UKG Renaissance: Why Leeds?

Posted on September 23, 2010

I shudder at the thought of another Leeds winter. Dark northern nights, atmospheric (windy) evenings and drenched days. The only consolation being, that after an indecisive summer some consistency would be welcome. It would at least help us to make plans, plan outfits and somewhat guide our expectations.
Looking ahead to October one event in particular seems to stand out; a UKG/ Funky/ House night in Leeds called Modulate. By the looks of it, it’s not another ‘urban’ night, aggressively promoted by big name nightclubs. There’s no ‘1xtra logo’ on the flyer next to any names I recognize- yet it’s design gives me an initial insight into the driving force behind the event.

Keen to know more, I confront the two men behind Modulate to find out who they are, what it’s all about and what could it offer to Leeds’ nightlife. I’m remarkably under-whelmed by them in the flesh; they seem a little too laid back about things as they respond to my now seemingly over-anxious questions. ‘Who they are’ unfolds with minor importance in comparison to what they are doing:

(Jamie) “I think we both felt there was a need for a night like this to come about, there’s a bunch of talented up-and-coming DJs and producers that haven’t yet been to Leeds so we wanted to bring them over and put them in the spotlight”

They’re referring to the names that I don’t recognize from the flyer: Pariah and Hackman. Their facebook promotion serves as a platform for increasing invited guests’
understanding of the two acts, and after listening I learn a lot more. Pariah is a young London DJ/Producer, recently highlighted as ‘Act of the Week’ by the Guardian, he sounds at times like an atmospheric blend of the xx and artful dodger.
Hackman strikes a little closer to the core of garage, twisting strong rhythms with a real ear for how a dance floor works. The sniping vocal samples hail back to a ‘golden age’ of UK urban music, Jamie continues:

“I’ve definitely been feeling the garage vibes of earlier years, which you could probably tell by my own productions, so I guess I’ll be bringing that flavour to the table.”

I start to get the feeling that this idea of encroaching talent is central to Modulate. The bookings, whilst unheard of to many, exude a kind of ‘unspoilt by success’ vibe. A recent UKG takeover on Radio 1 excitedly captured an audience-but it felt like 12 hours was maybe a bit of a stretch for classic material from over 10 years ago. Jamie describes how Modulate intends to refresh things a little:

“We’re bringing it all together! Anyone who already listens to and enjoys garage, house, and all the other forms of music that have spawned from it over the past decade or so”

All of a sudden their calm seems to make sense, Their ego isn’t dependent on the success of this night- they’re happy simply to be hosts to some forward thinking, musical talent. Their own summer mix proves however that, they too, are no slouches; providing a catchy soundtrack to many of my recent train journeys. I’m now looking forward greatly to a windy weeknight in October, a gathering of quality-driven clientele, who, with their own ears to the streets can spot the difference between a flash in the pan trend; shoved down our throats, and a genuine surge in UK music talent. Channelled here by the ‘For Us By Us’ ethos of Modulate it promises to be an understated but important night, and Leeds should be proud:

“Leeds has always been at the forefront for new music and is definitely up there as one of the best places to be for this sort of thing – people here are in-the-know musically, so Modulate is definitely a night for the heads who appreciate good music.”

“Our next night will be in November, we’ll be bringing over XXXY and Midland. We then start again in the new year and have some pretty big things planned, definitely not to be missed!”

Our consolation will come in the form of consistency of quality, the warm basslines and friendly gathered peers. Together, not simply satisfied to be out the cold, but to be in the know.

Adam Hutcheson

*hear the Modulate Summer Mix

Modulate is a new club night held at WIRE in Leeds. Expect to hear the sounds of house, UK funky and garage from a host of fresh new artists plus support from residents Louis Saville and Jamie Grind.

+ residents Jamie Grind & Louis Saville

Posted in: Reviews