Interview Artificial Barriers

Hi guys, hope you are good! First off, let’s start at the beginning, how did “Artificial Barriers” start off?

Arun: It was actually a really quick process. After returning from a year of living back at home in Reading and doing some events in Bristol I wanted to do something up in Leeds too. Me and Dave are housemates and both had similar taste, going towards the sound labels such as Samurai and UVB-76 have been pushing but didn’t see any of it being pushed in Leeds. We knew Ryan through a few of our friends and I was made aware he had similar taste to us through a small Facebook group we used to post music in called Tasty Riddims. First time I actually met Ryan was at a Jungle Syndicate night up in Leeds at the beginning of October which was wicked, and we briefly spoke about it I think, so then I messaged him a few days later and we managed to sort a pilot event by the end of the month for November. After deliberation over what to name it, we went with Artificial Barriers as a nod to Source Direct, I actually managed to find a copy of that record in a charity shop for £2 around the time, which hugely influenced this.

Ryan: I’d been wanting to do something like this for a long time as I feel it’s an often overlooked niche within electronic music and the Leeds scene definitely has space for it. When Arun and Dave asked me if I’d be interested I was very enthusiastic about it, and yeah it went pretty smoothly from there.

That seems like a very organic and natural process! Did you have any reservations about pushing that UVB-76/Samurai style of DnB in Leeds? Or did you already have an idea that you could attract the right crowds?

ArtyB: There were definitely some reservations with the a lot of the Leeds scene being very geared towards the areas of Techno, Electro and House, which we also do really like. We thought that the blurred lines of a lot of 170 with a melting pot of influences combining styles from across the electronic music spectrum including techno and electro may be able to draw people a bit, however.

Ryan: I think something that can be a bit difficult with a 170 based night is breaking away from the label of “drum & bass” and what people assign to that. Yet at the same time, you need to tell interested people what the nights based around. There’s a lot of techno heads in Leeds that I’m sure would love some of the stuff we play, yet may just not know what it is yet. I think the biggest reservation for me is being able to advertise what we play appropriately, I mean whilst we are a drum & bass night I’d say the music we play has more in common with producers such as Carl Finlow, Donato Dozzy and Radius than say, DJ Hazard. At the same time though, we are doing something that it’s hard to find elsewhere at the moment, so we knew there were definitely going to be people about who were up for coming down to the night.

Most notable for us and quite honestly what we love are the words “left-field drum and bass” in the event description. Can you talk us through what your perception is of “left-field drum and bass”?

Arun: It just seemed like an effective way to describe what a lot of the 170 stuff is to someone who may never have heard it. I can’t remember who actually decided that we put that on the events to be honest. People often do need some sort of categorisation, it’s something very typical of human nature, it’s always difficult to categorise this music for the sake of providing insight to others but I feel this is quite a short, snappy and effective way. I find that often it can just transcend words or any description, like all music I guess, but the 170 tempo is a good point of reference for the possibilities of experimentation around that and the first album that pops to my head whilst saying this is DB1-Zwischenwelt, just so incredible, originally and sonically interesting.

Ryan: Haha, I think it was my idea to include the “left-field” phrase to hopefully make people realise that we’re going to be playing some pretty weird stuff. It’s a good way to not limit ourselves to very specific subgenres whilst maintaining a sense of unconventionalism.

With us being total music nerds we always like to delve into what music you are listening to, so following on from the “left-field drum and bass” chat I’m interested to hear what artists and labels you rate highly or are currently enjoying now?

Arun: So many spring to mind, recently I’ve been loving the Groundwork Recordings stuff, Oliver Yorke’s EP on Cosmic Bridge is awesome as is the rest of his work and the rest of the Cosmic Bridge back catalogue for that matter. Detuned Transmissions particularly DAAT and Books, Ortem as well, again Books track Jagganath on that is heavy, Lynch Kingsleys latest release Void on Inperspective, all of Lewis James’ music, his production is so interesting, anything Eusebeia puts out anything OneMind put out and anything that rest put out. I also love that 90s Jungle sound, that’s the area I devote most time to digging for, as well as newer artists such as Sully. I think a massive thing for me is being able to interact and support all of these people, speaking to them online, seeing them at events, buying their records, booking them it’s all very personal and meaningful.

Ryan: ASC’s new album on Samurai has also been as brilliant as expected, I really enjoy the whole Grey Area thing so it’s good to know it’s still being pushed by ASC, Sam KDC and Geoff Presha. There’s also some great jungle coming out from the usual suspects: Sully, Coco Bryce, etc. That scene seems to have really took off in the past year or so which we’re all really glad about. It’s nice to see jungle getting a bit more recognition and to see producers being really experimental in the sounds they’re making within the genre.

So the event is Leeds based, for anybody who’s not familiar with it, talk us through the scene there?

