Last Friday night my friends and I braved the storm and headed out to College Street for the first Copper Coil event this semester, “Start Here.” There was a sense of obscurity to the event given that the Facebook page revealed little details about the location until a few hours prior. However, the important information was listed as the group shared a line-up of five DJs to perform throughout the night, with the first set commencing at 9 pm and the last at 1:30 am. Another detail revealed was to “follow the green arrow till the end,” the full meaning of which will become apparent later.
Arriving at 9:30 pm I was expecting it to be fairly quiet, but much to my delight the main room was already filling up. I was told by another attendee that “this is going to get very busy,” which convinced me from the offset of the popularity of these events. One thing I noticed straight away was the mix of people present which I believe is indicative of the inclusive environment fostered by this collective, something I will explore more later.
The music obviously contributed enormously to the success of this event. Each DJ had a unique sound and style, and yet the different sets fused together seamlessly. There was no delay in the transitions, only enough time for the room to loudly celebrate the DJ who was coming to an end. The decoration of the venue fitted perfectly with the atmosphere and as expected green arrows made a prominent appearance.
Arguably the most exciting decorative aspect was the plastering of the bathroom with recent copies of The Saint. Whilst I appreciated the marketing ploy, I was genuinely intrigued to know why the organisers had chosen to do this. Upon closer look, roman numerals were painted on the copies: XXV IV XX. This date, 20 April 2020, is the date of their last event this semester. As we’ve been given two months of notice, there are no excuses not to be there!
After the success of Friday night, I decided to reach out to my good friends Mia Baker and Tatiana Dickens who happen to be two of the organisers of the collective. In addition to a much-needed catch up, they kindly agreed to answer some of my questions so that I could better understand the aims of Copper Coil.
For many people who have heard of Copper Coil I think their understanding would be that it is a DJ focused group who organise popular music and dance parties. Whilst this is not incorrect I want to emphasise that this is only one aspect of the collective, albeit the best known. In fact, their Facebook description succinctly describes their intentions as an organisation:
“Copper Coil aims to share the music and art of femme artists and musicians. Promoting a space for those often kept in the wings to express themselves and have a good time.”
To gain further clarity, I raised the question with Mia and Tati.
Q: What is Copper Coil?
A: That is a big question! Essentially we’re a group with the aim of promoting the talents of individuals who aren’t always included. Despite misconceptions, we are not just a music organisation, Copper Coil is an art and music collective. We are really hoping to increase the focus on art in the future.
Further discussions revealed that the collective has grown massively since its origin. Whilst the fundamental aim of creating a stage for individuals who are not always heard remains, the breadth of talent has expanded.
Q: What type of events do you host and how often?
A: In terms of the big parties we are aiming for once a month, but we want to emphasise that the community is so much more than just these events. Every Wednesday morning we host “Wet Wednesdays” which are a sunrise swim followed by breakfast. Also, we hold workshops where we teach people who are intimidated by the music scene how to mix. We have several avenues which we hope suit different kinds of people.
The breadth of ways to get involved with Copper Coil demonstrates their inclusivity. Wet Wednesdays, which happen at the pier end of East Sands, sound wonderfully refreshing and a great way to meet all sorts of people. There is no requirement of who can go, other than perhaps eagerness to dip in the North Sea! As they put it themselves, “don’t wake up and fall back into a slumber, you’ve slept all night! Jump onto your toes and come for a dip.” Personally, I think this is a fantastic way to start off a Wednesday morning, especially if you’ve been out the night before– what better motivation to seize the morning?
The DJ workshops, the most recent of which was called “Laundry Club,” also sound like a joyful way to spend an afternoon. They emphasise that “no previous knowledge is required” and that the workshops are very relaxed. As someone with no musical background I have been persuaded to give it a go next time. Even if you decide it’s not for you, the guarantee of hot tea and good company is enough to have me sold. However, for the more musical souls you may walk away with a sense of confidence around your interests you were yet to find in St Andrews.
Q: Please can you explain why the bathroom had been pasted with copies of The Saint?
A: We are trying to run with a narrative this semester, hence the first big event was named “Start Here.” To follow there is going to be a middle and an end, hence the end date was painted on copies of The Saint.
Q: How do you decide who DJs at the events?
A: The real network for the DJs are the workshops. The plan is that we will all learn together and build a community.
Q: Where can people find out about your events?
A: Facebook, Instagram and also keep your eyes on the streets…
Q: Where did the name come from?
A: It came half from the liberty that contraception gave women and the sexual freedom that accompanied this. However equally so it is representative of the copper coils used in music speakers. It seemed like a good synergy between freedom, music and technology.
Q: What artwork do you get involved in?
A: So far it has involved mainly installation work with a real focus on creating an atmosphere and designing a space. As mentioned earlier, we are looking to expand our focus on art in the future.
Q: What would you say to anyone looking to get involved?
A: Do it! Please, just come along.
That final answer encapsulates the willingness of the organisers to get more people involved. As someone who has followed the collective for around a year now, I can advocate that it has grown hugely. The big events are the perfect opportunity for a unique night out in St Andrews and certainly supersede a night at the union. The smaller events are the perfect way to get involved with the collective on a more personal level and act as a platform for individuals looking to express themselves musically or artistically.
I want to thank my friends Mia and Tati for talking to me and furthering my understanding of what a brilliant collective Copper Coil is. I hope this article may have the same effect on some readers and that the growth seen since September continues in the months to come.