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R:Evolve

R:EVOLVE was once a lowly Bradfordian drum & bass night, born in a dingy basement. Now it has grown up, and the soundsystem and collective based around Bradford and Leeds is now comprised of a range of organisers, lighting and sound technicians, and of course the DJ’s who know just how to make you wobble. Their passion is plain and simple: to provide a great night out for the public; and by now they are renowned for putting on some of the most fantastic parties in some of the most idyllic locations in the North. Every time I’ve been to a night where R:EVOLVE soundsystem has played, they are the most consistently on-it crew I’ve seen, always making sure things are in check and that people are happy. On top of this, they provide a perfect opportunity for young creatives to mingle and share their talents. What more could you want from a soundsystem?

How was R:EVOLVE born?

Milo started R:EVOLVE as a drum and bass club night originally taking place at the old Rio’s rock club in Bradford. Historically there was very little in the way of drum and bass, or any other heavy bass genres, being played in Bradford so it seemed like a good idea. The night took a while to take off properly and required a bit of commitment on our part and a bit of help from other local nights like JoyPad to get us on track.

Eventually we managed to sustain a good local crowd for our nights and a great forum for local DJs. The R:EVOLVE club night still exists today causing a stir around Bradford on special occasions. That being said most people associate the name R:EVOLVE with our rig.

The idea of building a soundsystem didn’t occur to us at first, even though we were well aware of the notoriety of Valve soundsystem and other local soundsystems. It wasn’t until we had all been introduced to the free party scene in and around Yorkshire and Lancashire that we realised it was feasible. The free parties all revolved around an often custom built soundsystem, in an old warehouse or in the countryside. The parties were always such an amazing experience; the soundsystems were immense and the vibe was really friendly.

By this time our crew had grown quite large (having joined forces with JoyPad) and we were building quite a reputation for throwing parties in some form or the other in and around Bradford. We were out pretty much every weekend, all weekend doing anything from student house parties to squat parties to our regular club nights. It was at that point that Milo started researching soundsystems and tinkering about in the basement where he lived. He botched together a small(ish) sub from a driver that he acquired and a load of wood stolen from skips. For ages this sub made regular appearances at house parties and other small events. That year the majority of Milo’s student loan was spent on building up the basis of what is now R:EVOLVE soundsystem.

Since that initial investment R:EVOLVE soundsystem is more or less self-sustaining as we reinvest any money that we make from parties and club nights back into the rig. However, we have also had some more significant gear contributions from some of the other crew too.

Did you build the system yourselves?

Although we don’t actually make the speaker cabinets ourselves, the majority or the system is custom made using open source cabinet designs. The system sits on a base of 4 Hog scoop bass bins built by Insomnia speaker systems which were some of the first of that design used in the UK. They are pretty popular cabs these days.

At Temple Works the R:EVOLVE bass scared the owner so much so she thought the building was going to collapse you must have some good sound from your system...

Yeah! We’ve never seen anyone so worried about bass, poor woman! Luckily the building is still standing, and we’re all still alive too! We had another odd situation recently where it felt like it was snowing inside a venue – turned out we were causing the plaster to crumble and fall from the ceiling! We’ve also vibrated light fittings from venues roofs! It’s the combination of our 4 hog bass scoops, coupled with our Void Infinate8 and Infinate5 amps that generate that lovely warm bass that wobbles your insides (and sometimes cause minor building damage!).

Do you all, as DJ’s have a preference to a certain genre of music or do you like to mix it up a little? What genre’s gets you all going?

We love that bottom end, and are definitely into our bass-heavy sounds – You’ll usually find the likes of breakbeat, drum & bass, dubstep and jungle emanating from our rig, although we don’t restrict ourselves to those genres. Recently we’ve been heard shaking buildings with healthy doses of house, trap and garage. We run a podcast on our website (www.r-evolve.net) with mixes from our DJ’s, so you can get a real feel of what we’re about there!

On your website it says that you like to provide a great night out for the public as well as bringing together young creative’s. What other creative’s are involved in R:EVOLVE and what do they do?

We are all pretty eclectic in what we do – as well as being music loving folk a lot of us come from creative backgrounds. We have graphic designers, VJ’s, photographers, artists, filmmakers as well as music producers and DJs. Between us, there’s not much that we can’t do, making us a pretty dynamic and efficient bunch!

 

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Colossus

Toby Tinwell, better known as Colossus, is a Newcastle lad now based in Leeds. He’s made a name for himself as a Drum and Bass producer and artist, and is also the founder of Rush Records.

