London Electronic Arts Festival (LEAF) 2013
“London has defined a genre. It may not have invented electronic music, but it gave it a global focal point for decades. Its influence from DJ-s to parties, flyers to technology platforms has been pivotal to the durability and the inventiveness of this scene. LEAF aims to bring all of this together for the very first time in the capital. This is our way of giving something back to a city that helped shape our entire working lives.”
Those are the words of Ben Turner & Rob da Bank, the curators and creators of the very first London Electronic Arts Festival which took place from the seventh until the tenth of November this year. I was lucky enough to go on along to see what it was all about…
The whole event was something that I stumbled across by accident when innocently browsing the web pages of “mixmag”, another British institution famed globally for its contribution to electronic music. There was an air or an atmosphere to the event, that made me feel as if everyone else had also accidentally made their way to the old Shoreditch Electric Light Station.
This dumbed silence around the building was most likely to do with the fact that, like one of the other few hundred attendees, I was stunned and rather bemused to be in the company of such an array of artists and musicians. The fact that the hosts had been able to attract such a calibre of to this inaugural event was not only surprising but brilliant.
There was no reason to make a fuss about this though. Apart from the odd chuckle when Bernard Sumner made an unsubtle reference to an illegal substance, nobody seemed to be prepared to made much of a noise. That was until, inevitably, the number one grabbing MK stepped into the ‘Boiler Room’ late on Saturdayafternoon.
Poised to claim his maiden UK number one for his remix of Storm Queen’s ‘Look Right Through’, Marc Kinchen steamed up the ‘Boiler Room’ real good. The general universal disdain towards those muppets who stand behind the DJ in the Boiler Room and don’t dance was not to be unearthed on this occasion. Not a soul could complain that MK didn’t have the room moving. It was one in, one out for good reason and there had to be a certain amount of sympathy for the never shy Eats Everything who followed him in.
Aside from the steaming Boiler Room, I wasn’t fortunate enough to attend most of the live events going on around London as part of this electro-fest celebration. A pop up set from Cyril Hahn at Boxpark in Shoreditch, the opening party with Duke Dumont, a Diplo set, a Giorgio Moroder set AND live performances from Omar Souleyman, The Bloody Beetroots and more were all on the cards. For the lucky few that bagged themselves a ticket, each and every one was sure to be treat and yet another testament to the assembling skills of Mr. da Bank and Mr. Turner.
Despite my obvious envy towards those attending the range of events I mentioned, I was lucky to be attending plenty of the talks and masterclasses offered at the LEAF Hub over the weekend.
Mesmerising keynote interviews with New Order and Giorgio Moroder were the main events on a well stacked Friday afternoon. The always entertaining New Order took the entranced crowd through the making of their famous album ‘Technique’. Discussing everything from drugs and partying to erm, drugs and partying there was the odd spot of serious musical enlightenment in there too.
Despite the drug talk, which was nonetheless entertaining I’ll admit, to hear such successful and pioneering artists discuss their creative processes so willingly and untrained was no doubt as refreshing for all in the audience as it was for me.
Then for the much anticipated Giorgio Moroder interview. Despite involving a lot less drug talk and feeling somewhat more tame, the interview was no less enthralling. Looking back on a life’s work and looking forward too was the order of the day. His intriguing plans for a new album were just as interesting as his stories about the legendary Donna Summer and that pair of French electro Gods.
If that wasn’t enough for us all to digest, Saturday brought even more for the now undoubtedly dumbfounded guests, including the ‘Boiler Room’ experience and even more masterclasses and talks.
MK took the reigns in the masterclass room prior to his set, discussing technical issues and answering software related questions which would definitely have served the wannabe producers in the room better than the journalists amongst us. What followed was one of the more inspired and passionate discussions of the music industry I have ever witnessed. Adam Bainbridge of Kindness fame wowed us with his forthright and too right opinions on creativity, individuality and the industry in the main.
The nightlife of London was discussed, analysed, praised and poked by the legendary Norman Jay MBE, Terry Farley (Boy’s Own), Keith Riley (Fabric) and James Priestley
(Secretsundaze). There was even a nod to Leeds by the great panel who proclaimed the light of the North as a ‘great house town’. High praise indeed from those who have much influence on the pulse of the electronic body in the capital.
As the quotation at the start of this very article highlighted, and as the hosts of this refreshing event will have hoped, LEAF sought to and succeeded in highlighting the influence of London in the global electronic music scene. It is still one of the top destinations for those trying to make a name for themselves in the industry and if this event has anything to do with it, it still will be for a while yet. For the budding producers or musicians, this is definitely worth the ticket price and who knows, in 2014 they’ll probably capture an even bigger and better line up. Maybe.
photos: Timeout & Factmag