The rise of RISE – How Drum ‘N’ Bass exploded in Swansea

by Fin Hardie

Rise Swansea is the events team responsible for the smashing of huge Drum ‘N’ Bass events recently in the city. I ask John Teagle, the man responsible for these events, how he’s managed to grow the brand so rapidly in the last few years.

How did you come up with the idea of Rise, and bringing Drum ‘N’ Bass to Swansea?
“My friend Kyle and I were DJing house nights in Swansea at the time a few years back, but had a real passion for D ‘N’ B whilst studying in at the university. We knew it was time to bring something bigger.”

How have you managed to grow Rise from smaller acts to signing up huge names like DJ Hazard, High Contrast and Andy C in recent weeks?
“Kyle (John’s friend and co-owner of Rise) moved to London after he graduated, leaving me as events coordinator. As a result, my understanding of events of grew, meaning I could see what was likely to work in Swansea and what wasn’t so likely to pop as an event. The Rise brand grew with improved marketing skills including the use of new artwork and t-shirt sales. In cooperation with Sick T’s, the team responsible for the incredible artwork seen at the events and mad t-shirts on sale in the venue, Rise has developed a distinctive underground look which turns heads. The passion and flare for art from Sick T’s in combination with the events has given them a more personal and community-driven vibe.”

What exactly is involved in bringing the acts to Swansea?
“I have to use judgement to guess the fees. I look at their Youtube, Spotify, Facebook… you’re looking to see if they have brought out any new albums which they are likely to want to tour. This gives an idea if they will be available, and ideally an artist that has been achieving recently. Lots of emails!”

You’ve just bought the big man Andy C to Swansea, for not one but two nights in a row!
“I’ve always wanted to bring Andy C to Swansea, to step Swansea up to the levels of Bristol and bigger cities for two nights in a row like they do. It is nice to compete.”

Do you attend all the events that you put on?
“Of course! I’m always hiding backstage skanking my face off. I book acts I want to hear and enjoy dancing to, and of course other people will too.”

Do you get to personally speak to the acts that you book for the events? What are they like?
“Yeah, I’ve taken a few for dinner and chill with them after the show. I always try to do an artist liaison on the night, and my lovely staff members Amy and Niamh will often look after them on the nights when I’m not around so they have what they need… like drinks, and just chilling out. It’s always important they have their own space too though.”

What else do you think the Swansea music scene needs? A new venue?
“I think it needs growth, bigger nights with multiple headliners at once, and possibly a bigger venue eventually. The passion and drive of all the promoters is key to putting Swansea’s underground music scene on the map. Other promoters like The Library – LMD, Bassline, Sink Swansea, The Lighthouse Project and the Sin City in-house team, they’re all awesome. It’s a long-haul game – it takes a long time to build and make a music scene.”

How many people are involved with the Rise team?
“It’s mainly been me since Kyle left working on Rise, but I’ve got a lot of support from the whole Students’ Union events team, my girlfriend, close friends and everyone around me. I’m never doing it totally alone, but the brand is owned by me directly. There is a lot of help that I couldn’t do without. There was also an amazing music scene long before I came to Swansea, and there will be one after I leave, but I’m doing my best for the scene while I’m here.”

Clearly it is the community-driven support, love and hard work shown by everyone involved in Swansea’s music scene that is driving the demand and growth of the events. This supportive atmosphere really becomes evident when attending the nights, watching Swansea’s resident DJs and promoters work in harmony, sharing sets and promoting each other across social media. It becomes obvious there is one shared collective mindset; to make Swansea a household name in music across Wales and the U.K.
Get yourself down to the events – there is no better way to release the stress pent up from last month’s January exams than skanking with several hundred other students. See you there.


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