 

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mdnght records

They‘d probably fuck techno if techno was manifest as the sexy German goddess we know techno is. I know what some of you are thinking:

“Anyone would fuck techno if it was a sexy German goddess.” 

Fair point. Though I’m sure they’d still have a go even if Techno was German Hercules. The point is they love techno. By “they” I mean Don Found and Jay Cub – founders of MDNGHT Records and the residents we got to see back in June. 

 

  • Written by Sean Kyle
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Ikestra

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Chimes and bells channelled my senses to the underworld. I listened to the life at my feet and at the roots of trees, to the birds in flight or the sirens at sea. But suddenly, a hustle of jazz language appeared in the half-light; a hi-hat conducted a crescendo of grooves. I remembered, “this is ikestra; their sound is more distinctive than the geometric explosions of the artwork on their album sleeve”. It was time to delve.

So today, tuned more accurately to the fuming, shaking fists of traffic rushing past Hyde Park’s rainbow of cafes, I am with Joe Harris and Sam Gardner of the Leeds-based 7-piece band. An aroma of fresh coffee and musty board games accompanies our morning chat, set up at LS6...

Tell us about your formation and how the project came to be.

S: Joe is probably the founding member, and the guiding force. I’ve been one of the members from the start, really. We met at Music College. It started off with different people actually...

J: What happened for me, I remember... I started the degree in Jazz at college, and got a bit sick of it and left at the end of second year. Trying to alleviate my worries about just dropping out, I thought “I wanna set something up that I believe in, that I really want to do musically”- I’d been doing things that I didn’t really want to do for ages. I just had this idea really, this one tune written, and I had an idea of who I wanted to play it with. We had two percussionists; Sam was there... Tom Henry, the keys player, was there from the start, Craig as well.... And yeah, we just got together and started jamming really. Joe, you’ve written and arranged much of the material so far.

Is there a particular mood or story behind it? Any key influences?

J: I wrote Dan Y Coed, the first track on the album, in its rough form to start with...

Oh, I know the one! It sent me to the clouds before we met today.

J: ...Well, the band worked more on the overall sound of the track- the texture of it- rather than the learning of the parts. We took the ideas of jazz, but instead of one person playing a solo at the front and swapping around, we wanted a more organic thing, where we could hear different things popping out of the sound in a short-term way. It was like choosing what you wanted to hear more of, sometimes. On the whole, I was more interested in different frequencies than the notes we were playing.

S: One thing I always remember is that Joe was experimental in his approach, and that we were listening to a lot of Bitches Brew [Miles Davies] and Flying Lotus in the early days. 

You currently play a solid role in the Leeds’ jazz/underground scene. How would you define Leeds’ music culture as a whole- do you feel others are aware of its diversity?

S: It can be quite divided. In a touristy kind of way, I’ve tried to sample a bit of everything, musically. I’d like to see more people trying new stuff- I find a lot of jazz musicians are not as open, for example, like with understanding IMOWI [Indian Music on Western Instruments], who I’ve played with before. Jesse Bannister teaches this community of musicians, and much of what he’s taught has been invaluable to their music careers. Some of ikestra’s as well. 

J: Yeah, and you’ve got places like Brudenell, which puts on some amazing local bands that are more in the rock vein. But there are some experimental bands too, and something I would like to see more of is a crossover between genres. 

On that note, can you tell us about your relationship with Destroy All Records?

J: I’ve known Marcus of Destroy All Records a while- partly through the Brudenell crowd. We had an album pretty much recorded and ready to go, and the deal was settled over a pint. The mutual publicity works really well for both of us. They also get offers for gigs for us that we ourselves would never get- more within the rock scene, so it bridges that gap we talked about earlier. We get to play more than just the jazz festivals.

Your self-titled album was released in springtime; what’s next now festival season’s over?

S: Well, we’ve got enough music for another album now; we’ve been writing a lot. Other than that, gigs. We’ve got a monthly residency kicking off here at LS6, actually... 

