Clandestino is a crew of slightly more mature Leeds music folk, and with that added age, of course, comes added wisdom. The trio of Joe, Iain and Nick are from all over the country but have been in the city of Leeds for decades. In that time they have established their night (and accompanying mix series) as a fine place to go and dance to dark disco, machine made music and plenty of scuzzy sounds from guests like Optimo and Ivan Smagghe.
Their show—next one March 15th at 2pm, then every four weeks after—is testament to that and finds the trio chatting about their own music, the music of their extended crew and about the various parties they play at home and abroad. It makes nice bed fellows with the Futurism show by Craig Bratley, or the Disco Jungle with Bill Brewster, and as we learn in this interview, is soon to be a label of the same name. Full info on the Clandestino show is available here, otherwise, read on for the lowdown.
How long have you been in Leeds and why did you come here if you aren’t a native?
Joe: I came to Leeds in 1998 from Lancashire to study at Leeds College of Music. I think it was an excuse to get immersed in the club scene at the time…
Iain: I moved here almost 20 years ago in 96, that must almost make me native! I’m originally from County Durham we regularly used to come down here to go out usually Basics or Vague. So when the opportunity to move to the bright lights of Leeds cropped up, it was an easy decision.
Nick: Originally, I’m from Northampton. We moved to Leeds from Manchester around 2003 due to the wife getting a job up here. I’ve had a soft spot for Leeds since the mid nineties. A group of us used to regularly drive up from Stoke (Uni) for Up Yer Ronson, Hard Times and Basics.
Where are your favourite places to go in Leeds, and what makes the city so great for you?
Joe: For music spaces it’s generally Outlaws Yacht Club, Headrow House, Studio24, Belgrave and Sheaf St. There’s been some good spots open over the last year or two, but I do think Leeds is really missing a small, centrally located purpose built club space. Leeds has a long, mostly great musical heritage; certainly for underground club music and for a relatively small city it definitely holds its own. Shame we no longer have a specialist dance based record shop; that is also badly needed.
Iain: I’d concur with Joe and I’d add 212 to that list too. The city really needs a small club something like the Garage was.
Nick: I normally head to Outlaws Yacht Club, Cosmic Slop and Studio 24. Leeds needs a few more small alternative venues, places/nights that are different to the norm.
When did you first start collecting music and how long was it until you specialised in what you play now?
Joe: I think the first record I bought was a 7” picture disc of Salt N Pepa’s “Push It”. Well that’s the cool answer, I think it was actually Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Cabal “Barcelona” before that in 1987. So I’ve been collecting music in one form or another since then. When I got the DJ bug in the early 90s, that then went to another level and I’ve been hoarding records of all kinds ever since.
Iain: My dad still is a massive record collector, so I don’t think I could avoid getting hooked sooner or later. I was into indie as a teenager and I think I’ve always retained a bit of that darkness in the kind of tunes I like.
Nick: My first ever record was Green Onions by Booker T and The MG’s. Dad gave it to me, think he was trying to influence me. I must of been around 10, still have the record.
Dad has a great record collection, i guess it’s heredity as I’m a total vinyl junkie. Cant help myself.
Did you always want to be a DJ, what experiences have you had over the years?
Joe: Since discovering some dusty belt drive turntables at the local youth club; I’ve always had the urge to play records to people. I’ve had some amazing experiences and played in some stunning locations all over the world but have had just as many shocking and truly soul destroying experiences too. On occasions when I’ve questioned whether its worth it but I have an incessant need and love to share music and being a DJ is the best way to do that. So you have to take the rough with the smooth.
Iain: Nah! I wanted to be an Jedi or at least an Astronaut. DJing’s alright like! When you’ve got a club or a field full of people on the right wavelength it takes some beating.
Nick: DJing has led to some great experiences at some amazing place around the world. Though nothing can beat that feeling of being in sync with the crowd when you’re playing. Whether you’re in Croatia or in Leeds, its doesn’t matter, it’s about having a connection with people through playing music, reacting to your surroundings, almost organic..
Where else do you play, or what else do you do musically, besides your KMAH show?
Joe: You can usually find us playing in and around Leeds. We play at Distrikt fairly regularly; and we also do our own infrequent parties at various spots around town. Away from Leeds we tend to play at festivals particularly over the summer. We’ve done Electric Elephant in Croatia the last couple of years; and also Festival No6, Alfresco, Mint Festival and so on. Away from DJing we produce music collectively as Clandestino and we also have our own individual production projects.
Iain: That sums it up…
Nick: What Joe said
How long you been doing radio? What draws you to it how has it featured in your life as a listener? Any big radio heroes?
