This coming Saturday (2nd June 2018) sees the inaugural edition of the Inner City Electronic festival take place across 11 venues in Leeds. It’s a similar format to those previously used by things like No Bounds and Tramlines in Sheffield (before the latter’s move to Hillsborough Park) and Simple Things in my home city of Bristol. The man who has programmed the festival, Ralph Lawson, has thought outside of the box a little more than some of those others, though, and has included a swathe of workshops, masterclasses, on-stage interviews with key Leeds artists (or those with connections to the city) and panel discussions.
I was naturally delighted when Ralph Lawson got in touch earlier in the year to ask me to do two things for the event. Firstly, he requested an article for the festival’s free newspaper-come-magazine – available to pick up from various spots in Leeds and elsewhere across the North right now – on the history of electronic music in the city. Thanks to the research for Join The Future, my forthcoming book on bleep techno and the birth of British bass music, this has become something of a specialist subject, so I was naturally delighted to contribute. I’ll admit it was hard to squeeze 40 years into 2000 words, but somehow I managed it. There will, of course, be a lot more in Join The Future when it appears in 2019.
On one of my research and interview trips to Leeds I went round to Ralph’s office to brainstorm ideas for the feature, ask a few questions about his own formative clubbing and party-going experiences in Leeds, and discuss his idea for a panel discussion looking at the impact dub soundsystem culture has had on electronic music – and particularly dance music from Leeds.
That panel discussion will be taking place at the Wardrobe on St Peter’s Square. Run in association with legendary Leeds soundsystem party SubDub (arguably one of the most significant dub and reggae events in the UK over the past quarter century, the Dub Roots panel features Leeds legend Iration Steppas, Prince Fatty, DJ Martin (more on him soon, as I’ve written an extensive piece due for publication soon telling his remarkable story) and yours truly. I’m there to give a journalistic/critical perspective and, of course, to share some of my research into the links between sound system culture, the “blues” (Jamaican speakeasies/social clubs) and the development of early forms of UK dance music.
There are still some tickets left for the festival (though not many I hear), so head to www.innercityelectronic.com to grab yours (and of course find out who else is on the line-up – think Floating Points, Midland, Helena Hauff, Objekt, Horse Meat Disco, Peggy Gou, Paul Woolford etc.).