Inner City Electronic hits Leeds this weekend taking over almost every club in the city from Freedom Mills to the Brudenell Social Club and filling them with some of the biggest talent in the world of underground music. This is part one of a two part series to guide you through the festival. Part 1 by Alexander Szoryn takes you through the key artists performing at the event and tomorrow Alex Storey will give you a more local focus in Part 2.
Ben UFO: Wire, 03:00-06:00
A long way on from his days living on Hessle Avenue as a Leeds University student and hosting a DIY radio show from Midland’s bedroom, Ben UFO has become one of the most beloved DJs in the UK scene, and for good reason. A bastion of all things underground, the sound of his sets stems from roots in early experimental dubstep but, through his always innovative approach to mixing, has him weaving between techno, jungle, garage, grime, electro – whatever is necessary to work his magic on the dancefloor.
It’s his understanding of what gets people moving, and subsequently how to lead them along with him on unique musical journeys, that puts him in such high regard. His ability to form a relationship between himself and the crowd, shifting seamlessly between genres to contrast high-tempo dancefloor intensity with euphoric release; murky and dark groovers with lush light-footed soundscapes – that ultimately allows him to both challenge and delight clubbers in any setting.
As one of the founders of Hessle Audio, alongside Pangaea and Pearson Sound, he has been a huge contributor in the advancement of underground dance music in diverse and challenging directions. His acute ear for fresh sounds and rhythms has led him to catching, amongst others, the likes of: James Blake, Blawan and Joy Orbison all early in their careers, and who are all now mainstays in their respective corners of the scene.
His approach to DJing is one of pure craft, having come all this way into the spotlight without any production career to lean on, he’s renowned for his sixth sense for selection and impeccable mixing abilities which he’s sure to bring in full force to Wire’s crystal clear Funktion One Soundsystem, presented by Resident Advisor.
Forging his own divergent, yet seamless, path through records old and new, we expect his set to be a highlight for all those with their hearts set on sound.
Nina Kraviz: Church, 03:00-05:00
Making a Leeds stop-off on her hectic touring schedule of the world’s biggest stages, techno titan Nina Kraviz will be taking the helm of the party going on at Church club. Headlining the entire Inner City festival, we expect big things from the iconic Russian DJ, producer and vocalist – and big turnout to match for what’s sure to be a set of huge proportions.
A crowd favourite, she’s also been making waves with her curatorial powers on her own label Trip, responsible for releases from the likes of Bjarki and Vladimir Dubyshkin. Commitment to rave mentality comes across in all the label’s releases, highlighted by last year’s Nina-curated compilation Don’t Mess With Cupid, ‘Cause Cupid Aint Stupid, injecting intense gabber flavours into the label’s repertoire – one already renowned for being completely unrelenting.
So, we expected surprises aplenty from the Mixmag DJ of the year 2017 – her style weaving between pounding four-to-the-floor techno, ghetto house, trance, footwork, old-school rave-y hardcore and, of course, acid. Nina’s sure to bring hypnotic journeys and ecstatic curveballs alike to see out the festival’s closing moments.
Make sure to get down to Church club early to secure a place at one of the most highly anticipated sets of the day.
Ross From Friends aka producer and DJ Felix Clary Weatherall will be holding down Hifi for a set we’re beyond excited for, presented by Transmission Funk. Having got his start during the rise of the semi-ironic genre of lo-fi house a few years back, the artist has ascended beyond the tag into a class of his own.
Appearing on stage as DJ supported by two of his best friends, Jed Hampson on the electric guitar and John Dunk on keys and sax, the playfully named Ross From Friends always delivers a fresh and unique experience, quite unlike anything else you’ll see at the festival. His signing to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label last year is yet another affirmation that his emotionally charged take on house music has grown bigger than the movement it stemmed from into its own idiosyncratic style that’s ethereal, euphoric and genuinely beautiful.
Much of his connection to dance music stems from his father who, as can be seen in last year’s phenomenal ‘Pale Blue Dot’ music video, was also involved in the scene – touring his soundsystem on a bus around Europe and throwing spontaneous parties, eventually even meeting Ross From Friends’ future mother on the trip. It’s those kinds of moments of serendipity and free-spirited adventure that fuels his music, resulting in a sound that sends waves of nostalgia washing over the audience and sonically embodies the sense of community and shared feeling that makes dance music so great.
Motor City Drum Ensemble: Festival Hub, 19:00-22:00
Unlike most ensembles – Motor City Drum Ensemble is more of a one-man-band whose ensemble comes in the form of a collection of classic drum machines that are foundational to his celebrated electronic music. He’s quickly become a fan favourite with an ear for uplifting records that keep the energy going in his upbeat sunshine infused sets.