Joe: Our KMAH show is my first radio experience, so from March last year. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to have a go at. I have such a wide appreciation of electronic music that I’ve always wanted a platform to share it from as you cant really cover it in a short club gig. I’ve been following Tim Sweeney’s Beats in Space show on WNYU for years, Bill Brewster’s DJHistory is another big influence for me too. When I moved to Leeds in the late 90’s Ralph Lawson did a show on the old Galaxy station that had a big effect on me, before that Kenny Hawkes on GirlsFM was seminal and going back even further I remember rave tapes being passed around at school of the early Stu Allen shows on Manchester’s Key103.
Iain: John Peel has never really been replaced in the world of the radio DJ. KMAH was our first show and when we kicked it off I think I thought there was a chance it might be me. His work load trawling through thousands of promos a week to pick out the cream must be saluted, I always make sure I listen to the handful I get sent every week. Hint hint 😉
Nick: This my first in the world of radio. I love it, really enjoy the process of research for each show, looking for new music and old, reading up on artists, record labels etc. My main influence with regards to radio would be John Peel for obvious reasons. Also Kiss FM when it was initially a pirate radio show coming out of London around 88 to 92 with the likes of Fabio, Grooverider and Colin Favor. In the present, I listen to the likes of Tim Sweeney, Bill Brewster, Trevor Jackson on NTS and Dr Rob over at Test Pressing.
Tell us about your KMAH show, what you play and why people should tune in.
Joe: I guess we’re hard to quantify, musically within our shows you might hear afrobeat, techno, chillout, electronica, classic house, punk funk and disco amongst other things. You’ll absolutely hear us play stuff we are excited about playing in a club gig but we’ll also play things we love to listen to at home. We showcase new music in the first hour, occasionally play and argue about a golden oldie and close out the show with a DJ mix. It’s a broad pallet across the electronic music spectrum so if your interested in uncovering something you might not have heard before it’s definitely worth tuning in for.
Iain: We’re always conscious that the show goes out mid afternoon and we are probably just on in the background. If we can pick a track or 2 each show that grabs someones attention then we’ve done our job.
Nick: Personally, I always try and keep what I play eclectic, rather than stick to one form of music. It keeps the show exciting, the listener never knows what musical angle i’ll be rearing towards next.
How did you find doing it live, did it take long to settle in?
Joe: We were very nervous at first and hugely apprehensive; I think we went to the pub immediately before the first show to sink a few pints for some Dutch courage. We settled into it over the course of the next few shows though and feel much more comfortable now on the mic. We’re by no means professionals though, I think the slightly haphazard and amateur presentation adds to the charm, but not to the point where we want to give the impression we are not taking it seriously.
Nick: Initially it seemed totally alien to me, speaking into a mic. Though over time we’ve all built up our confidence with presenting and I’d go as far to say that we each now have our own styles emerging.
Iain: I’m still hoping to settle in!
What other KMAH shows have you been listening to that you think people should check?
Joe: I always try and catch Bonar Bradberry’s show. Craig Bratley and FutureBoogie are great too. All the Outlaws one’s also. Honestly though any time I’ve tuned in, whatever is on be it someone playing weird rockabilly or in your face techno it always grabs my attention.
Iain: there’s too many good shows to choose really but Man Power, Craig Bratley, People Get Real, Bill Brewster and Red Rack Em all have really great shows.
Nick: I like Paul Cottam’s show which is straight after ours on a Tuesday. Other’s would be Man Power ( I think it’s listening to his Geordie accent more than anything) and Bill Brewster.
What else have you got coming up/are you excited about?
Joe: We have two EP’s due this Spring on People Get Real’s Join Our Club Records, one of which will have a Man Power remix so can’t wait for that. We also have a split EP due on Soft Rock’s Vibrations label at some point but the biggest thing we are excited about for this year is the launch of our label. It’s very slowly coming to fruition and we can’t wait to share with folks what we’ve got lined up. That’s a KMAH exclusive by the way.
Iain: Shhhh Joe!
Nick: Yep can’t wait to get the ball rolling with label with our first release. We’ve already put a lot of work into it to get it this far, it’s only the beginning!
Finally, what do you do outside of music and away from DJing?
Joe: I probably spend far too much time on Playstation when I should be doing music stuff. Apart from that I love to read, cook, absorb culture and travel to new places with my good lady wife.
Nick: I love Graphic Design, so I spend quite a lot of time doing freelance work for other record labels and artists. We’ve just had a little boy, Harry. He’s 7 weeks old. He’s taking up pretty much all of our time at the moment. It’s really hard work but worth it, he’s mega.
Iain: I practice my Jedi skills.