Matt had a conversation with Rose Mason from Guestlist about Galaxians, Leeds, disco and more. Read the full interview here:
Matt spoke to Sam Lidicott from Music Musings & Such blog about Galaxians, our new album Let The Rhythm In, music culture in the north of England and more…..
Full feature HERE.
You might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the suggestion that the country of Lithuania is a hotbed of contemporary street dance styles and hip hop culture. The southernmost Baltic state isn’t well-known for it’s dance culture, but times are changing.
Dancers Kamilė Davidonytė and Greta Lukošiūtė are at the forefront of Lithuania’s changing cultural landscape and are helping shape the future of dance in cities such as the capital Vilnius, alongside the country’s first urban dance company Low Air Urban Dance.
Both Greta and Kamilė also teach and were themselves students at the well established Roots dance studio in Vilnius, where students practise a variety of disciplines and styles through regular workshops, and go on to compete in battles and dance events hosted by the studio.
We found out about the two dancers – who are also best friends – through a post on Facebook which linked to video clips of them dancing in urban areas around Vilnius. Now living in London we met with Kamile in August and were super-excited when she agreed to work with Galaxians and BBC director Clare Tavernor on the video for our new single ‘How Do U Feel?’ We spoke to her ahead of the release of the video and single this month.
I’d like to ask you about where you’re from. What was life like growing up in Lithuania? What’s the dance culture like there, in general?
Lithuania was definitely a nice place to be brought up in as it is very family orientated. We are all very close because I’ve always had my relatives around me starting from very young age. I would say I was kind of living like a gypsy and was the first baby in my generation. Everyone just couldn’t get enough of me.
As the country is very small, the dance culture is pretty narrow. We have some world-known dance collectives but dancing is not very popular field to be in.
What was the spark that fuelled your interest in dance?
Music first. Reggae then hip hop mostly. Music that I was listening by the time that I started dancing was the music that had the rhythmical base line which moves you in that hip hop way.
I was one of the first wave of teenagers who got really into hip hop, electro, and breaking. I think that was a really exciting time for young kids in the UK. Do you get a sense of the same excitement from young people you work with and teach?
Kids that I teach are always extremely passionate about what they are doing, which is really exciting for me. Seeing the excitement and fire in their eyes helps drive my passion for teaching.
Do you have any singular dance influences – particular dancers or people who you take inspiration from?
I get influenced by many dancers and non-dancers. Definitely couldn’t name them all as there are a lot. I do have few favourites who always leaves me with my mouth open. Jaygee and Batalla in particular.
Like other art forms, it seems that modern dance incorporates many styles that crossover? Do you think that benefits the art form itself, and encourages greater freedom?
It’s always good to be versatile and being able to achieve that gives you tools to build up your confidence as a dancer. I think it’s important to make make sure that you’re not a jack of all trades though. Dancers are informed by a lot of styles and there is a greater level of style crossover now. But we also incorporate things that aren’t necessarily or specifically dance movements, like a certain attitude or approach.
“Low Air is Lithuania’s first urban dance company, combining contemporary and street dance forms such as popping and locking and breakdancing, and challenging the notion of what “belongs on stage.” The founders and choreographers are Laurynas Žakevičius and Airida Gudaitė, artistic collaborators and real-life couple. Gudaitė is a professionally trained dancer with a background ranging from classical ballet to jazz, gaga, and hip-hop, making her the ultimate threat in a dance battle. Her partner Žakevičius worked in the juvenile system using urban dance with children in foster care.”
Sarah Holcman TIME OUT
How do you create a balance between technique and good ideas? Do you think they are equally important?
Oh that’s a very hard question. They are both equally important so if you manage to balance them both, I guess that would be the perfect combination.
You and your friend / fellow dancer Greta teach people to dance? Tell me a little about that?
Oh yes! We both love to teach. I just love seeing people getting better or being able to do things that were extremely hard for them. I recently moved to London and am really excited about teaching in the UK.
In your video clips for Roots you look like you’re both having a lot of fun dancing together? How long have you been friends?
We have been best friends for over six years. I guess the best part of it is being able to travel with my best friend and dance with her. Not many people get to share their passion with their beloved ones.