Paying homage to his origins in Germany’s own ‘Motor City’ of Stuttgart, MCDE aka Danilo Plessow is renowned for his colourful, high-spirited house music with influences from jazz, soul, and disco to deep house and hip-hop. His eclectic taste makes for everchanging, spellbinding sets that career off onto joyous musical journeys that aren’t to be missed.
Appearing on the just-released secret stage outdoors at Thorseby House in the city centre, the venue will double as a festival hub for wristband exchange, a bar, street food and more. Flux will be hosting the party at the surprise stage, and Motor City Drum Ensemble will be appearing alongside the likes of Nightmares on Wax and Ralph Lawson to bring the dancing outdoors at this unique location.
Afrodeutsche: Freedom Mills, 23:30-01:00
One of the most exciting rising artists on the scene takes to one the newest of the 11 clubs hosting parties at the city festival – Afrodeutsche takes on Freedom Mills. The Manchester based artist made her full-length debut as a solo producer last year with the entrancing electro-techno project Break Before Make. That said, she’s no newcomer to the scene as a whole, having played a role in Manchester’s underground scene for nearly the last two decades: hosting the club night Clap Trap, playing in the vintage organ group Sisters of Transistors and even writing film and theatre scores.
More recently though, she’s undertaken solo ventures in production and DJing and immediately gained recognition for bringing a vibrant energy to both her own creations and her sets. Weaving between otherworldly electro sounds that take audiences somewhere between deep underwater or far into the future, and grooving, rhythmic techno that propels the party into full dance mode.
She wears her influences on her sleeve too, the moniker Afrodeutsche itself is a nod to Underground Resistance’s ‘Afrogermanic’ – embracing the significant influence the label and Detroit artists of the likes of Drexciya has had on her sound. More than just a homage however, she brings a fresh and exciting essence to the 90s tinged electro by intertwining complex and gratifying rhythms to keep everyone on their feet, making sure she always has your full attention and keeping the groove building.
Afrodeutsche will be holding down Freedom Mills leading up to an electro set from legend Craig Richards, followed by contemporary electro icon DJ Stingray to close the night presented by Dimensions. You can also catch her hosting an Ableton Live masterclass earlier during the day at Sheaf Street.
Yak: Old Red Bus Station, 22:30-00:00
Another strong emerging talent to check out at this year’s Inner City Electronic fest comes in the form of propulsive techno and bass producer Yak. Landing on the eminent R&S records with his 5-track Termina EP this year, his sound capitalises on the off-kilter rhythms the likes of the Hessle Audio crew delivering unapologetic yet intricate heaters throughout the whole EP.
Being a classically trained multi-instrumentalist himself, with talent in oboe, saxophone and guitar – Yak got his start as a resident DJ at Sheffield’s Pretty Pretty Good parties. Since then he’s been releasing techno and bass tracks of his own, markedly with his release on Version Mido EP, which hit the top of Phonica’s singles of the year list.
Tipped and played by influential artists the likes of Objekt, Midland, Ben UFO, Call Super and Martyn, Yak is unquestionably one to watch at this year’s fest. He’ll be bringing this relentless energy to room 1 of Old Red Bus station. Presented by Pretty Pretty Good, he’ll be playing alongside the likes of Radar Radio resident Imogen, and LA and Berlin based producer Mor Elian to close the night.
Mariiin: Hyde Park Book Club, 17:00-18:00
With her monthly residency show Melted Beats on Leeds’ own KMAH radio, Mariiin aka Marinella Constable thrives in embracing a whole spectrum of diverse electronic sounds in her sets.
Her residency of Nice To Be in Naples gave her the chance to her to cut her teeth alongside prestigious DJs the likes of Avalon Emerson, Ellen Allien and Nastia – and cement her ability to soar across a range of rhythms and grooves to get the dancefloor moving.
Since moving to Leeds she became part of the new and absolutely fantastic collective Equaliser – a project which aims to promote the talent of cis-women, trans women, non-binary and trans people by hosting monthly free DJ workshops as well as throwing parties open to everyone hosted by the crew, as well as non-cis men.
She’s holding two sets at the festival, one during the day hosted by KMAH radio at Hyde Park Book Club’s Cafeteria, and another going B2B with founder the of Needs (not-for-profit) Bobby at Distrikt Bar, presented by Mass. We’d definitely recommend going down to one or both of her sets for some intoxicating rhythms and a whole myriad of rare tunes.
By Alexander Szoryn