The importance of space and protecting our creative communities is manifested by Jessica Beaumont’s own organic journey in the music scene. Noting a lack of creative events and spaces in Liverpool’s nightlife, as well as platforms to promote up-and-coming DJs, Beaumont set out to fill the void herself. Space is an important element behind her innovative club night, Meine Nacht, which she started with Or:la back in 2015 – and she has, in turn, provided opportunities for the city’s grassroots DJs. Her career has naturally progressed with a bold identity – BREAKWAVE – developing as a result. Praised for her pulsating sets that have been pumping their infectious rhythms into venues and onto the radio waves, Beaumont is currently working on her debut EP that will feature two tracks on 12” vinyl, set to be released towards the end of this year.
Informed by the atmosphere she wants to create for her audiences at Meine Nacht nights, the Breakwave sound is an extension of what Beaumont has been honing for a number of years. “It’s mainly breakbeat techno and a bit bassy, that’s the stuff I’m producing at the moment and the kind of vibe I want to create,” she tells me when we meet up to discuss her emergence as one of the North West’s most in-demand DJs. “I get sent a lot of music, and a lot of good grassroots DJs send me their work, so I’ll include a bit of that in my mixes. Mostly I’ll just do my own digging, so I’ll go to record stores and create a mix between ambient techno, the bassier side of things, breaks and jungle as well. I try to include a wide variety of genres, so I suppose you could say it’s genre-spanning. It makes it harder to mix, but I think it keeps it more fresh and exciting for the audience.”
Beaumont’s career started with Meine Nacht, while her own label (Deep Sea Frequency) and music gradually began to take shape. The event provided an insight into producing and the confidence to share her own mixes. “I started making music about two years ago, but it was just a fun element alongside doing the event. I didn’t play out back then, but I’ve been DJing since I was 18 when I got my first set of turntables. I was more focused on the business aspect of it. When I started getting a bit more confident I kind of launched into my own career: it was pretty steady with the label, the event was going really well, and I felt more relaxed. That’s when I started taking my own DJing and producing more seriously. So, it’s a recent thing with the production that I’m now going into.”
Meine Nacht turns secret, unused spaces into a safe haven for clubbing communities to enjoy the music they love. Each event takes place in a different venue, and clubbers don’t find out the location until the night of the show. Beaumont explains that she started the event at the right time, when it was apparent that something was lacking in Liverpool’s nightlife. Her aim was to create something that would have a secure spot in the scene, unlikely to get lost in the noise. “There are so many nights that start up, say in September when all the students are here, and then 80% of them drop off. With Meine Nacht, I came up with the concept of live streaming it in Liverpool when no one else was doing that. I taught myself how to live stream and then implemented that into the event, so that’s kind of how the word got out too.”
Beaumont travels around Liverpool in search of unique locations to house a more relaxed club night where there are no overpriced drinks or overwhelming frills. Her experience of Berlin’s nightlife played a great part in how she set up the event, describing a “more laidback approach and a happier, free environment” that she wanted to bring a piece of back home to Liverpool. “Meine Nacht is a more stripped-back approach. No intense, flashing lights, you know? I don’t do it to make money or show off. I limit the capacity for a reason, because some people go to big clubs and really enjoy it, but others go and they’re really intimidated and uncomfortable. They have no space to move and they don’t have a good experience. I want the customer to return and I’ve been really lucky with that. I do have a loyal fanbase that attends the parties and that’s what keeps it going.”
Beaumont has quickly become a pioneer of Liverpool’s underground music scene, catching attention from other events and venues across the country, as well as worldwide music platform, Resident Advisor. She is taking part in their Alternate Cuts Series, which celebrates the UK groups keeping their local nightlife scene thriving. Sponsored by Absolut, the series promotes nightlife sustainability and shines a spotlight on the tireless work done by those at the heart of it.
“They [Resident Advisor] contacted me to collaborate with them and choose three brands worldwide to take part in this series. We choose one really big DJ that’s current on the scene [Roman Flügel], someone who wouldn’t normally play the set. It’s called Alternate Cuts, because they will be playing music they wouldn’t normally play, so in this instance it’s gonna be a 90s rave set. The focus is on the promoter, so Resident Advisor do a short film to document their process, and try and get an insight into the event. When I held my last event at a warehouse in Liverpool on the dock road, with Courtesy and Skee Mask, they came down to film that. They also filmed a few other locations that I’ve used including an old supermarket, a disused police station and an old bakery.”
As if that wasn’t enough to handle, Beaumont has also been brought in as events programmer at Kitchen Street, and is lining up a celebration of female musicians alongside Melodic Distraction for the venue’s event for International Women’s Day in March. Even though some semblance of balance is approaching, I wonder what her experience is as a female in a predominantly male music scene, and if she’s witnessing improvements in gender balance for line-ups. “I think there’s been a shift and I definitely think it’s improving. I haven’t experienced any negativity at all. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, if you’re a good DJ and you’re a good producer, you’re gonna get somewhere. It’s about giving people opportunities as well, which is what I’m trying to do with my night. With places like Kitchen Street giving me a residency, people are seeing more females playing and performing and working in the scene, so more and more are wanting to get involved. That can only get better! There are a lot of female collectives starting as well, which I notice a lot of, so if I could give any advice to anyone it’s to start a collective: get together, DJ together, and that’ll be another way for girls to get out there.”
“The University of Liverpool also asked me to do a masterclass with them and I’ve been doing a little more to give back and inspire the younger generation,” Beaumont continues. “Quite a lot of girls turned up, which was refreshing. I think it’s important to give people an insight into the fact that you can run your own night, your own label, you can produce, you can do it all! You just have to manage what you’re doing well and have the confidence to go out and do it, which a lot of people don’t.”
Striking a balance between ensuring gender equality and focusing on talent is something that Beaumont thinks is crucial, even if she’s not completely sold on the idea of promoting all-female line-ups. “I’m trying to push a lot of women this year on my line-ups, but maybe not saying it’s a ‘female only’ thing. You have to be careful with how you word it and ensure there is an equal balance. In those instances [International Women’s Day] it’s good, but other events that are strictly for females only can put girls off. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a female: what matters is the quality of the music you’re making, and your technique.”
As the conversation comes to a close, I can’t help but wonder the question that’s on everyone’s mind. How does she gain access to these quirky locations for Meine Nacht?
“It’s about the element of surprise and announcing the location on the day. People don’t even know where they’re going and I sell the tickets, so it works! But then again, that’s just the ethos of my night.”
Beaumont may keep her cards close to her chest, but as long as the appetite for clubbing in unique spaces remains, her work, and her multifaceted identity as Breakwave, will be at the centre of Liverpool’s vibrant nightlife.
Alternate Cuts takes place at 24 Kitchen Street on 29th March, where Breakwave will perform alongside Roman Flügel and Meine Nacht residents.