Bristol’s spirit of open-mindedness, collaboration and celebration of different cultures creates a diverse club and live music scene. Nathan, Jackson and Jake are the groove-focused trio behind Worm Disco Club, an event born out of their desire to bring this diversity under one roof and celebrate collective togetherness.
The name can be deceiving to the unknowing eye, as Nathan explains, ‘Worm Disco Club doesn’t literally mean a disco night, it’s the collective idea of a music-based party. The key reason behind starting Worm Disco Club was something that sounded fun and in its intention funky, because at the time it felt like the house, incoming techno revival and to an extent garage nights was all there was. You have your one-dimensional events – what about the nights that welcome people from different cultures and varying ages? If we can achieve that, then we will have achieved what we set out to achieve.’
it felt like the house, incoming techno revival and, to an extent, garage nights was all there was
The trio use their interweaving musical talents comprising (but not limited to) DJing, event programming and party starting to showcase global sounds from all corners of the world. WDC have hosted the likes of Fumaça Preta, Wolf Muller and Ruby Rushton, along with contemporary UK acts such as The Comet is Coming and Sons of Kemet.
Part of the success of Worm Disco Club is built on their fluid group dynamic, which enables each member to bring their individual influences to the forefront of what they’re doing collectively.
‘Musically, we are all exploring different areas’ Jackson explains. ‘I became quite obsessed with 80s Caribbean music, Jake is really into a specific type of North-East Brazilian music and Nathan is leaning towards more electronic and contemporary music that still fits under that same thing. It is nice, because we have this platform to explore those things and people are receptive to you playing new sounds to them.’
Worm Disco Club started their journey five years ago, hosting chilled pub sessions on Sunday afternoons spinning records exploring tropical funk, percussion grooves and Afro-disco. Their evolution has been enormous, from playing to their mates, to hosting their own venue at Glastonbury – and even more in the pipeline for 2020.
‘The night has evolved quite a lot’ says Jackson. ‘We started playing records in a pub on a Sunday – people would come, eat food, hang out, listen to records and drink a few pints. Then we started doing a few day parties – really immersive events where we would put up décor, host film screenings, as well as cooking certain types of food, making cocktails and all that stuff.
We started playing records in a pub on a Sunday
‘As the events went on, we thought let’s not limit ourselves as just a DJ night, let’s gets bands as well – which is an evolution in itself. We started creating events on Friday and Saturday nights with live music and bands.’
‘The intention was to create a platform that allows us to play anything that is fun, groove-based, funky and ultimately good music’ Jake explains. ‘We have played DJ sets abroad in Brazil, Amsterdam, Berlin and we have had a lot of cool opportunities. Another evolution is the amount of people, from probably about twenty to thirty people at some of the first events, to around 400 people.’
This year also saw Worm Disco Club host their own Glastonbury Festival venue, The Wormhole. Celebrating the new UK jazz music scene, Nathan, Jackson and Jake invited the likes of Kokoroko, Ezra Collective, The Comet is Coming, Sons of Kemet and Joe Armon-Jones to their new The Park venue.
‘Glastonbury was huge for us,’ says Jackson ‘and I would also say the first big event we did on a Sunday at The Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft with Fumaça Preta was a great party. The Comet is Coming gig at The Jam Jar was another pivotal moment for us, because we sold the event out almost straight away. We thought “we must be doing something right”, which gave us a massive confidence boost. Up until that point, we relied on our friends coming to the events, then it was like: we don’t know who these people are – this is really cool.’
Up until that point, we relied on our friends coming to the events
Expertly adept at finding afro-funk, dubbed-out cumbia and percussion grooves, travelling across different continents and transcending varying eras, Jackson and Jake advise us on the places they find their musical treasures:
‘We find the music in different ways,’ Jackson explains ‘if we are playing older records, these are things we have found in record shops or when we have gone travelling in different countries and being like, what is this?’
The key is always exploring and looking for new music wherever it is
‘Staying up till about 4am looking at the whole world of music that exists’ Jake adds. ‘It is a domino effect, you find one musician or one producer and they have will links to other records and projects… The key is always exploring and looking for new music wherever it is – talking to people all the time, staying up way too late, digging through the world. Recently, we have been lucky enough to get sent stuff before it’s released, by making friendships with these people and asking what they’ve got coming out.’
Alongside their events, the trio also link up on a monthly basis to host a radio slot for Noods Radio, giving them an opportunity to play some of their less dancefloor-ready discoveries.
‘One of the purposes of the radio show is to play music that we might not be able to get to play on the dancefloor – mainly because some of the music is less danceable and more experimental. On a radio show you can jump around a bit more, whereas in a DJ set you couldn’t play something really slow, followed by something really fast. Another purpose is to promote upcoming shows and play music from artists that are going to feature at the parties – artists that we are looking to support.’
There is a friendly, non-competitive energy on the show
Jake stated the show acts as almost a musical competition between each member to showcase their new discoveries: ‘There is a friendly, non-competitive energy on the show; like “what have you got, then?” Someone else will say “because I’ve got this” and put it on, then watch everyone’s reaction to the new record they have found. We tend to geek out off mic as well – we talk about the music, about the history of it. But we want to play people the music and let it take centre stage on the show.’
Closing out the year, Worm Disco Club has one final expedition that will see them play host to Danalogue – a project from The Comet is Coming’s Dan Leavers – at The Loco Klub. Danalogue will be teaming up with some musical friends from the Total Refreshment Centre studio to produce a live performance of Charanjit Singh’s Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat.
As they move into next year, Worm Disco Club have some hugely exciting plans up their sleeve, starting with a headline show from Ezra Collective’s keyboard extraordinaire Joe Armon-Jones in February. They’re also going to be getting involved with Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival, helping programme some shows showcasing the UK’s new jazz scene – plus a major announcement tied in to their involvement with the Bristol Jazz Festival (that we’ve promised to keep under wraps for now).