Inside the fast-paced world of Melbourne Bounce
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Luke Udorovic has been around clubs for a long time, but it’s his spearheading of the Melbourne bounce sound that’s made him one of the Australian dance music industry’s most notable figures in recent years.
His influence lies primarily in the ever-expanding Lucky Entertainment – first a booking and management agency, now a record label – which is home to names like Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher and Tigerlily. He also runs Billboard in Melbourne, a club at which many of the bounce scene’s biggest stars first found their audience.
Now, Udorovic is looking beyond the hyped genre which has given him so much, and making moves to diversify his roster and extend the longevity of his brand. He explained all that and more over the phone from Melbourne this month.
How did you get into the club scene?
I was born into it, to be honest. My dad owned nightclubs his whole life – he opened the first club in Victoria actually, and eventually he bought Billboard. When I was about 18 or 19 I took over the Thursday night at Billboard, then when I was about 20 or 21 I took over the Saturday night. Through running those nights, I became really close friends with a bunch of DJs, and started a little agency called Hype Machine with John Curtin from Totem.
It came out with a bang, then ultimately fizzled very quickly and became a one-man show. Mobin Master was with the agency when he released Show Me Love, but he then continued on to Ministry of Sound, and I went back to running the club and made that my full-time occupation.
How did Lucky happen then?
About three-and-a-half years ago, a couple of friends asked me if I wanted to get back into the agency stuff, and I said ‘yeah, I’ll give it a go, why not?’ So I took on a bunch of artists – Joel Fletcher, Orkestrated, and three or four others, and just started this little thing called Lucky. We built a website and that was about it, then Will Sparks came along and asked me if I’d sign him and I did. After that, one thing led to another and now we’re ten to fifteen full-time staff operating around the globe and doing what we do.
You guys are always going to be linked to the Melbourne bounce phenomenon. What role did Lucky play in it all?
I first saw it happening from a promoter and venue-owner perspective about three years ago at Billboard. Bounce was only ever played in my side room, then I saw it progressing – the commercial DJs in my main room were starting to play it.
Before long, the guys who were playing in my side room – all my promoters and stuff – were asking me to put them in the main room, so I thought to myself ‘this sound is really growing, it’s becoming commercial’. So I started booking those guys in the main room and it just took off. Our Saturday night went from eight or nine-hundred people to thirteen or fourteen-hundred people every week, because we were the only guys in Melbourne playing it in the big rooms. It grew in leaps and bounds from there.
I wouldn’t say I had anything to do with pioneering it as such, but I just really believed in what was going on in Melbourne and no one else was really taking it seriously; so I decided to give it a shot, to try to justify all their efforts and put it all in one package, and it just happened to work.
In fact it’s at the point now where you’re not only booking and managing some of these guys, but you’ve got a record label happening as well.
We started Bourne Recordings – which is Will Sparks’ label – partnering Will with Ministry of Sound, and now we’ve just launched Lucky Records as well. One half of Orkestrated, Dean Paps, is handling the A&R side of things for that. The label only started a few weeks ago really, but it’s been a long time coming.
We’ve been speaking to a couple of different major labels that want to partner with us, but we’re sort of content at the moment, we’re just letting it progress and take its natural course. A lot of our heavy-hitters are signed on long-term deals to big labels, so we can’t really release their music on Lucky which is unfortunate, but we’re signing guys from all over the world and it’s quite exciting.