Interview – Getting to Know On Rotation

Like the rotary movement that their name suggests, On Rotation’s approach to putting on a night is revolutionary. But it is revolution through simplicity.

“The premise behind On Rotation is being able to have a decent early doors spot to go to and listen to great DJs playing records over a beer or two without the pressure of going ‘out out’. A lot of people (including myself) can’t commit to staying out until 4/5am in the middle of the week, but do want somewhere to go and hear some top tunes around good people. That’s where we come in.”

Owen Spalding and Chris l’Anson (founder of Slipstone Records who has released music by Kesper) had mulled over the idea of organising an event for a while, when Owen heard of a mid-week opening at 212 Bar at Brewery Wharf, just south of the canal.

“We’re extremely lucky to be able to work with the people behind 212. You will genuinely not get a better sound system or a booth in a bar in the UK, period. It’s the whole package though, they get what we’re trying to do with On Rotation and we get what they’re trying to do with the bar. It works really well.”

The nights at 212, the first of which took place in October last year, have been serene, sophisticated occasions that warm the heart enough to warrant what turns out to be a not-so-daunting excursion over the canal. The effort made to move beyond Call Lane to frequent a bar is far outweighed by the joy of hearing slick tunes while sipping a good beer in the welcoming company of music enthusiasts. And these are the raw principles that are being applied to On Rotation’s next electronic endeavor – one that aims to shake things up by turning back the clock and stripping back the frills.

“The Loft Party is really a response to our feelings about the current Leeds clubbing scene. Since The Garage has closed the only real venue to go to in Leeds for underground music is Wire. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wire and have had some of my best nights out in there, but going there week in week out can grow a bit tiresome.

“It is a great time to be going out in Leeds in some respects and not in others. On one hand, the calibre of the artists being booked by promoters in Leeds is unbelievable. I’m genuinely shocked when I see an artist I would expect playing in a 1000+ venue being booked to play in a sweaty 300 capacity basement in Leeds. I think myself and many others would appreciate a little more choice in terms of small venues. I have to give a big mention to Cosmic Slop here, it’s an absolute breath of fresh air in terms of music in Leeds, and is creating a bit of a buzz amongst a lot of big names in the industry. Tom is doing some great things for MAP (Music and Arts Production) too so I can only commend him for what he’s created.”

As the popularity of Cosmic Slop increases exponentially (to the point where hundreds of people were regrettably turned away a few weeks back) it is becoming clear that punters are craving a keener exploration into the murkier depths of record collections to uncover the shiniest gems. And people want these tracks to be played in intimate, minimalist surroundings. Luckily, Chris and Owen’s vision aligns with that of clubbing in New York in the 70s and 80s, a scene that fits the bill of simplicity.

“New York’s scene was an absolute hot bed of new music and counter culture. It was about doing something refreshing, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this loft party. We don’t want to re-create the vibe, but we’re basing our project on their ideals and giving it a new lease of life with new music. We all felt that we needed to use a venue that people aren’t used to and somewhere they’ll get excited about, rock the boat a bit. It’s on the 2nd floor of an arts space, white walls, wooden floors, a few metal beams dotted about the place. It’s raw and it’s exciting. There’s a few more issues in using a pop-up venue, like getting the sound in and sorting the bar, but if anything it makes us feel that bit more part of the location. We’re gonna keep it as bare bones as possible because like the NY parties, and without sounding cliched, it’s about music, dancing, and good people.”

On Rotation’s Loft Party will take place on 20th March 2015 at Enjoy Art Space (Unit 22 64 Mabgate, LS9 7DZ, Leeds) and will feature sets from On Rotation regular Alex Theodossiadis and the man behind 212 Bar, Jacob Kelly (Eclectic Avenue) .

[Oliver Walkden]

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