Introduce yourselves to BabMag!
T: Hello BabMag! I’m Tom, otherwise known as Elkie. I’m a DJ and producer and one half of the team behind Listening Sessions.
M: Hi, I am Mat aka Goosensei, DJ, Producer, Visual Artist and co-founder of Listening Sessions
What made you want to get involved in the music scene in Birmingham?
T: Birmingham has recently developed a bit of a reputation for being devoid of any decent electronic music – we’ve started to lag behind other major cities despite our rich heritage in a range of scenes, from reggae through to techno. I’ve been involved in a series of events before Listening Sessions that have been great fun but never really progressed past a certain point. The idea for Listening Sessions has been a really different approach to anything that came before though – spawned from a Facebook group I set up for local producers to network, rather than focusing on bringing big names from out of town, we have concentrated on the local talent and providing an incubator for Birmingham’s own producers.
M: I had just started to DJ and produce at the time I moved to Birmingham and the music scene here was buzzing! Every weekend there were amazing events that were booking some of my favorite artists but then after a few years there seemed to be a cultural shift in the electronic music scene here where things seemed to quieten down. I was fortunate enough to have a group of friends that were making some amazing music and were wicked DJs too and thought let’s get together and create something that we could all be involved with and our community formed.
We want to share the love – can you give us a handful of names worthy of note right now?
T: There’s so many people in the Listening Sessions family doing awesome things right now it would be hard to not leave anyone out – the Chameleon Audio crew are smashing it at the minute and showing no sign of slowing down, the Circular Jaw guys are getting plays from a lot of big names and releasing music from other Listening Sessions regulars like Wooda and Yilan, the FuturePast Zine family have really stepped their game up recently with the first two releases on the Alternative Architecture project from Rawtrachs and Hollow, Krow is making some incredible music that’s soon to be released on On1’s label Serene City – the list goes on and on, it’s humbling to see so many talented people working together on projects and making waves in Birmingham and beyond.
M: Yes as Tom said there are really so many names to mention, not to sound too obvious but every producer that comes down and showcases at our events is worthy of a big up! It has been said many times but collectively as a group of producers over these last 3 years we have all developed considerably, we all inspire one another and want to grow alongside each other. I’ll roll off a few names; Krytikal, Earth is Flat, Slaine, Earth Movement, Headgear & Rondema, DAAT, Joe Corfield and all of The Oddysee crew, Nuvaman & Foxmind, Hermit Dubz, the Rawganics crew, Onira & Tsar Megha (Yalla), Burlish, Brainstem, the list goes on…
The passion from your live shows is self evident; is there an over-riding theme for the events?
T: The main theme running through our events is pushing the local talent – whilst we do sometimes bring in out of town artists, we are careful to always fill our lineups with local talent and give these producers the opportunity to play their music out in a real club setting. Bringing in these established out of town DJs also gives the local artists chance to meet them in the flesh and share music with them, which is infinitely better than the faceless sending of tunes via IM/email. We’ve had some of our regulars form great relationships with well-known names in their respective scenes through this, which is great to see.
M: Yea the main reason we started our live events was to give a platform for our producer community to have a way to perform their work live in a traditional club setting. We have had a number of producers pick up the DJ craft since coming to Listening Sessions and it’s great to see that development. As a producer after you create a piece of music it’s then really rewarding to share it live with an audience, it creates a full circle.
When’s the next event?
T: Our next event is this coming Saturday (3rd December) – we are celebrating our third birthday by teaming up with our friends at Skutta Records to bring some pure, unadulterated jungle to PST, Digbeth. Skutta will be hosting Gremlinz, Rumbleton, Threshold, SB81 (aka Nolige), Tom Phuture-t, Headgear and Skutta bossmen L A Johnson & Baddesley on the Creative Hertz soundsystem. On the rooftop we will be holding it down with some of Birmingham’s finest – DAAT, Wooda b2b Yilan, Krytikal b2b Goosensei, Mojoe b2b Chemist RNS, Headgear b2b Rondema and a debut set from myself and M :Pathy as our new project Ryobra (which I’m pretty excited about!). The awesome Nomine will also be coming down to headline for us in the Listening Sessions room – it’s going to be so good to have him down, he’s a real “producer’s producer” and a super talented guy with a lot of great knowledge to share. He’s also going to be doing a seminar for us at the new Giraffe Audio shop (in the Jewellery Quarter) during the day, With Jason Hockman (DAAT) blessing us with a talk too. The daytime event will be really worthwhile for any music producers out there, regardless of genre!
M: Yea its all about our 3rd Birthday weekend now, we are starting off this Tuesday 29th where we will be joining Mojoe & Chemist RNS (Chameleon Audio) for their show on Silk City Radio 22:00 – Midnight. Then on Thursday we have our open producer showcase on the Club PST rooftop, where I am sure we will hear some exclusive weapons being tested out before our birthday special on Saturday. The lineup on Saturday is ridiculous, I am going to have to figure out how to clone myself so I can be in both rooms at the same time because I don’t want to miss anything! We have a 12,000 watt sound system in the main room that’s being brought in by Creative Hertz especially for this event, if you want to experience Drum & Bass / Jungle like it should be then you are in for a treat. I am especially looking forward to all the back to back sets we have lined up on the rooftop though, it’s going to be a madness with these guys bouncing back off each other, I know the Listening Sessions crew have been cooking up some exclusive Dubs for this one!
What do you see happening for Listening Sessions in 2017? Is there anything exciting on the horizon?
T: We’re entering our fourth year and we aren’t slowing down yet – lots of good things coming in 2017, we’re currently putting the wheels in motion for a compilation to launch our own record label to provide an outlet for the talent we see so much of, we’ve got an event in the pipeline at the Hare and Hounds set for early 2017, and of course our monthly showcases will continue to grow stronger and stronger – first Thursday of every month, 8pm, Club PST, Digbeth!
M: Yes the Listening Sessions label will be in full effect for 2017, there is so much amazing music being created in Birmingham that needs to be heard! We are also planning a few exchange events with collectives in other cities so that we can do some sonic cross-pollination around the UK! We have regular radio shows on Silk City & Brum Radio that we will continue to broadcast music being created by the community.