Ed Lilo

The wonderful Ed Lilo oversees a bunch of venues in London – Oslo in Hackney, Borderline in Soho, and Islington’s soon-to-reopen The Garage, and it’s upstairs smaller stand-alone space Thousand Island. As well as programming all four, he works with the club team to sort clubs, the bar team to help with operational stuff and when he has time, promotes the occasional concert too.

Hey Ed, how the hell are you?
My left eye is inexplicably gammy and I have a four-pints-last-night foggy head but I’m drinking a jumbo filter coffee with whole milk and the sun’s properly going for it through my office window so totally could be worse.

I heard you were relaunching two of London’s favourite indie rock venues… is this true say?
Did they ever go away? Well, kinda. The plan is to make Borderline and The Garage good again, without forgetting what made them good before. So sure, we’ll sell more interesting drinks than piss lager and no brand soda, and we’ll clean them and refurbish them and all those things that make places places people like want to spend time in. But we won’t forget that the core of what we do is make excellent bands play excellent shows, so we’ll make sure everything is set to make that happen; boring stuff like sight lines, world-class sound systems, proper backstage areas, fridges that work etc.

I thought London’s live music scene was dead… Isn’t it?
Eeew no. The narrative of venues closing and music failing is overdone and, in London at least, very much not the case. There are venues popping up everywhere except central London, from The Nines in Peckham to Moth in Hackney, and loads of spaces with history like The Windmill in Brixton and Nambucca’s surprising turnaround. The story of Sebright Arms closing was covered extensively, and now even they are reopening. And despite everything, The O2 Millennium Dome thing is the world’s most successful music venue, like ever.

What can we expect from these spaces – I hear the Garage has turned into a Manga canteen or something?
Ha! I think a few folk got confused about one of the club promoters we’re working with [Precinct] actually changing the venue for good, when actually their plan is to do “immersive club experiences” with a bunch of great DJs in a themed and very cool-looking space. It took me a while too, but I’m convinced. Other than that, we’re programming great concerts into the best spaces we can make. And there’ll be a nice-looking bar at the front of The Garage for a pre-show drink if you fancy it, and some fun late night club events if you want a late one too.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to, ever?
I really enjoyed Yung Lean at The Garage a few years back. Show Me The Body at DIY Space last year could be up there? Beck at Leeds Festival 2003 was pretty important. But most memorable was the Daft Punk tour in that giant laser pyramid, which I caught in somewhere in Belgium. I’m a sucker for production values.

Interview: Josh Jones
Photo: Tom Medwell