The classic sounds of 80s Chicago acid house may seem a world away from the grey skies of Aberdeen, but IDA's love for the Roland TB-303 has taken her on quite a journey. IDA grew up in the outskirts of Helsinki, before university studies brought her via Sweden to Aberdeen, in Scotland's north-east. It was here in 2015, with just a few years of DJing experience under her belt, that she launched her Acid Flash parties. A refreshingly unique celebration of acid-themed beats, the popularity of the Acid Flash nights reinvigorated Aberdeen's nightlife and also kickstarted IDA's reputation as one of Scotland's most sought-after new DJs.
IDA found a fitting home for her Acid Flash parties at The Tunnels, Aberdeen’s most prominent nightclub, showing her flair as a promoter by bringing the likes of Heidi, the iconic Glasgow duo Slam, and rising techno star Courtesy to the Granite City. Now based in Glasgow, IDA hosts Acid Flash out of the city's underground hotspot, La Cheetah Club, while continuing to play and put on nights in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
As a DJ, IDA swiftly picked up traction in Aberdeen, where she was announced as a resident for the city’s leading party crew Let It Bleed. She has already played Glasgow’s legendary Sub Club, and was quickly snapped up by Slam as a resident for their revamped Maximum Pressure parties. IDA takes her audiences on an acid-inspired journey through everything from techno and ghetto house, to old-school electro and ambient. As IDA continues to land bigger and bigger bookings - both as a promoter and a performer - it's time to get to know this hard-working rising talent.
How did growing up in Finland shape your taste in music?
It wasn't until I was a teenager that I started listening to electronic music, which triggered my interest in starting a music blog. I kept writing the blog for years, which gained popularity among friends as well as random listeners. Once I moved to Scotland, I started delving into the roots of techno, IDM, electro and house music. This also sparked my interest in researching more about the electronic music scene in Finland in the 90s, through which I have discovered many great artists such as Jori Hulkkonen, Mono Junk, Morphology, and Mika Vainio. The electronic music scene in Finland has had a much bigger impact on me at a later age.
Where does your connection to acid house come from?
This is a very interesting question! I am not entirely sure exactly where it comes from, but I remember being very inspired by DJs such as Ellen Allien, who made me want to research more about the Chicago house scene. After having discovered the likes of Mike Dunn, Fast Eddie, and Phuture, I just wanted to find more records characterised by the wonky and weird raw sounds of a 303. Then after a while I started digging deeper into the Detroit electro-techno scene and discovered my heroes: UR, Derrick May, Blake Baxter and Drexciya. Nowadays, I don’t aim to only play acid house. The acid sound has become somewhat mainstream, which is why I keep looking for alternative ways of playing it.
What were biggest challenges to getting your own club night up and running, in Aberdeen and now Glasgow and Edinburgh?
I suppose the hardest part was to find a venue. In the beginning, I had to start from a very small capacity basement club in Aberdeen, from which I moved to an amazing larger venue, The Tunnels. Also, starting a night on your own is a huge challenge as it's hard to promote a night and take care of all the preparations by yourself. I've been very lucky in the sense that I have had an amazing and supportive network of friends in Scotland, who helped me with organising and promoting. Expanding Acid Flash to bigger cities has had its own challenges, mainly increased competition from other promoters and club nights. But trusting myself and keeping the music truly authentic helped me to power through any obstacles. Overall there have been very few obstacles for me, which I am grateful for.
How has living in Scotland influenced the way you’ve developed as a DJ?
There would not have been a better place to start DJing, as Scotland has given me the opportunity to discover British music culture and history through some amazing record stores and inspirational, knowledgeable people. It has provided me with opportunities which I doubt I would have gotten back home, due to the smaller size of the electronic music scene in Finland.
What have been your career highlights so far?
The highlights so far have been becoming a resident for the Pressure parties organised by Soma records and the ever-amazing duo Slam. Another highlight is being invited to play Warehouse Project in Manchester as a part of a line-up curated by Daniel Avery in October. I’m absolutely buzzing for this one.
How do you go about choosing DJs and arranging bookings for your Acid Flash nights, is there a certain kind of artist you look for?
I am quite careful in picking artists but I also aim to provide an opportunity for people who do not get the chance to play out that much. For example, I have booked up-and-coming Scottish artist The Burrell Connection to play the next Acid Flash night in Aberdeen (I have included two songs from his latest EP in my Impact mix). I also aim to book my biggest personal inspirations, such as Kim Ann Foxman, who headlined my Acid Flash party in Glasgow in June. I mainly focus on bookings artists who have some kind of special connection with the sound from a 303.
How would you describe the atmosphere of an Acid Flash party?
The environment is very easy-going, sociable, free and intimate - not dissimilar to a family gathering! No discrimination exists in these parties and everyone is made to feel like a part of the gang. As a host, I aim to personally welcome each individual who comes through the door, which is why I often work on the door myself. I go by the principle that anything I really dig or that sounds great to me, I play, regardless of being old, new or trendy. However, to really feel the vibe of an Acid Flash party, it's best experienced in person!
Do you see yourself branching out into producing too?
My plan is to focus more on producing and finishing a few tracks this autumn. I have just recently finished my Master’s degree so I am looking forward to spending time on Ableton without feeling guilty about it! Through the years I have also managed to collect a large arsenal of hardware equipment, so I can’t wait to properly start experimenting with that and discovering new sounds. Hopefully, I will release my debut EP by the coming spring.
What can you tell us about your Impact mix?
This mix is representative of the typical peak-time set that I would normally play. For me DJing is about keeping the crowd on their toes by keeping the mix interesting and providing enough curve balls to create excitement. It is also about authenticity and playing music that you really love, not just playing a track for the sake of it being in fashion. In this mix, I have included both new and old records. You can hear a few Plastikman and Woody McBride classics and a track that reminds of a dreamy lullaby from Schacke, released on Courtesy’s new label Kulør.
Claire Francis is The Skinny's Clubs Editor. Follow her on Twitter
Air Liquide - Chromoplastic
F.U.S.E. - Into The Space
The Burrell Connection - Orbit_458
Fred - Do It From The Back (Electro Mix)
Banco de Gaia - Kinkajou (Small and Cuddly Mix)
Nathan Micay - Beginning Ballads
Stenny - Curve K
Dj Who - Give A Little More (MIke Parker Remix)
The Burrell Connection - Hyper_14.255
Farron - Spring Break Ya Neck
Tesox - Braindead || (DJ Skull Remix)
Teste - The Wipe (5 Am Synaptic)
Plastikman - Elektrostatik
Woody McBride - Wall Of Confusion
Claus Schoning - ASRS
JoeFarr - Coming Up For Air
Paulus8 - Ancient Technology (Remix)
Schacke - Automated Lover