Josh Doherty, the half of Posthuman who does press, is in fine form for our phone interview, having just made the 36-hour return journey from his I Love Acid US tour. The other half, older cousin Rich Bevan, has no social media, does no interviews, hardly ever gigs and just produces. Their partnership has endured — with the occasional sabbatical — for over two decades, the pair splitting royalties equally on every Posthuman release, no matter who does what in the production.
DJ Mag, and this is no exaggeration, asks Doherty one question — Why acid? — and he pretty much speaks for an hour with only the most occasional prompts, answering every other question we’ve prepared in the process. He’s amiable, interesting, self-deprecating and with a stock of excellent disco anecdotes. Oh, and his initial answer? “To be honest, the essential answer to that is I didn’t fucking know anything about acid when I started. I was a fucking idiot."
Posthuman first came together when Josh signed his initial release to Manchester’s Skam label at the end of the ‘90s, Rich apparently telling him: “If you’ve got a deal you need me because you’ll fuck it up on your own.” They moved in together, building a tiny recording studio under the stairs in a shared house in Dalston, where they recorded their first album ‘The Uncertainty of the Monkey’. It was released on their Seed label, which put out another pair of Posthuman albums along with leftfield breaks, factory-flavoured broken techno, and various strains of electronica from artists including Ardisson, 8Bitch,The Dagger Brothers and Antoni Maiovvi.
“We realised you couldn’t just become part of someone else’s crew, so we started our ownn ight, also called Seed,” Doherty continues, “with the idea that we would find small acts and allow them to grow.” Creating a crew, being part of a community that he’s actively nurtured, is a recurring theme for Doherty and seems to be something of a driving force behind many of his dance music endeavours. So the next logical step for Posthuman was events, and from 2001 to 2004, they put on extravagant parties in London’s disused Strand tube station. With liberal quantities of whisky greasing their relationship with the station’s custodian, guests included Aphex Twin, Plaid, Mira Calix, Luke Vibert and Goldfrapp
Posthuman had momentum. They completed their first European tour, their label was selling lots of their own and others’ music, and they started getting album offers. And then it all went wrong. “We had Warp and Nova Mute offering us record deals and we did the stupid thing of trying to play them off against each other,” Doherty tells us. “Then we released our totally shit follow-up EP just at the moment the arse fell out of the industry, all the offers disappeared and no one wanted to know us anymore. We really fucked up." The Strand parties were shut down and the crew launched their Soviet night in South London. The first was a huge success but they lost money on the second, had a falling out, and in 2006 Doherty simply left to do his own thing.
With Posthuman only releasing music sporadically, in 2007 Doherty set about building a new crew, enlisting UK acid house warrior Luke Vibert and starting I Love Acid. Originally intended as a one-off party, “I Love Acid snowballed”, Doherty recalls with glee. “We were doing a party every month and getting requests to do I Love Acid stages at other events.” UK acid-devotee Placid came on board as resident, the parties got bigger, better and more regular and with things back on the up, Posthuman launched their Balkan Vinyl label in 2010 with a compilation of music from the likes of Global Goon, Luke Vibert, B12 and Mark Archer of Altern 8 fame.
Posthuman were back making music more regularly too, happily mashing up broken, dub-ish, downtempo scaretronica and rave-breaks like on their ‘Hilda Family’ EP on Myuzky from 2008, or dropping twisted machine-breaks and thumping Belgiuma on their 2009 ‘Lander’ EP on Handsette, caring little for tempo or genre restrictions, making music purely for the dancers.
In the 2010s, things really sped up. In addition to everything else, Doherty began running Machine for Ben Sims and Kirk Degiorgio and launched the vinyl-only I Love Acid label in 2014. Then in 2015 he began performing live as one-half of Altern 8, describing the move to “don the other suit” with Mark Archer as something that “just kind of naturally happened”, as though performing live with a seminal UK rave act was the most normal thing in the world, just another day in the office.
Jon DaSilva — “Mr. Acid House from the Haçienda ‘88-91” — joined up and they started a Manchester I Love Acid. “We were getting booked all over Europe, parties every month all over the place, and by 2019 it was just insane the amount of shows we were doing. ”The same year, I Love Acid won DJ Mag’s Best of British Best Club Event award “and it really felt like everything was peaking: I could have been doing a party every weekend and in early 2020 I nearly was — and then the fucking pandemic happened”.
