Josh Baker on Hide & Seek: A kaleidoscope of house and techno

Highly respected on the international club scene, the You & Me co-founder and resident explains how a festival was a dream that became reality.

By Martin Guttridge Hewitt | September 1st '22

Photography © Christopher Werrett all rights reserved. www.cwphotographics.com

(C) Christopher Werrett

Situated 20 minutes south of Manchester by train, more in the inevitable traffic, Macclesfield is an unsung Cheshire gem. A forest of near-mythical aesthetics, monthly Treacle Market worth a pilgrimage if you’re into sweet treats, an abundance of impressive antique shops, and — since 2019 — one of the North West’s best-curated electronic music festivals.

Hide & Seek launched in a different time to a different world, then took a forced hiatus thanks to the you-know-what. Triumphantly returning for a second edition last summer, it’s back again this weekend for round three, taking over the grounds of stunning Capesthorne Hall with a who’s who of esteemed house, techno and disco players.

Brainchild of the crew behind Manchester party You & Me,  this intimate, two-day outdoor gathering has roots in slightly less picturesque surrounds. Starting life as a throw down for 200 people in Fallowfield, a regular crowd was quickly established, before a move to the city centre raised the night’s profile significantly, and competition for numbers on the door.

Josh Baker is one of the crew behind Hide & Seek festival and Manchester's You & Me parties

Finest meets Josh Baker, one of the heads responsible and a well-established touring DJ in his own right, at You & Me’s current basecamp: New Wakefield Street’s Brickhouse Social. Upstairs, on the faux-foliage lined terrace, it’s clear the place goes off when the volume is turned up. Wood floor, skylight ceiling and glass walls make an ideal daytime stomp-a-thon space.

“Scaling up was a big challenge,” Baker admits, explaining that in many ways You & Me overstretched with the initial move into town, or rather Strangeways’ treasured but sizeable venue, Hidden. “The first party was a reality check: this isn’t as easy as you think. You’ve done six great parties with 200 people at £5 a ticket, now everything from the taxi costs to the venue hire and artist fees has gone up. Entry cost reflects that, which can work against a young party.”

Nevertheless, Baker and co ploughed on, finding increasing success at Hidden with throw downs also held at spots ranging from hedonistic Northern Quarter eatery The New York Bagel Shop, to sadly defunct clubs South and Versions. The pandemic paused everything, before reopening events hit outdoor venue Progress Centre, high tech grass roots address Kable, Brickhouse, and most recently beloved Trafford haunt, Six Trees. Plenty of momentum, nevertheless Hide & Seek represented a bold leap into pastures new.

Hide & Seek is known for its attention to detail, in addition to expert programming / (C) Hannah Metcalfe

“It’s a whole different ball game to clubs. I think it’s every promoter’s dream to do a festival. It was something that we tripped into, almost: a dream that became a reality when we found the space. My Mum found the site, she basically said: ‘Why don’t you try there?’. We inquired and it was way more possible than we ever thought,” Baker says of how things went from dirty rooms to pristine woodlands. “Year two broadened the music, and this time it’s even more varied still.

“So the Main Stage is bigger room underground house — Apollonia, Traumer, Sweeney. Lovers Paradise is the disco-y tent, and all shades of house music. Fun stuff you could drag anyone into from the street and they’d enjoy it. Like Todd Terje, Oden & Fatso, Jamie 3:26,” he continues. “Then we have Tentree, for more minimal stuff — Zip, Spokenn, Raresh, the Sunwaves audience. The Dome is more party starting — The Ghost, Gene On Earth, Dungeon Meat. So straight up house, in for a good time — and Fantasia is sci-fi alien stuff.”

And by that Baker means DJs that don’t necessarily suit easy definitions. For example, UK selector and John Dimas collaborator Voigtmann, Berlin based tastemaker Binh, whose Club der Visionaire parties are the stuff of legend, and Japanese-born DJ Masda, also based in the German capital and renowned for intelligent but tough sets.

Stages with personality and attention to detail define the Hide & Seek site / (C) Hannah Metcalfe

“In terms of the site overall, we’ve taken inspiration from other places we like, but also other industries away from music — like fashion — to do certain things with staging,” Baker says, before moving onto how important lighting is, in the woods, on the field, and around the Hall itself. “One thing we are doing this year is changing colours of each stage, and giving each stage a colour. We’ve realised colour plays a huge factor in the mood… For the lights we spent time working with a company called Lumen.

I think we’re almost creating little cults around each stage. People who were at Tentree last year probably will be back there. I like the idea of that. When I go to festivals, I find myself going to the same stage year on year — you kind of watching it evolve,” he continues. “You need some change, but I also think people like familiarity… they begin to feel associated with a space and almost become part of the festival’s identity through that.”

Hide & Seek Music and Arts Festival runs at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire, on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2022. Limited tickets remain.