You both have different styles, which is one of the things I really like about watching your clips. Do you learn from each other and share ideas regularly?
Definitely yes, because we spend so much time together. It would be very difficult not to get influenced by each other.
Your performances are really fluid-looking. How do you choreograph your ideas?
Most of the time it’s freestyle. We barely choreograph anything. Unless it is a special showcase then our teacher does the choreography.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
Just to be as happy as possible with myself and always remind myself that I am enough and everything else will come if I work hard.
1) Get It // FRANCISCO (Slow Motion 2016)
2) So Let It Be House (Featuring A.M.O.R, Alinka, Coco Solid, Debonair, Nightwave) // VIOLET X ELLES (no label 2016)
3) Dub The Tension // J-A GROOVE (Studio 1986)
4) Somehow, Someway // VISUAL (Prelude 1983)
5) Dubbing In Sunshine // ROCKERS REVENGE Featuring DONNIE CALVIN (Streetwise / London 1982)
6) I Need A Freak (Black Freak Mix) // S.L.Y (Elite 1988)
7) Don’t Turn Your Love (12″ Dangerous Mix) // PARK AVENUE Featuring TONY JENKINS (Movin’ 1987)
8) Circles // MIKE HUCKABY (Sounds of the Universe 2015)
9) Real Love (Paradise Garage Mix) // MAN FRIDAY Featuring LARRY LEVAN (Nite Grooves 2007)
10) Take Ya Pik, Nik!!! // OMAR S (FXHE 2016)
11) I’m In Love // SHA-LOR (Gertie 1988)
12) Don’t Let It Be Crack // CLAUSELL (Easy Street 1986)
FRANCISCO – Get It
On first listen you might be forgiven for assuming this super-tight minimal house jam to be a Larry Heard production from his mid-90s period. It is, in fact, the work of Italian DJ and producer Francesco De Bellis aka Francisco / Mr Cisco, founder of the Edizioni Mondo label, and forms part of Slow Motion Records’ third outing in their “strictly retro” Lineabeat 12” series. Francesco’s career spans over a decade and during that time he’s been prolific in his field running labels, organising radio shows and parties, and penning little-known gems like this one.
I’m not an advocate of the mindset that new dance music has to always push the envelope to be interesting, or that the four-to-the-flour house jam has become something to avoid. Put simply, a good song is a good song, whatever compositional form it takes and how it’s made. Exhibit A, right here.
VIOLET X ELLES – So Let It be House
Made solely by female producers and artists in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016, this cover of Mike Dunn’s Chicago house classic on Westbrook includes vocal performances by A.M.O.R., Alinka, Coco Solid, Debonair, Elles, and Nightwave and helped raise money for Equality Now, an NGO (a non-governmental organisation) fighting for gender equality around the globe.
It’s a tasteful version (and I’m not a fan of covers, usually) with some fresh vocal performances and a subtle revision of the song’s core framework and sounds.
I struggled to find anything online for A.M.O.R (little help here?), but I can tell you that Chicago DJ (and now Berlin resident) Alinka has a prolific and impressive CV including live sets at Berghain, a multitude of successful remixes, and a long-lasting musical partnership with Hercules & Love Affair singer Shaun Wright. Coco Solid aka Jessica Hansell is more familiar, an emcee and writer and one half of disco-not-disco duo Parallel Dance Ensemble (I’m a fan of their first EP Pizza Turtle Cadillac on ISM 2009).
Looking forward to some further digging on Debonair, Elles (Legendary Children?) and Nightwave….
J-A GROOVE – Dub The Tension
Yes, the a-side (Release The Tension) is superior but it’s always nice to mix things up…
An interesting tale behind this one. It was originally demoed by Colonel Abrams – the version of which was recently released on Rush Hour – and also appeared in 1984 as a 12” by Circuit on 4th & B’way. This is by far my favourite version though. It’s a real fist pumper and the a-side always makes it into my DJ sets. A prime time 2am cut which always makes people dance without fail.
More interesting though is that this is a Boyd Jarvis tune, through and through. No biggie, but Boyd is only one of the originators of house music and something of an industry legend. An innovator in music production techniques, he also trained himself in applied Synthesis architecture and has worked with industry icons Prince, Madonna and Herbie Hancock. Not bad.
