This Saturday (continuing until the morning hours of Sunday), Inner City Electronic is set to take some of the city’s finest venues firmly under its well-seasoned wings, filling locations across the city with some of the best Producers and DJs the world of electronic music has to offer. Alongside internationally renowned names such as Peggy Gou and Orbital, Saturday will also see some brilliant local artists descend upon the ten stages dotted aroun the city, including the likes of SIMBA and Dokkodo Sounds who play BBC Introducing stage, new for 2020. By day, Inner City continues to skate above and beyond the realms of your usual metropolitan Inner-City festival by providing a comprehensive programme of talks, workshops and music masterclasses at Leeds College of Music. This guide aims to steer you through the must-see performances of the festival, including an interview with Emily Pilbeam to discuss the new arrival of BBC Introducing West Yorkshire’s Stage to Old Red Bus Station this year.
Get yourself out of bed for the conference talks at Leeds College of Music.
As glorious as a lazy Saturday afternoon lie in sounds, sleeping/ binge watching Netflix in your pjs till 4 in the afternoon and consequently missing the conference talks taking place this year would definitely be a mistake, no matter how good rewatching blue planet 2 for the fifth time may be.
The stomping ground of many fledgling acts performing at Inner City, from 1pm onwards Leeds College of Music plays host to all the workshops and talks covered under this year’s conference programme (bar DJ Mag present: Crate Digging with Alienata, which takes place at Tribe Records from 5-6.) Here are a few of the highlights
Music: Leeds – How to Start a Record Label with Ralph Lawson (20/20 Vision) Bobby (Needs Not for Profit) Kirsti Weir (Null + Void) A-Future (Eon), Hosted by Dr Sally Rodgers.
13:00- 13:45, Leeds College Of Music – Room 219
A non- profit organisation established as a centralised point of contact which coordinates activity to support, promote and develop music based activity within Leeds and across the wider region, Music: Leeds has helped to forge a pathway into the music industry for many emerging artists and music organisations. A man to keep your ears open for during to talk will be Ralph Lawson of 20/20 vision who founded the label 25 years ago when the current decade must have felt like the very distant future. “25 years later and the future is not exactly as we imagined it with spaceships, hover cars and light sabres but we’re really proud to have made it this far.” Writes Lawson in a status update about the label’s progress over the past quarter of a century on Facebook. “We’ve managed to survive the hardest years in the history of record labels to get here. I liked the name 20/20 Vision because it means ‘perfect sight’. At the time we started the label, house music was starting to split into different scenes which seemed alien to me. Early rave culture attracted me because it was all inclusive and broke down the walls of division. I also just happen to like lots of different styles and types of music. By naming the label 20/20 Vision we wanted to let people continue to have a perfect vision of music in all it’s wonderful forms.”
Now the home of Crazy P, Greg Lawson and Motor City Drum Ensemble, hearing Lawson’s take on how to start up and successfully run a record label is definitely going to provide a good ol’ motivational start to the day; hopefully we’ll see some new labels popping up over the city this year as a result.
Bluedot- Protecting our Pale Blue Dot with Ben Robinson (Bluedot) Dr Drew Hemment (Future Everything) and Teresa Moorse (A Greener Festival)
16:00- 16:45, Leeds College of Music – Room 219
Named after Pale Blue Dot, a famous 1990 photograph of planet Earth popularised by Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot Festival is a music, science and cultural event held annually since 2016. When talking to Emily Pilbeam on BBC Introducing ahead of the Festival last Saturday, Ben Thompson (one of Inner City’s directors) explained that the talks Bluedot were initiating outside of Music back in 2016 actually influenced Inner City’s decision to make the Conference talks and Workshops such an integral part of the Festival. Given Bluedot’s history of putting on such popular and successful ‘Dottalks’ programmes, we can expect this talk -which focuses on what positive change is needed within the music industry to reduce negative effects on the environment- to be a masterclass in speech- giving.
Resident Advisor Exchange featuring Orbital , Hosted by Matt Annis.
15:00- 15:45, The Venue LCOM
RA Exchange, a weekly podcast featuring conversations with artists, labels and promoters shaping the electronic music landscape has featured some huge names from the world of electronic music, and now it can add Orbital to its ever-growing list. This special live edition is set to be hosted by Matt Annis, author of the brilliant ‘Join the Future: Bleep Techno and the Birth of British Bass Music’ is sure to be one of the highlights of the conference, providing a chance for fans to get up close and personal with Festival favourites Orbital before catching them at the Refectory later in the day.
A Tribute to Andrew Weatherall (Fail We May, Sail We Must)
Leeds College of Music, 6pm.
