Selective Hearing is arguably Manchester’s premier night for house, techno, post-dubstep and more. Genres aside, it is a night dedicated to what promoter and head honcho David Kelly describes simply as “energy, progression, and forward thinking music.”
Days before the collective celebrates its second birthday at Joshua Brooks, we spoke to David about what he has in store for Selective Hearing’s growing band of dedicated, open- minded ravers. But first, a look at the outstanding roster of acts to expect this coming Saturday, a line-up Kelly himself describes as “the best we’ve ever put on.”
Actress in a name that needs little introduction to fans of UK electronic music, and 2010’s ‘Splashz’ has over time become something of a modern classic and a crossover success. Inspiring hundreds of young producers with his unique and strange sound set, Actress also took the older guard by surprise, eventually and inexplicably travelling to the Congo last year to record a charity album with Damon Albarn and Richard Russell, themselves falling in love with his mix of industrial sounds, leftfield house and leftfied but resonate hooks.
His own label, Werkdiscs, has almost as gilded a reputation as his own work in terms of boundary pushing sounds, having released material by the likes of Lone and Zomby, and his DJ set on Saturday is set to showcase new tracks due out on the label, as well as his current set of influences. Actress recently announced the first of two albums in 2012; R.I.P, due at the end of April. This show is likely to be the perfect opportunity for fans to hear the new material aired live in the basement of Joshua Brooks. One of the UK’s foremost producers, Actress’ DJ sets - like his own music - are boundary pushing and never dull.
Meanwhile, the first of two perfectly aligned support slots comes from Space Dimension Controller, a man in possession of music so futuristic, his official biography claims it was produced in the year 2334 on a “distant planet in Mikrosector-50 of the deep space grid that was suitable for human habitation.” He now travels through time and space each weekend “to play galactic funk in illegal earth clubs.”
More accurately, Space Dimension Controller is one of the UK’s most promising young producers and DJs, and one of the hallmarks of the recently relaunched R&S records. Just in his early twenties, his short career so far has seen DJs world over playing his initial releases such as ‘The Love Quadrant’, and a reputation quickly built as one of the most vibrant and eclectic young DJs around, cemented by a recent, sterling residency at The Warehouse Project, and gigs world over. A collector of sounds old and new, but far from a retroist, SCD is carving a real niche of his own and has become a phenomenal party DJ. He also often wears a Tiger romper suit whilst playing. He’s a man dancing to his own rythym, just taking the rest of us with him.
Finally, Redshape may not be a massively known name on the UK club circuit, but is certainly one of the most exciting names in techno in the past five years. The German native is a favourite at Berlin’s Berghain and beyond, and has seen releases on well regarded labels like Deslin and Running Back. Performing live this Saturday beneath his mysterious red mask, his performance promises the sort of ‘organic techno jam’ he has become best known for. If you want a flavour of what to expect, his latest for Martyn’s esteemed 3024 imprint 'Throw In The Dirt' is currently doing the business in techno sets worldwide.
Further support comes from Selective Hearing’s resident crew of Shadowfax, 310-190 and Man named Versa, with vocal and visual contributions from MC Sparkz and Bones respectively.
A potential Manchester classic night in the making, Selective Hearing are true tailors in forward-thinking good times.
David Kelly explains further…
First off, can you explain to the unitiated what Selective Hearing brings to the Manchester scene? You of course started off as Drumclinic and booked the likes of Martyn, Zomby, Kode9 and more. Is there a difference/ progression between the two?
Drumclinic was just a way for me to put on line ups that simply weren't being attempted. They were always diverse and took a lot of thought. Putting names like Zomby on, which we ended up doing twice, just showed how we wanted to attempt the improbable. We were warned not to as he 'wouldn't show up'... well he did, twice, and he was a gent. When Selective Hearing first started I wasn't part of the fold. In Manchester, there are a lot of nights, and a lot of promoters; what's hard to come across is genuine people putting on music for the love; but that’s exactly what Selective Hearing do. It didn't take long for us to work out we were all doing the same thing and we were all helping each other out on our shows. So after a while we just sort of morphed together. Selective Hearing is all about educating and to me is one of the first nights in Manchester to mix UK bass music with techno and house, and do it well. In the UK at the minute I think the nostalgic value of techno is at last gaining notoriety in the student crowds, bringing it back to where it belongs, allowing promoters to mix what’s seen as a current bass scene and techno together as one.
It’s moved away from those wobble step sound to students wanting to see people like Kyle hall, Joy O, Skudge, Martyn, Space Dimension, Blawan, Actress, Addison Groove, Objekt etc. These names have been somehow pigeonholed as dubstep artists, but in-fact they couldn't be anything less. I think that's what we bring to Manchester; energy, progression, forward thinking music.
- Date: Saturday 3rd March 2012
- Event: Selective hearing 2nd bday; Actress | Space Dimension Controller | Redshape at Joshua Brooks
- Venue: Joshua Brooks
- Artists: Space Dimention Controller, Redshape
The sentiment that we are in a bit of a golden period for dance music is increasingly heard from critics and fans. Would you tend to agree, and if so, why?
