Introducing: X CLUB.

Since making the move from Australia to the UK last year, X CLUB. have cemented themselves as one of the exciting duos to watch in the European techno scene. Now, they’re levelling up with their newly launched HIDE THE JUNK imprint. Jake Hirst catches up with the Aussie duo to hear their story.

10 min
XCLUB LA 35 MM 7
Nov 27, 2023
·
By
Jake Hirst

It’s that time of year when things begin winding down. Festivals are done and club events are in the later stages of the calendar. It’s a rare opportunity for music artists to take a breath and reflect on their achievements (not to mention catch up on some sleep). X CLUB. know this well. The Aussie duo, comprised of Ben Clarke and Jesse Morath, are coming off the back of their most intense touring schedule to date.

“It’s been constant,” Ben says with a tired yet gleeful expression on his face. We’re sat on a video call recounting the shows the guys have played in recent months, including a tour of the US and their huge AVA Boiler Room debut in Dublin, and it’s clear while it has been the most intense period of shows since X CLUB. launched in 2019, it’s also been the most inspiring. “It’s been a crazy busy year,” Jesse agrees. “We’ve played lots of events around the world. We were looking at it the other day, and it’s something like 18 in a row.”

Within four years, X CLUB. have garnered a reputation for being purveyors of fun, uplifting sonics in the techno world. Maybe it’s the infectious energy and big smiles their DJ sets are laden with, or maybe it’s the countless dubs these Aussies entertain crowds with. Either way, promoters have been banging on the X CLUB. door louder than ever this year.

Check out X CLUB.’s latest Beatport chart.
X Club Beatport 5

The mounting gig schedule coincides with the pair’s move from Brisbane to London last year in search of new avenues for the X CLUB. project. In a short space of time, they’ve cemented themselves on the circuit, playing everywhere from Cologne and Münster to Manchester and Inverness. Touring every weekend has allowed Ben and Jesse to make music their full-time pursuit – something they could have only dreamt of when back home on the limited Australia circuit.

“In Australia, there’s only five key cities you can tour, and once you’ve done a run, you have to wait to do your next,” Ben explains. “But over here in the UK and Europe there’s many cities, so you can keep playing out each weekend and not go back to the same city all year.”

But it’s not just the big cities the guys are getting booked in. It’s the more unassuming cities and towns across the UK and further afield where the X CLUB. sound is resonating – something Ben highlights his surprise at. “We’ve played in so many tiny places across Ireland and Scotland you’d never assume we’d get booked, and even those places go off. In Australia, you wouldn’t get that.” Jesse continues. “We played in this tiny pub near Inverness, which was ages away from anything. It sold out. I remember being there thinking – this is crazy. The crowd were so up for it.”

The UK’s connection to underground dance music is one of the main reasons why the guys chose to leave the Australian scene they were accustomed to. At the time, X CLUB. had built a reputation in Brisbane for bringing the outside influence of Europe’s techno scene over to the city. While techno has its place in the country, the scene has been severely disconnected from Europe over the years. “That’s how we got into the techno world,” Jesse explains. “We were trying to find new music in Brisbane and couldn’t find any parties hosting the artists or music we enjoyed, so we promoted it ourselves. We threw parties and raves in Brisbane, booked big artists, and that’s how we made connections in the world.”

X Club Beatport 9

While playing parties together enabled the guys to take their music international, it was nights spent cutting their teeth at Brisbane’s go-to venue for alternative dance music, The TBC Club, that ignited the X CLUB. trajectory aged 19-years-old. “We were both DJing individually in Brisbane and got introduced through friends,” Ben remembers. “I was more trap, and Jesse was more house. We were booked on a line-up as the last two acts and were like – fuck it, let’s go b2b. We enjoyed it, so we started making music together.” Around that time, the guys began discovering techno, so “making a project together was the perfect avenue to explore that,” Ben says.

While techno is X CLUB.’s primary output, and the reason why the European scene has taken such a liking, the X Club sound is much more complex. From the jungle breaks of “Rise Up” on X CLUB.’s Everything Comes True EP in 2022 with long-time Aussie friend Skin On Skin, to the trance-infused downtempo of “Only If U” with Pretty Girl – another successful export from down under – there’s a clear defiance against pinning the X CLUB. sound to one identity.

“When people ask us to describe our sound, I tend to describe X CLUB. as an energy,” Ben reveals. “You can’t put a genre on our music, but there’s definitely a vibe.” It’s a mantra for the project Jesse agrees with. “We’ve never wanted to be pigeonholed into doing one thing. Like Ben said, our music is more a feeling and an energy as opposed to one genre. Fun, uplifting, percussive music is our thing.”

X Club Beatport 10

This outlook for the X CLUB. project that can be traced back to the duo’s debut Scum EP in 2019, where their track “A Love” featured two flips – one, a pulsing techno “Warehouse Mix”, and the other, an “Underground Mix” exploding with rave synths and raucous breaks. Jesse highlights when the X CLUB. project started, “that track demonstrated a lot of what we were influenced by – techno, jungle, D&B.” The track is still one of the songs the duo get asked to play the most, which is testament to the creative vision for the project.

Coming to the end of 2023, the duo’s most fruitful year yet, X CLUB. have begun taking this vision one step further through the creation of their own record label, HIDE THE JUNK, an imprint etched with the same values for energetic music flowing freely without labels. “It’s an extension of us as X CLUB.,” Ben explains. “It won’t be solely our music, but the aim is to keep the label unique by keeping it true to us and what makes us unique as X CLUB..”

X CLUB. launched the imprint with the four-track EP HTJ001, an EP filled with groove-infused techno, and packaged with colourful artwork personally overseen by Ben and Jesse. It’s a sense of ownership the duo have not felt towards their music before. “When we hand demos to labels they pick ones to fit them, but now we get to curate everything down to the visual design,” Ben says before Jesse continues. “With HIDE THE JUNK, we can go crazy with our ideas. It feels like a good time for us to keep pushing and doing our thing right now as the label is bringing many more influences into the project.”

While it won’t be the only avenue we see X CLUB. release their music, it will serve as an important source of inspiration for the project going forward. Inspiration is exactly what is permeating around the duo right now. Four years into the project, it seems like X CLUB. are now reaching full stride. With the next couple of label releases already penned, and heaps more new music on the horizon, we can expect a big 2024 incoming from this Aussie duo.

Jake Hirst is a freelance writer living in Bristol, UK, who has previously been published in UKF, DJ Mag, Data Transmission and Ticket Arena. A certified drum & bass head, you can keep up to date with his writing on Instagram.

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