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Making all the right moves with Planet Angel's Jo Dunwell

Reported by HarderFaster / Submitted 16-12-09 19:46

Following on from a spectacular 10th birthday was always going to be a tough nut to crack but when your event is Planet Angel and you have a Head of Music Direction who knows a thing or two about her beats, then you can be safe in the knowledge Planet Angel New Year's Eve is going to take the rule book and rip it up. With this in mind HarderFaster tracked down Jo Dunwell to talk about Art Deco themes and a certain seven way DJ mêlée!

Jo, you took over from Rob as head of music direction when he went travelling can you tell us how you were involved with Planet Angel before?

I have been involved with Planet Angel since the very first party, enjoying it as a regular monthly party goer and making some of my life long friends. I even met my husband there. I then felt that I wanted to get involved and make a commitment and started off in the Front of House Team.

How did you find moving into his shoes? What were the easiest and difficult parts early on in your new job?

I have loved every minute so far of jumping into Rob’s shoes. It was a job that I had been interested in for a really long time and it was like a dream come true to be able to shadow Rob and learn about the role from him and take it over gradually when the time was right. The easiest part has been working with the fantastic music team that we have and being part of that team they are such a big part of my life now.

You’ve been in post for a couple of years now. How have you found the last year? What have been the highlights?

I’m now in my third year of doing the role so getting well into now. The first big event that we did at Scala was very exciting in Feb 08 and was a real experience actually putting on a party that was at a venue I had been to many times. Our X-Party was last month and that was a real big one for everybody. I can’t believe that we have been building this community of like minded people for 10 years!

For those that haven’t been before can you wrap up the Planet Angel vibe into a succinct sentence?

Planet Angel is a mixture of fantastic music, friendly people and great visuals where the focus is on people having fun in an environment they feel safe in, it is a great vision.

Planet Angel just celebrated its 10th birthday with the X Party. Can you tell us how the party went?

The X- Party was an event that we were so looking forward to and it was the best Planet Angel party that we have ever put on. It was lovely to see old and new faces in the crowd enjoying themselves. The music was rocking in all three rooms all night long - nobody wanted to go home!

The event has been settled now for a couple of years at a venue in Vauxhall, but that hasn’t stopped the event from moving around for special parties. What do you look for when locating the venue for that next big event?

Actually, we need a certain type of venue, our party people are very friendly and sociable and like to chat and chill out as well as dance so we need a venue with space for three rooms of music and areas that we can turn into chill out areas. Like the art and creativity we include, it’s an important element for us. It’s also very important that the venue has the right vibe and the management have the right attitude, we won’t go somewhere if we think our party people or contributors will be treated badly by the venue staff or security. I can tell you now, there are some really bad venue managers out there!

Of course the next big event coming up is your New Year’s Eve special. After problems two years ago and a surprising event last year, you have an Art Deco themed event this year. How did the development process for this year’s event go?

We like to push the boat out a bit and wanted to do something really different in a new venue. Pete had just spent some time with his mum who loves Art Deco stuff and came up with the idea of a Ball, with an Art Deco theme. It’s a great idea; he was like “Imagine it, all together in one ballroom with excellent music, serious sound systems, lasers and lights – imagine a NYE Ball - Planet Angel style!” The space we found was perfectly suited to a Ball so we all jumped on the idea!

What can people expect from the venue?

It’s really cool, it’s our first time there and we’re transforming it into Planet Angel. There’s a huge dancing arena with a custom built rear-lit DJ stage with special visuals created just for the Ball by the Stickman Collective. We’re having special decor made right now with massive moon and stars murals (did you know its’ a blue moon on New Year’s Eve?!) and London skylines. We’re even making special mirrored centrepieces to shoot the lasers out all over the place! There’ll be cosy chill out areas, a bar with sensible drink prices, a smoking terrace and there are proper loos! That’s important!

Of course as music director you have a special trick up your sleeve this year, a full on DJ vs DJ fest. What made you decide to have this mash up and can you describe you’re plans for this “DJ band”?

Yeah we’re pretty sure this is a first! We’ve got seven excellent DJs representing different genres and they’re all on call all night! There are no set times, they’re all working together as a team to play the best music and to take us on a journey that includes: classic, driving, progressive and uplifting trance, squidgy breaks, slamming drum & bass, techno, electro, dubstep, house, hard house, psytrance and old-skool. There’ll be filth, bass, epic breakdowns and impossible grooves artfully interwoven! It’s going to be awesome, these guys really know what they’re doing and we know as we’ve worked with them for years. We still don’t know what to call a bunch of DJs though, we were thinking a ‘gaggle’ or a ‘loop’ or ‘spin’ as someone suggested!

On top of spinning tunes, we’re taking it one step further as well, we’ve got a big midnight moment planned kicking off with a live drumming performance by DJ Custard. Most people don’t know that apart from being a excellent DJ, he’s a damn fine rock-steady drummer! Expect something very cool indeed. We’re also proud to present the very first live performance by Sly One V Jurrane! These guys have been play listed by people like Armin and Paul Van Dyk recently and are going places, - no one’s seen them live like they will at our New Year’s Eve Party and we’re well excited!

Can you tell us a little more about the DJs you’ve got lined up? What is it that drove you to book these artists?

In addition to Sly One, Jurrane and DJ Custard, we have Ade Laugee our Resident from the Funky Lounge at the regular parties. He likes his breaks, with a touch of dub step and D&B. DJ Therapy and Tequila are both ex-residents who played at Planet Angel for many years and consistently rock the place as people who went to the X Party a couple of weeks ago will testify! We’re also very pleased to have DJ Hazze as well, he’s newer to Planet Angel, but he’s an awesome DJ, we definitively wanted some of his magic for New Year’s Eve! Overall it’s a brilliant team to deliver the musical brief for the night – an awesome musical journey though the most popular genres of dance music!

Another central part of the Planet Angel fun is the activities people can get involved in. What can people do this New Year’s Eve?

Yeah, we like to give people the opportunity the opportunity to explore their creative side, we like to have fun as well so for NYE there’ll be places to make masquerade masks, funky bow ties and tying in with the 1920's theme - Flapper Girl headdresses! We have these workshops at the regular Parties, they’re great fun and you see people going home in the mornings with all sorts of mad stuff they’ve made on them!

We also have face painters and performers and loads of fun stuff like giant connect 4, giant jenga and giant noughts and crosses, we also have Lego and massive drawing walls. We like to have fun and be creative!

Planet Angel don’t publicly advertise the location of their parties, to find out more about Planet Angel and the events they hold visit

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Photos courtesy of Planet Angel. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.

From: Jurrane on 17th Dec 2009 13:27.19
Great interview with one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in the dance music industry. It's a pleasure to work alongside Jo and I'm incredibly excited to be part of the first ever Sly One vs Jurrane live show on NYE. Bring it on!

From: Alan-Banks on 18th Dec 2009 11:25.40
And a mighty fine job she has done since - well done Jo and well done to Planet Angel for lasting so long

From: Andy Force on 21st Dec 2009 19:03.29
Have to agree with all of the above, great guys and always a pleasure to work with. Smile

From: pablo on 2nd Jan 2010 15:42.28
I love PA and all the people involved, well done jo you are doing a great job

From: Neats on 4th Jan 2010 12:25.00
NYE was certainly a great party!! Thumbs up

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