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Q&A with James Mangohig

Darwin night owls have a new place to let loose during August with Happy Yess opening its doors for Club Awi. From 10pm, revelers can join a celebration of dance music in all its forms with a range of surprise guests and DJs over five nights. 

Interview with Chelsea Heaney.

Taking its main inspiration from the Tiwi band B2M, the title Awi is borrowed from the opening track of their debut album and is a Tiwi word meaning ‘everyone’. Club Awi is the brain child of producer and local James Mangohig, one half of well-known act Sietta. Off The Leash spoke to Mangohig about this exciting project.

Where did the idea for Club Awi come from?

I remember playing a Sietta show in Happy Yess early last year and inviting B2M to get on the mic and they absolutely smashed it – even though club gigs aren’t their usual stage. After that, I kept thinking how I would love to have a space that made everyone feel welcome. Also, one night at the Festival last year, I went and danced in Happy Yess and it was almost completely empty. After The Lighthouse closed, a bunch of the Festival crew and bar staff came and danced too but they only got a quick half hour in. So I thought a late night spot was definitely needed.

What can people expect from Club Awi?

Surprise guests and some of the best sound system acts in the country, whether that be DJs by themselves or MCs/musos rocking it too. There will also be a chunk of local content and even some artists from the bush making an appearance.

How did you get involved?

I walked away from the Festival last year with this idea. I think within two weeks I had rung about five people working for the Festival and told them my thoughts. They were incredibly supportive of the idea and got right behind it.

What DJs and MCs will be playing over the five shows?

I won’t give it all away because one of the special things about Club Awi is that the atmosphere will be incredible no matter who is playing. I will tell you that one of the best new sound systems in the country, rocking parties non-stop between Melbourne, Byron and overseas, will be tearing the roof off one night over the second weekend. Also, the first weekend will feature four Filipino DJs – two local and two interstate.

If there are any surprise guest appearances, can you give us any clues?

My best advice is to check the program guide, including who’s playing the NIMAs, then make sure you hit the club the nights before and after they’re in town. 

What makes the Darwin club scene unique?

In some ways, people might say we’re really behind the rest of the country – but I actually think there’s strength in our isolation. We don’t follow trends necessarily, so there’s an opportunity to do unique and fresh things. Plus, we have so many incredible musicians and artists up here, particularly from remote communities with artists who have natural abilities in groove whether on stage or on the dance floor.

What are your favourite things about the Darwin Festival?

I love that my parents come out to town and even stay out late during Festival time. It’s not uncommon to see my father (he’s 70 this year) cruising around Festival Park at 11pm, looking like a boss and soaking up the atmosphere. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with artists from around the world that arrive in Darwin for the first time and genuinely tap into what makes it special, and I’m not just talking about crocodile tours!

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