Following the tragic news of Andrew Weatherall’s passing, a tribute to the much loved and respected DJ and Producer has been announced after he was booked to play and speak at the festival. It brings together friends and musical partners for a talk which explores the significant cultural impact he has left behind, featuring Justin Robertson, Sean Johnston and Joe Muggs, joined by moderator Chris Madden.
If you’ve ever fancied becoming the next Peggy Gou, the 2020 conference programme features a selection of hands on DJ workshops presented by Bop DJ, featuring Tristan Da Cunha (Dungeon Meat), Bonar Bradberry (PBR Streetgang) & Bobby. (Fabric / Needs / Pleasure Club) with workshops running in the LCOM Music DJ studio from 2-7.
The programme also features what’s set up to be a super exciting talk from Weirdcore, the visual artist behind Aphex Twin, Radiohead and MIA about how important visual work is to music. This takes place at The Venue 17:00-17:45, hosted by Rob Chadwick.
DJ Mag Present: A Future of Clubbing will explore how venues and parties could become spaces that are inclusive of disability by removing the barriers that currently restrict them. This talk takes place at Tribe Records, 4-5 with Mike Greenwell.
Support your Local!
BBC Introducing West Yorkshire Stage
15:00-16:00 Dokkodo Sounds
17:00-18:00 S I M B A
If you’re looking to catch the sets of some homegrown talent, look no further than Old Red Bus Station, host of the BBC Music Introducing West Yorkshire stage which is a new addition to the festival for 2020. We caught up with BBC Introducing host Emily Pilbeam ahead of Inner City to get the lowdown on which artists are going to be playing the stage this year.
First of all- congratulations on your new job presenting BBC Introducing West Yorkshire! You’ve been in the new role for around two months now, how’s it been going?
Hello! Thanks so much! I think it’s been going well?! It’s been a real honour taking over the show. I’d worked behind the scenes on the show for four years before I started presenting and it’s just been a bit of a dream come true really. Being able to shout about all of the incredible artists that we have in our region is just amazing. We’ve got loads of really exciting things coming up over the next few months that I’m looking forward to working on. Lots of fun stuff to announce!
At this year’s Inner City Electronic, Old Red Bus Station is hosting the BBC Introducing stage- talk us through who’s playing!
Our line-up is ace. All of the acts we’ve got playing are the ones we’ve picked are artists we’ve been championing on the show for a while. Kloyd is a downtempo electronic producer whose been sending some really ace stuff our way. We had her in for a live mix last year and we loved her. I’m looking forward to seeing Dokkodo Sounds! We’ve supported him in his previous project Laminate Pet Animal so I’m interested to see his solo stuff come alive. Then there’s Alfred, his style of music is really interesting. He did a mix for us earlier this year that sounded awesome so seeing it in a live setting will be ace. Really looking forward to seeing SIMBA too, I have a feeling his set is going to be really fun.
Which other Leeds based DJs/ Producers have been catching your eye recently?
There are so many incredible DJ’s & producers in our area. Like, SO MANY. A producer we’ve been supporting on the show for years that I desperately need to see is a guy called Limpit. The stuff he sends our way is always pushing the boundary of electronic music, I love it. We did a special on our show last week that was dedicated to promoting the best DJ’s & producers in our area in celebration of our stage at Old Red Bus Station this week and we came across a brand new act to us called Picklejam. The tune ‘Apollo’s Groove’ was our Record of the Week. It’s a really funky track and I cannot wait to hear more from him.
This is the first time BBC Introducing West Yorkshire has had a stage at the festival, when did planning for it begin? How much work goes into putting together something like this?
Producer Shell got cracking on building the relationship last year. We had Ben Thompson in for an interview last year and it all kind of built from there. The way we put the line-ups together is the same as how we do it at all the other local festivals that we have a BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire stage at. We work with the promoters to come with the best line-ups we possibly can. It’s a lot of work but it’s ALWAYS worth it in the end. We get to push the artists we love to audiences we wouldn’t necessarily get to usually, we enjoy insane live performances and the artists always love it. Doing stuff like this is the highlight of my job.
Which performances are you going to be running off to catch after SIMBA finishes at Old Red Bus?
I’m going to stick around at Old Red Bus Station and check our SETH. He’s another brand new act to us and we’ve loved what we’ve heard so far. He did a mix for us on our electronic special last week and it sounded siiiiiick. Then obvs gonna try and catch Peggy Gou and Orbital! Cannot wait.
Other notable Leeds-based mentions:
Engineers of deep moods and hypnotic grooves, DJ/ Producer duo Baba and Ganoush join the stellar line-up at old red bus station from 23:00-00:00. This set is sure to draw in a crowd of loyal fans out to support homegrown talent, including friends of the duo performing earlier sets at Inner City such as Dokkodo Sounds, the moniker of Thomas Trueman, formerly of Laminate Pet Animal.
