Reaching over 160 million people monthly, Boiler Room has transformed into a globally famous super brand in just 6 years. Aiming to publicize subcultures and emerging music scenes that are “worthy of attention” through key positions at festivals, shows from London to Tokyo and the world’s biggest DJs under its belt—Boiler Room is the “genre-agnostic” hub of today’s contemporary music culture. Glamcult spoke to BR director Steven Appleyard at Bread & Butter in Berlin.
When Boiler Room started, livestreaming wasn’t nearly as big as it is now; today everyone seems to be livestreaming. Has that changed anything for you guys?
Not really—anything that enables more people to enjoy music is a fantastic thing. I think what sometimes can happen is that people don’t prioritize the live streaming portion of it. Like some festivals now, they will do livestreaming but it’s almost tagged on as an afterthought. It’s often just a big wide-angle lens back in the crowd. What that doesn’t do, is give you an experience of the energy and the rawness of what it’s like to be there. That’s why we have camera operators in the crowd, walking around and in the middle of the pit getting moshed about by people dancing and having a great time. What we try to do is capture the immersion, the rawness and the realness of the real-life music experience. But generally, yes, streaming is a very positive thing,
How did your collaboration with Bread & Butter come about?
Our rule of thumb with brand partnerships is that we try and only work with one brand per category. We don’t want to do lots of different partnerships, we are very selective with the brands that we work with and whatever the partnership is—it has to unlock something new that neither of us could achieve in isolation. The best thing we want to do is work with brands to push ourselves and push the boundaries.
At Boiler Room we always want to deliver something really new, the key thing for us is democratizing how music is experienced. So this year, when Zalando approached us and told us how they wanted to take the formerly industry-focused trade show to the public, we thought that sounded like a really interesting idea.
If you look at the programming of your Boiler Room area at Bread & Butter—with acts ranging from Angel Haze to Delfonic—it’s very eclectic and open to various genres. Is that a development within Boiler Room as well?
We are most well known for electronic music, but I think the only reason for that is when we started in London some five or six years ago, electronic music had only just started and therefore happened to be the most exciting, progressive scene on our doorstep. Then with each new city that we went to, we would shine a spotlight on whatever was the most exciting music scene. When we went to Germany that happened to be techno, when we went to Los Angeles it was instrumental hip-hop, and so on… We have always been genre agnostic, really. We showcase a lot of different music and wanted Bread & Butter to be reflective of the diversity of programming we now do. If we were to just slam out techno sets, it would alienate a large section of the audience. [Laughs]
It seems like since Boiler Room has grown, you have been broadening your scope and doing new things such as short documentaries. Is that something you are going to do more of?
Definitely! Initially our core mission was to shine a spotlight on under-exposed music scenes and subcultures that we thought were worthy of attention. Livestreaming was the most immediate way for us to do that in the initial period of Boiler Room’s life. As we grew we got more experience, and we are always looking for more ways of supporting artists and showcasing artists. Doing documentaries seemed like a natural step.
Recently we did the Black Lives Matter panel in the UK and it was really successful. We have found ourselves in the position now, where we are a voice for the generation of young people who are into this emerging authentic music that’s not pop. We have built this audience and frankly, I feel like we have this responsibility. We have a platform and an engaged audience. If there are issues going on that are relevant to the lives of young people, then it is down to reason that we have the responsibility to address these issues and give people a voice.