R&V is a mixed series of long and short investigative reads focusing on those within the Northwest scene that are having to move to their own rhythm to make waves in the industry. Here we highlight the practices and experiences of these rulebreakers to show where the industry can change for the better, and why we should value what they’re doing.
This time around I sit down with Ollie Cash to talk about walking the tightrope between work and burnout, his all encompassing event PLUSH, sobriety, and how yoga and eating veggies are his secret to keeping grounded.
Born, raised and living in Liverpool’s very own ‘eggy’, Aigburth’s playful nickname, Ollie Cash’s connection to music started at eight, and got serious about it at thirteen thanks to Metallica. Fast forward a couple of years and dance music become the focus for Cash. Speaking on his first rave at Kitchen Street, “The first event was just gorgeous, literally just locked in the techno zone.” Cash throws his hands up mimicking his 18 year old’s self exclaiming “Techno never ends!” That unrelenting sonic shape of a 140bpm kick drum from that first event became the propellant for Cash. Speaking nostalgically of his journey Cash shares “I used to be more of a close your eyes and get lost on the dance floor kind of person. I still have a great appreciation for the deep trance state you can get in to if you let it, but now it’s more of an eyes open hands in the air experience for me.” Now at twenty four, it’s all come full circle in the last year or so since the conception of Cash’s night now known as PLUSH. So many friends who he once danced with, admired at a distance for their work, or met through the evolution of his own are now a part of both his friendship circles and his working life. A plentiful and authentic gathering of those worth each others time to produce something they care about. “The love for Liverpool is undoubtedly such a big part of why I think I end up working so hard, it’s a representation that matters to me and so many of my friends that are from here. I admire them for what they do for Liverpool.”
Starting off in October 2021 as PLU Dance, the PLU standing for ‘Peace Love Unity’, was founded by Cash and his good friend Nathan Bowden. “Covid reset the playing field for everyone. For a split second, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and all the other cities were just on that same level. From my perspective, it gave us (Liverpool) a chance to not feel overshadowed and to action the ideas to turn them into reality.” Once the covid cloud dispersed, the pair were asked to play in London for the South.wav People’s Party to celebrate a compilation release that they both had a tune on. Experiencing the fast paced back to back jam packed lineup of around sixteen individuals or groups for one long and intimate rave, inspired the two to act without hesitation to bring back with them what they thought was missing from Liverpool. “It wasn’t a feeling of ‘we can do this better’, but we just thought we know our city and we can do this right for our city. It’s not a one size fits all but we knew what we wanted to do from the get go.” After the first two successful events, Cash had a conversation with a close friend who suggested that they shift the name to PLUSH. Cash asked what the ‘S’ and the ‘H’ would stand for and they quickly responded with “Surrender and Hope.” Given Cash’s disposition for the cosmos and a self appointed practitioner of ‘all the lovely hippy dippy stuff’, Cash surrendered himself to the organic development and welcomed the new name in. After the third instalment in May 2022, which was particularly successful, Cash’s PLUSH co-founder Bowden decided to bow out, a decision that was wholly respected by Ollie.
Between May 2022 and October 2022 Cash went on to captain four nights within a six month period, though they were put on with the help of many friends, Cash found him- self utterly burnt out and ready to throw the towel in. “After an exhausting seven months straight I found myself resenting the work, I hated dance floors, I hated dance music, I hated everything about it because I love it. So I took two months off to get my head together, went sober in January of this year and rebranded PLUSH”. It’s clear that sobriety has had a positive effect in Cash’s personal life, but it has also given way to fresh perspectives of not only enjoying new ways to experience nightlife, but also opening him up to the curative ideas of those nights. This autonomously opened the air vents to reignite his relationship with the nightlife realm and gave Cash the ability to cherry pick what he felt PLUSH needed, and more importantly, what it didn’t. “I celebrate the work as much as I get lost in it. It’s hard to balance and maintain doing it, stepping away, and dusting yourself to do it all over again. That’s why I’m sober, so I can have a greater grasp on life. The mistakes are fewer, but the ones that are made are there to be made and their mine to own and learn.”
When asked what he thinks PLUSH means to Liverpool Cash says, “I couldn’t say be- cause I can’t speak for Liverpool I can only speak for myself. I just feel it’s necessary, and I’m seeing that in its strong positive response.” Arguably, the curator can set a night up to be one thing, but ultimately the crowd has some control over what it will become. Though the original vision and work from the crew behind the scenes is para- mount to a nights success; from the marketing styles to the collaborative entities all the way down to the typeface of the event name, the active ingredient of an events success is neither the audience or the curator. It is the quality of the symbiotic relationship they share that is the active ingredient. Listening and feeling the response of all parties involved is the key to a positive evolution in any facet. It all comes down to emotional reception. This is where Cash’s approach is unique when reaching out to people, there’s no tricks, no smoke and mirrors. The ‘branding’ has been, and I imagine, will continue to be a personal extension of himself. It has come through clearly as a reflection of not only where he is in his experience of the nightlife sector, but his own re-coordination of himself and how he can use that to his advantage to help con- duct a fun and safe experience for all those attending.
Plush has been very much a 12 hour rave with a stacked semiautomatic line up of DJ after DJ showcasing music from all corners. Though compelling and something Liverpool certainly needed, a 12 hour rave can be daunting even to the most seasoned of movers and shakers. So, Cash tuned in to how he wanted to conduct the event through what he has learned through his lived experience and has applied it to the blueprint to make PLUSH more accessible. The latest instalment of PLUSH will take place on Friday 4th August at The Invisible Wind Factory. As Cash has come to understand through that personal experience, it is curation that cuts the mustard. Cash says, “Comfortability is stagnation. I’ve always wanted to try to stay one step ahead of the curve if I can.” This year the event will be split into two experiences, the first six hours starting at 4pm, titled ‘PLUSH VILLAGE’, will be outside hosting a palate of day festival genres like dub, reggae, jazz, dancehall etc. Featuring alongside will be local clothes collectives NOMIND and XTSY and a record fair curated by One Nathan Under a Groove. The latter six hours starting at 10pm, titled ‘SEWER’, takes the crowd down into the substation of the IWF for a more visceral experience, featuring a live set from All Trades amongst the more techno, breaks-y, and electro side of the night. “The promotion has been all about making people feel like, if they fancy just coming down to have a look at some clobber after work, have a bevvy for a couple of hours and go home, great. If you wanna come down for a proper rave, sound. And the option is there to do both if want to, there’s no pressure.”
His perspective pays homage to the notion that when trying to create something brilliant, it shouldn’t cost the world, and it shouldn’t cost your health. Cash thinks out loud saying “When I went sober I just thought that doing PLUSH would just fill the gap that yoga, meditation, writing and eating veggies did, and even though PLUSH is thriving, it doesn’t have to be either or, it can be both.” Cash’s holistic approach to music is refreshing, dextrous and tactile. My most valued takeaway from Cash’s practice is that authenticity and honest application of emotion has longevity in the industry, as long as their is conscious maintenance to the self from a project’s genesis and throughout its development. I do think we could all take a leaf out of Ollie’s book; to stay conscious and do a little more ‘eyes open dancing’ in future days.
Be sure to catch the PLUSH Pre-Party this Friday 21st July at Melodic Distraction from 6-11pm, click here for more info.
|| OLLIE CASH ||