Introducing: Pond Life
If you’ve been going out in Leeds over the past year, then you will probably be aware of Nørd. They throw the most colourful parties in the city, transforming clubs with artistic dexterity and an unwavering passion for cosy aesthetics. Musically they shine, too. Their events combine classy rare groove and disco with newer electronic gems, and now they are adding live music into the pot. With their Pond Life brand, they aim to throw more parties and start a label. Their next event is at HiFi on 4th February 2017 (check the event here). We spoke to Robbie Henriques for some insight into their plans.
Firstly, how do you reflect on the past year of throwing parties as Nord? How do you think you have developed?
It’s odd to think it’s only been a year, we’re getting on our 10th event now, each time it’s a very different experience. We got a van, that was a big development. Since the first event we’ve learned the hard way on a few things, I’d like to think it’s a fairly smooth operation now.
As well as being DJs, you are also producers and live musicians. Is Pond Life an outlet for this side of your creativity? What are your plans?
For sure, Nord has been great to bring artists from over the place and play with them, we’re lucky to have those opportunities but we want to separate our own artistic efforts from the promoter side of things. The first compilation vinyl is currently in the works, I’m hoping for late March early April. The band is also a really fun project, Kudo Sol (Bass), Rampelli (Guitar) & Dreamcatcher (Sax/Keys). Everyone is in different places, there’s never any time to rehearse but the spontaneity keeps them on their toes.
Can you give us a little introduction to who is involved in the Pond Life project?
The label is made up of, Rampelli, Dreamcatcher, Cyclone Bob, Marma Boog & Kudo Sol.
The label is my own project, each artist I’ve known for a while. Dreamcatcher is down in Brighton, he’s got an MPC that doesn’t leave his sight very often. Rampelli is in Manchester, he rarely leaves his room. Same goes with Kudo Sol. Marma Boog is the disco freak. It felt right to start putting their tracks on wax, it gets the music out to the people who I most want to hear it.
The first Pond Life party at Wire was really interesting. I don’t think anyone has put a live band in the booth before. How do you think it went?
It was a funny one, the idea of having them out of the booth didn’t occur to me until it was too late. It made me realise that you need a bit of live music in your life. They looked great in there, it sets a soothing vibe walking into a club with live music. I feel like live music & records is a bit of a winner. The next Pond Life Party is at Hifi I won’t reveal too much, but you can expect some new stuff from the band and some unreleased goodies.
Do you think Leeds is a good city in which to be an electronic music producer? I have heard people say recently that there isn’t much of a Leeds ‘sound’. It is mainly dominated by DJs.
It is dominated by DJ’s but I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I was in Hyde Park Book Club record exchange on Sunday and there were two guys selling their first 2 track EP, it was nice to see that (Valby Rotary). Pond Life is almost a reflection of the music we’ve experienced, speaking on behalf of Tim & Archie. You can draw influence from pretty much any genre here. I don’t know many other places that have such a diverse scene, that might reflect on attempting to create a unique sound.
The ‘About’ section of Nord’s FB says that you want to showcase ‘tasteful’ music. What does ‘tasteful’ entail for you?
We need to update the ‘About’ section. Taste is quite subjective, I guess what we are trying to say is theres a time and place for all sorts of different grooves. We don’t class ourselves a genre specific night, so everything and anything gets played if it’s the right time.
You also say that you want to ‘blend the arts’. Your club nights are testament to this. Why do you think it is important to do this?
It’s important to us to create something immersive, art and music go hand in hand and we’re lucky to have a lot of artists that want to get involved and spin some ideas out. The first NØRD was decorated like a house party just to make Wire cozy. We realised it made a massive difference, and since the majority of our friends are artists, Angus started orchestrating installations in return for a free ticket. I’d like to think it makes a trip to Wire a surprise every time.
Club nights don’t always have the best reputation when we consider their place in the cultural landscape, but you have chosen it as your medium, in a way. Would you agree with the German policy, that club spaces should be considered as high art along with galleries and the opera, for example?
Yes. I think the powers that deem an art ‘high art’ wouldn’t understand, not their fault it’s just a generational difference. From an onlookers perspective it would be hard to differentiate between what is music appreciation and what is clubbing e.g What is the obvious difference between going out to somewhere like Wire, than a night out with the lads/girls? The scene is still quite underground, it’s still quite a new concept in comparison to the opera, but I’m sure Berghain won’t be the last electronic music venue to receive some recognition.
You can check out the sounds here: http://pondlife.squaresp