where they all first took their first steps into rave culture. Their booking policy reflects their combined tastes featuring the DJs that they look up to and respect themselves. They consider individual players getting into their vibe and in short, the emphasis is very much on the party rather than the names it features.
Understandably this is very much the way that we like to approach things so with this common ground already between us we linked with the party crew to invite them to install extraño in Room Three in just over a week's time to compliment Joris Voorn's album launch in Room One. Here, we jumped on the line with the night’s three core DJs to expand on how their approach blends community with high grade track selection and a smattering of the avant-garde as Kutz delivers a mix that outlines the sonic identity of the party.
So... guys... how did you all come to meet each other?
Scott Rozario: We all met on the dancefloor in Ibiza in 201. We were at Tini and the Gang in Playa D’en Bossa. Harry was out there doing his first season and told me he wanted to introduce me to this Scottish guy he was PR-ing with in San Antonio. He introduced me to Ivan and his girlfriend they were right at the front of the dancefloor dancing by the speaker. We instantly hit it off. Harry told me he had heard Ivan DJ and he was blown away and I told Ivan I was going to be starting a party at the end of the summer and he should come down and play the rest is pretty much history…
What spurred you onto establish your own night?
SR: At the time when we started the party Maidstone already had a rich history of house music, but the scene was very cliquey. The older more established DJs weren’t very welcoming to the fact that there was new a breed of DJs coming through and didn’t really offer us any opportunities. Some did: Lee Brinx used to book me and Harry but one man who really saw something in us was Rob Cockerton. He was running the Source Bar at the time and was very supportive of us in the early days. He started booking us to play at parties as and when he could but we wanted to create something of our own a new movement in the town if you like.
How did those first events go down? Did it take a while to build momentum and get your name established?
SR: It was quite the opposite actually we sold out our first two parties at the Source Bar. The first couple of parties we booked artist that were quite ‘hot’ at the time and half the town crammed in the Source Bar to come and see them! Don’t get me wrong the parties were great but we also realised that people were coming for the headliners and not us.
As we began to really find our sound we started to book more obscure artists that were more of a reflection of where we as DJs were at musically. The numbers started to thin out a bit but that wasn’t our priority - it was important that we expressed our sound and showed the town what we were about.
Why was Maidstone your chosen hub to launch the party in, all of you are spread out around the continent?
SR: Maidstone was where it all started for us, I went to my first rave there and that’s how I met Harry. The Source Bar played a major part in our love for electronic music and it just made sense to do the party there. Although Harry was away to Ibiza every summer and Ivan lived in Glasgow we all stayed connected through social media. Both of them would fly in for the weekend for the parties and that made it that little bit more special as it would often be the only times we could get together in person.
How receptive is the scene there?
SR: Maidstone has been blessed with amazing electronic music for many years and has played quite an important role in all areas of dance music. Pure Science, for example - one of the biggest and most respected drum & bass parties was launched here and is still putting on parties now. Brands like Club Class, Off Key, Saved, Bedlam have all played a major part in the scene here and have literally brought some of the world’s biggest artists to the town. In a way though that’s kind of made the town very spoilt they have got so used to seeing superstars on their doorstep that it kind of makes it harder for parties like us that book more obscure underground acts that typical party goers may not have heard about yet.
"The extraño concept has always been the most important element of our brand where anything weird and different but always interesting and slick goes" - Scott Rozario
Tell us about the parties themselves what ethos did you found them on?
Harry Luderman: The extraño concept has always been the most important element of our brand where anything weird and different but always interesting and slick goes - whether that’s with the music, the visuals or our promotional methods. We would always play and introduce different sounds, styles and DJs to present our own shade of house music that we were feeling to our Maidstone audience looking to push something new, fresh and exciting. Overall the vibe is always on an extraño one and that's what we aim for.
SR: We always make sure that any DJ that plays for us has the time they need to express themselves. We have never booked artists for an hour set. We don’t see the point of that unless it’s a live set. The sets have to be long and it’s always important that night is programmed properly so the music flows as it should over the course of the night.
