An interview with Mutualism

An interview with Mutualism

Northern experimental label Mutualism’s first ‘Scope Plus’ event is indicative of their artistic ambition. Before the event on 18th March, we spoke to co-founder Lucien about their plans.

The first edition of the Scope Plus series will include an all-day programme of live electronic installations and workshops at Huddersfield’s historic Bates Mill. Choosing the mill as a location for the series launch was an easy decision for the team. After Lucien and label co-manager Julian Jaschke attended an album launch at the venue, they “fell in love with the potential of Huddersfield and Bates Mill itself”. Speaking with the team, there is a tangible air of anticipation about the space, illustrated by an album of photos from site visits they regularly use as a prop in our conversation. Lucien assures me that the multi-disciplinary potential of Bates Mill has to be experienced first-hand in its full, post-industrial glory. “It’s a beautiful, working, almost living and breathing kind of space. When you’re there you can hear churning machines, people moving about and metal clanging, so it’s a pretty perfect environment for the music we love”.

As the space has not been used for an event of this scale for over 4 years, the event is set to make an impact on Huddersfield’s current art and music scene. “There’s an event in Huddersfield called the Contemporary Music Festival, which is a weekend featuring people who are really pushing boundaries within music. But it can often feel very serious and ‘chin-scratchy’, so getting people down to see weird music is harder than it sounds, or it should be”, Lucien explains. Mutualism aim to bridge this gap through their workshop programme and commitment to making electronic music “more approachable without compromising its expressiveness”. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn about technological interfaces such as Arduino, which features in the art installations that will fill the club space prior to the live music programme. “All of the installations to focus on have some kind of relationship to the space” Julian says, “I think interactivity is important for breaking that wall down and keeping people engaged in what’s going on”.

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Throughout our conversation, interactivity and engagement emerge as consistent themes that extend from the label’s visual aesthetic to their curatorial process. In direct contrast to throwing an event “by music nerds, for music nerds”, Lucien states that “ideally Bates Mill’s is going to be loads of people who don’t know who Visionist or Giuseppe Ielasi are.. and everyone comes away from it feeling like there’s good stuff going on in the North”. As Julian himself is from a non-musical background, he see this as allowing him and Julian to programme line ups that create a variety of relationships between club-goer and performer. “I’m still very much a raver, and I think you can see how that affects where we come from in terms of booking artists such as Visionist” he notes.

Described by Mutualism as “one of modern music’s most elusive experimentalists”, Visionist’s visceral club tracks defy categorisation. Presented alongside Gisueppe Ielasi’s sonically challenging textures, the event’s headline acts represent Mutualism’s innovative approach to programming in a saturated (and often safe) clubbing landscape. Support from LOFT and members of Leeds collectives including Leftovers, 8MANA and Permahigh also positions the event at the forefront of the North’s experimental club scene. “We wanted to put artists on who would gain something from playing and would be as excited as us about doing something special in Huddersfield”, explains Lucien, “and get these artists to size of stage they should be playing on; in a big room and on a big system”.

Above all however, Mutualism want you to dance. “Dancing opens up a whole new way to interact with music. A lot of music makes more sense if you dance to it. Whether you know how to dance to it or if you’re trying to figure it out – you don’t miss anything.”

Scope Plus launches on 18th March at Bates Mill in Huddersfield, with installations and workshops from 12pm. Tickets are available via Resident Advisor and in store at Jumbo Records, Crash and Eastern Bloc.

Eleanor Gribbin

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