Bastardo Electrico celebrates it’s 15th birthday this Saturday with the legendary DVS1. For details on the event click here.
Bastardo Electrico was co-founded in 2002 by Jamie Behan and Luca Janos Pentek (at the time going under the stage name Lucifer John Friday) in Cork, a city not known for techno but long synonymous as being a stronghold for deep house. It began life as a free Thursday night event at Cork’s Sir Henrys, the venue which had been Cork’s main hub for electronic music since 1988. However, Bastardo’s origins lie in two other clubnights, pirate radio, illegal beach parties and forest raves, and as is often the case when it comes to the birth of a clubnight, involved a big group of friends with nowhere to go to hear the kind of music they want to hear.
After the departure of Dubin promoters Influx and Genius from Cork in 2000 there literally was nowhere to go to listen to techno. In mid-2001, Behan along with two friends founded a night called Sirius at the now defunct Attic Club, and became an instant success with a young techno hungry crowd. After a few months however another young Cork techno DJ, Warren Knowles, was offered the venue Sir Henrys on Thursday nights, to which Warren invited a rotating cast of Cork techno DJs to play including Behan and Pentek. Behan didn’t see the point in having two techno nights running on the same night so he left the Attic. A few months later, after Knowles made the decision to move abroad he offered the Thursday residency to Behan and Pentek.
Jamie Behan – UCC Rag Week – 2008
Struggling to come up with a name for their new night, the two lads drank a bottle of whiskey, spent the night calling each other names and shouting abuse at each other, which inevitably resulted in them waking up everybody else in the house. Somehow, out of the chaos and fog ‘Bastardo Electrico’ was formed. While it sounds like an exotic term, one I have wondered about for ages, it was simply explained as likely being “something to do with both of them being bastards who played electronic music”, but the true story alas is lost to time and their very hazy memories.
From the start Bastardo Electrico worked on the premise of fostering the fragile Cork techno scene, supporting local acts and bringing the best Irish techno DJs to Cork, with Sunil Sharpe, Giles Armstrong, and Eamonn Doyle from D1 Recordings being notable guests within Bastardo’s first two months in operation and to building the sound of the night based on its residents, Jamie and Luca (Warren Knowles as well on his return from Holland).
It fast became something of a local cult phenomenon, with sell-out shows nearly every Thursday night over the summer of 2002. At the beginning it wasn’t just a purely techno focused night- the central theme was techno and electro, but on a broader scale, incorporating everything from deep melodic Detroit techno all the way up to the more heavier noisier techno with occasional forays into breakcore and gabber. Equally a lot of electro was played, again ranging from slow bleepy Kraftwerk inspired numbers from the likes of Carl Finlow, the dark electronic funk of Anthony Rothe and anthemic numbers from Hague based producers like IF, to the more menacing hardcore inspired breaks of The Dexorcist. The focus on the residents shaping the sound for the night created a lot of early anthems, which they also aired via their weekly show on the legendary pirate station Radio Friendly.
Soon the night made the move to Fridays at Sir Henrys where its popularity continued to grow with Bastardo’s first international guest Billy Nasty, closely followed by the likes of Adam Beyer, The Advent, Dave the Drummer, within its first year, eventually making the move to Sir Henrys coveted Saturday night main room slot- something which had always been associated with deep house and was akin to heresy at the time. Unfortunately, Sir Henrys closed in the summer of 2003. The writing had literally been on the wall (the sale had been agreed) but it wasnt expected to be so sudden and unfortunately Bastardo were left homeless and having to cancel a huge autumn winter 2003 season including guests such as Umek, Kevin Saunderson, and Joey Beltram. Sadly, 2003 also witnessed the closure of Radio Friendly, another long-running Cork institution, which heralded dark times for the city.
Sir Henry’s, Cork
Retreating into more intimate environments, Bastardo Electrico moved to the upstairs room of the Phoenix Bar, a space which held around eighty people for a year of weekly sweatbox gigs with slightly bigger monthly gigs at The Half Moon Club where they experimented with a live techno band format- featuring Behan, Pentek, and local Cork producer Kevin O’Flynn (sadly R.I.P.)- O’Flynn and Pentek would go on to take this concept a bit further becoming Foreign Bodies, a live electro act.
In the summer of 2004, under the auspices and cover of a biker rally to escape unwanted Garda attention, Bastardo Electrico held a 2 day ‘festival’ (rave) in West Cork- featuring Sunil Sharpe and Chris Liberator alongside Behan, Pentek, Knowles and other Bastardo regulars. This was followed by a bigger instalment in 2005 of the now infamous ‘Ballinhassig Biker Raves’ which have gone down in local music folklore, this time featuring Ben Sims alongside Sunil Sharpe, Behan etc. whilst adding house, drum and bass and much more to the line-up. Ben Sims was once asked in an interview what was his most memorable gig to which he replied this biker rave in West Cork “people were eating the speakers”.