Headlining Sunday Joint @ Hi-Fi 20/10/13

Debut album available on CD, limited vinyl and download via bandcamp.

ikestra album sm

http://www.ikestra.co.uk
http://ikestra.bandcamp.com
https://soundcloud.com/ikestra
https://www.facebook.com/Ikestramusic

 

  • Written by Melissa Thompson
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Vital Techniques

The duo spin a mix of dubstep, grime and garage, as well as producing their own music, holding a weekly radio slot on Radio Frequency FM, and residencies at some of the biggest nights in Leeds. With releases on various labels, including their own Second to None Music,  their recognisable bass-heavy sound has found admirers in many top-notch dubstep DJ’s, including Skream, Benga, Crissy Criss, Rusko, Doctor P, and Flux Pavillion. As fast-rising stars in the genre, and with airplay on 1Xtra, Radio 1, Kiss and Rinse FM, and getting their tracks included on Ministry Of Sound compilation CDs, it’s clear that Vital Techniques mean business.

Bethany Oasiss gets a peek inside the mind of one half of Vital Techniques, Antix, with talk about music, his brother, and what to expect from Vital Techniques in the future.

Can you tell Champion Up North a little about Vital Techniques and the music you’re dropping?

Vital Techniques is a duo consisting of myself (Anthony, aka Antix), and my brother Liam, aka Vecta. We had a couple of studio sessions together; they worked really well together so we formed the alias Vital Techniques! We mostly produce dubstep, but also drum & bass, grime and garage.

When did you start DJing?

I started about 7 years ago and Vecta about 6 years ago. We were both thrown straight into pirate radio from the start so we had to develop and master our craft very quickly . . . I guess you could call it getting thrown in at the deep end! But it made us graft and become skilled quickly, and helped push through into the scene, so we wouldn’t change it. Shout out to the Radio Frequency FM family!

What was the first record you ever bought and why?

The first vinyl I ever bought was a drum & bass release on Zombie records, I think, along with a Taxman bit on Playaz. Going back a few years now though! Can’t remember specifically; will have to try dig them all out!

You have an interesting name - how did it come about?

It was just one of them long thinking processes where you know you have to come up with a name and the pressure was on, so we threw some names back and forth and Vital Techniques came up. . . had a good ring to it. . . nice and sharp. We looked at it as the ‘vital techniques’ needed in DJing and producing to make it, which we got! Seemed to make sense! Best we had at the time anyways!

What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened in a rave?

There’s just so many! From people sweating and gurning, to Rat Pack making everyone take off one shoe and put it in the air! Seemed right at the time as well, but looking back pretty weird!

Who are you looking forward to seeing at Jungle Jam?

Hazard! All the way. His last set at Jungle Jam was just insane . . . and I’m not all over jump-up drum & bass liked I used to be, but he’s another story. Banger after banger! Got to say as well that I’m looking forward to playing there again. We’ve had such an amazing reception the last couple of times we’ve played there, it’s always one to look forward to.

Is there any sibling rivalry between you? And if so, who’s the better DJ?

Haha, no, not at all. We push each other I think, and we’re both good at mixing so know we can always trust the other during a set etc. which is always good! If we had a rivalry, I think the partnership would be due for disaster! That doesn’t mean we don’t have our disagreements though, like if we both think a new track should be approached differently whilst producing, then you’ve got to fight your case a bit . . . but that’s just creative minds at work I guess.

What’s your biggest tune that causes chaos on the dance floor?

Got to be 'Paranormal' at the moment. Loads of love for that tune from ourselves and Mikey B, which is out now on the ‘Breaking the Ice EP’ from our label! It’s just a straight tear out tune that makes the crowds go wild. Sukh Knight has also been supporting it on KISS FM and at gigs so shouts to him and the True Tiger camp.

Give me three random facts about yourself?

One of my eyes is both blue and brown. I was born with blonde hair and it randomly changed brown at about 3/4 years old.

If I ever order a kebab and they forget to deliver the tub of chilli sauce with it, it pisses me the fuck off! How can you have a kebab with no chilli!?

Your label, Second to None - how did that come about? Can you describe the music you play through this label?

Second To None Music came about as a plan and goal to achieve over the summer of 2010. We wanted to release our own dubstep music as well as other artists who we think are making moves. Quality control was always key and we wanted to release various types of dubstep . . . keep it versatile. We managed to get a really good distribution deal sorted, signed some artists, designed all the artwork and just took the challenge head on. From not really knowing anything, we just went for it and learnt a load of stuff along the way. Thanks to hard work from both of us, it paid off and we’ve received a lot of support. We’re just about to fly out to play at 50HURTZ, one of the largest events in Amsterdam and Holland, to promote our labels next release from Badklaat and Disonata . . . watch out for that dropping on 6th May!

www.soundcloud.com/vital-techniques
www.facebook.com/VitalTechniques
www.facebook.com/SecondToNoneMusic