“I ended up at Ambar.”
It’s a phrase that has been uttered by many a late-night punter who knew if they ventured across the city to this little club down a Murray Street alleyway, they’d be met with banging breaks and people they knew.
Ambar was safe and it was like a family. But all good things come to an end.
With almost two decades of trading under its belt, Ambar stuck steadfast to the breaks genre. This consistency was its strength, but Mazzucchelli laments that it was also “to a fault.”
“Part of the culture of the club was consistency. I guess that the fact it was successful for so many years is testament to that strategy working,” he says. “Sticking to one music style is not what people want now days. Ambar built a culture and a community around a sound. That doesn’t seem to exist in venues anymore.”
A lack of appetite for regular club nights with a cover charge put the writing on the wall for Ambar. Mazzucchelli tried to ride out what he thought was just “disruptor” for almost two years, hoping the culture would change.
“I thought it’s just this current rotation of kids,” says Mazzucchelli. “It became increasingly evident that the culture wasn’t going to change about the way young kids wanted nightclub experiences.
“It feels to me that the late-night demand is just not there anymore. This current generation of kids are all doing it in reverse. They’re getting loaded at five in the afternoon at ‘pres’ and then they're home by midnight, one o’clock.”
There was time in clubbing culture when the only way to hear new dance music was to see a DJ play it. The changing way people consume music is another factor that Mazzucchelli believes is failing the club scene.
“The valuation of music has changed thanks to streaming services,” he says. “Instead of going out to hear a DJ play fresh and upfront music, you can sit on Spotify or Soundcloud and have access to everybody’s mixes and new releases which renders the DJ playing them valueless for the music experience. Do people still go out? Sure. But they’re not going out because they want to hunt out new music.”
What started as a venue to house a genre of music Mazzucchelli loved, turned into a club that won countless local, national and international awards. The DJs to come out of the Ambar stable have shone bright too. Resident DJ Micah was awarded the Perth Dance Music Award’s best Breaks DJ for 10 years running with Mazzucchelli crediting him with helping to develop and maintain the Ambar DJ family. Another resident DJ, Mono Lisa, was voted Perth’s number one female DJ for five years running and Philly Blunt is another who took out Perth’s Best Breaks DJ award.
Although Plump DJs, Stanton Warriors, Diplo, Pendulum, Porter Robinson and the late Heath Ledger are among the big names to have graced the DJ box, Mazzuchelli was equally supportive of celebrating lesser known names.
“If I am proudest of anything, it’s our steadfast support of booking local talent and creating opportunities,” he says. “When you book touring artists, it’s rewarding for the guys that have worked hard and invested in the venue by booking them too.”
The memories began from the very beginning when Mazzucchelli – covered in paint and standing on a ladder – greeting guests as they streamed down the stairs on opening night in 2001. Mazzucchelli cites being voted number 42 in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs in the world as a career highlight (“It was a pretty big deal for us at the time as we were the highest ranking Australian venue.”) as well as booking a then relatively unknown Plump DJs and having them lay the foundations for Perth’s breaks scene. Breakfest after parties were another highlight, in particular the year that saw all of the festival acts DJ at Ambar as well as local heroes Pendulum who closed the night. Mazzucchelli also has personal memories of the club, including meeting his wife. (“She was then dating one of my glassies. Needless to say his employment quickly became tenuous.”)
Ambar’s final gig takes place this Saturday and will be an open-door event with an early kick-off.
“We feel there is a large chunk of the people who will be attending on the night that now have kids and have moved on in their lives who would be pretty happy with a social gathering,” says Mazzucchelli. “It’ll be free entry because I felt like it’s us giving back to everybody that is coming down to support us.”
Resident DJs old and new will be playing with Philly Blunt, Micah, Tone, Wish, Pussymittens, Bezwun, Dngrfld, Oli, Mike de Wet, Jordan Scott and Invoker on the bill.
Mazzucchelli won’t be farewelling Ambar from sidelines. His old DJ persona FMT – Funk Master Tate, a nickname affectionately given to him by old friend and Ambar DJ Tone Brideson – will also be getting a spin.
“I think it will be fair to say that I will be dropping the needle on the last tune,” he says.