Who Loves: The new kids on the block set to change the Melbourne party scene

When a group of 20 something music enthusiasts get together to throw parties, changing the sound of Melbourne usually isn’t their main aim.

However, Who Loves event organisers Denis, Dajana, Andre and James have finally pursued their dreams of creating their idea of a perfect party, and are doing things differently when it comes to throwing good events.

The idea for Who Loves formed when the foursome met one night at a party and discovered that they had the same intentions to run their own events and change the party scene in Melbourne.

Denis Khassapov, one of the Who Loves founders, has already made a name for himself running parties at Prahran’s unique nightclub and pawn shop, Pawn & Co.

“I always wanted to run my own parties, but the right people with the same ideas never came around,” he said.

“One day I was at my friend Alex’s house party, DJing, and Andre came over to me and he really liked my music, and when he was playing I really liked his music.”

“After that, we randomly bumped into each other at a DJ competition called Your Shot. We just got chatting and somehow got thinking that we should start our own parties. We both mentioned that we wanted to run our own events and that’s how it came about.”

Who Loves currently run one party per month, getting their inspiration from the events they had been to and replicating a similar vibe.

“We got a lot of our ideas from the house parties we went to and all the doofs we used to go to, we just wanted to throw parties with a similar vibe to that,” said James.

“We want to create a different, deep house sound and be recognised for it. No one really plays that kind of music, and we just wanted to play the music we’re into, so we thought let’s try to bring that kind of doof environment to a monthly event.”

In order for the parties to be accessible to everyone, the group decided to run their events during the day from 3pm to midnight.

“Our aim is to throw good parties, attract good people and create good vibes, a place where everyone can just hang out and have a good time,” said Denis.

“We want to attract all different types of people and make it accessible to those who may just want to listen to a few tunes during the day, or for those who want to come to a pre party somewhere before they go out,” said Dajana.

“We end our parties early because we don’t want people to leave when they’re completely drained. We want people to leave at an early time still buzzing from the good vibes and leave thinking, ‘Wow that was incredible’ rather than ‘I’m really tired’ and then forgetting about how good the party was,” said Andre.

While Who Loves currently throw one party a month, the group have high ambitions to grow their name.

“Maybe in the future there will be a Who Loves record label or even a Who Loves music festival,” said Andre.

“Our aim is to create a unique sound that people recognise as Who Loves. We want to create parties that people gravitate towards,” said Denis.

The following photos were taken at Who Loves‘ third event at Less Than Zero on the 5th of August 2017.

The Who Loves crew (from left to right) Denis, James, Dajana and Andre.


Keep up to date with Who Loves’ upcoming events on their Facebook page. The next one is happening this Saturday at 3 pm, head here for all the details.

Photographs and words by Deniz Karaman

Church boy turned electronic DJ

On first impression, Ash Mclerie resembles your typical Melbournian DJ. Namely, he’s quirky, nonchalant and hip. However, unlike many other DJ’s, his music career kicked off in a religious context: at church, being the child of a pastor; born and raised in a deeply religious family.

He is an energetic character flittering from one place to the other, his curly brown locks bounce up and down around his head each time he moves. He wears a cheeky grin and curls a strand of hair around his finger as he speaks. “What’s the time?” he asks. “Two thirty”, I reply. “Time to see the dentist!” he yells back. Funny? check. Cool? Check. Charismatic? Check check check. 

He’s already played at festivals like Strawberry Fields and Rabbits Eat Lettuce, and has appeared at famed Melbourne venues such as Brown Alley, Revolver, Billboard, Tramp Bar and Railway Hotel Brunswick. He is fast making a name for himself as one of Melbourne’s up and coming DJ’s, and his passion for music flourished in an unlikely setting. 

Ash discovered his love for music at the tender age of eight years old, mixing music at his local church.

“I was doing sound for the church, I was the guy at the sound desk. That’s when I got into music, but even before that I was fascinated by it. Church helped me to progress to what I do now and I branched off into electronic music.”  