VISUAL – Somehow, Someway
…..and on to the next Boyd Jarvis track. Less well-known than The Music Got Me for sure, but great nevertheless. What I love about this song and other BJ compositions of this era is that they transcend sub-genre tags and show the transition from disco, to boogie, to garage, and then finally to house. There’s an experimental approach at play in many post-disco tracks from the early 80s and here it all sounds pretty effortless and organic. We all know the mega-hits of their 70s output but Prelude Records definitely had it going on in the post-disco, pre-house years, too.
ROCKERS REVENGE – Dubbing In Sunshine
In Walking On Sunshine – arranged and produced by Arthur Baker, engineered by Bob Blank, and mixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez – New York City gave us one of the finest post-disco club tracks EVER, in my humble opinion. It’s hard to over-emphasise my love for this song and it continues to be a song-writing benchmark to aspire to. Interestingly, it’s a cover of an Eddy Grant song (sorry, Eddy, this version is better) and for me is one of the finest examples of what became known as proto-house. Simply put, it has everything I love from this period – elements of disco, boogie, and house, and combines live instrumentation with those classic early drum machine sounds.
Love the London Recs sleeve design on this one. And yes, this is the b-side because why not?
S.L.Y – I Need A Freak
Having recently discovered this one (like, literally a couple of days ago) and having trawled the internet for info about it I’ve drawn a bit of a blank, other than to say it was S.L.Y’s only record and features Jackmaster Black on Piano, aka Chicago house artist Peter Black. I’m not super-keen on some of the synth sounds used on this, but that’s beside the point. It’s a super-tight jam with a sweet groove and has all of the early ingredients of a classic early house banger.
PARK AVENUE – Don’t Turn Your Love
It’s fair to say – and has been said several times – that I have something of an obsession with New York, and I do admit to having a fondness for studio projects from the disco and post-disco eras named after places; Crown Heights Affair being a personal favourite. It just sounds so glamorous!
Aaanyway, Park Avenue was the writing duo of Rico Tyler and Todd Jackson who are arguably more well known for writing and playing on Adeva’s In And Out Of My Life (Easystreet 1988) and for their work with high-profile mainstream acts such as Kool & The Gang and Hugh Masekela. Again, this one is just a fine example of early house, with all of the musical motifs, sounds and compositional trademarks of the style. Above all else it’s super-soulful, and that’s what tweaks the emotions isn’t it?
MIKE HUCKABY – Circles
This one is from the recent Soul Jazz Records double vinyl comp Sounds of the Universe (Art + Sound) (2015) and along with the Golden Teacher track it’s a standout on the album for me. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it has a smooth, economic simplicity and a tasteful vibe, which as we all know, are common features of the Detroit style. Mike is a busy chap too – DJ, producer, sound recording teacher, lecturer…..who in the 1990s also used to work in the renowned Record Time music shop in Roseville, Detroit, alongside Rick Wade and others.
MAN FRIDAY Featuring LARRY LEVAN – Real Love
Not officially released until 2007 unless I’m mistaken and who wouldn’t be glad to see it see the light of day on vinyl? It’s impossible to say anything about LL that hasn’t been said already so I’ll just say that this has a deep, druggy, sexy vibe, which pretty much describes many of Larry’s mixes (and by all acounts his character, too). I recommend also checking out the more recent Man Friday 12 also released by King Street Records, which features two demos of the songs ‘Winners’ and ‘Groove (Larry’s Yaw)’ – both interesting if you’re a big fan of the MF stuff. And who isn’t?
OMAR S – Take Your Pik, Nik!!!
Gotta love Alexander Omar Smith. A former street racer and employee at the Ford factory in Detroit, Omar has released five albums and over thirty EPs on his FXHE Records Detroit label, as well as a number of mix albums. My favourite of his album titles has to be It Can be Done But Only I Can Do It. Genius.
This one is from his most recent album The Best and is possibly my favourite on the record, alongside On Your Way. It’s pretty typical of his style really – stripped back, minimal, raw-sounding, solid. The kind of jam you’ll always want to include in a late night set. The bass line is where it’s at.
