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DJ Yousef on bringing back the old school feel to Circus in 2024

6 months ago

DJ Yousef on bringing back the old school feel to Circus in 2024
CIRCUS

Almost 22 years since Circus launched in Liverpool, DJ Yousef says the special feel of the old Masque club is back for 2024.

The current home of Circus, Blackstone Street Warehouse, might be vast compared to Seel Street back in the day, but a set-up shift around has recreated that same atmosphere again.

“We really do listen to the people who come and we try and improve things all the time,” Yousef explains. “So we’ve just put the DJ booth basically on the dancefloor rather than on a main stage and it’s completely changed the vibe. 

“It feels like old school Circus when we first started but on a bigger scale. 

“When we were at the theatre, and The Arts Club was The Masque, the DJ booth was really in the thick of it, because it was like a small amphitheatre so you could see everybody all around and that was where the atmosphere came from.

Yousef - CIRCUS
Yousef – CIRCUS

“Now it’s back on the dancefloor it feels similar only better because the sound’s better and you’re surrounded by the crowd so you don’t feel as disconnected. We moved it a few months ago so we did the first event with it just pre-Christmas and it was brilliant.

“It happened because we’re in such close communication with our audience, we take it all on board. Circus has always been a collaborative process between the crowd and us, with me in the middle, and that’s something we want to continue.

“So when people said, why don’t you do it like this? we tried it out and it worked.”

Although he gigs all over the world, Yousef says there’s still not much can beat a Liverpool crowd and he’s constantly on the look-out for fresh talent to share.

“I’ve got an eye on people maybe a year ahead of when they start touring sometimes and part of the skill is to have a wide vantage point on what’s going on. 

“Obviously the staff in the office are a lot younger than me and Rich so their input is just as valuable if not more. You often take a gamble, and it works a lot more than it doesn’t, but the way we do Circus is like a jigsaw puzzle. There are so many pieces to fit in so it’s complex.

“Running club events is never easy, ever, but this is our 20-something year. It’s a challenge at the moment because the cost of everything is so high and that’s made it difficult across the board, nationally and internationally.

“But if anything, it’s made us work harder to get similar results

CIRCUS
Yousef & Fatboy Slim at The First Dance (Credit: CIRCUS)

“I DJ there maybe four times a year now but I’m equally as relaxed as I am nervous because I really want to make sure that I always do everything I can to absolutely rock it, I don’t want to leave anything on the table. 

“And I want to play new music, and just be progressive in terms of what we’re doing in the venue.

“From day one, I’ve never played the hits and I don’t play bootlegs, I just play new tunes. Often a lot of them are mine, or on the Circus label or stuff I’ve been sent, but every single set there’s a range of completely brand new music that I just weave together.

“I get sent so many amazing tunes every week for the label or for myself and I just think there’s every opportunity to play brand new music that will wreck the dancefloor. 

CIRCUS
CIRCUS. Credit: Anthony Mooney

“I’m not one for just rocking up, playing the bangers and getting off, it’d be too easy. I like being surprised by how a record feels or sounds, I like that spontaneity, and if it goes off and if I’ve mixed it correctly and it connects it feels great.”

With a non-stop global gig schedule, it’d be easy to burn out, but Yousef has a very clear rank of priorities.

“I’m always up to something; I’ve got the label, I’ve got the events, I’ve got the music, my fifth album is pretty much completed and it sounds really strong so I’m happy with that. But the way I operate my life is my children first, then my health, and then work and it stays in that cycle.”

Being dad to nine-year-old Theo and Elea, who’s five, will always mean most and now they’re old enough, they get to see him at work as well as at home.

“I took them when I was playing Camp Bestival in the Midlands last summer. I was the last set of the whole weekend, so they stayed up just to see me start, they both came in the booth in their little fancy dress costumes. 

“I think Primal Scream had just finished on the main stage so at first there was nobody there, and then suddenly 3,000 just arrived and I started turning it up and the kids loved it. It was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life.” 

For more info on Circus click HERE. For the latest news in Liverpool click HERE.

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