This re-emergence and accepting of techno and house from youth ranks within Manchester is very important in the scene's overall health and growth. 'Scenes' are very temperamental and unpredictable. We've gone from techno to electro to house to minimal to dubstep and now it’s going full circle in Manchester in five years. The real golden age for me personally was about six years ago just before emphasis started to shift When I was 1st year in uni and I’d just arrived to Manchester from Derry, Ireland. I remember going to jungle nights with 800 people in there; going to the old grimey Sankeys were you weren't allowed to wear a coat in and it being full to the rafters. Manchester championed names like Dave Clarke, Ben Simms, Rob Hood, Milanese, Surgeon, Clark, Rob Hall, Redshape, Autechre, LFO etc. Now, ask a student who Autechre is these days and they'd probably ask you is it someone that plays for Sunderland. There’s still a large contingent of people though, that share my musical tastes. Festivals like Bloc, Glade and Bangface are more important now to the UK scene than ever before. The golden age is yet upon us I feel. We're seeing more and more producers try their hand at techno and succeeding; we're seeing people like Joy O, Boddika, Jon Convex, Sigha, Objekt and most notably, Blawan, shift focus from what they first put out to more solid 4x4's beats infused with acid tones and techno vibes. More and more UK promoters are catching wind of this and it’s only a good thing.
You are also a fine DJ, and recently supported SBTRKT in front of 2000 people at the Ritz, as well as put on what I hear was a bit of a mad New Year's bash back in Derry. What initially peaked your interest in dance music and DJing? What is your definition of 'back in the day'?
My first influence of DJing which made me want to give it a go was going to a DJ Craze gig in Ireland about 10 years ago. He was a DMC champion numerous times and it was still to this day one of the most amazing displays I’ve ever seen. The way he infused scratching and dance floor orientated hip hop was simply genius. I bought some Technics, and then all I would buy was was hip-hop.
When I first went to Manchester, all I had were a few crates of hip hop and jungle music; I wasn't anywhere near an expert on electronica and I went exploring. Eastern Bloc records was a haven for me in first year. My girlfriend at the time however starting buying me more electro based music; and at parties that's what people wanted to listen too so I went down that path for a while. But from an early perspective when i took it all in it was Techno that really grabbed me in a special way. I quickly began to buy techno and my collection grew to a level at which I was confident in myself.
Dance music is a genre that moves faster than any other. It's interesting that the evolution of dubstep has gone on to encompass garage, techno, and even electro as of late. Has any sound crept back in or evolved that you never really anticipated?
I never really expected electro coming back in the way that it did. We put on DJ STINGRAY a few years back. He's literally the king of electro. A crowd had come to see Kode9, and wouldn't really know who Stingray was, but it paid off. It was really amazing seeing how that crowd took to him. But the re-emergance of a more slowed down and controlled scene in the U.K. has become apparent in producers like Addison Groove, Boddika, Jon Convex & XXXY; particularly on the Swamp 81 label which has become synonymous with UK dance music of late.
If it hasn't made a return yet, any sound, genre or attitude you'd like to see more of in dance music?
I'd like to see this new era of hip hop beats get more recognition; producers like Kuedo and Zomby have been making some seriously heavily underrated tracks of late. Kuedo’s last album was one of my favourites of all time. It’s impressive because it's so original for the UK scene. He didn't rest on his laurels of his accomplishments; but put his neck out and did something new. Lone and Blawan are probably some of the most talented producers to ever come from the UK in their respective fields. It’s names like that, that should be winning Grammys.
The line-up for Saturday is seriously impressive. Tell us how it came together and who you're most looking forward to?
Yeah it's my favourite one we’ve ever done. We really wanted to see Actress in a club as soon as possible. I really cannot wait. He's one of the finest selectors there is out there and one of the coolest guys on the circuit. Space Dimension Controller is just one of my favourite DJs, period. His 'all nonsense' style of somehow, and don't ask me how, being able to blend the likes of Phil Collins and Jeff Mills into the same set is ingenious. Incredibly talented guy and amazing producer. Redshape is just the icing on the cake really. We wanted to top it off with someone who just comes to do damage. And to say that’s what he does is an understatement. The man just likes to cause havoc. And it’s always been amazing to catch him play. I've been collecting his music now for a few years and when the chance came to book him, there was no question.
As bass music seems to grow more popular and yet stranger and more experimental, what are the plans for Selective Hearing’s future?
We want to keep evolving and do what we are doing. We've got a busy year coming up with our club night and hosting a lot of extra parties and shows. We are playing at Parklife, Dimensions Festival in Croatia and a few other festivals in the UK. We've also got a record label starting soon and we have our first vinyl basically ready to melt onto wax. Things are looking good for us and we want to continue that. We think we have the best crowd in Manchester. Without them we'd be nothing. So we want to keep doing them proud and with them by our side, continue to do something special.
Actress not so famously used to play professionally for West Brom. Do you think you could persuade him to do some keepy-ups during the set, or do you reckon he might just want to focus on playing tunes?
I never knew this! Although it doesn't surprise me! I might challenge him to a game before the gig. I can only imagine what a team bus would be like if Actress was in charge of the tape deck!
Words: John Thorp
Selective Hearing celebrates its 2nd birthday this Saturday at Joshua Brooks. Tickets are available through Skiddle below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event