A group of enterprising Wearsiders are making waves in the music world with their sell out club nights.
HAZE was started two years ago when Carlton Johnston, Loui Brown and Aarron Johnston began organising party nights. They are now an eight-man strong team, with the addition of Christian Usher, Ben Carter, Joel Henderson, Joe Dunn and Nath Fryatt, and have entertained capacity crowds at numerous venues in the city.
They have come a long way in two years from their first show, which had no promotion other than word of mouth, to their recent Boxing Day event which was the biggest house and techno night ever in the city.
The night had sold out before the doors had opened, with a capacity crowd of 1,800 people attending The Point to see a line up any major event in the country would have been proud of, leading to Haze getting a mention on Radio 1’s Christmas Eve show.
What makes their success even more remarkable is that they all have full time jobs and organise the events in their spare time.
“It doesn’t matter where you go in the UK, everyone who likes this music, knows our brand,” said Aaron. “We’ve got DJs messaging us wanting to play for us because they’ve seen what we do and want to be involved.
“There was a time when no one would come to play for us in Sunderland. It wasn’t an established city. If it was Newcastle they would have come and played no bother.
“But now we have built up Sunderland’s reputation. We’ve still got a few stepping stones to go but we’re getting there.”
The Boxing Day event was their second sell out party in eight days, having shortly before held a showcase night for their second anniversary, which included international DJ Nick Curly.
“For our second birthday and Boxing Day events we hired a massive LED wall and once we had that with the DJs playing in front it stepped it up to a new level,” said Carlton.
“When you go to these main stage festivals they’ve got huge lighting rigs and screens in the background, so it’s not just someone DJing, it’s a show.
“If someone told me two years ago we would have been spending that much on equipment I probably would have cried but it worked out well. And that’s what has taken us to the level now where agents and artists are approaching us and wanting to play in Sunderland.”
The success of their nights has led to them being asked to be the official club partner for Manchester’s Parklife festival.
HAZE also has a 20-plus strong promotion team who sell tickets and promote events through social networks.
But despite their success they are keen to continue to run nights in Sunderland.
“We love Sunderland and our aim has always been putting the city on the map,” said Carlton.
HAZE’s next event is a MadTech Records showcase at Independent on Saturday, February 27. For more information, follow @HazeSunderland on Twitter or like HazeSunderland on Facebook.