Unfortunately 2005 also saw the closure of both of The Phoenix and The Half Moon Club. This was made especially ironic given that Cork was made European City of Culture that year, to which local authorities responded by shutting the doors on dance music and painting over all of the street art. With The Half Moon Club being turned into an Art Gallery, bar the biker rally, it was a desolate year for techno in Cork. It was around this time that Pentek left Bastardo to focus on other projects. 2005/2006 saw Bastardo Electrico subsumed and become part of another clubnight called ‘Bass’ which Behan set up with new promoters at The Red Rooms, bringing Adam Beyer, Trevor Rockcliffe, Billy Nasty, Kevin Saunderson over to play. However, minimal and dubstep were about to explode. Techno had for no good reason always been a dirty word with Cork club owners and with the Celtic Tiger they had no want for what they saw as ‘drug music’. It was definitely a dark time for techno in Cork.
Over the next few years Bastardo Electrico operated fitfully around the city, as a radio show on Electronic Ireland between 2006 and 2008, subsumed into another clubnight which Behan set-up called Schmutzig which ran from 2007 to late 2008 at The Tikki Lounge and The Liquid Lounge with the likes of DJ Bone, Technasia, Vince Watson, Paul Mac, Sunil Sharpe coming to play in incredibly intimate environments. These clubs only held 100-150 people- including an infamous performance by DJ Bone in 2007 and small gigs at various other venues around the city.
Various signs and signals pointed to technos revival at this point, however- what gigs were happening were crazy, the atmosphere was similar to that of the 90s and there was also signs like the UCC Battle of the DJs which Behan had judged for 3 years in the UCC student bar where you had 500 students going crazy to hard techno at 3 o’clock in the day, standing on tables with airhorns, etc.
Electric Underground, a clubnight who had championed dubstep had started to program in more techno at their nights, and late 2008 also saw the first release on Bastardo Electrico’s record label, Sunil Sharpe’s- Blabbermouth EP, followed closely in 2009 by DJ Bone’s Encounter 2 and a string of digital releases running into 2010 including some of Behan’s own first productions which were heavily on a Detroit tip at the time and a crossover ep from Cork deep house legends Fish Go Deep and their Dub Weapons EP.
2010 saw Bastardo Electrico’s return proper to the Cork clubbing relationship when it settled into a monthly residency at The Pav (a legendary but now also sadly defunct club) opening to a sold-out show featuring DJ Bone and Behan.
It would stay there for 4 years until the Pav’s closure, bringing Ben Klock to Cork for the first time amongst others including such as Surgeon, Ben Sims, Rolando, James Ruskin, Blawan, Pariah, Prosumer, Levon Vincent, Trevino, Stephen Brown, a string of legendary bi-annual shows by Sunil Sharpe, and equally legendary all-night B2Bs between Behan and Warren Knowles.
2012, saw Bastardo Electrico’s label come briefly out of hibernation with the release of Ku.Bo.- Lets Go, a collaboration between veteran producers James Kumo and Roberto Bosco, which was Bastardo’s best received release to date. At the same time, spurred by the success of collaborations with Electric Underground and Rise-Up and the re-opening of the city’s largest venue The Savoy, Behan embarked on an experiment to try and rid the city’s clubland of petty infighting and get everybody working together by combining Bastardo Electrico with four other nights- Be My Guest, Click Cork, Rise-Up, and Monotonik- into The Red Social Club.
This venture was to run successfully for one year at The Savoy in Cork with twelve highly successful shows, mostly featuring local acts (huge crowds in a 1200 capacity venue for just local acts) while also bringing debut Cork shows by Marcel Dettmann, Truss, DVS1, and Serge Clone.
The untimely closure of The Pav in 2014 saw Bastardo make its move to its current home Cyprus Avenue, at the time known mostly as a rock venue, and opened the floodgates for many other new nights to start up there. Over the past 3 years Bastardo has stepped up the ante with its bookings bringing back old Cork favourites such as Blawan, DJ Bone, Ben Sims, Surgeon, DVS1, Neil Landstrumm whilst introducing acts such as Dax J, Paula Temple, Abstract Division, Rebekah, Randomer, Tinfoil-Live, Oscar Mulero, Slam, Perc, Lee Holman, Umwelt, Headfront Panel/John Heckle, Alienata, DJ Flush to Cork. A brief re-opening of the Pav for six amazing months gave birth to Bastardo Electrico’s sister night Techno Fridays.
The aim of this night was to put the focus back on the music rather than the name on the flyer. During this time Bastardo itself made one last venture into the Pav for its 13th Birthday with a special once-off all night b2b set from Sunil Sharpe and Jamie Behan.
Techno Fridays moved to Cyprus after the closure of the Pav and has remained there since, pushing techno with local and Irish acts only on a monthly basis. 2016 saw the label re-emerge once again with the release of Flexure’s ‘Shadow Puppets’ EP a collaboration between Behan and Dublin DJ Stephen Mahoney which received rave reviews from publications such as RA and the support of a cross section of techno heavyweights- Truss, Dave Clarke, Ben Sims, Dax J, Sunil Sharpe, Rolando and many more.
Next up on the label, is an EP by Dublin producer Doug Cooney and an EP by Bastardo boss Jamie Behan.