leeds really seems to be coming of age in recent times. the party scene has always been strong, but so strong has it been in the last 5 – 10 years that people now seem happy to invest in proper infrastructure. where there were but two or three reliable spaces a couple of years ago, there are now plenty. whether it’s the large and raw vibes of mint warehouse, the cosy and intimate gatherings at the garage or the more boutique offerings of a venue like fullcircle, leeds has a fine portfolio of clubs to cater for any occasion. more than that, though, some of these new spaces, like the most recent addiiton in canal mills, are aiming to be more than that; to be creative hubs for all kinds of activities.
as such, i tracked down one of the directors of this newest venture, mark newton (who has one of his fingers in the d&b megalith that is metropolis, as well as many other events worldwide) to find out the backstory, plans, aims and goals.
so why did you fall in love with the venue initially, why start a project like this?
we had spoken about having our own event space for quite some time, one of the company directors already owns a number of venues in leeds, but none just quite right for what we wanted. when we first saw canal mills it fitted exactly what we wanted. just the right size capacity and layout, yet flexible to how it could be laid out, and also a workable space to host a wide range of events, not just music
tell us about the team behind the new venue, their respective backgrounds and how the project came to be…
the team behind the venue is sound channel, which comprises of myself (mark newton), dan blackledge and steve allison. we formed the company back in 2011 after working on various projects together in the past. the first joint project we began working on was hideout festival. prior to that i had been running the metropolis brand, dan the wax on brand, and together reclaim the dancefloor in ibiza. steve has a long running history in leeds both as a promoter and a venue owner. his other venues in leeds are hifi, the faversham and wire.
what’s the vision? more than just music, right? are you aiming to plug a gap in the leeds scene?
the vision for the venue is for it to be a flexible creative space taking on board all sorts of events and activities. leeds has a number of great clubs already; we wanted to move away from this. obviously with our backgrounds there will be some electronic shows, but we also want to focus on live music, art, film screenings, immersive theatre, pop up restaurants etc. anything that seems interesting or different to what leeds already has.
what’s the building like, what was it before and what sport of spaces have been converted? what should people expect?
it was originally a fabric mill when it was first built, but more recently it has been used as a furniture factory and storage space. it’s your typical yorkshire mill building, red brick with quite high ceilings. we’ve got three rough spaces in there which can be moved around to change the shape and layout of the venue based on what is being held there.
how long has the project taken and what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced thus far?
to be honest the whole thing has moved pretty quickly. we first looked at the space maybe 6 months ago, but we only got in there with our team and properly started work around 4 weeks ago once the licence had been granted. we’ve managed to do quite a lot in such a short time, but there will be constant changes taking place, you’ll never come in and see the same space twice!
who will be responsible for programming events and what sort of music policy will the space have, what sort of crowd are you looking for?
dan and i will hold the diary for the music side of things. we book quite a wide variety of music genres between us, but we will also be bringing in other promoters to work alongside us to cover a number of different acts and styles, both live and dj based. we’re not focused on getting a particular crowd in, just a good variety of people who want to go somewhere different and enjoy themselves.
is it for general hire, so will you be allowing other promotions in to hold parties as and when or will you stick with the nights you start with or?
yes the venue will be available for external hire as well as our own shows, but we would expect people to be bringing us different interesting ideas to grab our attention and work alongside them to bring them to fruition.
can you tell us about the deal with mad ferret? what is an aesthetics construction team?!
they came into the venue and worked with us on a vision of how we felt the venue should look to set it apart from all the other venues in the city and also the uk. we’ve worked with the mf guys before at hideout festival, and really like how creative they were and the ideas they came up with. with the venue being an old fabric mill they really wanted this to be built into the new identity of the space, which i think they have achieved pretty well.
tell us about some of the events you have lined-up already…
over the next month for electronic shows we have in store:
oct 20th- 20:20- maya jane coles, ralph lawson, crazy p (dj set)
oct 27th- keep it unreal with mr scruff
nov 2nd- metropolis- benga & youngman, david rodigan mbe, friction
we have loads of other shows currently lined up for the rest of 2012 and beyond which we will be announcing in the coming weeks