“After racking our brains for ages trying to come up with names, my girlfriend suggested we call the label Valby Ruta after the IKEA rug in my room”, laughs Tom, one-third of the up-and-coming DJ trio, Valby Rotary. “We changed the ruta to rotary because why not, and then thought, ‘let’s go with it because we need a name’ as it was starting to stress us out. Now it seems to work well!” he adds. Work well it does, with the group carving out a respectable name for themselves across the city, before launching their first event last week, headlined by none other than the label head of Lobster Theremin & Mörk, Asquith.
The second group member, Lou, states that this booking was informed by seeing Jimmy Asquith “in Sheffield last year”, adding that “he was so much fun to watch and very energetic. I’d say Jimmy is someone we look to as being influential not only for his skills as a DJ, but also due to his successful management of great labels and sub labels etc.” The boys explain that the choice to launch at Wire was informed by the venue’s consistent ability to curate line-ups and foster local promoters and scenes. Couple this with the regular deliveries of big names such as Joy O, Four Tet, and Hessle Audio in such an intimate venue, the boys agree that, “Wire is probably our favourite club in the UK”.
It’s clear that each member of the group have a strong passion for what they’re doing, with Tom explaining that Benito, a close friend of his and the third member of Valby Rotary, started a night in their hometown and made him a resident aged just 17. “I was then getting the opportunity to support pretty well-established acts right of the bat. So, I think my first few gigs were warming up for people like Dan Shake, Evan Baggs, Casino Times and xxxy.”. Tom explains that he learned fast because he was “desperate to do a good job!”.
This passion has led to them being recognised all over the city, playing what is often considered the height of Leeds events, Flux, after they had attended “pretty much every event they’ve put on over the past few years”. They’ve also become invested in the more niche, critically acclaimed side of the city, playing out on Balamii and KMAH Radio. “I think the benefits from these performances come from the people you meet whilst doing them.”, explains Lou, “I have been volunteering at Balamii radio over the summer and have met so many DJs and producers who are doing great things. Having the opportunity to perform is just another benefit.”. “Chris from Slipstone had us on his KMAH show.”, Tom interjects, “in agreement with Lou I think the real benefit with this was just the social aspect. I’ve became good friends with Chris so that’s a plus! I often run things by him and ask him for advice. Shout outs to Chris I’anson!”
From here, the conversation flows to producing music, another string on Valby Rotary’s formidable bow. They make clear that they do not want to pigeon-hole themselves as strictly lo-fi house, but that there are elements of the genre which obviously appeal to them. Instead, they make clear that their aim is to “progress as a label and take influence from many different sub genres”.
Tom has had a release on Seb Wildhood’s label All My Thoughts, and credits him with helping them to push themselves as producers, noting that a couple of years ago he suggested they “should start putting some of our own material out instead of trying to send it as demos to other labels”. Tom is adamant however that “most of the support and advice that causes label progression is from within our group, through sharing ideas with each other or with our boy Jeigo”.
For Valby Rotary, the future looks bright, with VALBY003 being recently released. “We both have releases coming out next year with other labels, and I’m working on VALBY004 as we speak. In terms of running events, we’ll be starting to get on with the next one soon. Watch this space…”
Jacob Pitts and George Mason