Time Out Melbourne

Time Out got in the ear of Trades Hall DJ Andrew McClelland to find out what makes this music maker spin

Where can people catch you?
I play Finishing School at Trades Hall [spinning ’60s soul and a soupçon of ’90s indie pop].

What is Finishing School's overall philosophy?
We play excellent pop music and we don't mess with it. That's the basic idea. Good pop music encompasses a huge amount in our minds, from The Smiths to The Rolling Stones, from Weezer to The Supremes, from Belle & Sebastian to Prince, from Pulp to Two Door Cinema Club, from Bowie to Beyonce and from You Am I to New Order.

Not messing with the music means that we don't beat match or mix the music, the DJs are selectors. We play the tracks as their producers intended, so the club isn't about the DJs, it's about the music. This comes from years of going to clubs ourselves, hearing a song we dig, running on to the floor and then finding that it's only a ten second sample mixed in with the same damned beat that's been repeating all night.

We wander our way through genres and styles and pride ourselves on playing tracks that surprise and delight. Tracks you hopefully haven't heard a million times on floors, but that you'd forgotten that you love.
And when it comes down to it, we love to dance. The DJs dance just as hard as the punters and it makes for an excellent community atmosphere.

What's different about the club's vibe?
Finishing School is held at Bella Union, which resides in an old 19th century ballroom at the Trades Hall. There's not much of a traditional club atmosphere, but there's a stage, a few lights and a big old hard-wood dance floor. In appearance it's a little like a school or country dance-hall. But the floor is packed and everyone is there to shake it.

What kind of crowd do you guys get?
Because of our eclectic play list we get a large clientele as well. From '60s mod and soul fans to '80s and '90s indie fans to straight up pop-music lovers to modern indie kids. It can be hard to please everyone, but it keeps us on our toes, and keeps us listening to new and new old music as much as we can.

What’s your DJ style?
I’m more of a ‘selector’ than a DJ. I don’t mix or mash songs because I love how a song is written. I used to hate when you were at a club and you’d hear a bit of a song that you like, and by the time you get to the dance floor it’s gone, so I don’t do that, I play the whole song, I love pop songs for what they are.

What is the song you put on at the very end of an evening?
Usually, not always, but usually, it’s ‘Tonight We Fly’ by The Divine Comedy. It isn’t great on the dance floor, but if you like it, you love it.

What song wouldn’t you play in a million years?
Anything that’s been over-played: ‘Nutbush City Limits’, the Grease Megamix, stuff like that. I don’t mind it when people request songs, but don’t hold it against me if I don’t play them. 

What clubs did you love as a youngster?
I used to love Supermarket, Clockwork Orange, places like that. My older brother was into indie clubs and so I got into them, too. Supermarket was one of Steve Wide’s clubs, he’s been an indie DJ since 1992, which is incredible because he sure doesn't look like a chap who's been doing it for nearly 20 years.

What are some of your favourite records at the moment?
I love the ’60s, ’90s and ’00s. I’m passionate about the older stuff. A record that I’ve just rediscovered is Paul Simon’s Graceland. Put that on a few years ago and it made people cringe, but for our generation it’s nostalgic, the music our parents used to listen to. My aim is to play something that people love but that they haven’t heard in ages.

What is the best club you’ve ever been to?
I was doing a comedy gig in Soho, London and I got to go to How Does It Feel To Be Loved. It’s a twee indie and ’60s soul night where they play music like Belle and Sebastian. I walked in and White Town was DJ-ing!

What is the strangest dancing you’ve seen?
The Pogues always induces an Irish jig, while ‘All the Single Ladies’ by Beyonce always gets everyone moving, and people get quite… interpretive to They Might Be Giants. I think Beyonce gets the best dancing; people have moves and it’s like a dance troupe.

See DJ Andrew McClelland in action at Mr. McClelland’s Finishing School, Trades Hall, every second Friday for $10.

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Updated on 7 Nov 2011.

By Zoe Knowles   |  
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