Q&A: Soul Control
We asked the crew from Soul Control to reflect on starting their night – a brand that has formed part of a growing trend in Leeds to keep parties simple and good natured. The city’s party-goers have responded, as the event has already had several packed dance floors this term. They’ll be doing more of this same this Friday 28th October. Here’s what they had to say.
How did Soul Control form? How did you all meet?
Theo: We were all pals from first year and had vaguely talked about doing some events, then one day we kind of just took the initiative and it came together pretty much overnight.
Al: We got an opportunity to put on a night for free at Hyde Park Book Club and decided to do it in aid of Mustard Tree; a charity that’s pretty close to our hearts. The support was amazing, and it has been since.
Louis: We always wanted to try and give something back with our nights, that’s why we decided to use them as opportunities to raise money. It was fantastic for me personally that Soul Control gave us the platform to do this, firstly for Mustard Tree and then Amnesty International, and it is very much something we intend to keep entwined with the Soul Control image. We’re going to be continuing to put events at Hyde Park Book Club in aid of a different charity every month, focusing mostly on local charities.
Your musical policy spans loads of genres. Did you not want to focus in?
Ben: Firstly there’s a lot of us – and we’ve all got our own musical backgrounds, so to focus in would be to deny the musical spectrum we have. Having said that I think most would take the stance of eclecticism rather than specialism on their own. We’ve got a lot a love for DJs who can move a crowd within certain confines (Daniel Bell and Laurine for On Rotation are recent nights that spring to mind), but I know I can’t settle in one genre for long enough! As long as its interesting and makes people dance it’s fine by me.
Fred: Generally, a more eclectic selection draws a more diverse crowd, which tends to make a better party.
How did the collaboration with Global Rhythms come about? And how did you find doing that party?
Will: I’d be selling paper tickets for George’s Brotherhood events for a good while and he took an interest in SC. He mentioned he had a prime date booked at HiFi and asked whether we wanted to get involved. We all jumped at the opportunity to make the transition to a club night, especially at a club as established as HiFi. Thankfully the night turned out great, and that’s how the residency came about! We have to big up George for giving us the opportunity and showing love to SC when he certainly didn’t have to!
Al: Yeah we really appreciated all the support from Brotherhood. We played at their day party in Leftbank Church a few months back which was great fun. There’s another one on the way too; we’re looking forward to it.
You started out doing parties at Hyde Park Book Club. How important is it for a student area to have a place like that at its heart? Do you think the creative scene in Leeds, especially among students, is strong? What other things do you get involved with?
Theo: The Book Club is a great space, and although I’m slightly biased because I work behind the bar, I think it’s a great example of lots of DIY culture under one roof. It’s a hub for artists and other talented creatives. We’ve met a lot of like-minded people at the Book Club (special shout out to Glug Glug!), and some have ended up contributing to Soul Control events, which highlights the friendly and inclusive vibe there.
Fred: Ultimately, i’d say the scene around Hyde Park is pretty creative, but it’s all about the circles you move in. The Book Club seems to have become a focal point for those in the area pursuing creative projects, whether it be putting on events, art shows or open mic nights. There is rarely a evening without something going on there! We always open to meeting and working with more ‘DIY’ Leeds-based groups, and contributing to the advancement of this ethos.
You have the image of Leeds University’s Parkinson Building on your designs. Why did you want to include this? Also, do you find it difficult to balance your student life (if you are a student) with this kind of thing? Do you think some students are missing out by not exploring what Leeds has to offer?
Al: The Parkinson design in kind of a one-off given that our first event is on freshers’ week we wanted to welcome back students, old and new. Having said that we weren’t too sure about doing it given that it might give off a slightly exclusive impression. The Parkinson building was just the most iconic building I could think of in Leeds that people would recognise. It’s important to us to get a varied crowd though,we want people of all ages and backgrounds to come for a shimmy.
Bryn: Soul Control fits in pretty well with our degrees, it’s a shared interest and one which is a lot of fun so it’s worth making time for. Next year may be a bit of a struggle, as the majority of us are going into third year, but there are a lot of us so there’ll always be people to pick up the graft. I think it’s pretty easy to get stuck in the uni bubble around the Hyde Park area and maybe not explore the city properly, however there is just so much cool stuff going on in the local area that it’s hard not to get stuck in. There’s lots of very impressive house parties, as well as all the great venues- Hyde Park Book Club, Left Bank Church and of course Brudenell Social Club, especially on weekdays before 4 for free pool! Having said that, Leeds has so much else to offer, I would 100% recommend getting down to places like 212 bar and the art spaces on Mabgate for something a bit different.
Fred: I think we’d all agree the majority of Leeds Uni students struggle to venture out the ‘student bubble’. We hope not to fall into the pigeon-hole of becoming another student night, and instead provide an outlet in which students and non-students can come together and experience an inclusive party which sits harmoniously within Leeds’ eclectic nightlife.
On your Facebook events you encourage people to post tracks on the wall. This made me wonder if you enjoy using Facebook and the internet to promote events. Would you rather do things physical or by word of mouth?
Theo: We simply see it as a nice way to engage people with the event and get people sharing some amazing music! The days of solely physical promo are pretty much done, but we still do get flyers and posters out and try and meet people ‘off-screen’.