SHA-LOR – I’m In Love
Otherwise known as Sharmelle Jon and Lori Maynard, with Ben Cenac (also of Dream 2 Science and Newcleus). I picked up the Rush Hour reissue of this a couple of years ago, but the original came out in 1988. Although I don’t tend to play it out it definitely has its charms and whenever I do put it on it never fails to reel my attention in pretty quickly. Ben’s Dream 2 Science mini-LP (also reissued on Rush Hour) is something of a New York deep house gem and is also well worth checking out.
CLAUSELL – Don’t Let It Be Crack
One of the less well-known Easy Street Records releases, this one. Or at least I never see it on playlists or hear it in mixes, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that most of my favourite Easy Street records are the least famous ones (Orlando Johnson’s 1983 Italo-disco gem Turn The Music On being another favourite of mine). I think that’s part of the appeal involved with digging for records and having a passion for labels in that one develops an interest in trying to track down some of the more obscure or less-talked about releases.
Clausell is in fact Clausell Hickenbottom, which sounds a somewhat unlikely name for a suave disco producer. This one is a Paul Simpson mix, I believe. The lead vocal is undeniably soulful and the drum and percussion is chunky and pounding. It’s typical of a mid-80s NYC house jam really, and that pretty much means a) it doesn’t fuck around and b) you might hear the odd sample key hit repeatedly which might be a human voice or dog bark.
We’re delighted to be able to share a new song with you from our forthcoming album Let The Rhythm In.
The song, titled ‘Street Level‘ is the first to feature the new Galaxians line up featuring the voice of Emma Mason, and was recorded at Ross Halden’s Ghost Town studio on Mabgate in Leeds. The studio has since closed after a seven-year residency, with Galaxians having been one of the last bands to have recorded there.
“The Galaxians records we made at Mabgate are some of my proudest achievements, I’m pretty much setting up the new studio for the next one” ROSS HALDEN (head of Ghost Town studio)
The song includes lyrics by Matt Woodward and will be the band’s first song from the new record to be performed live as a trio, along with three further album tracks featuring Emma.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/257599734″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
New Galaxians album track ‘Street Level’ debuted on KMAH Radio, Leeds 31 March, by resident Steven Nuttall (Nope).
The song is the first to be debuted on radio featuring the band’s new line up of Emma Mason (voice), Jed Skinner (synths & programming) and Matt Woodward (drums & programming), and will feature on upcoming new album ‘Let The Rhythm In’.
Track plays at 1:12:30…
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/257468528″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
We’re extremely excited to announce our new lineup for 2016.
During recent recording sessions for our upcoming record we collaborated with our friend and singer Emma Mason, who worked with us on four new songs, ‘Street Level’, ‘Subway Dancers’, ‘How Do U Feel?’ and ‘Worldwide Experience’. The four songs form part of a collection of nine which are set to be released as Galaxians’ first full-length album ‘Let The Rhythm In’.
Having been officially invited to join the band in 2016 following the studio sessions, Emma spoke to Stargaze Records….
Stargaze Records: How did your path as a singer take its course? When did you first have that ‘hey, I can sing!’ moment?
Emma: I was a late starter, I knew I could carry a tune and loved music but I didn’t get a notion that my voice was anything special until my late teens. I remember singing a Brand New Heavies song and my sister came in the room looking surprised and said ‘Was that you’? She told me I was really good and it hit home that maybe I was.
SR: I know that for me as soon as I knew I wanted to learn to play a musical instrument that I was going to play either bass or drums, how did your realisation that you were going to do something musical occur?
E: Singing on stage was something I daydreamed about a lot but didn’t have the confidence to do for a long time. There came a point in my mid-twenties where the need to sing outweighed the terror of performing in public. A friend urged me to put an ad in the free paper saying I was looking for a band and it all started from there.
SR; How old were you when you first felt that music was a serious thing for you?
E: Well I’ve always been passionate about music, it keeps me sane, but I probably became serious about my own musical aspirations in my late twenties when I started to write and perform my own music with the band ‘The Bloody Wowsers’. I wanted to perform as much as possible and I realised this was something I needed in my life to be happy.
SR: What was your first performance?
E: My first performance was with a Motown covers band called Chicago Joe and the Soul Divas in a pub somewhere near Leeds. I still laugh at the name and we were a motley crew but the music was decent. I drank a bottle of wine to get over the stage fright.
