Beatport Hype: childsplay
Run by DJ cherry b, childsplay first made a name for itself as one of the UK’s rowdiest and wildly eccentric parties. Whether at a club, small bar, or some clandestine location off the beaten path, childsplay’s famous Playdate raves have always taken pride in creating a safe space for queer expression with fast-paced and lawless energy on the dance floor.
The childsplay imprint got its start on SoundCloud, offering up a handful of raw edits and distinctive house tunes, before flowering into a label that cranks out wicked electro, unruly breaks, UKG, footwork, donk, rave, and “bubblegum ghettotek” records by the boatload. With dozens of successful singles, EPs, and compilations like its Tasty Treats 4 The Kids series, childsplay continues to excel with the help of rising stars like Vigile, Moodrich, DJ Mell G, Turk Turkelton, and more. As its naughty, fast-paced, and delicious catalogue continues to grow, childsplay has committed itself to “take the ghettotek-type scene out of its SoundCloud niche and inevitably achieve world domination.”
We learn out more about childsplay after catching up with cherry b, who provides a relentless mix of the label’s upcoming offerings and tells us about their rebellious party series, internet-friendly aesthetic, the importance of a good emoji game, and the team of talented artists who have made it all possible.
When did childsplay first come into existence, and what made you decide to start a label in the first place?
No one else was realising music that got our panties in a twist and made us wanna go out get hot get sweaty. And even if there weren’t any parties we actually wanted to go out to anyways. We’re club kids who want it hard and sticky and everyone else throwing the parties and making the music we wanted to go out to were older than our parents [insert sticky pun]. While we were in our second year at uni we just started “premiering ” random tracks on SoundCloud by unknown artists that got us hot and we knew exactly what people wanted to hear because we were the people we wanted to hear it. I personally don’t know many label owners you would find gurning their tits off on a live stream so how are they really gonna know what to play to cute club kids who end up hugging a toilet at the end of the night.
If fellow kids could take anything from what we’ve been able to do, it’s that literally, all it takes to get to where we are is by trusting that what you think sounds/looks cool IS what sounds/looks cool, and that there’s always going to be people who think like you who want to hear what you want to hear. FFS, we still can’t wrap our heads around the fact that we’re Beatport’s HYPE label of the month a few years out of uni, but it’s not the craziest thing to happen considering we’re releasing our favourite music and there’s so many kids like us out there who just wanna play. If nobody is releasing THAT song. You know the one… the one that nobody’s released.
Tell us a little bit about childsplay’s infamous illegal raves in London.
Our first #playdate was a #legal Thursday nite kiki at a dive bar in Dalston. After we were banned from the venue, we realised that we had to find a way to throw our party on our own terms. The #playdate then became a monthly Sunday daytime party at the newly opened semi-legal venue Grow Tottenham, but we quickly got bored after selling out the subsequent bank holiday weekend. Legal venues, even ones as accommodating as Grow Tottenham, can only really offer so much excitement. We decided to go rogue, linking up with a crew of squatters to find the perfect venue. Our short and sour relationship was kicked off when they broke into a four-story abandoned west London nightclub for our first XXXmas ball — an iconic party that revealed one thing: illegal parties were a million times more fun.
We decided to flip the script and become the squatters, starting by throwing on some hi-vis vests and angle-grinding our way into an abandoned leisure centre in Newham in broad daylight on a calm Friday afternoon. Once a hub for the Newham community, the leisure centre had just shut its doors under the guise of structural issues, which after some research, revealed itself to be yet another cover-up for an underfunded council unwilling to waste money on integral social spaces as they waited to sell off the property to developers. The money that was spent on having a K9 security unit posted outside its front doors for the year since our rave dwarfs any/all costs that would have been necessary to fix the building.
We gave it back to the community by throwing a 700 person pool party. A couple months later, we reclaimed a town hall that had been abandoned for over ten years by sneaking onto the roof through the adjacent university (pretending to be students) and sliding into a top floor window. That space may have stayed empty indefinitely, but we turned it into a safe space for the queer community. More specifically, we created a space where young creatives can meet other young creatives, build their vision, and inevitably become the foundation of the UK’s creative industry. As successful as London’s night czar has been (mega lol), it’s clear that if someone doesn’t take the initiative, the UK will quickly see its creatives to more forward-thinking cities like Berlin that support and protect their nightlife industries.
What separates childsplay from other squat parties that might come to mind is that we’re not in it for the money — we’re out to take the whole fucking city on a queer, fluffy magic carpet ride. Destination: rainbow.
Tell us about some of the artists on your roster and how you would characterize their sound.
The childsplay sound is a kinky mix of whatever we want to rave to, whatever kids want to hear, and whatever the childsplay family feels like making at the time. We’re releasing the music that we wanna play at the raves, from post-COVID club kids for post-COVID club kids. We here at childsplay understand that club kids are emotional, and luckily for you, we’ve taken the time to make sure all your rave needs are covered, whether you’re feeling cute, freaky, or nasty.
Rather than taking the classic “be cool, sell 300 copies, break even” approach like the rest of our underground dance music counterparts, we’re looking more to iconic labels like Warp for inspiration — focusing on establishing the childsplay sound, signing up our favorite artists for long-term record deals, and taking the mainstream underground. We’re really excited to announce the first wave of official childsplay artists — DJ Mell G, Mod R, Speed Gonzales, and Shawn Cartier — who hit all the sweet spots and have the crossover potential necessary to take the ghettotek-type scene out of it’s SoundCloud niche and inevitably achieve world domination. Young Black Male has just come over from one of the biggest independent labels in the world as well. Between the extended childsplay all-star roster, we have playtime pretty much covered forever, from Jersey club to donk.
Hit us with some of your favorite emojis and the ones that describe childsplay’s overall attitude the most.
🦄 Unicorns are rare, and also the national animal of Scotland. Proven fan favourite and childsplay staple, it’s best paired with double rainbows and double hearts. The key to becoming a successful DJ is 10% mixing, 33% selection, 69% nails 💅. Shame there’s not more colour options, but you can’t win them all. Also, the emoji with fucking $$ signs for eyes 🤑. What more do you need?
Tell us about childplay’s bright, brilliant, internet-crazed aesthetic. Who’s Osian Jenaer, and tell us about the inspiration behind the label’s album art and promo videos?
It’s less of a stylistic choice than it is the fact that #cherryb had to learn how to photoshop from YouTube to make tacky pink covers, because we had no money to pay anyone who actually knew what they were doing. Osian Jenaer was living in the room next to #cherryb while he was staying in South London for a few months at the start of the year and really leveled up our art game just as we joined our new and ultra-cool distributors, Unearthed Sounds. He had only made one Facebook banner for our new year’s house party before he made the VIGILE cover on torrented architecture software, but it was cool, so we made him art director.
As far as the promo videos, we’ve just hooked up with some of our very young, very talented, and very meme-supportive friends @kiubik000.000.000.1 and @dustygrandmar. Osian is currently hard at work on #childsplayapparel’s debut XXXmas collection, so stay tuned for some pink, tacky, and wearable graphics!
Tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us.
#cherryb got sweaty in his room and threw together almost 100% unreleased tracks from the upcoming childsplay EPs up until next July, sprinkled with a few favorites from Carouse, Brainwaves, and our resident DJ Yazzus. Of course, it also includes both smash hit singles from the new Mod R EP. Please enjoy with your party favors of choice.
What can fans expect to hear next from childsplay?
Press play and hear it for yourself!