IWD Special: Octo Octa at Headrow House – Review

Natural Selection welcomed Brooklyn-based DJ and producer Octo Octa and Equaliser‘s Sayang to Headrow House on International Women’s Day.

Natural Selection initially came about as a way of bringing together world class DJs and local talent; a mantra that was evident on the night as world-renowned Octo Octa headlined alongside support from special guest and Love Muscle and Equaliser resident, Sayang. 

This was a line-up fitting for International Women’s Day; Maya Bouldry-Morrison (Octo Octa), who came out as transgender in 2016, often uses her artistry to represent and explore her own gender identity, and Sayang similarly uses their platform as a way of exploring queerness, race and culture. Underscoring the night was an appreciation of difference, with this helping to create an environment that felt welcoming and inclusive – an atmosphere reflective of what International Women’s Day seeks to promote globally.

With scenes reminiscent of a Berlin club, the night kicked off with Sayang’s fast-paced, thumping techno, preparing the crowd for the night to come. Despite the atmosphere feeling slightly flat towards the back of the dancefloor, which the crowd struggled to fill, at the front a party was undeniably in full swing. 

As the clock struck 1am, Octo Octa took to the decks. Having already solidified her position on the global stage with her electric Boiler Room x Is Burning set at ADE, as well as being on the bill for this summer’s Dekmantel Festival, expectations were high – and she did not disappoint. Varying between speed garage and old school house, along with some breaks, her set felt diverse and fresh. Electroset’s 1992 track ‘How Does it Feel’, a breaks edit of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’, was a definite highlight. Throughout the set, Octo Octa oozed cool and was outwardly enjoying herself, and this feeling resonated with the crowd as well.

Despite the early finish of 3:30am, the night did not feel incomplete, and with more inclusive nights like this coming to the forefront of the Leeds scene, I am beyond excited for what’s to come.