SR: What kind of music were you heavily into as a teenager?
E: A huge variety of music, Ella Fitzgerald, Depeche Mode, Cud, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, The Cure, The Housemartins, Nina Simone, The Smiths, Sugarcubes, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Cochran, Neil Sedaka, David Bowie, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin and music from Cabaret and The Rocky Horror show….I could go on and on but those were probably the artists I probably listened to the most. Mum has great taste in music and my older sisters were always bringing music home to listen to so I was lucky.
SR: Who were your first singing influences? Who influences you now?
E: Stevie Wonder has a very special place in my heart particularly his early Motown tracks and 70’s albums Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the key of life. I spent hours singing along to Stevie Wonder songs when I was young along with Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. They taught me how to really sing. I still love those artists but I’ve expanded my tastes since then. In recent times I’ve been influenced by old RnB and gospel artists like Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Lavern Baker, such amazing musical talent largely forgotten by the mainstream. I love discovering new old artists. I’ve been listening to more 80s disco lately too since working with Galaxians, Gwen Guthrie is the bomb. Most of my musical influences are pre-90s.
SR: The art of performing, and of writing music is quite complex isn’t it? But then it is also by nature very simple sometimes. What has always intrigued me is that the nature of art can be very contradictory at times, and that’s part of what drives people to make it, and to engage with it? Because above all else art is human and it mirrors humanity, and contradiction is part of the human condition?
E: I would agree with those statements, I think for for most serious musicians it is a need rather than a choice to make music and that’s why we persevere through the challenging times, disappointments, creative block, crises of confidence and the general burden of the sensitive creative temperament. Sometimes the joy of making and performing music just falls into place seamlessly but, as with life in general, we only really appreciate those moments because of the trials we face.
SR: You’ve had experience at performing in quite a few really different musical environments haven’t you?
E: I surely have, I think because my tastes are so eclectic I never felt the need to limit myself or be pigeon holed, plus it makes life interesting to try new things and increases performance opportunities. I’ve performed in a Motown covers band, acoustic soul duo, swing bands for dancers, rhythm and blues ensembles, I’ve done classic jazz and blues, collaborated with hip hop artists, I’ve even tried a little classical singing as part of a project called Symphony for Yorkshire for the BBC and of course now this wonderous union with Galaxians which is so very exciting.
My cabaret showgirl persona ‘Em Brulée’ has been a big part of my performing life for the last 8 years, I love the decadence of burlesque and cabaret shows, the creativity and the theatre of it. I basically fantasise that I am Sally Bowles in 1930s Berlin. My cabaret work has made a performer of me as well as a singer.
SR: Can you talk a bit about working with Galaxians and how it came about?
E: Well Matt and I have been great friends and neighbours for many years, we have always shared a passion for good music and a mutual admiration and support of one another’s work; we have played together on a couple of occasions. I’ve been a fan of Galaxians since the beginning, so when Matt suggested the boys might want to try a few vocal tracks on the new album I jumped at the chance to be involved.
I think we were all amazed about how seamlessly it all went in the studio, I’ve never enjoyed the writing/recording process so much and the results were beyond expectations. It started out as a collaboration but we want to keep making sweet music together and Jed and Matt have officially invited me into the fold.
Matt spoke with Leeds-List and Independent Leeds about JUX festival, which takes place at the Brudenell Social Club on 20th February.
Matt spoke to Joseph Sheerin…..
“Brudenell Social Club is set to host a day of the best and brightest musical talent from the North as Jux Festival comes to Leeds.
Leeds’ newest all-dayer, Jux Festival is all about, believe it or not, juxtapositions. They like contrasts, placing musical brilliance side by side, just because they can – and with a line up like theirs, they’re doing a pretty bang-up job of making it a must-see.
It’s curated by two Yorkshire musicians, Matt Woodward of Galaxians, Azores, and the renowned Release Yourself parties, and Michael Ainsley of Yard Wars and The Ainsley Band. They’ll be taking over Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 20th February 2016, bringing some of the North’s finest musical talents under one roof.
Woodward told us just why they’re doing Jux Festival, “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.”