What about yourself and your DJing – how do you approach the DJ sets like what is important to express at the parties?
HL: I think it's important to try and get across your story as a music lover and what you’re about. For me it's vital to show and honour where my musical roots lie. I am to this day a massive garage head so without even trying there will and always has been a garage seasoning sprinkled on top of my sets. But obviously I will approach each set differently depending on the environment.
Ivan Kutz: For me it's all about doing your homework and knowing your crowd. Being from Glasgow I know when I play London to make sure I have the right tracks in the bag that will relate to their scene but also giving them a bit of my own at the same time. It's all about being able to adapt but still have your own influences at the forefront.
SR: The boys pretty much summed it up but yeah having enough music in the bag, or should I say, on my USB, is important. I’ve never understood DJs who plan a set track for track. I always have a rough idea of tracks I want to play but you never know until the night how it’s going to go down so have to have back up. I think it’s important to take risks here and there and not to try and play safe all the time.
What are your favourite memories and highlights that you think sum up what extraño is all about?
IK: My favourite moment at extraño has to be my 5 hour back to back set with Georgia Girl in the courtyard. The outdoor space was rammed from the word go! Although I’d known Gerogia for a while and we respected each other a lot we had never actually played back to back. There was a very special connection between crowd and DJs that evening, one I won't be forgetting about any time soon!
HL: I was just about to say that Ivan! The intimacy of that courtyard allows the DJs and crowds to interact beautifully. Bringing Ivan and Georgia together for the first time made me realise that we at extraño have something very special. It was our 1st birthday and a wig party which made it a hilarious and weird night. The place was rocking from beginning to end and for me the set these two delivered was highly inspiring. So much so that the next year I played the same set time with a guy called Aston Kirby who I crossed paths with in Ibiza. Aston really impressed me with his sound and style and I knew we would play together superbly and my estimation was right. Just like the previous year the courtyard was rocking from beginning to end. We played back to back for over 4 hours that night and this led us to offer Aston a residency. We don't know what it is but it seems every birthday something special happens with these debut back to back sets.
SR: There have been so many good moments over the years for me one of the special ones was the extended back to back party we did in March 2014. There was only two sets in each room and both were back to back and a minimum of 3 hours. Ivan and Georgia re-united in the courtyard for a re-run of the first birthday and Harry Played B2B with Danny Bayley from Solo Danza. I opened the main room B2B with a very good friend of mine and extremely talented artist, Brett Jacobs. I learned so much that evening I remember digging really deep for my tunes in the run up to that party so I had enough in the bag to be able to go one for one with Brett’s refined musical outlook. It was amazing to build the room up for 4 hours and then we handed the controls over to Bella Sarris and Randall M who just took the roof off for the remaining 4 hours. It was such a special night and one that will always stay with me.
IK: Don’t forget the basement party with Alexkid - that was pretty special too. It was proper intimate as the venue only held 150 people. Alex played an amazing live set and then we went back to back to close the party. And then again at the after, after party for about 7 hours!
Can you tell us about the guests you have in place for your Room Three takeover?
Yes, the first guest is Rob Cockerton. He is house music royalty in Maidstone. He has played such a pivotal role in the town and crafting the scene there. He’s responsible for a lot of people’s careers and Nic Fancuilli openly refers to Rob as his mentor. Rob gave us our very first opportunities in the town and has always supported us. Above all though he is probably one of the most talented DJs you will ever meet. His retrospective parties in the town are always special vinyl only affairs that take you through the history of house music. We’ve chosen Rob to close the party in Room Three so we’re hoping he brings a few classics with him.
The second guest is Awanto3. Being that it’s Joris Voorn’s album launch party in Room One we wanted to include someone from his album tracklist that fitted in with what we do at extraño. His unique and quirky strain of house music is exactly what we look for when booking an artist and we are super excited to have him join us.