In the ever fluctuating cohort of club nights and brands that call Leeds home, there once stood Blacklight, a club night that gave the city’s techno heads their fix of menacing ride cymbals and heavy 4/4 kicks. Having launched back in November 2012, the night enjoyed sustained success over the course of its existence, however things come to an end in early 2014. Having established itself firmly in the Leeds techno scene over the course of its short tenure at Mint Club, circulating whispers suggesting a return of the night have since become a reality as Blacklight prepares to stage its first event after two years out of the game. As the techno night gears up for its second incarnation, we caught up with Joe Ferguson, Blacklight’s promoter, to get an insight to what the night is all about and why the timing is right for it to make its return.
Blacklight, an in-house event put on by a number of people working at Mint cub, was born out of a love for techno and the desire to bring the biggest names in the scene to Leeds. “This city [Leeds] has a real tradition for quality techno being home to one of the best techno nights in the world, The Orbit (RIP) at the afterdark in Morley” Joe reveals. Jostling for supremacy in the ever changing schedule of nights and parties in Leeds is no easy achievement. Joe cites Blacklight’s ability to appeal to a mixed demographic of party goers within the city, a dynamic that is particularly hard to accomplish, enabling the night to hit the ground running and become a firm favourite despite it’s short time in existence. “Blacklight seemed to strike a chord with everyone that loves techno as students that were just discovering the sound and veterans who have been listening to and visiting techno nights for years could party together in one of the best venues in the north”. Housing the likes of Drumcode’s Adam Beyer and Dave Clark on a number of occasions, the night stayed true to its promise of bringing the biggest name in techno to Leeds. However, it is one particular Blacklight event that seems to stir up vivid memories for Joe. “Our event with Robert Hood, Blawan and James Ruskin was a real highlight. This night literally had everything a techno fan could want with 3 world class DJ’s, all with contrasting styles. James Ruskin bringing his trademark Blueprint sounds, Robert Hood mixing up soulful gospel style sounds and brutal minimal beats and Blawan playing the most punishing sounds I think Mint Club has ever heard.”
Following the initial success and popularity of Blacklight, things came to an unexpected halt due to other commitments that took up the time and recourses of the Mint Club. “The club have a lot of projects on the go and I know first hand how hard they work putting on Cocoon in the Park and their other night System as well as other events” Joe explains. Other factors such as finding the perfect balance between big artists that can be seen as something of an unimaginative booking and up and coming DJs that don’t draw in huge numbers through the door also contributed to the night’s hiatus. “It leaves you in a catch 22 because if no one comes out to see the lesser known acts yet complains if bigger more established acts are booked what can you do as a promoter. With that the night was put on hold whilst the guys worked on their other projects.” For Blacklight to return, a change in personnel was needed to devote the necessary time to a night that promised to bring the biggest names in techno to Mint Club, no easy task. “Thankfully after speaking to the previous promoters, they allowed us to take over running the brand, because we’ve had so many people asking if we are going to throw another party since our last event and I really feel that this is the right time.” Joe would appear to be right that the timing is right for Blacklight to make its return, Techno is seemingly back on the rise in Leeds with no better indicator than the buzz surrounding up and coming night ALTER.
When talk of techno arises today it has almost become clichéd to talk about Berlin and more specifically Berghain, however Blacklight aims to ensure Leeds remains at the forefront of the brand’s image. “To me Leeds will always be one of the capitals of techno in the UK. Techno I believe is on the rise and with a student population like we have and a tradition for world class techno, Leeds needs a big techno night. People from Leeds have been travelling all over for their techno fix and we want to be able to throw great parties and bring in the best DJ’s so it’s all on their doorstep”. Instead Joe points out features of the home grown UK techno scene as some of the key influences for Blacklight’s sound and style, naming the likes of James Ruskin, Adapt, Atomic Jam, House of God amongst others as well as respectfully acknowledging the undeniable influence of both Tresor and Berghain residing in Berlin.
Blacklight aims to return fresher and well rested from its time away, using the hiatus to take on board any lessons that were learned first time round. “Blacklight has traditionally brought the big names to Mint however this time in line with feedback from our fans and our own views we do want to make sure as well as the established names we are pushing the new wave of producers and DJ”. This ethos is most noticeable in the bookings made for the first event on the 26th of February which will see stalwart of the techno scene Ben Sims and up and coming start Dax J at the controls. With this approach, once again Blacklight and Joe will be hoping to draw in a vibrant mix of ages to Mint’s dance floor. “For any night to have longevity I think you do need to look to the future and more and more people are looking for something outside the norm so we want to make sure we focus on bringing people to play for us in Leeds who people may not have had the chance to see yet but have been really digging their sound. Dax J being the perfect example for our opening night. A fusion of the established artist Ben Sims and the guy now coming through who people are starting to talk about.”
The second coming of Blacklight will be putting the Mint sound system through its paces from early 2016 onwards with the promise of more events to follow the big return in February. With Blacklight coming back on to the scene, Leeds’ reputation as a hotspot for to sample the best in techno up and down the country is only going to grow. “We want to bring the best techno DJ’s and producers in the world to Leeds. “We love techno it’s a huge passion of ours and we just want to make sure we have a club full of people having fun and enjoying themselves and if we can do that then we’ll be happy.”
Blacklight is back February 26th.
Words by Elliot Ryder
Photos courtesy of IGR Photo