Topping the bill at Jux Festival is electronic duo Shift Work, who get their mitts on all kinds of weird and wonderful equipment to create addictive jams such as ‘Abandoned Hands’ and ‘SBFM. Having released on both Optimo Music and Houndstooth, their stock is strong, and they’re definitely a group you have to see live.
They’ll be joined by Woodward’s Galaxians at Brudenell Social Club, a local group that’s played nearly every venue in the city with their infectious brand of live dance, and Sheffield’s finest Blood Sport, who blend punk and afro-beat in a delicious manner you’ve probably not come across before.
Coming across from the other side of the Pennines, in Wigan and Chorley, Cactus Knife will deliver some heavy psychedelia at Jux Festival while Makanitza offer the chance to catch some vibrant Romani and Eastern European tunes, something that likely doesn’t crop up too often.
Milk Crimes is another Leeds band that’s played all over the city, and their irresistible punk hooks will make them a blast at Brudenell Social Club, playing alongside the inimitable Joanne, a live coder, who creates live music using computer software.
Michael Ainsley’s Yard Wars offer up some indie goodness at Jux Festival, Wakefield’s Mi Mye promise flashes of their remarkable alternative tunes, emerging Leeds group Take Turns show off their burgeoning talent and Jonathan Nash returns to the city with eclectic solo project Game_Project.
It’s easy to see why it’s called Jux Festival. There’s so much going on here that you’re sure to fancy something from what is without doubt an incredible line up of diverse musical talent, from all over the North – here’s hoping it’s the first of many.
Matt spoke to Jed Skinner…
“This February will see the launch of JUX, Leeds’ newest festival of music, bringing together active participants of some of the vibrant musical communities across the North and London.
Taking place all day on Saturday 20 February at the Brudenell Social Club, JUX will create a broad palette of music by juxtaposing artists who would be unlikely to play together on the same bill.
Co-organiser Matt Woodward explains the reasons behind putting in the hard work to create a festival which brings such a mix match of artists together;
“We felt tired of generic and unchallenging festival programming: many of the same bands play the same festivals, and only artists who share a common sound are suitable to share a stage or a festival billing.
“We decided to create JUX to juxtapose bands who are musically diverse; to bring together acts that exist in separate communities, but might share some ethics or philosophies about creating art and producing music.
“Also, the word ‘Jux’ is sometimes used as a slang word meaning to rob or steal! We thought that might serve well as a double meaning, as a cheeky dig at festivals that don’t leave you feeling that they’re worth the ticket price”.
Just a few of the bands which will be taking to the iconic stage on the day are, Game_Program, Galaxians, Blood Sport and Shift Work – two guys from London, working on analogue gear out of a studio built in a former stable. They’ll be bringing hypnotic, looped vocal oddities, spiralled drum machines, strained key stabs and deftly arranged percussion. It’s a line up which definitely requires you to bring your dancing shoes!
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.
Here’s our interview with Leeds Living after our show at The Garden Party in September.
What are your impressions of The Garden Party so far?
J: We just got here at about 4 o’clock; it’s heated up a bit now.
M: It seems like a nice vibe!
How does playing a festival differ from playing your own show?
J: It’s just a lot more people, a lot more atmosphere!
M: I have to confess, I don’t normally like playing festivals; you know you have to get on and get off quite quickly and it can be quite stressful but it’s been really nice here; as long as there’s a nice vibe and people are with us when we play, it’s cool.
What’s been your best live experience in Leeds so far?
M: Well I don’t think there’s one thing that we can say is the best ‘cause every time we play it’s different but when we played the two Beacons festivals that we did were a real highlight. Gigs: we’ve played Wharf Chambers, we like that; they’re intimate and small.
J: I think the best one for me was probably Tom Tom Club at The Brudenell, about two years ago. That was amazing. Just meeting those guys was amazing.
What up-coming shows have you got in Leeds?
J: We’re playing Headrow House on 23rd October, which we’re excited about because Golden Teacher (who they’re playing with) are fantastic and Headrow House is a new venue.
What influence has the Leeds music scene had on your being a duo?
J: For me, it’s being able to meet people who were musicians first, in bands second, so loads of people that are in more than band; it’s that sense of collaboration, especially around the Hyde Park area; there’s a lot of creativity.
