Leeds’ club scene perhaps doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. It is as diverse as that of any neighbouring city (Manchester and Sheffield, we’re looking at you), and, given the relatively small size of Leeds’ city centre and its outskirts, perhaps even more impressive. Additionally, Leeds is no longer outshone in terms of big-name bookings thanks to Canal Mills, a venue/project many see as the city’s answer to The Warehouse Project, Manchester’s huge superclub – but while WHP spent a long time getting bigger and bigger, Canal Mills retains a somehow intimate feel.
Leeds is particularly strong on grime and rap, with the now legendary Jamz – Elijah and Skilliam’s night of underground talent – having started out in 2013 and swiftly become a breeding ground for ones-to-watch. In its time Jamz has hosted some of the biggest names in grime, like JME and Newham Generals.
Leeds also holds its own in terms of Northern Soul, Tamla Motown and the like, with the long-standing HiFi Club just off Call Lane one of the most versatile spaces in town – whether you’re in the mood for chilled out latin/salsa vibes on a Sunday or a proper dance on a Friday with FunkSoulNation. There’s an attention paid to jazz and the smoother stuff that you mightn’t find in other cities’ house- and techno-dominated scenes, too.
Interestingly, the last couple of years have seen the link between Leeds’ clubs and arts scenes strengthen, with distinctive graphic artists and illustrators producing the art work for nights like Golden Cabinet (itself a truly unique night of daring electronic sounds and avant-garde experimentation, held in a community centre in Shipley). Not that the connection wasn’t there before, but recently it somehow seems more visible as you visit the various clubs, gallery spaces and art shops around town.
The variety and and energy of Leeds’ current clubbing scene is nowhere more apparent than in KMAH, a new radio station set up in 2015 and giving London’s NTS a run for its money. With a huge roster of DJs and producers filling the (online) airwaves, KMAH is a great place to start if you’re looking for a sampler of Leeds’ contemporary sounds.
If you’re looking for a night out in Leeds, you’ll find it with The Skinny.