Galaxians have been announced for JUX, a new music festival in Leeds which takes place at the Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 20 February. Joining them will be Houndstooth / Optimo Music act Shift Work and a host of established and emerging acts from around the UK including Joanne Armitage, Blood Sport, Yard Wars, Game_Program, Milk Crimes, Cactus Knife, and Makanitza.
Festival co-host Matt Woodward (Galaxians // Azores // Stargaze Records) spoke to Joseph Sheerin from Leeds-List about the event….
How did JUX festival come about?
The initial idea came about because my pal and work colleague Michael Ainsley and I (we both work at Leeds Music & Performing Arts Library at the Central Library in Leeds) were talking about a number of things – our own bands, music festivals, different musical communities which exist in Yorkshire, Lancashire etc. We struck upon the idea of organising something which might bring together people of different communties and bands who normally might never appear on the same bill. Neither of us had ever organised a festival, though we have both been hosting gigs in Yorkshire for a number of years. Michael does a couple of bands – Yard Wars and The Ainsley Band – and I play in the bands Azores and Galaxians and run Stargaze Records with Jon Nash (Hookworms / Cowtown etc).
A festival is a good way to bring together bands who might never share the same stage perhaps as a result of not being part of the same genre sphere, belonging to a different creative or communal ideology, or simply having stylistic differences. I think that in very simple terms we’d like to use the festival as a platform for bringing communities together, helping people to make new friends and creating awareness of different cultural movements.
Can you talk us through some of the bands on the bill, and why you’ve asked them to play?
SHIFT WORK – are a duo, Mark and Johnny, who originally come from down south. They had a record out on Optimo (Glasgow) last year which is how I first heard them. I’m a big Optimo Records fan so I always check out new records on the label. SW do a kind of experimental, organic techno, though putting them in a genre box doesn’t do them justice. They make exciting, soulful modern dance music with character and without pretentions. I put them on last year at a party I co-host in Leeds called Release Yourself and at the time Johnny had his leg in plaster so it made for an interesting live spectacle too. Nice gentlemen and good facilitators of electronic dance music.
JOANNE – I heard about Joanne (Armitage) recently because I read an interview with her online. I wanted Joanne to play because what she does intrigues me in that I don’t understand quite what it is! Joanne is a live coding artist and is part of the ‘Algorave’ community in Leeds, I think. I might be wrong about that last bit, but either way I just thought what she does sounds really interesting and because I don’t know what it means I want to see it for myself. Plus, it’s another thing that is happening here that is important and is an art form and when Michael and myself were programming the lineup we wanted as much totally different stuff as possible.
MAKANITZA – are a trio from Leeds who I first saw a few months ago when one of my own bands, Azores, played with them. They were a bit of a revelation for us really. One of those rare bands that combine a really high, obviously very schooled, level of musicianship with really good, really fun music. My first reaction to seeing them for the first and only time so far was “Wow, where has this band been hiding?” but then you just realise that you’ve not seen them because as people playing music in Leeds you just exist in different communities. It’s one of the great things about this city. Even after almost 20 years of living here I’m still being surprised by stuff like this. In terms of their style they do Eastern European and Roma Gypsy folk music which is wild and hypnotic. The kind of thing that whips people into an actual frenzy and is impossible to sit still to. Again, asking them to play was a no-brainer because we want as much different music as possible, and they’re just really good.
MILK CRIMES – is Ellie, Peter and Simon. I have met them all but haven’t yet seen them play yet. I’m looking forward to that immensely. They are one of a new group of DIY bands coming through in Leeds at the moment, along with bands like Molars and Crumbs. People have described them as “catchy, fun, anti-social queer punk-pop in the same vein as bands like Martha, Trust Fund, and The Spook School etc. I’ve heard only universal praise for them so far and I wanted to invite them on because another thing that is important to me is having a mix of both older and younger bands playing.
There are lots of other really good bands playing – BLOOD SPORT (Sheffield), Michael’s band YARD WARS, MI MYE (Wakefield), GAME_PROGRAM (Leeds), CACTUS KNIFE (Chorley/Wigan), and TAKE TURNS (Leeds). My own band GALAXIANS are playing, too.
Will there be more in the future?
We would definitely like to do more, and as these things often go, you have an idea to do a festival and then you’re already thinking about who you’d like to play the second festival / year. But it depends on one thing really: dollars. I hate that but it’s a fact. If we lose a lot of money on the first one then it’s gonna create reservations and stress attached to any future JUX events. I read somewhere that all music festivals lose money in their first three years so it doesn’t bode well, hah! But y’know, it’s a DIY festival, we’re low-key and we’re not going to lose like £250,000 on it, so it’s okay.