M: I think musically, we’re not necessarily as influenced by Leeds other than its strong club culture, like the DJs. But what I am influenced by is that Leeds has a really strong sense of community and I think that’s a really big thing, especially in dance music. It’s about unifying people and having a shared experience. It’s not about stardom or hierarchy.
What do you have in the pipeline?
J: We have a new album coming with quite a lot of tracks; we have vocalists now like Emma Mason who we’re collaborating with, possibly even live in the future, and we’ve got guitar on the new album from John Nash who’s in Cowtown and Hookworms. A bit more of a disco/house analogue kind of direction too. And a European mini tour!
M: We’ve gone out of our comfort zone a little bit more this time: vocalists, lyrics…
With thanks to Chris Haywood and Ryan Crossland
Jed was asked by Simon Fogal of I Like Press to produce a piece about Galaxians’s favourite venues and bands in Leeds, ahead of our appearance at The Garden Party festival, situated in the Tetley in Leeds.
BRAINTRUST BLOG // 25.06.15
CHOSEN BY: GALAXIANS
Playlist chosen by us ahead of our show at the Waiting Room in London on July 17.
“I first saw Galaxians play at Tramlines last year in the back room of a social club in the outskirts of Sheffield. They had this intricate set up with multiple analog synthesizers going against a small acoustic drum kit, but they produced this uplifting disco sound going on. I loved the fact that their general positive vibe that they brought to a night meant they can slot onto genre bending bills and make punk kids fall in love with them. Drummer Matt Woodward is a DJ at the Release Yourself parties at Wharf Chambers and we’re delighted that he’s made a fifteen track mix for us. I guarantee you’ll find gems in here.” NIALL CUNNINGHAM (Braintrust)
Galaxians headline The Waiting Room with support from Teej on Friday 17 July. Tickets are available through: Billetto + DICE
1) MATRIX METALS ‘Ray Ban Meltdown’
Matrix Metals is Sam Mehran. He’s possibly more well known as a member of Test Icicles, but for us the MM record is his finest hour. It’s one of those records that defies categorization and people who dig it really dig it. A hard record to describe for sure, but it has a drugged-out, hypnotic, cyclical beauty to it, and it’s all the more amazing when you discover it’s essentially made from tape loops.
2) WICKED WITCH ‘Under Your Spell’
WW is the solo studio alter ego of Washington DC’s Richard Simms and this is from the compilation album ‘Chaos 1978-86’. Again, it’s hard to describe because it’s a pretty nuts record. It’s dark, wild, fucked up psychedelic machine funk, that’s pretty much the only way we can describe it. Matt picked this record up from a-Musik in Cologne recently.
3) RAVIOLI ME AWAY ‘Cat Call’
We played with RMA recently and enjoyed them a lot. They are Sian Dorrer, Rosie Ridgeway, and Alice Theobald and this one is taken from the album ‘The Inevitable Album’ on Good Job Records. It’s just a winner, firstly because it’s a straight up pop hit, secondly because the lyrics are good, and thirdly because the video has them doing some good David Byrne-style dancing in it.
4) SHOPPING ‘In Other Words’
Another ace band we’ve had the pleasure of playing with a few times over the past year. We both dig their album a lot and they’re always super-fun live. Shopping are Billy Easter, Rachel Aggs, and Andrew Milk. They’re also known for being members of other bands such as Wet Dog and Trash Kit. This is one of our favourite songs from their album ‘Consumer Complaints’ (Milk Records) and that guitar line just chops its way into the brain and stays for days.
5) ROLANDE GARROS ‘Polycrosscourt’
Rolande Garros is the alter ego / solo project of Tobias Piel, who is also one third of the trio Les Trucs from Frankfurt. We played with RG at the Robert Johnson club in Offenbach recently and it turned out to be one of the most memorable nights on our European tour this year. And he was one of many very nice people we met that night, too. And that sound system….oh my.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189940081″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
6) J.A. GROOVE ‘Release The Tension’
This is, as far as we know, the only record ever released by Jeff Seifer and Archie Lucas. It’s something of an obscurity but is a regular feature of Matt’s DJ sets at the Release Yourself parties he hosts at Wharf Chambers in Leeds. It’s one of those post-disco / proto-house records from the mid-80s with a super-tight bass line and conga groove that just jumps out of the speakers and gets people up and onto the floor. At 10:48 minutes long it’s no radio-friendly pop hit. It’s for people who want to get in deep, y’know?