As clubs began to close, Doherty was extremely concerned about the health risks involved in continuing to play events and highly critical of those playing "plague raves". His stance caused friction with friends and business associates alike and he was threatened with legal action by some venues over cancelling events. I Love Acid has now returned, both to the UK and via a series of hugely successful US parties, and Posthuman have plans for 2023 that include a release of their own every month of the year and a mega-party in London on 303 day in March — but Doherty is clear that the club landscape has changed.
“The last two I Love Acid events here in Glasgow were completely sold out and we were turning people away at the door... I’m still really, really enjoying it, but it’s definitely trickier now because people don’t buy tickets ‘till on the day... Some events have just failed and it’s the first time that I’ve had empty events for years.” And there’s another post-pandemic change that concerns him: “I’ve always dealt with other independents like me, who are in it for the love of it — and they’re the ones that have not really managed to get back on their feet since the pandemic... A lot of venues now have a booker and haven’t got back to having independent promoters running individual nights. Bookers have much more broad strokes in who they book, so it’s much more about booking safe Instagram bets, rather than knowing who to book for a fucking acid house night."
Behind the scenes, subtle changes like these can wear down the character of our thing, smoothing off the rough edges, resulting in something more homogenous, less real. Which makes acts like Posthuman all the more important. Never played a major festival main stage, no agent, no interest in anything much beyond killer tunes, no-holds-barred parties and building a crew — the priorities that created the best of our scene.“It sounds like a fucking cliché, but as you get older the truth of it pushes through: it’s better to be true to yourself than try and chase success on other people’s terms. I used to be jealous of ‘breaks’ that I felt some people got and I didn’t... but that energy just goes nowhere. It’s poison. So I just did my own thing and tried to be the person to others that I would have needed in their shoes. I wouldn’t change it.”
DJ Doom 'Contrain' [Goddess]
Alien 'Welcome to The Shrine' [Arcade Pony]
Gary Gritness 'Nickel Cadmium' [Hypercolour]
Ghostwhip ft. Young Lychee 'Lie Sum Mo' [Posse Up]
Roi 'Talan' [Fanzine]
Solo Blades 'Midhaven (Bass Nuum Mix)' [Collective Leisure]
Mani Festo 'Eyes Open' [DEXT]
Robodroid 'The Future Of Mankind' [LDI Records]
Posthuman 'Grad' [Balkan Vinyl]
Michel Ange 'Vanilla Ice' [Posse Up]
Club Cab 'Lick It' [Dancefloor Impact Research]
Justin Jay '0000' [Club Designs]
Dynoman 'Shadow Step' [Dynomusic]
Hassan Abou Alam 'Shmoolaire' [Nehza]
Nikki Nair 'for all epsilon' [N goes to Infinity]
Dopplereffekt 'Speak And Spell' [Dataphysix Engineering]
Justin Jay 'Sneaky Sneaky' [Club Designs]
Ghostwhip x Patrik Cure 'Gloves Off' [Posse Up]
J Wax 'Freaky' [Future Classic]
Erhalder 'Chip Stress 10 B (909 Rocket Mix)' [Chip Stress]
Elisa Bee 'Sample Minds' [Balkan Vinyl]
Hodge 'Sub 100' [Two Moons]
Damon Wild 'X-EX' [Synewave]
Dax J 'The Train' [Monnom Black]
Awtriep 'Oamsi' [New York Haunted]
Juliet Fox 'Vibrational Frequency' [Kneaded Pains]
Soul Destroyaz 'Mind Tricks' [Synewave]
Richard Bartz 'Style Wars III' [Kurbel]
Marcal 'The Only Way Is Forward' [Hardgroove]
Awtriep 'Ooja' [New York Haunted]
Wild and Taylor 'Bang The Acid' [Synewave]
Cypherphunk 'Voltage' [Dancetrax]
WTCHCRFT 'No Time To Lose' [Balkan Vinyl]
Positive Merge 'Closing Of The Season' [Monochrome Audio]
Chloe Robinson and DJ ADHD 'Pax' [Pretty Weird]
Gettoblaster and Robert Armani 'Work The Box' [Hot Haus]
Queer On Acid 'Inhale' [Kneaded Pains]
Stefano TT 'Back to The Future' [RESET]
ACOR 'Military Call' [Divine]
DLV 'Rave Instructor' [DLV Music]
Replicants 'Needs Moar Acid v1099' [Spring DT]
Granary 12 'Dancetrax' [Granary 12]
Locked Club & RLGN 'Captain Industrial' [Acid Avengers]
Aloka 'Digeridoo' [Nehza]