Arun: The music scene in Leeds is thriving, there’s so much going on but we found not enough going on centred around the stuff we were into. There are some awesome nights about though for Drum and Bass. I think the biggest one for me initially was Central Beatz I loved going to those nights, I initially thought there wasn’t much Drum and Bass in Leeds until I found them, I’ve still got some of the posters knocking about one from the 20 years of Metalheadz night with Dillinja, Scar and Ant TC1. License to Jungle are absolutely killing it as well, free entry on a Friday night getting to see artists such as Mantra, Gremlinz, Tim Reaper, Loxy and many more, Subdub have some killer lineups in Room 2 most of the time and also Ant TC1s night Momentum was incredible, saw Dbridge do a mindblowing 3 hour set at one of those. In addition to the nights it seems like there’s been quite a strong Dispatch recordings presence with it being based up here too. There has been an increase in the DIY community within events and promotion over the past few years which rubbed off on us too, although the biggest impact for me personally was going to One.Seventy and seeing how Rob and Alexander have done that.

Ryan: There’s a great scene for a vast variety of genres, particularly house and techno. In terms of those nights then it’s definitely worth mentioning On Rotation and Brudenell Groove who throw some great parties. The scene for gigs is great also with many smaller and larger bands playing in decent venues. I’m off to see The Breeders soon at the union which I’m very much looking forward too! Momentum used to be the king of d&b nights in Leeds for me, the dBridge night that Arun mentioned particularly sticks out as something special, closely followed by Central Beatz. License to Jungle are booking amazing artist after amazing artist at the moment which is brilliant, especially since it’s free! I still think there’s a gap in the market for a bit more d&b in Leeds at the moment though, so hopefully we can grow to fill that space!

I was actually going to reference you guys as what I would regard as the equivalent of what Milena does in Bristol and what Rob and Alex do in London, it’s refreshing to see! How’s the reception been so far with your event now you’ve done a few and can judge the reactions?

ArtyB: That’s a very high compliment indeed, we have a huge amount of respect for them! It’s been pretty good so far, what made us realise we must be doing something right is when it snowed up here and people came in the snow on a wednesday evening for it. It’s so nice when people have come up to us saying that they’ve never heard this type of drum and bass before and are asking for track IDs, or that they like this sort of drum and bass but have never known where to find it.

Your next event on the 1st of June will be held at “Studio 24”, we see that previous to this you used the “Hyde Park Book Club”, is this a change of venue or just because of the collaboration with BPM?

Arun/ArtyB: A bit of both really, we have all been to Studio 24 before for various nights that friends of ours have put on, it’s a really cool independent space with a proper DIY vibe and is really supportive of music enthusiasts who want to put a night without the pressure that clubs often present. Hyde Park Book Club was a nice starting point as it’s right in the student area too, but we were keen to get a late license and go towards a slightly bigger venue nearer to the City centre, creating the real challenge of whether we can draw people out of the bubble! All of us have also been involved with the Leeds DJ Society BPM for the majority of our time at uni, the first time I properly played out was at one of their open deck socials actually! So it’s nice to be putting on something with them as it’s run by friends of ours.

So let’s discuss venues… From your position as promoters, give us what it is you guys look for when looking at potential venues?

Arun/ArtyB: Mainly just somewhere that you feel are genuine about supporting what you’re doing. That doesn’t mean they have to be hands on either, can be quite the opposite actually and be hands off. The idea of using a space where the owner isn’t fretting about getting people in to make money off the bar is key, booking that space as yours to use how you want with no concern over whether you bring in 20 people or 200 people.

Included in the line up for the recent event we see you have Ronin Ordinance boss man-Chimera. We are a big supporter of his label…. How did the booking come about?

Arun: So, myself and Ben started chatting sometime last year it was actually a post on AMLF which got us chatting, funnily enough he was telling me not to put on any nights here as there hadn’t seemed to be anything of it’s kind or any noticeable scene that would support that, which I completely understand and to be honest am very grateful for him saying that as it definitely helped me come to the conclusion that I didn’t want it to be a night we would have to pump money into. We inevitably got chatting about Ronin Ordinance and having heard stuff from the label before it was and remains to be really interesting chatting with Ben himself and about how things are going with it all in addition to receiving forthcoming releases that are always wicked. the labels going from strength to strength and it’s always a pleasure to support. As soon as Artificial Barriers had started I knew I would like to get him down and we had discussed it around that time, however, needed to work out when it would be possible. It seemed like the perfect time to get him down on June 1st with this being our first Friday event with a late licence too.

Sounds pretty good to us, nice to see some Ronin Ordinance showcases. It will be interesting to see what he plays, we know he’s got plenty of dubs that are fire, so it should be a lovely treat. I’m not gonna ask who you might have lined up for future events… But I am interested to know… There must be a few djs that you would love to book! Say you had a booking golden ticket and could book any headliner you wanted each, you would you guys book?

Arun: To be honest we haven’t really got anything plans set for our next bookings yet, I’d love to get Mantra down though she’s an awesome DJ and just a very inspiring figure in the scene. As for a Golden ticket it would be Felix K for an extended set 3 hours + would absolutely love that.

Ryan: The golden ticket is an easy choice for me: Kid Drama and dBridge playing as Heart Drive. I’m massively into all my autonomic era stuff and their releases as Heart Drive are amazing, as well as both being fantastic DJ’s. ASC would be a close second though as I love the space opera soundscape style music he makes. I’m not sure how feasible either of those ideas are, but who knows what the future may bring!

Well that’s been an interesting chat guys, thanks for your time! Anything else you guys would like to add before wrap this up?

Arun: Yeah last thing I’d wanna add is just a general shout to all the people in the community AMLF crew, Diggin in The Crates crew and the One.Seventy regulars, backbone of the scene!


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