7) MADONNA ‘Lucky Star’
…..and speaking of radio friendly pop hits, this is one of our favourite Madonna songs. For us this is Madonna at her finest and in her most natural, instinctive setting. That early 80s NYC boogie funk club sound was just perfect for her in those first years. Of course, ‘Into The Groove’ is incredible and a more obvious choice (for THAT bass line alone) but the naivety and charm of those early songs is so attractive. It’s the sound of pop rapture.
8) KENTON NIX Featuring BOBBY YOUNGBLOOD ‘There’s Never Been No One Like You’
A West End Records NYC classic and christ, there are so many of those that picking one is a mission. Weirdly, we only came across this one fairly recently, despite being huge fans of the label. But that’s one of the many great things about music and buying records – just when you think you know every record on a label something pops up from a rack in a record shop and blows you away. This is one of those. It’s classic West End – soulful, shimmering, and beautifully arranged.
9) JAMES MASON ‘I Want Your Love’
This is a recent release on Amsterdam’s Rush Hour Records, but it’s actually two songs from 1984 and 1978. The A side ‘Nightgruv’ is really good too, and has a great proto-house vibe to it, but this one is a stunning, sexy, slow burner, more in the boogie style. One of the things we love on this jam is the combination of the slow beat with the crazy fast conga pattern. Marry that with the soulful vocal and those great piano chords and it’s a big win.
10) WALTER WHISENHUNT ORCHESTRA featuring GLORIA ANN TAYLOR ‘Deep Inside You’
This is a really beautiful song from 1973, and we read recently that the original EP – which also features the even more stunning ‘Love Is A Hurting Thing’ – is one of the most expensive disco / soul records ever. More importantly, it’s a gorgeous, eerie, seductive, super-soulful record from start to finish and every home should have one.
11) ADONIS Featuring THE ENDLESS POKER’S ‘!The Poke!’
Not our favourite cut on DJ International Records by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s something Jed picked up recently from Kompakt Records in Cologne when we did a bit of record shopping whilst on tour. It’s kind of a daft record, but just has that unmistakable late 80s Chicago house vibe, with those 303 sounds and that wobbly acid house bass line. And it’s always going to remind us of our time in Cologne which turned out to be a real highlight of the tour.
12) DIBLO DIBALA ‘Super K’
Diblo Dibala is a Congolese Soukous musican whose nickname is ‘Machine Gun’ because of his insane skill and speed on the guitar. This song is from a mid-80s album Matt picked up from Deco Records in Withington in Manchester the morning after we’d played a show at Fuel Cafe. If there’s a more positive and uplifting record than this in the entire world we’ve yet to hear it. Diblo’s records are a big influence on Matt’s other band Azores.
13) DEERHOOF ‘Paradise Girls’
Choosing just one Deerhoof song for a playlist is a near impossibility. Choosing a favourite top five albums is difficult enough and we are constantly amazed by their ability to keep writing genuinely incredible music after thirteen albums. Just such a great band and a constant inspiration as people, writers, musicians, the whole shabang. This one is from the most recent album La Isla Bonita.
14) UNIVERSAL ROBOT BAND ‘Barely Breaking Even’
It’s always difficult for us to put into words how much we love the combination of Leroy Burgess (as songwriter and performer), Greg Carmichael (as performer and producer), Patrick Adams (as producer) and John Morales (as remixer). For us this 1982 record is a benchmark and the pinnacle of the NYC post-disco / boogie era (there’s even a record label named after it). It’s just the perfect boogie jam and is a deejaying no-brainer. It always brings a full floor along with whoops and hollers.
15) GOLDEN TEACHER ‘Party People’
GT are Cassie Ojay, Charles Lavenac, Laurie Pitt, Oliver Pitt, Richard McMaster, and Sam Bellacosa. Together they somehow seem to effortlessly combine every element you’d want from a dance act and in live terms there’s probably no one to touch them right now, at least not as far as we know. When we played with them on tour recently their new material just floored us, and we like them a lot as people, too. They are part of Glasgow’s great tradition of community-focused experimental music and art.