Where is all the UK techno in Leeds? You’d think that with such a pedigree as Hessle Audio the massive influence of Sub Dub, there would be a whole host of night bringing that dark, post-dubstep sound. In fact there is a deficiency. But No Way Back are trying to do something about it. We caught up with them ahead of their first event at Wire with Bristol youngster Laksa.
Talk us through your first booking of Laksa. He’s part of the new school of UK techno producers. What excites you about this relatively new sound, and about Laksa in particular?
If no one ever tried something new, a lot of the best music out there currently would not exist. This new form of UK Techno is one of the few genres out there pushing boundaries with regards to what can be done with sound. It’s a fresh sound, and one that combines the often melodic sound of traditional techno with a fiercely punchy rhythm. Laksa is the perfect example of this new wave of UK Techno, his productions have a sci-fi feel to them – hearing them in the right environment transports the mind to space and beyond. Yet at the same time, these tracks possess a backbone of beautifully crafted drums that compel the body to groove.
Although you seem to be focussing on these strands of techno, your night is called No Way Back – a reference to the Adonis tune? What other music are you into?
Funnily enough the name is derived from that song, but not in the way you might expect. We’d been looking for a name for a while, when inspiration struck at Elevator Sound’s (a synthesizer shop in Bristol) 3rd birthday bash. October had just dropped a stomping Front 242 tune, when we looked up and saw a poster which mentioned the Adonis song. It was a proper eureka moment. The words No Way Back fitted perfectly with our concept, and it was decided on the spot. Regarding other types of music we’re into, we all have very varied tastes. Everything from soundsystem music, to house and disco, to post-punk and New Wave.
Who is behind your brand? How did you all meet? Also, what brings you to Leeds?
There’s three of us behind No Way Back – we’ve known each other since high school back in the West Midlands. I moved to Leeds for university after falling in love during my first trip up (a night at Wire was in fact one of the highlights of that trip). The other two went to Bristol, which is rather fitting given that it’s the city where a lot of this form of UK Techno originates. Laksa himself is from Bristol as well of course.
Even though Hessle Audio had its genesis in Leeds, and the UK techno scene is thriving, there are not a lot of nights strictly dedicated to it. Why do you think that is?
The lack of nights is likely due to the music’s relative obscurity. I’ll never forget the conversation with my girlfriend where I was bemoaning the lack of a scene in Leeds for this type of music: her response was along the lines of “well it isn’t going to create itself”. That’s when the journey that has led to No Way Back began.
Would you agree that the UK bass-techno sound is quite serious? It’s quite far removed from a lot of disco and house, tending towards a much darker aesthetic. Why do you think this is? I’d argue that it’s not necessarily party music. Does the sound say something about our generation?
The sound is serious, but within the scene no-one take themselves too seriously. Whilst it’s quite a dark sound, this doesn’t necessarily equate with it not being party music. The bass element (leftover from the post-dubstep scene from which this form of UK Techno originates) brings rhythm to the body – dancing becomes instinctive. To take it a couple steps further back, look at the scene for Dub reggae. Dark sounds, twisted and dubbed out. Yet try telling a West-Indian soundsystem their music isn’t “party music”. On top of this, the melody on many UK Techno tracks (take the latter part of Laksa’s ‘Contrasts’ for example) can be incredibly uplifting. Darkness and light, heaven and hell… it’s quite the soundtrack to lose yourself to and have a dance.
Which other promoters do you look up to in Leeds?
Regarding other promoters we look up to, Broken Mechanics have been massively inspiring on a personal level. In addition to this, On Rotation have been booking incredible acts for years. Blink have done remarkable stuff despite being so new to Leeds. We have massive admiration for the energy achieved at Love Muscle, the beauty of Cosmic Slop, and to be honest I could go on and on.
Could you talk us through the artwork for the event? Who is the artist? What is the concept?
The poster was devised by Daisy Wakefield, a friend of the Bristol-based members of NWB. Interesting, new music that pushes existing boundaries has always been the beating heart of dance music – and it’s this heart you’ll see on our posters.
You say you are going to transform Wire with an installation. Can you let us in on what it could be? Why did you decide you wanted to do this? What do you envision No Way Back doing in the near future?
All I’ll say is the installation will involve a window into another world. We want to make the space unique to our night, to create an otherworldly environment where people can experience art on a visual as well as sonic level.