Better known as Clandestino, Joe Morris, Nick Smith and Iain Mac are veterans of the underground Leeds music scene having been involved for over 15 years, in which tim their visionary booking policy has seen them bring in the likes of Tim Sweeney and Simian Mobile Disco to Leeds long before they became the renowned acts we know today. Taking influence from the glory days of Acid House and the energy of Disco, Clandestino have gigged at some of Europe’s best venues such as renate in Berlin and Stalingrad in Paris, so a show on home turf promises to be something special. They’re playing a lovely long set from 21:30-00:00 at Sheaf St.
It’s going be a tricky toss up from 21:30 onwards as local electronic fans have to choose whether to catch Clandestino at Sheaf or head to Freedom Mills from 22:00 to 00:00 to see another Leeds favourite, Cosmic Tom. LCOM graduate Tom Smith is well known across the city for his contribution to the local electronic scene as the founder of the much loved event Cosmic Slop and the co- founder of the brilliant MAP charity, which you can read more about here.
The Headliners and Must-Sees
02:00-04:00, The Refectory
“I don’t consider myself just a DJ; I want to be an artist who can do everything, if I can.”
One of electronic music’s most sought after artists, Korean born and Berlin based Peggy Gou’s vibrant, pounding brand of house and techno is set to draw in a huge crowd to The Refectory. No one executes bubbling synth lines and mesmerising grooves quite like Peggy Gou, with her multi-faceted skillset which includes time as a designer, model, professional pianist, writer, editor, stylist and of course DJ and producer giving her one of the strongest artistic identities in the world of house and techno today. Since she burst into the limelight in 2016, Gou has become the first Korean woman to DJ the infamous Berlin techno institution Berghain, and is also the first Korean to be tapped for a BBC Essentials Mix. It unsurprising that Gou seems to be in a perpetual state of being on tour, so inner city is a rare chance to catch her as she dips her toes into British waters. You’ll see us boogying on down, right at the front.
22:30-00:00, The Refectory
Taking their name from Greater London’s orbital motorway (aka the M25) which was a central part of the early rave scene and party network in the South East during the early era of acid house, Orbital are guaranteed to pull through with an incredible set at the Refectory. Having seen success both critically and commercially, the duo’s ability to improvise with such assuredness when playing live coupled with their second to none standard of music and production means Orbital are rightly considered amongst the originators of live dance music.
It was their headline appearance at Glastonbury on the 25th of June 1994 that projected the duo into the limelight worldwide, with Q magazine classing it as one of the top 50 gigs of all time. The gig is frequently signposted as the moment which sparked the transition for dance music from its underground roots towards the mainstream agenda. Speaking about the now iconic set in 2013, Paul Hartnoll told The Guardian “I didn’t know how much of an impact it would have. Being young myself, I just thought, ‘It’s about time – of course we should have acid house at Glastonbury’. It used to annoy me. I just used to think it should be happening.”
Thirty years on from when the headtorch wearing brothers started out, Orbital’s set will see og fans who lived through the rave culture of the late eighties the first time round and those newer to the scene who weren’t even born when the Hartnoll brothers first started gigging (including me!) flock to see them in equal measure.
An integral member of Moroccan record label Casa Voyager (previously listed as Resident Advisor’s Label of the Month) Kosh’s tracks seek to blend complex sounds that resonate what we hear on an everyday basis, brining them to life with energy and happiness. Holding down Wire from 2-3, Kosh’s interest in early acid tracks and Detroit techno is bundled into his expansive sets which promise to ‘nourish your ears with colourful sounds.’ Noice.
ALFOS- Sean Johnston (Fail we may, Sail we must)
23:00-03:00, Sheaf St
A Love From Outer Space (ALFOS) was a venture started by the late ‘techno timelord’ Andy Weatherall, alongside friend Sean Johnston. Launched at a 120 capacity basement in 2010 know formerly as the Drop and presently as the Waiting Room, ALFOS was created during the acid house era to provide a cosmic night of “slowness in a world of ever increasing velocity.” The cult like following ALFOS has amassed over the years and then transferred to venues across Europe is a testament to Weatherall and Johnston’s fabulous low slung hypno~grooves. Johnston, obviously a long standing friend and musical partner of Andy Weatherall’s is, amazingly, planning continue with the ALFOS set in the absence of his partner, so if like us you want to send lots of love Johnston’s way whilst also paying tribute to the late (and absolutely great) DJ and Mr Weatherall, head to Sheaf St from 23:00-03:00.
Notable mentions for headliners and must sees:
Detroit in Effect, 03:00-05:00 @ Hifi
Mr Scruff, 00:00-02:30 @ Freedom Mills
Aalice, 22:00-00:00 @ Warehouse- Room 2
Or:la,00:00-02:00 @The Refectory
By Maddi Fearn