Interview – Dilation

Photo: Nathan Greenwood

For those of you who’ve just moved to Leeds and are still getting to grips with the local nightlife, Dilation is a strictly not for profit event that takes place at Beaver Works, just outside Leeds city centre.

Dilation have always had its roots securely sewn in the UK Garage scene, in the past they’ve brought us the likes of MJ Cole, Wookie, Ms Dynamite, Zed Bias, Oxide & Neutrino and more to grace the decks down at Beaver Works, and all this for usually under a fiver.

But the boys behind the scenes have tried something a bit different for the upcoming Dilation Autumn Sessions this Saturday. For the first time in its 5 year history Dilation invite us to an eclectic mix of house and disco as Lovebirds, Behling & Simpson, Moxie, Catching Flies, FKJ, Khalil all descend on the DJ booths.

So we managed to meet the guys responsible for this distinguished night that runs its course from London to Leeds in a cosy pub in Islington. Over a pint we met Louie Greenwood, Joe Ryle, Laurence Hayes, Reuben Kummer and Louie Brown to learn more:

LS: Why did you guy’s choose to start Dilation? 

JR: It wasn’t for any particular reason, we used to run in London, it started 5 years ago in 2008, we were 17 when it started. We were mad into drum and bass and basically the whole movement.
LH: We booked Nero over Myspace for 250 pounds! And then it blew up straight after that.
JR: It was the sweatiest venue you’ve ever seen. It was a place called Gramophone.

LS: Myspace days that’s how you know it’s retro. 

JR: They used to have a bar upstairs and an underground club that was a complete sweat box. It changed a bit when we went up to Leeds so we ran it in this social centre for a while which is kind of where the night got it’s name and its also where the whole not for profit thing came from.

LS: So what are the differences in the logistics of running a night in London and then in Leeds? 

LB: It’s a bit different, it’s more expensive in London, one of the biggest things we have to contend with is that if someone’s played another night, they won’t be allowed to play your night for a month or even up to 6 months.
LG: There’s also more pressure in London, I actually don’t like going out in London that much. When I go to a night I want it to be sick, you have to deal with the getting there and the getting back. So I always find I’m much more harder on the London events, I want them to be special. It’s quite a rare thing to get a night in London where you feel like you get a proper party without having to deal with the stress of getting back home.

Dilation night
Photo: Nathan Greenwood

LS: Who would you say is your favourite person you’ve had in over the years? 

LH: DJ-wise, DJ EZ. EZ was sick.
JR: it was quite exciting having Benji B though from Radio 1.
LH: That was our favourite line up with Benji B, Wookie and MJ cole.

LS: Tell us has anything really weird ever happened at a night? 

JR: What about that fan who had the Ms Dynamite tattoo?
LG: Yeah Ms Dynamite had just finished her set, there was this guy who was super persistent to get behind the DJ decks, he kept saying “please, please I’ve got something to show her”. And then he just pulls down his pants and he’s got Ms Dynamite-e-e- on his arse.
LB: The image of Ms Dynamite though with this guy with his pale arse hanging out and Ms Dynamite trying to take a picture of it for her Instagram. One of the lasting images I’ll have it of that night, she was loving it as well.

LS: So how do you choose who you want to book?

LH: We’ve got a big list basically that we all put into to see who’s available, but its difficult in Leeds when there’s so many other good nights and they’ve all got a lot in, but we try to choose people who still produce interesting stuff.
LG: We’ve been going on a real UK garage thing, but I think we’re going to switch it up and make it more eclectic, this line-up we’ve got next is really different  from anything we’ve ever done before, we’ve got Love Birds so it’s leaning towards more house and disco. It’s just basically stuff we’ve all been listening to, we started out very garage-centric but we’re open to change as we’ve been listening to other music.
LH: But we want to keep the garage roots though. That’s something we still love.

LS: So do you think Garage is still relevant these days or did it peak in the early noughties? 

LG: Yeah I don’t know if it’s ever going to get back to how it was, but it’s still obviously a big thing. It goes in waves, people still have a lot of nostalgia over it. For me that was everything I grew up listening to, Craig David and Sunship when I was going ice-skating. It’s a nostalgia thing, it’s just UK music, it was the last time that UK dance music was massive. And now it’s coming back.
LB: Also it’s nice to hear all those sorts of sounds again that you grew up listening to, trickling down through other artists. You can hear those influences in Jamie XX tracks, you know that he probably listened to the same tracks that you listened to as well.

LS: If you were going to give advice to anyone starting up a night in Leeds, what would it be?

LH: You’ve got to create a vision of how you want it to go, what artists would you book etc. We’ve always been about the party vibe,
JR: One of our favourite quotes is something a mate of ours came up with: “It’s not a club night it’s a party, it’s a party but it’s inside a club”.
RK: You’ve got to come up with something original, in terms of what you’re going to be doing, it’s easy to put on a night the same people as everyone else. I think the not-for profit thing was very important, being able to come in and see MJ Cole for 3 pounds’
LG: If you go to a night and you’ve only spent 3 quid to get in, you’ll be much happier. If you’re spending twenty pounds then you’re expecting a lot.
LB: Not that we don’t expect a lot of ourselves, it’s not about managing expectations, how are you going to have a good night if you just got robbed on the door?
JR: Like the other day we had loads of lollipops on the door, it’s the little things that show that we do think about the crowd rather than we need to make x amount of money. Because that’s what it’s about, making sure people have a good time.

Dilation party
“It’s not a club night it’s a party, it’s a party but it’s inside a club”. 

LS: So what’s your favourite night in Leeds? Apart from Dilation obviously. 

LG: Just a Little, Clarks is always amazing and Canal Mills are putting in some banging line-ups.
LH: Yeah like when Just a Little did Just a Little Mardi Gras, that was sick. They had Quantic there, just something really different, I feel like a lot of the nights can get a bit samey.
LG: Reggae Roast put on a good party as well.
LH: The thing is that there’s so many good nights in Leeds, that’s whats amazing about Leeds, like every weekend there’s probably 2 nights on a Friday and 2 more house parties as well. Trying to have a night in on a Friday is impossible.

LS: Why do you think there isn’t a popular grime night in Leeds? 

LG: Well maybe there’s a gap in the market for you?

Get all the latest information on upcoming nights from the Dilation Facebook page HERE and check out this video from the Dilation Summer party back in May:

James Andersen 


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