“My dad is a multi-instrumentalist, he’s been doing music since we were kids at church,” he says.

But his religion still plays a role in his life and he believes that his talent for music is God given.

“I feel as though God has given me musical talents.”

Ash says that he wants to use his music to help people, and is pursuing DJ’ing as a full-time career.

“My goal with music is to change people’s lives around the world, to make them feel a certain way: happy.”

“Music has opened me up to a lot of opportunities, it’s helped me get through hard times, and it’s shown me my potential and given me purpose. It’s shown me that anything is possible. I want to pass that on to others,” he says.

Ash making music in his studio. Photo: Deniz Karaman.

Ash’s good friend Ilan Riback describes Ash’s relationship with music as “inseparable from his character”.

“Ash lives and breathes music, it’s what we all know him for. Some people are known for their sense of fashion or love for animals, with Ash, it’s always been music.” 

“A lot of our friendship is built around and based on music. We bond over music and spend most of our time at gigs, it’s actually a really important aspect of our friendship.”

While Ash currently works as an electrician, he eventually wants music to be his full-time career.

“When I’m at work I’m constantly thinking about music, but I’m never thinking about work when I’m doing music.”

As the conversation draws to a close, it is very evident that Ash has a special relationship with music, more so than enjoying a few tunes after work in order to unwind. For Ash, music is a lifestyle and has been the defining feature of his life.

Whether or not he will produce music for a living in the future, it’s safe to say that Ash will be making some noise around the Melbourne music scene, if only to one day become one of its most loved DJ’s.

 Written by Deniz Karaman

Submissions for Emerge 2017 are coming to a close

Call outs to get involved in the City of Yarra’s most inclusive celebration of multicultural arts and music, Emerge 2017, are coming to a close this Friday.

Created in 2004, in conjunction with Multicultural Arts Victoria’s (MAV) Visible Music Mentoring Program, Emerge 2017 started out as a humble arts festival and has grown into an all-encompassing series of art and music events taking place across the Yarra for one week at the end of June.

Emerge 2017 welcomes innovative music and art submissions from artists in the Yarra and provides an outstanding opportunity for newly arrived refugees and emerging communities to get involved in telling their stories and connecting with the community.

We spoke to Joel Ma, one of the creative producers, about all that is coming from this year’s event.

“It’s about opening up communities and neighbourhoods to the multicultural personalities and diversity that is around them and we often take for granted… and within that is this rich amount of human story and experience that we can all benefit from and embrace,” he said.

Cookin’ Up Community with South Sudanese spoken word poet Abe Nouk and South Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai (held at the Fitzroy Community Kitchen). Photo: James Henry Photography

“MAV gravitates towards innovative ideas and artistic pursuits,” he says,“The other side of [Emerge 2017] is to create amazing art, for us it’s about finding artists within [the Yarra] who represent all groups… to come together and collaborate and try ideas out and connect with where they live now.”

Emerge 2017 is also pushing the boundaries of the mainstream music scene by challenging expectations of many mainstream musicians who are of the notion that multicultural arts and music can’t be separated from the traditional.

“From the music perspective, I’m very interested in the idea that multiculturalism includes more than just a traditional view of art or view of music. It can sometimes be engaged with traditional instruments, but that could be offset with electronics or contemporary music collaboration… And that is where you’ll find the most popular music of today,” said Joel.

With a philosophy of celebrating the positive contributions of newly arrived refugee groups, and embracing diverse art and music in the Yarra community, Emerge 2017 is definitely something we can get behind.

In its 13th year and thriving with strong connections to community leaders and cultural groups, Emerge 2017 is only expected to continue to cultivate its invaluable contribution to the community.

The submission deadline is 5 pm Friday the 5th of May, with all submissions going to Freja Macfarlane at freyja.macfarlane@multiculturalarts.com.au