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Aiyush Pachnanda spent three years photographing Cardiff's drum 'n' bass scene

Aiyush Pachnanda became part of Cardiff's d'n'b community and documented it for a photobook titled Rave To The Grave

  • Seb Wheeler
  • 6 January 2021

From raves in former bank vaults to sweaty sessions in random rooms beneath noodle bars, Cardiff's always, always had it down when it comes to The Party (and that's not even beginning to mention the city's thriving afterparty circuit).

When photographer Aiyush Pachnanda landed in the Welsh capital for uni he soon fell into the Cardiff drum 'n' bass scene and promptly started to document proceedings, from the front row crew totally 'avin it to the sesh hi-jinx that occur in the nooks and crannies of clubs during the most fun nights out.

Read this next: How young artists are transforming d'n'b

The result is a now sold-out photobook, Rave To The Grave, and a series of images that portray an intimate, well-up-for-it community that is having the time of its life.

Some of Aiyush's images are presented below alongside a Q+A about documenting Cardiff's local d'n'b culture.

Why did you decide to document Cardiff's drum 'n' bass scene?

Once I was in uni I needed a part time job to keep me afloat [and] I guess just by chance I saw an advert on Facebook about an event needing a photographer. I messaged the promotion team and they were happy for me to come in. So I took out some uni equipment and then jumped in head first into the club not really knowing what to expect .

You went to nearly every d'n'b rave in the city for three years – how did you keep up the stamina?

I got kind of hooked on the music, that kept me wanting to come back to every event.
That and a cup of black coffee before I left to photograph the events. There were a few occasions where I almost fell asleep in the green room!

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What was your favourite big party?

It will have King of the Roller’s at The Vaults. The soundsystems were unbelievably loud, I was hearing a ringing sound for days after!

The venue is particularly amazing because it’s a disused bank vault; hence the name. It also might be the hottest place in Cardiff – my glasses used to fog up as I walked in.

What was your favourite small party?

Definitely DJ Blackley at Undertone. I remember walking out the venue and I was just in awe of what I just heard. Undertone is a basement-type venue which was always busy and basically pitch black.

Read this next: 19 drum 'n' bass DJs from the 90s still at the top of their game

What did you learn about Cardiff's d'n'b fans?

Much nicer than I expected, coming from London; I grew up with the assumption that if you looked at someone wrong in a club you might get beaten up, but ravers in Cardiff welcomed me into raving world with open arms.

How did you approach photographing the raves?

I start every event like a fly on the wall. I just watch what’s happening and enjoy the music. When ready I jump into action, I just photograph.

What are your tips for other people looking to document their local scenes?

Start small, build your way up. With any local scene the smaller events mean more to the local community of ravers.

The more you document the local, it will follow up with what people will see. Acts like Chase And Status started at local venues and the photos you take of local acts could mean something in a few years

Also: pack light. I took the same equipment to every event, I felt the more pro I looked, the more likely people would treat me that way.

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Which photographers have inspired you on this project?

Gavin Watson was a big impact on my work. He photographed free raves around the late 80s and a photographer called Maciej Dakowicz who photographed people after they came out of clubs in Cardiff. They were a big influence on my work and how I saw my project growing.

What's next for you?

Leaving Cardiff and coming back home to London, I will love to document the scene there. Looking to document some grime and dancehall events.

Aiyush Pachnanda is a freelance photographer. Follow him on Instagram, visit his website and check out details of the first edition of Rave To The Grave here

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