With this week being independent venue week we thought we’d take the chance to thank all the incredible venues that make inner city electronic possible. We also caught up with a few key people working tirelessly behind the scenes at some of the cities most loved independent venues, helping to make the cities electronic music scene so special!
Wire - Daniel Burridge
1. Wire’s played a pivotal role for electronic music in the city since it opened in 2006, with the venue having such an incredible history of hosting some of the worlds best DJ’s, what would be your personal highlights from your time with the venue so far?
Thank you for the kind words man! Oh wow… I mean there’s too many. Having RBMA install a whole new lighting rig just for one night for Marcel Dettmann was pretty cool. For me personally? It would have to be when MC DRS had a night off, so unannounced we snuck him in with his hood right up, nobody knew he was meant to be there. Then during Lenzman’s set he got on the mic backstage and you heard “You’re listening to the sounds of the D.R.S”, and the cheers were just insane. Never seen it like that!
2. Other than inner city electronic which forth-coming shows at the venue would you suggest people come through for?
We can’t wait for another I.C.E this year, thanks for having us involved again as always. So the big one for us this term is our 14th birthday weekender. Part 1 is a 12 hour party, 10pm till 10am on 28.02, and part 2 on 29.02… Featuring Ben UFO, Afrodeutsche, Fabio & Grooverider, Francesco Del Garda, Josey Rebelle, Sherelle and Hamish & Toby.
3. What advise would you give to anyone interested in working within the nightlife industry or looking to host a club night?
Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Go out, meet people, make friends, enjoy the tunes, have a laugh, have in depth conversations in the smoking area, build your network, support each other, buy tickets to your friends events and show your face when they might not have sold loads of tickets. You have to be there to make anything happen. Don’t just apply to jobs online. Just be present at these venues, show your face and learn the scene. Make a reputation for yourself, then one day an opportunity will pop up and you’ll be ready and waiting.
4. Wire has been a strong advocate of safe space clubbing, why do you feel this is important for the venue and it’s atmosphere?
Fortunately today there is a bit more awareness around these topics, but it’s still in its infancy. It’s great however to see more and more promoters and venues getting on board with this now. There are so many people from different walks of the earth and we all love the same music - no one should be made to feel uncomfortable whilst enjoying the experiences. We don’t want people having to keep one eye over their shoulder in our venues, we want them to be involved in the moment and let themselves relax.
Sheaf St - James Abbott Donnelly
1. Sheaf St stands out as a space that extends beyond music, with shared office spaces hosting a variety of creative industries. Does this have an effect on the atmosphere of the venue and what was the inspiration for the building?
Sheaf St is the front of house for Duke Studios That houses 75 different creative business. Duke Studios has existed since 2011 when we outgrew our original building in 2016 we moved the whole operation to our current building on Sheaf St. This gave us the opportunity to add on publicly accessible spaces open to everyone. Our café, Event Space and ‘Yarden’ play host to a whole variety of events, conferences, weddings, product launches, film screening and we specialise in electronic music events. Not being a full time club space means we really get to curate the events that happen, ensuring they fit with our ethos and aren’t just chasing the money. This approach has a knock on effect that we get really great crowd of people who are there for the right reasons.
2. With more festivals and venues making an effort to operate in a more environmentally conscious manner, is there anything Sheaf St is doing to help reduce it’s effects on the environment?
A good while ago we ditched plastic bottled water in favour of cans of water. Then this January we launched a deposit based reusable plastic cup scheme. Just like you see at many festivals. This dramatically reduces our single use plastic consumption.
3. With the continuing threat of re-development and club closures across the UK what challenges do you see independent venues facing in 2020?
Development is always an ever looming threat, Sheaf St sits right in the middle of the huge southbank developments in Leeds an in years to come will be central to the new city centre park. We are working closely with the developers to ensure this is mutually beneficial. A bigger threat in the immediate future though is audience retention and changes to clubbers behaviours. We’re seeing audiences buying tickets later, arriving to nights later in the evening and spending less at the bar. This combined with rising DJ fees means it’s a very tough landscape.
4. Other than inner city electronic which forth-coming shows at the venue would you suggest people come through for?
April the 24th sees the return of our in house night ‘Midnight’ which is a firm favourite of ours, a proper fun party that doesn’t take its self too seriously. The guys from truelove and Limit have Axel Bowman coming to us early Feb which should be a great night. We will be launching some of our summer Yarden parties soon which are always worth a look. Plus we always have various things up our sleeve.
Distrikt - Johnny Simons
1. Distrikt has defined it’s self as a firm favourite for underground music enthusiasts in the city, with an impressive history of guests over the last 10 years. What do you think have been the key factors to the venues long lasting success?
I truly believe that constant progression in any venue and awareness of changing trends within the venue and on a wider scale allow business to maintain relevance and strength in the market place. At Distrikt we were lucky in the sense that our location was very central but also hard to come across, so our customer base has grown organically and through specific interest in the venues diversity. Alongside this one of the key mantras myself and Rosita tried to replicate when we opened was to offer the club experience as a free entry bar, so something that has always surprised and amazed people is the free entry ethos whether Green Velvet or a local up and coming Dj is on... this has been incredibly worthwhile and has helped us establish nationwide notoriety of which we are all exceptionally proud and happy about. Long may it continue and we are all determined to never rest on our laurels but to aspire to offer more and try and push the boundaries of what is a conventional bar environment as far as we can take ‘her’.
2. Do you think the culture has changed since the venue opened 10 years ago?
I do feel the culture has changed significantly over the duration of our time in office. One of the main things is how popular and mainstream underground electronic music is currently which has obviously increased Dj fees across the board, but also increased the general popularity or events we put on. No longer are we aspiring to reach out to a small finite number, but now it seems that the underground scene has emerged as a strong contender for popular cultures main attraction. This does somewhat mean that it’s not just ‘vinyl heads’ who attend events now, so we must understand the implications of a more diverse crowd, but like all aspects of the role it just offers more room for manoeuvrability and more need for constant diversification.
3. Other than inner city electronic which forth-coming shows at the venue would you suggest people come through for?
Upcoming shows are always a massive thing for us to get excited about, among the listings in the springtime I’m really excited about launching our outdoor courtyard season with KENNY DOPE and am also buzzing about ruf dug (am old favourite of mine) and love all the house of tech collabs, the guys involved work so damn hard for their brand and our venues involvement in the underground scene in Leeds which is absolutely thriving currently. We are also looking to get Mr Weatherall and Mr Smagghe which is always a sure pull on the excitement strings.
4. As well as being an incredible home for electronic music in the city, Distrikt also hosts an impressive array of drinks behind it’s bar… If inner city electronic was a cocktail what would it be and why?
Ahhh cocktails eh, music to my ears...Well an inner city cocktail would have multiple ingredients all of seriously high quality and all combining to create a universally appealing drink that is without a doubt a modern classic, something the brand definitely represents... I would have to say the ‘baies sexual’ translates as sexual berries, this drink includes a incredibly crafted berry vodka by Belvedere, a beautiful vanilla liquor famous through Spain, liquor 43, lashing of lemon juice, fresh summer berries, all shaken with fresh apple juice to create a drink with intensity, complexity of flavour but fundamentally so easy on the pallet that the drinkers will be craving more... A true favourite for all our regulars as the inner city brand has become throughout this great city for underground music… Bravo