Derry-born Orlagh Dooley originally arrived in Liverpool to study at university, but fast forward five years and she currently finds herself as a key protagonist in the North West city's electronic music resurgence. Through her clandestine, nomadic club night, Meine Nacht, she mixes the spirit of original rave - turn up to a disused space and load a soundsytem in - with an intimacy more closely associated with a house party. The approach has gained Meine Nacht a devoted legion of regulars, and has attracted a string of notable guests, from Denis Sulta and Moxie to Florian Kupfer and Bruce.
With her reputation as a DJ drawing bookings from around the country - her rapidly growing pulling power has just seen her snapped up by booking agency powerhouse Coda - she has recently taken a huge step into the world of production by releasing her debut EP, 'UK Lonely', on Scuba's Hotflush Recordings. She's also soon to add the feather of 'label boss' to her cap, as she launches her own imprint, Deep Sea Frequency, with her Meine Nacht accomplice Jessica Beaumont in early 2017.
Before she crosses the Pennines to play at Level 2 in Sheffield on Friday, 2nd December, we spoke to Or:la about her plans for 2017, the scene in her adopted hometown, and partying with Mall Grab next to the cornflakes...
Your Meine Nacht parties are typically in secret, rarely used locations - is there a particular philosophy behind this approach?
We wanted to create a club night that had a more relaxed approach, alongside carefully curated line-ups; which we often came across in Europe. We became sick of the thought of overpriced drinks in massive impersonal warehouse spaces, and the same line-ups being recycled on a regular basis. Seeking unused locations with the added bonus of BYOB further adds to our relaxed, house party-like vibe which is present at our events.
Two of the most memorable parties were held in a disused supermarket and an old police station - one with Frits Wentink and Kornél Kovács in the police cells, and the other back in June with Mall Grab, a combination of roof top party in the old mechanical room and main floor space, which was formerly the food storage space (all the labelling of store products was still present on the floors/walls - i.e "Kellogg's Cornflakes" - which was amusing!)
Meine Nacht has become more like a community than a 'club night'; we see the same people returning to our shows so we are really happy with the ongoing support. We never imagined that we would achieve this in just one year, and for us this is only the beginning of things to come.
What plans do you have for Meine Nacht in 2017?
There will be lots of live-streaming action and recording of sets in a new secret location, which will act as a base for us to do a lot more than just events. Our line-ups for upcoming parties are in the process of being finalised, and include a few artists that we have had our eyes on for the last year, which we're really excited to announce.
Booking DJs before the big peak in their career is something that's important to us; it attracts a clued-up crowd, so we will continue to pursue this. We see bigger events taking on our bookings in Liverpool after they have played for us, which is gratifying in a sense as we are safe in the knowledge that we have always been first to push the boundaries. It's definitely part of our identity.
How did the link-up with Hotflush come about?
After quitting my job last year and spending more time in the studio, I sent a few tracks over to the label and got a reply within a day asking to sign them. It was the best news ever.
Can you tell us a bit about Deep Sea Frequency? Any clues on what’s up for the first release?
Just like the ethos of Meine Nacht, Deep Sea Frequency will explore the boundaries of electronic music without having a particular tag attached to it. For me, music is music, and BPM constraints can get boring. I won't give much away about the first release, but I can say that all of the releases will be on vinyl.
You’ll be playing for Level 2 in Sheffield on Dec 2nd - do you find playing out in other cities can pose different challenges to playing in Liverpool, where people may be more familiar with you?
In a way, it can be daunting trying to gauge how a crowd in a different city may react to a set - especially because some cities have certain 'scenes' and tendencies to lean towards particular music styles. Having said this, I enjoy and embrace the challenge as attending events in other cities is always really exciting, and it's great getting to meet new people too.
Do you feel the nightlife scene in Liverpool at the moment is in good health? Can you see yourself settling there for the long-run?
I think it’s in really good health. There was a point up until recently where there were so many new club nights popping up, not really serving their own unique purpose. Now it seems like there are just the right amount staying at the top and bringing consistent line-ups to the city. There's something for all tastes and always something good on each weekend, no matter what your preference is. I’ve been here for over five years now which I never really planned, so I can’t say for sure if i’ll stay here for the long run.
Could you guide us through three tracks you’re regularly reaching for during sets at the moment?
'Koro Koro' by No Smoke seems to be popping up in a lot of my early sets, its got just the right amount of groove and choppy rhythm to set the mood perfectly.
'Simulation' by Matrixxman is another current favourite, and fits in well with what I play during my later sets.
I've been ending some recent sets with Tyree's 'Acid Over', probably one of my favourite Tyree tunes and a nice way bring the night to a close.
Or:la plays Level 2 at the Foundry in Sheffield, on Friday, 2nd December, alongside Julio Bashmore and Jasper James. Tickets are available through PFTP now.