Ed: It’s hard to imagine promoting an event in this era and not using Facebook as the main platform. There is a shared feeling of anticipation and excitement each time we create the online event for our next party– this is certainly one way in which we enjoy using Facebook. Having said that, I’d hate to see the days of physical promotion come to an end. Artwork is a key component of every night – we want people to see the SC octopus around Leeds and immediately think of us. I’ve always had a soft spot for collecting posters from nights, and as long as Al continues to turn heads with his trademark designs, we’d love for people to do the same with our own artwork! As for encouraging the posting of tracks on our wall, there’s no better way in which to engage our audiences. It feels great to know that our events are allowing people to discover new artists and musical genres.
You haven’t made a booking yet. Are you planning to do so? If not, why not?
Ben: A night where people come down to see residents play is something that perhaps doesn’t happen enough. We want to give the night a distinguishable character that we can call our own. It seems so many of the legendary clubs that we look up to had resident DJ’s just as important – not saying we’ll be the next Ron Hardy at Music Box (!), but this is the sort of thing we draw inspiration from. Cosmic Slop is an obvious continuation of that ideal and I think Leeds is better than most places for great residents – On Rotation and Love Muscle to name a couple! All that being said we’re definitely not against bookings and will certainly host a few friends and maybe bigger names now we have the platform, but we’re definitely not short of great DJs in Leeds to come play with us!
Fred: The most influential club nights and parties across the globe have always been shaped at their core by the residents DJs. Again, we’re not gassing that’ll we’ll be the next legendary DJs – we’re just a groups of mates having a buzz- but we certainly endorse the importance of the role of the resident DJ.
When you first moved to Leeds, how similar was the scene to your expectations? How was it different?
Al: In Newcastle, my hometown, the nightlife is top class, with electronic music nights spread out between a small few venues which become like second homes to everyone. Whereas Leeds has endless venues for parties which is really unpredictable and exciting.
Will: Personally, I was surprised at the sheer number and variety of clubbing experiences on offer. Although I have a lot of love for Manchester nightlife, where I had my first clubbing experiences, I certainly think Leeds out competes it in this respect, despite being a smaller city. It’s a big challenge for a young night like ours to gain momentum in such a congested scene but we’re hoping to carry on our progress and keep throwing parties that people want to come and dance at!
What have been your favourite clubbing experiences, either in Leeds or beyond? Are there any promoters or dance music figures that you look up to?
Al: I think we’ve all had some of our best times at Hope House, HiFi and Wire. Again, for Newcastle, World Headquarters is a club with a community like no other. The variety of parties there is huge and the booking are consistently on form too. We’re looking to collaborate with some of those guys in the near future.
Ben: Definitely too many to mention so I’ll stick with Leeds, special shout to Cosmic Slop, probably the best thing in the bloody world (Soul Control close second obviously). Finn Johannsen a few weeks ago, On Rotation loft party, and the Hessle guys at Wire off the top of my head. In terms of nights we look up to together, the community and charity aspects of Cosmic Slop are something we aspire to as well as the attention to detail to the sound and musical progression of the night. For me personally, I think I would have to say guys like the Fett brothers who’s output is so wildly eclectic, are the people who I most aspire to.
Ed: We have massive respect for various other up-and-coming nights around the country. We give a huge shout-out in particular to our Bristol-based friends Semi Peppered along with Oxford heads Disco Ma Non Troppo. Both are currently putting on some wonderfully groovy and tasteful parties. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.
You say that we will hear sounds from around the globe at Soul Control. How important is music in helping people to sympathise with other cultures? And what do you think Soul Control’s place is in these very distressing times of political and social unrest?
Theo: At the moment, in the UK, people need a bit of hope. At a time of such division if putting on a night can provide just the tiniest bit of escapism from Tory austerity, racism and attacks on queer communities, then it makes it worth it. Not that we have a particularly large impact on these things but I think in general putting events on in the community is a great way to combat some of the horrible stuff going on in the world.
Bryn: I think that a bit more sympathy from everyone could go a long way in terms of making the political/social situation better, it’s pretty depressing to see what’s going on at the moment. With things like Brexit, everything that’s going on in America and the rise of right wing parties throughout Europe, a very ‘us against them’ attitude seems to be developing towards people of different cultures. Music can play a massive role in helping bring people together by making us realise that we’re not all that different, so if us putting on parties can do anything at all to help in terms of creating more unity between cultures then that’s great. In the future we’re hoping to put on some talks at the Hyde Park Book Club which explore these kind of issues, so watch this space.
What do you think is at the root of why you and others want to throw parties?
Fred: For me, this has been a question I’ve been tackling for some time now. When i started going out, it may have been on quite individualistic/ hedonistic/ naive bases. I think now, with maturity, I’ve come to learn a lot more about the history of partying and clubbing, and have reflected on why I’m doing what I’m doing and how it relates to how various clubbing cultures emerged. For Soul Control, and perhaps other nights in Leeds, i’d say it’s about having a release from the mundane drag of student routine or the call-centre job you’re slaving away at to pay rent. Ultimately, we want to throw a party that people look forward to all month; a haven where people can come and meet new friends, listen to class tunes and let loose from the normal selves they display on the street.
Theo: There is nothing more fun than playing music with your best mates in a room full of people dancing. It is as simple that for me.
Click here to visit the event page for this Friday.