Ahead of their first night at Wire we chatted to Gaby and Paddy of Portal Presents, two music students adding their own flavour to the already rich broth of drum and bass sounds in Leeds. Their first event with 1991 is on 1st May.
How did Portal Presents come together? How did you meet? And when did you decide you wanted to start an event?
So we’re a couple! We actually met at a gig (and subsequent dnb after party) a couple of years ago through a mutual friend. Thinking about it now music actually plays a huge part in our relationship – we’re both music students and we got to know each other through going to loads of events. Setting up our own feels like a natural progression for us. I think it’s something we both wanted to do alone but would’ve found too daunting. I don’t think we ever actually had a discussion about whether we wanted to do it, it was just like after a good night out we’d say ‘so when are we putting on our own?’
Why ‘Portal’? Where does the name come from?
Paddy: To be honest we were just brainstorming ideas and we liked the sound of Portal. Plus it allows for some pretty cool poster designs.
When did your love of drum and bass music first begin?
Gaby: Surprisingly, Bradford has a bit of a drum and bass scene. I started going out to it and just loved the vibe and the community atmosphere. I think that’s something we’d like to recreate; we’d like to see the same faces at our events and for people to use them as a way to connect with new people.
Paddy: A couple of my mates told me to listen to Blood Sugar by Pendulum back in 2010 at high school and I loved it, so I went digging through any drum and bass I could find, mostly early noughties stuff like Spor and Sub Focus, I moved onto trying my hand at production soon after just messing around, and ended up studying production at uni.
What bass music nights have been influential to you, both in Leeds and elsewhere?
We really liked what Worried About Henry were doing at Antwerp Mansion when they started out, bringing big names for student friendly prices and we really wanted to emulate that. Wire’s also hosted some amazing nights for us, like seeing TQD right before they blew up and the last ever Jamz was pretty special.
What comes under bass music for you? Are you restricting yourself to drum and bass or are you going to go elsewhere? What other styles do you listen to?
Gaby: We’d love to expand ourselves a bit more; we’ve already got a few ideas swimming round so who knows what might be next. It goes without saying that bassline has been hugely influential in Yorkshire, that’s definitely an avenue we might pursue. In terms of what else we listen to, that’s a nightmare to explain because genuinely just everything – a lot of indie, a bit of metal, jungle, loads of older stuff like 60s-90s, ska, folk, reggae, breaks, bassline. I don’t think I’ve found a music genre yet where I didn’t like something about it. I’ve already said I’d love to put on disco and old school Ibiza themed nights.
There is quite a strong heritage of drum and bass in Leeds. Ant TC1 who currently manages Metalheadz is from Leeds, and also Outlook Festival is operated from here. What attracted you to Leeds in the first place? What separates it from other cities in the UK?
Gaby: Leeds is the perfect city for us size wise I think. Places like Manchester are great but it’s so big! There’s so much going on in Leeds but it’s still possible to bump into the same people out and about. And we had to stay somewhere up north, I don’t think moving further south would be an option for us, it’s great to visit, but we know where our people are.
Paddy: Growing up in Rochdale I’d already spent so much of my life in Manchester I wanted to live somewhere else in the north (and there was no chance I was moving to Liverpool) so Leeds was the obvious choice. Like Gaby said Leeds is nice and compact but has such a busy nightlife, certainly the best for underground music with venues such as Wire and Canal Mills.
Do you enjoy student life in Leeds? Are a lot of students into drum and bass?
Gaby: I couldn’t fault being a student in Leeds. We’re spoilt with the array of events that go on every week. The people are a bit edgy but that’s part of the charm – I feel like people know what they’re getting with Leeds students. And yeah I’d say so, I think drum and bass is enjoying a bit of resurgence at the minute, the events are getting bigger and better. Obviously techno is huge as well right now but it’s just not as fun. Say what you will about drum and bass but it’s never boring.
Can you tell us a bit about 1991 and why you have booked him for this first event?
Paddy: Last year he really burst onto the scene with some amazing tracks. We saw him at Snowbombing in Austria and then again later in the year at The Warehouse Project (Manchester) and The Leadmill (Sheffield) and he never disappoints. Coupled with the fact he won Best Newcomer at the Drum and Bass Arena Awards last year it was too good to be true when he agreed to headline our first event. Plus he’s not played a headline show in Leeds yet so we’re so excited to have booked him and made it happen.
What would be your dream line-up for a Portal?
Paddy: Loadstar b2b DC Breaks b2b Mind Vortex, Spor, Ivy Lab
Gaby: That’s so tough. If I had to choose: Dimension, Redlight, My Nu Leng, TQD, Preditah – in no particular order.
Do you have a long term goal for your event?
We’d like to keep doing it till it becomes full time, that’s the goal. Hopefully host some of the best DJ’s and maybe put on a few bands as well.